2006 May Drum Chad Smith

Many thanks to Invisible Movement for the magazine!

 

March 15, 2005

It’s a ridiculously sunny morning in Los Angeles, and I’m in a midsize rental car tying to keep up with Chad Smith as he deftly negotiated the twists and turns of Mulholland Drive on custom Harley Davidson  motorcycle. Smith is being patient, making sure to keep me in the rearview mirror as I carve turn after breathtaking turn, trying not to look like a mouth-breathing flatlander tossed into a muddled daze by the warm California air and incredible vistas of the Los Angeles Basin assaulting my senses.

At the crest of a long incline, with the entire San Fernando Valley lying off to the right like an impossibly clear computer-generated animation, we pass what looks to be a very healthy homeless man out for a jog. The bearded running hobo spots Smith and breaks into a smile, raising his hand just enough to wave but not enough to break his stride. It’s one of those incongruous L.A. moments and I think to myself, “God, even the bums out here jog. And talk about friendly!” It’s only later I find out that the runner was Smith’s bandmate and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante out on his daily jog.

I’m in L.A. to drum tech on the new Chili Peppers record, which is being recorded at producer Rick Rubin’s Laurel Canyon studio-in-a-mansion, known informally as “The House.” It doesn’t have an official name Smith points out. “Everybody calls it something different-some people call it Houdini House [which it’s not] or the Laurel House or The Big House- but we don’t have a particular name for it.”

This is where, in 1991, the Peppers recorded Blood Sugar Sex Magik, their career-defining-breakthrough record. The house is about six or seven miles from Smith’s Hollywood Hills home by way of Mulholland, and for the next month and a half, he’ll make the roundtrip drive about four or five times a week. As far as commutes go, this has to be the best there is, even by rock-star standards.

With tracking slated to start the next day, I’ve come to the studio with Smith to choose some kick drums, change some heads, and tune some snares. In the last nine months of woodshedding, the Peppers have generated a prodigious amount of new material and Smith is eager to get things rolling. After over 16 years with the band, a point where many musicians couldn’t be faulted for phoning in their enthusiasm, Smith is noticeably eager to do what he does best: play the drums. Which is why, after introducing me around to the engineer and small crew, he steps onto the riser in the middle of the vast tracking room, squeezes between the mike stands and cables, sits down at the drum kit, and starts playing. Smith possesses one of the strongest back-beats in the business, and it’s clear that the long preparation period has sharpened his already abundant talents.

NEW TACTICS. The band’s gear is set up across the width of the front room of the house. Fabric and tapestry have been draped from the ceiling to control the sound reflections and a massive, billowy American flag is hung above the drum set. There is a roomy vocal booth directly in front of Smith’s drums, and Frusciante’s Marshall amps are off to his left while Flea’s impressive bass rig stands to his right, separated from the drums by only a couple of studio baffles. The Chilis want to try to record live in this one big room and make a modern record that sounds and feels like the rock records the band grew up with.

“There’s something about that little bit of bleed.” Smith explains. “Not a lot, just enough to where you can hear it in the air. It just feels better than laying down the drums and spending a week putting down guitar and bass tracks. It’s not a radically different recording situation for us, because we’ve always played together when we tracked, but the amps were always in different rooms.”

To these ends, the band has employed the talents of engineer Mark Linett, hot off the success of recording SMiLE, the lost Beach Boys album brought back to life by its creator Brian Wilson. One of the most critically lauded records of the last few years, much of SMiLEs appeal was due to the old school, everybody-playing-live vibe captured with sonic purity by Linett. “We were lucky enough to find Mark, a great engineer who knows how to do it but still make it sound modern and be able to hear all the instruments clearly so it doesn’t sound like a live gig. John and Flea aren’t play-ing through little amps, so it’s pretty much a live setup.

“We really want to take advantage of the chemistry we have and the ability we have. We’ve been playing together a long time and we’re a live band, not a super overdubbed band. Musically, it’s three guys making a racket, and the more racket you can get the better.

 

POOL BOYS. Later that day back at his house, Smith and I sit down by his swimming pool and talk about his hopes for the new record. He is optimistic about the whopping 36 new songs the Peppers have written and their ambitious goal to record all of them over the next couple of months.

“We still go about writing songs the same way,” he explains, “but this time everyone was really present and we were functioning as some kind of four-headed songwriting machine. We were enthusiastic about the work, and it came easily. That’s why we produced so much of it. Every day we’d go to practice, and we’d get two or three pieces of music. It was really exciting and inspiring.

“Anthony has a lot of lyrics for the songs already, he continues. “We’ve recorded before when he didn’t, and it’s just a lot better when we have the vibe of him singing the song with us in the studio. It does make a difference with dynamics. It’s another instrument — the way he phrases the lyrics and the rhythm of the words all add to the groove. We get more excited when he’s pumped up and we go into the chorus or the bridge. It makes it easier to interpret the song.”

THE ROUTINE I arrive at the studio at 11:00 the next morning to re-head the rack and floor toms and tweak the three snare drums Smith wants to use for the day’s recording I grab the rack tom and a new drumhead and walk out onto the huge wraparound veranda that overlooks Laurel Canyon Boulevard to change heads on the drum. The house is one of the older mansions in the neighborhood, and there is no shortage of rumors among the staff and crew of ghostly apparitions appearing in the dim hallways upstairs.

The control room is set up in a dark wood-paneled room on the main floor fac-ing the main tracking room. Although lit by copious amounts of candles, the tracking room is almost as dark, due to the heavy curtains covering the high leaded windows, which tend to rattle and shake when the band is tracking. There is a sense of slow decay to the house. Like an aging Hollywood starlet losing her perfect face to the wrinkles of age, she’s still charming, but you know she’s seen better days. On this first day of tracking, the pace is leisurely, and over the next couple of days the band establishes a working schedule that will stay pretty much the same for the rest of the record, punctuated only by short breaks, the most notable being for the birth of Chad and his wife Nancy’s son Cole.

The band starts recording mid-afternoon and usually get a song done before breaking for lunch. Then they work on another song and usually finish it before taking a late dinner. They might begin work on getting a new song ready for the morning before calling it a day. Flea spends some nights at the mansion, while the rest of the band usually go home.

While Smith is one of the more easygoing people I know, he keeps a fairly tight workingman’s schedule during the making of this record. Typically he shows up at the studio between 1:00 and 2:00 P.M., an hour or so ahead the rest of the band. He will warm up on the drums and perhaps shoot some hoops on the makeshift basketball court set up on the terraced porch of the house. We usually talk about what drums he wants to use, and I’ll do what I need to do to get them ready. He often gets home from the studio between 11:00 and midnight. Much of his time at home is spent listening to the previous day’s work and demos of upcoming songs. Normally he listens to a steady diet of rock music from the ’60s and 70s, but during tracking he limits himself to the music at hand. “I know if I listen to other drummers, I’ll start playing like them because I’m such a thief,” he jokes. “I try to be clear and focused and listen to what we’re working on.

My own work on the record is embarrassingly easy. I notice after a couple of days that no matter what condition a drum is in when Smith hits it he makes it sound good. He has a forceful attack and hits with confidence and consistency, yet he doesn’t over-power the drums. Like many great drummers, his sound travels with him. It comes as much from the way he plays the drums as it does from the drums themselves. He shows he is as capable of delivering a light and nuanced performance as he is of playing full-throttle rockers. “Hard To Concentrate” is a good example of his restraint. “It sounds like I’m playing a hand drum on that song,” he remarks, “but actually I put a towel over the snare and threw the snares off and played with Acousticks. It’s some-thing I don’t normally do.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Over the many years of their collaboration as producer and band, Rubin and the Chili Peppers have established a leisurely yet productive pace that never feels frantic or forced. A lot of this can be attributed to the band’s preparation and confidence with the material. Many of the big decisions have already been made before recording began. The choice of recording at the house has also been a refreshing change for the band. It feels more like a get together of friends than it does an official big-label session.

“The last two records were done at Cello studios in L.A.,” Smith explains, “so this was different just from that aspect. But overall, we took a longer time than we normally do to write more songs. We had a good solid nine months of writing songs every day. We’d taken a lot of time off prior to that so it wasn’t the tour/album/tour/album cycle that we’ve been doing for a long time. This is the first time that we’ve really taken time off in seven years, and everybody just chilled out and did whatever they wanted to do. Then we got back together to write songs. There was a freshness to writing that hadn’t been there prior to that.”

The band works as a democracy with each member pitching in ideas, assembling songs from the various parts devised during writing sessions. “A lot of times, we just jam and come up with two parts that go togeth-

er,” Smith says. “If we need a bridge or a chorus, then Flea and John will split off —one guy will go in the bathroom and one guy will go outside. They’ll both write a part and come back and play it to me and Anthony, and we’ll decide which is the best part and go with that one. We call that a `face off’ We actually do that a lot.”

On Stadium Arcadium, we get to hear the band explore a synthesis of styles as they unite and combine the many ingredients of their influences into a tightly cohesive statement. With a healthy 28 songs spread out over two CDs, there is very little fat left untrimmed. There are old-school funk tunes (“Charlie,” “Warlock,” “Ghost Dance”), mid-tempo ballads (“Stadium Arcadium,” “She Comes To Me,” “Desecration Smile”), a proto-Police style number called “Animal Bar,” and even a cowbell-driven riff rocker named “Readymade” where Smith seamlessly relocates the backbeat from front to back in the blink of an eye.

“Readymade’ is cool because I got to turn the beat around,” Smith remarks. “The riff kind of lends itself because it’s this hypnotic repeating unison bass and guitar line. It’s not often you get to turn the beat around in the verses and then go to the cowbell in the chorus. John had the riff, and I thought it would be cool to flip the snare on the 1 and 3 in the second half. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get away with it because Rick is a real AC/DC straight-ahead kind of guy, but we slipped it by him.

“I’m just trying to be a better musician and play what’s right for the song. Everybody tries to sneak in their licks here and there. Sometimes it really doesn’t serve the song when you make it busy. Before I’d think, ‘Screw it, that’s a really cool part, I’m really cool.’ With the last three records, I think we’ve become better musicians and I think I know my role in the band better. I know it sounds better overall if I just play with a good feel and good dynamics. Then I’m playing for the song. It sounds clichéd, but I listen to it as a listener and not as a drummer. I listen to it as the average Joe on the street — how would I hear it and what would I want to hear? I don’t want the drums to stick out and bring notice to themselves, other than by feeling good. That’s a selfish way of playing, and I don’t want to do that.”

TEN MONTHS LATER. I catch up with Smith at his home in L.A. as the final touches are being put on the mixes for Stadium Arcadium. Smith says at the end of recording the Peppers found themselves in the enviable position of having too many songs for a single record. “Usually we have more music than Anthony writes lyrics and melodies for. We’ve accepted that it’s part of the process for us, but for this record he was so inspired that he finished all of them So we had 36 songs that were completely Lane, and we’re like `Man, we gotta this out.

“We were trying to figure out how to do it, and we hit on the idea of maybe putting one record out and nine months later put another out and put the third one out nine months after that and make a trilogy out of it. But then we figured that maybe there were a few songs that weren’t album worthy, so we decided to take the best ones and make two records, and release them a year apart, but then we thought people might feel like the second one was just B-sides. We finally decided that we would do it as a double CD, since it was all part of this nine-month creative burst of writing and recording; leave it to the Chili Peppers after 21 years to put out a double CD. We wanted everyone to know that this is what we were doing at that time, and I feel confident that it’s a really good representation of us at this point in our career. I’m very proud of it.”

Smith points out that the band decided to slightly alter the idea of recording completely live with the amps and drums in the same room. “We tried playing in the room all together, and it really didn’t change the sound all that much actually, because the way Rick likes to hear stuff is with a lot of close miking on the drums and a lot of up-front guitars and there’s not a lot of room sound. Also for John, there was a lot of pressure. He was doing a great job, but I know he didn’t feel like he was doing it justice. When you play live and play your solos and you keep drums, bass, and guitar, you have to play it right and live with your mistakes. It was really a challenge for him, and he was going through a time with his playing that he just didn’t feel all that confident. We kept Flea’s rig in the room, and John took his out to the other room and he just felt way more comfortable.

“We did what we always do, which is play together in the same room and be able to look at each other and play off that. That’s really the most important thing for getting a good performance. I’m very happy with the sound we got. It wasn’t what we were originally planning to do, but it sounds great.”

OPEN THE FLOODGATES. May 2006 looks to be one of the biggest months in Smith’s career. While Stadium Arcadium wrapped production, he kept busy with a number of undertakings, including playing drums on the upcoming Dixie Chicks record as well as producing and playing on a project by former Deep Purple bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes. He decided to record the Hughes record at his house, so his living room is a jumble of cords and drums. He sits down on the couch and keeps a parental eye as his ten-month-old son crawls toward a microphone stand.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, having a little boy,” he reflects. “I’ve been fortunate to be home and be able to see him grow so quickly this first year. I’m in a really good place. I’m really lucky to still be playing music and be happy with the band. Everything is fresh again. You grow up and your priorities in life and what’s important to you changes. The Peppers are just a rock band. It’s not an important job we have. It’s not like being a doctor or a teacher. We’re not saving lives and we’re not changing the world. We make people happy with our music and that’s an awesome thing to do, but in the grand scheme of things we’re four guys playing music. If it ended tomorrow, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You look at it as what’s important in your life, and so that’s why we took the time off. I want to enjoy my life and be with my family and so do the other guys. That’s what makes you want to come back and write music and do it again instead of you have to. You don’t want it to be a job. There are aspects of it that are a job, but wanting to create music and wanting to make these songs with these guys — you can’t force that. At least you can’t with us.

“We’re really lucky that people want to come to see us and still care about our music. I can count on one hand the bands that have been together for over 20 years and people still want to hear when a new record comes out. We’re lucky to be on that hand.”

 

HOW TO Make GOOD Drums SOUND Better

MARK LINETT, SOUND ENGINEER

Although Mark Linett has worked on every imaginable kind of session in his 30-plus years on the L.A. scene, including manning the board on records by such diverse artists as Jane’s Addiction, Eric Clap-ton, and Frank Zappa, it was his live-tracking talents that drew him to the attention of producer Rick Rubin, who was looking for a new way to record his longtime collaborators, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rubin had heard Mark Linett’s Grammy Award—winning work on Brian Wilson’s SMILE and had admired the veteran engineer’s ability to sonically capture a band playing all together in the same room — the way records were made in the days before multitracking arrived and sent everyone off to the isolation booth.

“The idea was to try to go a lot more organic” says Linett from his elaborate home studio in California. “It fit in with the kind of things I’d been doing, especially with Brian, where we put everybody in the same room and use the leakage to a certain extent to make a better-sounding and more organic record”

To capture Chad Smith’s drums in a live-tracking situation, Linett found the best approach was to keep it simple. The drums were basically recorded with a four-microphone setup. “I tried to do a more minimal treatment with Chad,” says Linett, “which was partly dictated with putting everybody in the same room.

“We tried to capture a lot of the sound with the two overheads [vintage Sony C37s], which were placed not in the usual over-the-cymbals position, but more of an overall drum kit kind of setup with one mike over Chad’s shoulder and the other one off to the side of the floor tom. It’s kind of reminiscent of something [legendary Who and Led Zeppelin engineer] Glyn Johns used to do a lot:’

Linett points out that the real essential to getting great drum sounds isn’t using expensive gear or recording in a lavish studio. “I don’t care what kind of mikes and high-end audio equipment you have, if the drummer’s good it really doesn’t matter, and if the drummer is not good, it really doesn’t matter. Chad is a great drummer. My rule of thumb is that I’ve never heard a good drummer sound bad and I’ve never heard a bad drummer sound good.”

BY JON COHAN

 

Six CHAD SMITH Gigs You May HAVE MISSED

Have you ever seen a drummer solo along to the National Anthem in front of 20,000 sports fans? This was one of the more high-profile but obscure Chad gigs that I, his brother, have witnessed. The brilliant minds at DRUM! thought you’d enjoy reading some of my tales, so here are a few of my favorite moments that have shaped Chad into the well-rounded, humble genius that he is.

1968 – Bedroom Unplugged. In his first documented performance, Chad air-drummed to Beatles songs using Lincoln Log sticks and ice cream tub drums. We wore matching yarn necklaces. Here he learned a golden rule of rock: Presentation can be as important as performance.

1973 – Elk’s Club. Now in a four-piece band and using standard equipment, we played for our father’s going-away party at his job. Chad had just learned his first drum fill, and he used it at the end of almost every 16 bars – the exact same tom tom roll. The set consisted of the finest songs from Alice Cooper, John Denver, and Hendrix, and one Deep Purple song (guess which one). We were on the brink of becoming British rock junkies.

1978 – Graduation Party. As Chad’s power trio jammed a 20-minute version of Rush’s “Working Man:’ the cops busted my friend’s party and jailed a few stragglers. As I sat in the “gray hotel,” I hoped Chad learned another golden rule: Sometimes it is better to be in the band, than just with the band.

1986 – Houseboat Rooftop Jam. In his first summer festival setting, Chad and I played Johnny Cash and George Jones songs to the deer and fish during one of our annual fishing expeditions. As our father and uncle steered the boat into the docks, we’d still be on top the boat, working out the sublime art of boom-chuck and strum.

1991 – The Palace Of Auburn Hills. In front of a sold-out Detroit Pistons playoff crowd, Chad played along to a recording of the National Anthem. No band, just him and his courage in front of his hometown peeps. He channeled his nervous energy into the most intense, creative, intelligent, and powerful performance I’ve ever witnessed. He took a nonmelodic instrument, made it “sing,” and blew everyone away.

2006 – Bart’s Blues Bar. Back home in Detroit for the recent Super Bowl, we enjoyed red-carpet parties, and drank and ate on ESPN’s tab. But in the midnight hour, we ended up in a blues bar at 8 Mile and Woodward. Chad sat in and rocked the house band, lending his ghost-note snare rolls, dropped-bomb floor tom fills, and dynamic cymbal work to Motown’s greatest hits. That night he enjoyed the celebrity world, but he loved the music world. We went back to that bar the next night, and he played two full sets.

If you can take something from all of this fraternal sentiment, it is that success comes through dedication, courage, flexibility, and sincerity. I’ve had the honor of watching a kid rise to the top of his game. I think he’s the best in the world, not because he was in my first band, but because every time he plays a gig, he plays like it’s his last – and rocks the lid off any place that will take him. Play on drummer, play on brother.

By BRAD SMITH

 

EIGHT REASONS TO HIRE CHAD SMITH

Although he has played with some of the greatest drummers in rock, including such legends as John Bonham, Ian Paice, and Steve Gadd, these days former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes calls Chad Smith whenever he begins work on a new solo album. We asked if he could list his reasons why. Here’s what he had to say.

  1. Chad is a tremendous powerhouse. I love watching him bite the air and yell and scream as he is funkin’ behind me.
  2. He listens to the song arrangement and understands where the song is going.
  3. The greatest all-around drummer whose style has been influenced by the rock/funk generation.
  4. His dynamics are second to none. He seems to understand working with bass players like Flea and myself, the beautiful moments where there should be nothing but air.
  5. He is an avid fan of all music. It is really evident in his style of playing on my new record coming out this year that he is the bastard stepchild of Bon-ham and Keith Moon.
  6. I have never known anyone with this much energy on and off stage.
  7. When we are rehearsing, Chad must hear what I am singing, as it is crucial to him to musically bond. I don’t think I have ever worked with a drummer who has been so involved with my voice.
  8. Chad is my closest friend, and it is great to play music with him. There is a lot of laughter.

By GLENN HUGHES

 

PRIME CUTS

While his primary loyalty never strayed far from the Chili Pepper camp, Chad Smith dabbled in some outside projects along the way. Here are some highlights from his recorded work.

1989

Mother’s Milk

Smith’s first recording with the Red Hot Chili Peppers was also the band’s commercial breakthrough, thanks to hits like their reworking of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”

1991

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Mother’s Milk introduced the Chili Peppers to the public, but Blood Sugar Sex Magik made them superstars. More importantly, Rick Rubin cranked Smith’s drums to the forefront.

1994

Fruit Of Life

Itching to stay active following the mega Blood Sugar tour, Smith shared drumming duties with Pete Thomas on this debut by the Scottish band The Wild Colonials.

1995

Means To An End: The Music Of Joy Division

Smith plays on “Day Of The Lords” with Honeymoon Stitch, a pseudonym for him and future Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro.

1995

Working Class Hero: A Tribute To John Lennon

The Peppers hoped to record “Cold Turkey” but got aced out by Cheap Trick. Instead they cut “I Found Out” at Rick Rubin’s house.

 

1995

One Hot Minute

A transitional CD Smith describes as the Chili Peppers’ “rock” album, a sidestep that can be attributed to Dave Navarro’s brief tenure as the band’s guitarist.

1996

Monkey On Rico

On the lone release by Thermadore — a short-lived band fronted by Chili Peppers roadie Rob Rule — Smith played half the cuts while Josh Freese covered the rest.

1996

Dangerous Madness

Never one to forsake his Detroit roots, Smith kicked out jams with his early Motor City hero, founding MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, on the track “Dead Movie Stars?’

1997

Blue Moon Swamp

Smith appeared on the single “Walking In A Hurricanes,’ joining an incredible roster of drummers who laid down tracks for this album, which took John Fogerty a decade to complete.

1997

We Will Fall: The lggy Pop Tribute

The Peppers contributed “Search And Destroy:’ tracked during the Blood Sugar sessions. Smith nervously cut his part while Jim Keltner watched from the wings.

1999

Californication

The return of Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante signaled the band’s revitalization both personally and musically. Unpredictably, Smith’s favorite drum track is his jazzy brushwork on “Porcelain.’

2000

The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx

Smith cut this cover of “Shaky Ground” with his old friends in Fishbone, drumming along with a trio of bassists: Flea, Norwood Fisher, and Billy Bass.

2002

By The Way

The Chili Peppers sound matures beyond the wildest expectations. Smith calls By The Way his “ride album” because of how much he favored that cymbal on this CD.

2003

Songs In The Key Of Rock

A longtime Deep Purple fan, Smith savored his first opportunity to record with bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes (see Hughes’ comments on the opposite page).

2003

Unearthed

Rick Rubin called Smith at 6:00 P.M. to do this session. An hour later, Smith was face to face with Johnny Cash tracking “Heart Of Gold” and “I’m A Drifter?’

 

GROOVE ANALYSIS

Chad Smith Rocks Again

In our era of online file sharing, record labels are understandably paranoid about sending advance music to journalists, which only makes our job more difficult when the time comes to feature those same artists whose CDs are kept at arm’s length. Such was the case with the Chili Peppers’ newest release, Stadium Arcadium. But we did have an ace in the hole – author Jon Cohan, who also was Chad Smith’s drum technician during the recording. He had one of the few precious unauthorized advance copies of the double CD, so we sat down one afternoon and transcribed a few of Smith’s tastier licks from it.

“CHARLIE” “Charlie” starts out with quarter-notes played with the hi-hat pedal for the first two bars, ending with a 5-stroke closed roll on the & ah of beat 4 to start the main groove, which is funky and driving. Notice the delayed snare backbeat on the & of 4 in measures one and three, which gives it that James Brown feel. Also, check out the accented hi-hat on the & of 4 in measure two, to add that extra spice. Plus, his fill in measure four has accents on the ah of 3 and beat 4 to give the fill some inter-dynamics. Smith’s fill before the chorus begins with an open hi-hat on beat 3 that rings out, signaling the powerful sixteenth-note fill starting on the & of 3. The chorus is a straight-ahead rock groove, which is a nice contrast to the funky verse. Notice the snare buzz on the ah of 4 in measure four that flows into the crash.

“READYMADE” The opening groove of this song is interesting in that the beat flips around. Notice in measure two the snare gets displaced to the & of 4, creating an illusion that the groove may suddenly be in odd-time. This shifting of the beat resolves itself in measure four with a fill on the & ah of 4 and also in the second ending on the 4 &

“HARD TO CONCENTRATE Smith played this grove with Vater Acoustick specialty sticks on the snare for low-volume dynamics. It’s a consistent sixteenth-note rhythm accenting every third note starting with the & of beat to giving it a polyrhythmic feel. This is a very relaxed groove with the hi-hat on beats 2 and 4 and the bass on beat 1.

“WE BELIEVE”’ This a very funky groove with open hi-hats and ghost notes. There are three open hi-hat hits, but the first one rings out and the second two are opened and dosed quickly. Smith fills the gap behind these hi-hats with ghost notes. Notice the tricky little ghost note on the ah of 4. All snare hits are played with the left hand. The fill going into the chorus begins on the e of 3 with two thirty-second-notes followed by sixteenths, with eighth-note bass drums underneath. What makes this groove are the jabbing snare hits on e of beats 3 and 1.

“TURN IT AGAIN” “Turn It Again’ is a tasty groove with syncopated upbeats with the open hi-hat on the & of 3 and delayed backbeat on the & of 4. Notice in measure eight Smith leaves off the hi-hats on beat 4, which adds to the suspense before hitting the crash. ?

March 15, 2005

It’s a ridiculously sunny morning in Los Angeles, and I’m in a midsize rental car tying to keep up with Chad Smith as he deftly negotiated the twists and turns of Mulholland Drive on custom Harley Davidson  motorcycle. Smith is being patient, making sure to keep me in the rearview mirror as I carve turn after breathtaking turn, trying not to look like a mouth-breathing flatlander tossed into a muddled daze by the warm California air and incredible vistas of the Los Angeles Basin assaulting my senses.

At the crest of a long incline, with the entire San Fernando Valley lying off to the right like an impossibly clear computer-generated animation, we pass what looks to be a very healthy homeless man out for a jog. The bearded running hobo spots Smith and breaks into a smile, raising his hand just enough to wave but not enough to break his stride. It’s one of those incongruous L.A. moments and I think to myself, “God, even the bums out here jog. And talk about friendly!” It’s only later I find out that the runner was Smith’s bandmate and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante out on his daily jog.

I’m in L.A. to drum tech on the new Chili Peppers record, which is being recorded at producer Rick Rubin’s Laurel Canyon studio-in-a-mansion, known informally as “The House.” It doesn’t have an official name Smith points out. “Everybody calls it something different-some people call it Houdini House [which it’s not] or the Laurel House or The Big House- but we don’t have a particular name for it.”

This is where, in 1991, the Peppers recorded Blood Sugar Sex Magik, their career-defining-breakthrough record. The house is about six or seven miles from Smith’s Hollywood Hills home by way of Mulholland, and for the next month and a half, he’ll make the roundtrip drive about four or five times a week. As far as commutes go, this has to be the best there is, even by rock-star standards.

With tracking slated to start the next day, I’ve come to the studio with Smith to choose some kick drums, change some heads, and tune some snares. In the last nine months of woodshedding, the Peppers have generated a prodigious amount of new material and Smith is eager to get things rolling. After over 16 years with the band, a point where many musicians couldn’t be faulted for phoning in their enthusiasm, Smith is noticeably eager to do what he does best: play the drums. Which is why, after introducing me around to the engineer and small crew, he steps onto the riser in the middle of the vast tracking room, squeezes between the mike stands and cables, sits down at the drum kit, and starts playing. Smith possesses one of the strongest back-beats in the business, and it’s clear that the long preparation period has sharpened his already abundant talents.

NEW TACTICS. The band’s gear is set up across the width of the front room of the house. Fabric and tapestry have been draped from the ceiling to control the sound reflections and a massive, billowy American flag is hung above the drum set. There is a roomy vocal booth directly in front of Smith’s drums, and Frusciante’s Marshall amps are off to his left while Flea’s impressive bass rig stands to his right, separated from the drums by only a couple of studio baffles. The Chilis want to try to record live in this one big room and make a modern record that sounds and feels like the rock records the band grew up with.

“There’s something about that little bit of bleed.” Smith explains. “Not a lot, just enough to where you can hear it in the air. It just feels better than laying down the drums and spending a week putting down guitar and bass tracks. It’s not a radically different recording situation for us, because we’ve always played together when we tracked, but the amps were always in different rooms.”

To these ends, the band has employed the talents of engineer Mark Linett, hot off the success of recording SMiLE, the lost Beach Boys album brought back to life by its creator Brian Wilson. One of the most critically lauded records of the last few years, much of SMiLEs appeal was due to the old school, everybody-playing-live vibe captured with sonic purity by Linett. “We were lucky enough to find Mark, a great engineer who knows how to do it but still make it sound modern and be able to hear all the instruments clearly so it doesn’t sound like a live gig. John and Flea aren’t play-ing through little amps, so it’s pretty much a live setup.

“We really want to take advantage of the chemistry we have and the ability we have. We’ve been playing together a long time and we’re a live band, not a super overdubbed band. Musically, it’s three guys making a racket, and the more racket you can get the better.

 

POOL BOYS. Later that day back at his house, Smith and I sit down by his swimming pool and talk about his hopes for the new record. He is optimistic about the whopping 36 new songs the Peppers have written and their ambitious goal to record all of them over the next couple of months.

“We still go about writing songs the same way,” he explains, “but this time everyone was really present and we were functioning as some kind of four-headed songwriting machine. We were enthusiastic about the work, and it came easily. That’s why we produced so much of it. Every day we’d go to practice, and we’d get two or three pieces of music. It was really exciting and inspiring.

“Anthony has a lot of lyrics for the songs already, he continues. “We’ve recorded before when he didn’t, and it’s just a lot better when we have the vibe of him singing the song with us in the studio. It does make a difference with dynamics. It’s another instrument — the way he phrases the lyrics and the rhythm of the words all add to the groove. We get more excited when he’s pumped up and we go into the chorus or the bridge. It makes it easier to interpret the song.”

THE ROUTINE I arrive at the studio at 11:00 the next morning to re-head the rack and floor toms and tweak the three snare drums Smith wants to use for the day’s recording I grab the rack tom and a new drumhead and walk out onto the huge wraparound veranda that overlooks Laurel Canyon Boulevard to change heads on the drum. The house is one of the older mansions in the neighborhood, and there is no shortage of rumors among the staff and crew of ghostly apparitions appearing in the dim hallways upstairs.

The control room is set up in a dark wood-paneled room on the main floor fac-ing the main tracking room. Although lit by copious amounts of candles, the tracking room is almost as dark, due to the heavy curtains covering the high leaded windows, which tend to rattle and shake when the band is tracking. There is a sense of slow decay to the house. Like an aging Hollywood starlet losing her perfect face to the wrinkles of age, she’s still charming, but you know she’s seen better days. On this first day of tracking, the pace is leisurely, and over the next couple of days the band establishes a working schedule that will stay pretty much the same for the rest of the record, punctuated only by short breaks, the most notable being for the birth of Chad and his wife Nancy’s son Cole.

The band starts recording mid-afternoon and usually get a song done before breaking for lunch. Then they work on another song and usually finish it before taking a late dinner. They might begin work on getting a new song ready for the morning before calling it a day. Flea spends some nights at the mansion, while the rest of the band usually go home.

While Smith is one of the more easygoing people I know, he keeps a fairly tight workingman’s schedule during the making of this record. Typically he shows up at the studio between 1:00 and 2:00 P.M., an hour or so ahead the rest of the band. He will warm up on the drums and perhaps shoot some hoops on the makeshift basketball court set up on the terraced porch of the house. We usually talk about what drums he wants to use, and I’ll do what I need to do to get them ready. He often gets home from the studio between 11:00 and midnight. Much of his time at home is spent listening to the previous day’s work and demos of upcoming songs. Normally he listens to a steady diet of rock music from the ’60s and 70s, but during tracking he limits himself to the music at hand. “I know if I listen to other drummers, I’ll start playing like them because I’m such a thief,” he jokes. “I try to be clear and focused and listen to what we’re working on.

My own work on the record is embarrassingly easy. I notice after a couple of days that no matter what condition a drum is in when Smith hits it he makes it sound good. He has a forceful attack and hits with confidence and consistency, yet he doesn’t over-power the drums. Like many great drummers, his sound travels with him. It comes as much from the way he plays the drums as it does from the drums themselves. He shows he is as capable of delivering a light and nuanced performance as he is of playing full-throttle rockers. “Hard To Concentrate” is a good example of his restraint. “It sounds like I’m playing a hand drum on that song,” he remarks, “but actually I put a towel over the snare and threw the snares off and played with Acousticks. It’s some-thing I don’t normally do.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Over the many years of their collaboration as producer and band, Rubin and the Chili Peppers have established a leisurely yet productive pace that never feels frantic or forced. A lot of this can be attributed to the band’s preparation and confidence with the material. Many of the big decisions have already been made before recording began. The choice of recording at the house has also been a refreshing change for the band. It feels more like a get together of friends than it does an official big-label session.

“The last two records were done at Cello studios in L.A.,” Smith explains, “so this was different just from that aspect. But overall, we took a longer time than we normally do to write more songs. We had a good solid nine months of writing songs every day. We’d taken a lot of time off prior to that so it wasn’t the tour/album/tour/album cycle that we’ve been doing for a long time. This is the first time that we’ve really taken time off in seven years, and everybody just chilled out and did whatever they wanted to do. Then we got back together to write songs. There was a freshness to writing that hadn’t been there prior to that.”

The band works as a democracy with each member pitching in ideas, assembling songs from the various parts devised during writing sessions. “A lot of times, we just jam and come up with two parts that go togeth-

er,” Smith says. “If we need a bridge or a chorus, then Flea and John will split off —one guy will go in the bathroom and one guy will go outside. They’ll both write a part and come back and play it to me and Anthony, and we’ll decide which is the best part and go with that one. We call that a `face off’ We actually do that a lot.”

On Stadium Arcadium, we get to hear the band explore a synthesis of styles as they unite and combine the many ingredients of their influences into a tightly cohesive statement. With a healthy 28 songs spread out over two CDs, there is very little fat left untrimmed. There are old-school funk tunes (“Charlie,” “Warlock,” “Ghost Dance”), mid-tempo ballads (“Stadium Arcadium,” “She Comes To Me,” “Desecration Smile”), a proto-Police style number called “Animal Bar,” and even a cowbell-driven riff rocker named “Readymade” where Smith seamlessly relocates the backbeat from front to back in the blink of an eye.

“Readymade’ is cool because I got to turn the beat around,” Smith remarks. “The riff kind of lends itself because it’s this hypnotic repeating unison bass and guitar line. It’s not often you get to turn the beat around in the verses and then go to the cowbell in the chorus. John had the riff, and I thought it would be cool to flip the snare on the 1 and 3 in the second half. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get away with it because Rick is a real AC/DC straight-ahead kind of guy, but we slipped it by him.

“I’m just trying to be a better musician and play what’s right for the song. Everybody tries to sneak in their licks here and there. Sometimes it really doesn’t serve the song when you make it busy. Before I’d think, ‘Screw it, that’s a really cool part, I’m really cool.’ With the last three records, I think we’ve become better musicians and I think I know my role in the band better. I know it sounds better overall if I just play with a good feel and good dynamics. Then I’m playing for the song. It sounds clichéd, but I listen to it as a listener and not as a drummer. I listen to it as the average Joe on the street — how would I hear it and what would I want to hear? I don’t want the drums to stick out and bring notice to themselves, other than by feeling good. That’s a selfish way of playing, and I don’t want to do that.”

TEN MONTHS LATER. I catch up with Smith at his home in L.A. as the final touches are being put on the mixes for Stadium Arcadium. Smith says at the end of recording the Peppers found themselves in the enviable position of having too many songs for a single record. “Usually we have more music than Anthony writes lyrics and melodies for. We’ve accepted that it’s part of the process for us, but for this record he was so inspired that he finished all of them So we had 36 songs that were completely Lane, and we’re like `Man, we gotta this out.

“We were trying to figure out how to do it, and we hit on the idea of maybe putting one record out and nine months later put another out and put the third one out nine months after that and make a trilogy out of it. But then we figured that maybe there were a few songs that weren’t album worthy, so we decided to take the best ones and make two records, and release them a year apart, but then we thought people might feel like the second one was just B-sides. We finally decided that we would do it as a double CD, since it was all part of this nine-month creative burst of writing and recording; leave it to the Chili Peppers after 21 years to put out a double CD. We wanted everyone to know that this is what we were doing at that time, and I feel confident that it’s a really good representation of us at this point in our career. I’m very proud of it.”

Smith points out that the band decided to slightly alter the idea of recording completely live with the amps and drums in the same room. “We tried playing in the room all together, and it really didn’t change the sound all that much actually, because the way Rick likes to hear stuff is with a lot of close miking on the drums and a lot of up-front guitars and there’s not a lot of room sound. Also for John, there was a lot of pressure. He was doing a great job, but I know he didn’t feel like he was doing it justice. When you play live and play your solos and you keep drums, bass, and guitar, you have to play it right and live with your mistakes. It was really a challenge for him, and he was going through a time with his playing that he just didn’t feel all that confident. We kept Flea’s rig in the room, and John took his out to the other room and he just felt way more comfortable.

“We did what we always do, which is play together in the same room and be able to look at each other and play off that. That’s really the most important thing for getting a good performance. I’m very happy with the sound we got. It wasn’t what we were originally planning to do, but it sounds great.”

OPEN THE FLOODGATES. May 2006 looks to be one of the biggest months in Smith’s career. While Stadium Arcadium wrapped production, he kept busy with a number of undertakings, including playing drums on the upcoming Dixie Chicks record as well as producing and playing on a project by former Deep Purple bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes. He decided to record the Hughes record at his house, so his living room is a jumble of cords and drums. He sits down on the couch and keeps a parental eye as his ten-month-old son crawls toward a microphone stand.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, having a little boy,” he reflects. “I’ve been fortunate to be home and be able to see him grow so quickly this first year. I’m in a really good place. I’m really lucky to still be playing music and be happy with the band. Everything is fresh again. You grow up and your priorities in life and what’s important to you changes. The Peppers are just a rock band. It’s not an important job we have. It’s not like being a doctor or a teacher. We’re not saving lives and we’re not changing the world. We make people happy with our music and that’s an awesome thing to do, but in the grand scheme of things we’re four guys playing music. If it ended tomorrow, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You look at it as what’s important in your life, and so that’s why we took the time off. I want to enjoy my life and be with my family and so do the other guys. That’s what makes you want to come back and write music and do it again instead of you have to. You don’t want it to be a job. There are aspects of it that are a job, but wanting to create music and wanting to make these songs with these guys — you can’t force that. At least you can’t with us.

“We’re really lucky that people want to come to see us and still care about our music. I can count on one hand the bands that have been together for over 20 years and people still want to hear when a new record comes out. We’re lucky to be on that hand.”

HOW TO Make GOOD Drums SOUND Better

MARK LINETT, SOUND ENGINEER

Although Mark Linett has worked on every imaginable kind of session in his 30-plus years on the L.A. scene, including manning the board on records by such diverse artists as Jane’s Addiction, Eric Clap-ton, and Frank Zappa, it was his live-tracking talents that drew him to the attention of producer Rick Rubin, who was looking for a new way to record his longtime collaborators, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rubin had heard Mark Linett’s Grammy Award—winning work on Brian Wilson’s SMILE and had admired the veteran engineer’s ability to sonically capture a band playing all together in the same room — the way records were made in the days before multitracking arrived and sent everyone off to the isolation booth.

“The idea was to try to go a lot more organic” says Linett from his elaborate home studio in California. “It fit in with the kind of things I’d been doing, especially with Brian, where we put everybody in the same room and use the leakage to a certain extent to make a better-sounding and more organic record”

To capture Chad Smith’s drums in a live-tracking situation, Linett found the best approach was to keep it simple. The drums were basically recorded with a four-microphone setup. “I tried to do a more minimal treatment with Chad,” says Linett, “which was partly dictated with putting everybody in the same room.

“We tried to capture a lot of the sound with the two overheads [vintage Sony C37s], which were placed not in the usual over-the-cymbals position, but more of an overall drum kit kind of setup with one mike over Chad’s shoulder and the other one off to the side of the floor tom. It’s kind of reminiscent of something [legendary Who and Led Zeppelin engineer] Glyn Johns used to do a lot:’

Linett points out that the real essential to getting great drum sounds isn’t using expensive gear or recording in a lavish studio. “I don’t care what kind of mikes and high-end audio equipment you have, if the drummer’s good it really doesn’t matter, and if the drummer is not good, it really doesn’t matter. Chad is a great drummer. My rule of thumb is that I’ve never heard a good drummer sound bad and I’ve never heard a bad drummer sound good.”

BY JON COHAN

 

 

Six CHAD SMITH Gigs You May HAVE MISSED

Have you ever seen a drummer solo along to the National Anthem in front of 20,000 sports fans? This was one of the more high-profile but obscure Chad gigs that I, his brother, have witnessed. The brilliant minds at DRUM! thought you’d enjoy reading some of my tales, so here are a few of my favorite moments that have shaped Chad into the well-rounded, humble genius that he is.

1968 – Bedroom Unplugged. In his first documented performance, Chad air-drummed to Beatles songs using Lincoln Log sticks and ice cream tub drums. We wore matching yarn necklaces. Here he learned a golden rule of rock: Presentation can be as important as performance.

1973 – Elk’s Club. Now in a four-piece band and using standard equipment, we played for our father’s going-away party at his job. Chad had just learned his first drum fill, and he used it at the end of almost every 16 bars – the exact same tom tom roll. The set consisted of the finest songs from Alice Cooper, John Denver, and Hendrix, and one Deep Purple song (guess which one). We were on the brink of becoming British rock junkies.

1978 – Graduation Party. As Chad’s power trio jammed a 20-minute version of Rush’s “Working Man:’ the cops busted my friend’s party and jailed a few stragglers. As I sat in the “gray hotel,” I hoped Chad learned another golden rule: Sometimes it is better to be in the band, than just with the band.

1986 – Houseboat Rooftop Jam. In his first summer festival setting, Chad and I played Johnny Cash and George Jones songs to the deer and fish during one of our annual fishing expeditions. As our father and uncle steered the boat into the docks, we’d still be on top the boat, working out the sublime art of boom-chuck and strum.

1991 – The Palace Of Auburn Hills. In front of a sold-out Detroit Pistons playoff crowd, Chad played along to a recording of the National Anthem. No band, just him and his courage in front of his hometown peeps. He channeled his nervous energy into the most intense, creative, intelligent, and powerful performance I’ve ever witnessed. He took a nonmelodic instrument, made it “sing,” and blew everyone away.

2006 – Bart’s Blues Bar. Back home in Detroit for the recent Super Bowl, we enjoyed red-carpet parties, and drank and ate on ESPN’s tab. But in the midnight hour, we ended up in a blues bar at 8 Mile and Woodward. Chad sat in and rocked the house band, lending his ghost-note snare rolls, dropped-bomb floor tom fills, and dynamic cymbal work to Motown’s greatest hits. That night he enjoyed the celebrity world, but he loved the music world. We went back to that bar the next night, and he played two full sets.

If you can take something from all of this fraternal sentiment, it is that success comes through dedication, courage, flexibility, and sincerity. I’ve had the honor of watching a kid rise to the top of his game. I think he’s the best in the world, not because he was in my first band, but because every time he plays a gig, he plays like it’s his last – and rocks the lid off any place that will take him. Play on drummer, play on brother.

By BRAD SMITH

 

 

EIGHT REASONS TO HIRE CHAD SMITH

Although he has played with some of the greatest drummers in rock, including such legends as John Bonham, Ian Paice, and Steve Gadd, these days former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes calls Chad Smith whenever he begins work on a new solo album. We asked if he could list his reasons why. Here’s what he had to say.

  1. Chad is a tremendous powerhouse. I love watching him bite the air and yell and scream as he is funkin’ behind me.
  2. He listens to the song arrangement and understands where the song is going.
  3. The greatest all-around drummer whose style has been influenced by the rock/funk generation.
  4. His dynamics are second to none. He seems to understand working with bass players like Flea and myself, the beautiful moments where there should be nothing but air.
  5. He is an avid fan of all music. It is really evident in his style of playing on my new record coming out this year that he is the bastard stepchild of Bon-ham and Keith Moon.
  6. I have never known anyone with this much energy on and off stage.
  7. When we are rehearsing, Chad must hear what I am singing, as it is crucial to him to musically bond. I don’t think I have ever worked with a drummer who has been so involved with my voice.
  8. Chad is my closest friend, and it is great to play music with him. There is a lot of laughter.

By GLENN HUGHES

 

 

PRIME CUTS

While his primary loyalty never strayed far from the Chili Pepper camp, Chad Smith dabbled in some outside projects along the way. Here are some highlights from his recorded work.

1989

Mother’s Milk

Smith’s first recording with the Red Hot Chili Peppers was also the band’s commercial breakthrough, thanks to hits like their reworking of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”

1991

Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Mother’s Milk introduced the Chili Peppers to the public, but Blood Sugar Sex Magik made them superstars. More importantly, Rick Rubin cranked Smith’s drums to the forefront.

1994

Fruit Of Life

Itching to stay active following the mega Blood Sugar tour, Smith shared drumming duties with Pete Thomas on this debut by the Scottish band The Wild Colonials.

1995

Means To An End: The Music Of Joy Division

Smith plays on “Day Of The Lords” with Honeymoon Stitch, a pseudonym for him and future Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro.

1995

Working Class Hero: A Tribute To John Lennon

The Peppers hoped to record “Cold Turkey” but got aced out by Cheap Trick. Instead they cut “I Found Out” at Rick Rubin’s house.

1995

One Hot Minute

A transitional CD Smith describes as the Chili Peppers’ “rock” album, a sidestep that can be attributed to Dave Navarro’s brief tenure as the band’s guitarist.

1996

Monkey On Rico

On the lone release by Thermadore — a short-lived band fronted by Chili Peppers roadie Rob Rule — Smith played half the cuts while Josh Freese covered the rest.

1996

Dangerous Madness

Never one to forsake his Detroit roots, Smith kicked out jams with his early Motor City hero, founding MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, on the track “Dead Movie Stars?’

1997

Blue Moon Swamp

Smith appeared on the single “Walking In A Hurricanes,’ joining an incredible roster of drummers who laid down tracks for this album, which took John Fogerty a decade to complete.

1997

We Will Fall: The lggy Pop Tribute

The Peppers contributed “Search And Destroy:’ tracked during the Blood Sugar sessions. Smith nervously cut his part while Jim Keltner watched from the wings.

1999

Californication

The return of Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante signaled the band’s revitalization both personally and musically. Unpredictably, Smith’s favorite drum track is his jazzy brushwork on “Porcelain.’

2000

The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx

Smith cut this cover of “Shaky Ground” with his old friends in Fishbone, drumming along with a trio of bassists: Flea, Norwood Fisher, and Billy Bass.

2002

By The Way

The Chili Peppers sound matures beyond the wildest expectations. Smith calls By The Way his “ride album” because of how much he favored that cymbal on this CD.

2003

Songs In The Key Of Rock

A longtime Deep Purple fan, Smith savored his first opportunity to record with bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes (see Hughes’ comments on the opposite page).

2003

Unearthed

Rick Rubin called Smith at 6:00 P.M. to do this session. An hour later, Smith was face to face with Johnny Cash tracking “Heart Of Gold” and “I’m A Drifter?’

 

 

GROOVE ANALYSIS

Chad Smith Rocks Again

In our era of online file sharing, record labels are understandably paranoid about sending advance music to journalists, which only makes our job more difficult when the time comes to feature those same artists whose CDs are kept at arm’s length. Such was the case with the Chili Peppers’ newest release, Stadium Arcadium. But we did have an ace in the hole – author Jon Cohan, who also was Chad Smith’s drum technician during the recording. He had one of the few precious unauthorized advance copies of the double CD, so we sat down one afternoon and transcribed a few of Smith’s tastier licks from it.

“CHARLIE” “Charlie” starts out with quarter-notes played with the hi-hat pedal for the first two bars, ending with a 5-stroke closed roll on the & ah of beat 4 to start the main groove, which is funky and driving. Notice the delayed snare backbeat on the & of 4 in measures one and three, which gives it that James Brown feel. Also, check out the accented hi-hat on the & of 4 in measure two, to add that extra spice. Plus, his fill in measure four has accents on the ah of 3 and beat 4 to give the fill some inter-dynamics. Smith’s fill before the chorus begins with an open hi-hat on beat 3 that rings out, signaling the powerful sixteenth-note fill starting on the & of 3. The chorus is a straight-ahead rock groove, which is a nice contrast to the funky verse. Notice the snare buzz on the ah of 4 in measure four that flows into the crash.

“READYMADE” The opening groove of this song is interesting in that the beat flips around. Notice in measure two the snare gets displaced to the & of 4, creating an illusion that the groove may suddenly be in odd-time. This shifting of the beat resolves itself in measure four with a fill on the & ah of 4 and also in the second ending on the 4 &

“HARD TO CONCENTRATE Smith played this grove with Vater Acoustick specialty sticks on the snare for low-volume dynamics. It’s a consistent sixteenth-note rhythm accenting every third note starting with the & of beat to giving it a polyrhythmic feel. This is a very relaxed groove with the hi-hat on beats 2 and 4 and the bass on beat 1.

“WE BELIEVE”’ This a very funky groove with open hi-hats and ghost notes. There are three open hi-hat hits, but the first one rings out and the second two are opened and dosed quickly. Smith fills the gap behind these hi-hats with ghost notes. Notice the tricky little ghost note on the ah of 4. All snare hits are played with the left hand. The fill going into the chorus begins on the e of 3 with two thirty-second-notes followed by sixteenths, with eighth-note bass drums underneath. What makes this groove are the jabbing snare hits on e of beats 3 and 1.

“TURN IT AGAIN” “Turn It Again’ is a tasty groove with syncopated upbeats with the open hi-hat on the & of 3 and delayed backbeat on the & of 4. Notice in measure eight Smith leaves off the hi-hats on beat 4, which adds to the suspense before hitting the crash. ?

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