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Session Drummers- How to break it to your regular drummer?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by RDY2RMBL, Apr 15, 2010.



    Feb 8, 2007
    Our drummer is okay live and at rehearsals, but when we go to studio he takes a loooong time to get good takes, and even when we got the best one he had, there were still a couple mess-ups. We'd like to use a session/studio drummer for recording our e.p to speed things up, but how do I broach the subject with him so there's no bad blood? The (phenomenal) guitarist and him are brothers so that makes it tough as well. I take awhile to lay my vocal track down because I'm not the best vocalist (but I am the lead singer) so he could say the same about me, but you can change the drummer without necessarily changing the sound of the band, not so much with the vocals. Thoughts? Opinions? am I a bad person?
  2. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Seems like there are a couple inconsistencies in your statement. You say 'we' want to use a session drummer, but that it may be a problem because he is the guitar player's brother. Is it unanimous? You also say you take a lot of takes, so why the judgement? If he is actually holding you back as a band, I guess you need a new drummer. If I was asked to 'sit it out' for a session bassist, I'd walk.
  3. shackled


    Jun 25, 2009
    Western NY
    No doubt. +1
  4. heavyfunkmachin


    Jan 21, 2005
    if I was asked to sit out for a session bassis t i would play the songs till my hands bleed and NAIL them down to prove im worthy... and THEN maybe walk out...

  5. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    enjoy the drama!!! if i were the drummer i would tell you whatever, but that's just me. maybe he could "DumbDown" his parts in the studio. i normally go with a less fancy performance in the studio and save the fire works for the stage when appropriate. as far as breaking the news,...let the brother tell him. if you do, he will make you feel like CRAP if you miss your vocal parts!!!
    i tried to coach my friends band during a recording session once and it was a waste of my time. they over-played, over-killed the effects, and couldn't achieve a great final mix. live they were amazing! in the studio,.... super lame. it happens every day, all day.
    anyway,... i gave up because they wouldn't take simple direction and broke-up over the frustration they experienced in the studio. so sad to see these awesome musicians lose it.


    Feb 8, 2007
    Well, we as in the recording guy and I, our guitarist is of course on the fence torn between loyalty for the band and to his brother. The drummer is holding us back as a band, he practices the least amount out of all of us and his beats are pretty generic. But our guitarist doesn't want to kick him out because he'd never hear the end of it from his family yada yada yada... Basically this would be simply making it more bearable to have him still play drums with us.
  7. with a reminder that a lot of great bands use session players on their tracks, the Beatles, at least.
    Suggest a simple "time is money" approach. Let him hear what he is doing wrong on the Playbacks, then ask him if he can get his chops up to the mark by the next session. If he can't then, tell him that he needs to shed, and, to keep the project from bogging down, you have to get a session drummer. Give him the option to practice and replace the session drummer's tracks, if there is time left over to do it.

    Make a lot of effort to split personal from professional- tell him you prefer him in a working situation, and this has nothing to do at all with his position in the band. Tell him there will always be drummers better than he is, but the band chemistry is what matters, and that is why you want him in the band. But, you have a finite time to get this recording done, and he needs to work more on his parts, or you have to get a session player who can lay it down in a couple of takes.

    Let him come watch the guy work - if your drummer really wants to be a positive member of the band, he will, and learn from watching a pro in action. If he goes all ego- y on you then this is a sign of future problems.

    As a bass player, I have been on both sides of the fence. My early sessions, I thought I was "all that" until I heard the playbacks, then I realized I was just fooling myself. The band pulled in a pro and I learned his parts. It made me a better player, to watch a hot bass player lay it down in 2 takes, and compare what he did with what I did.
    When I got my studio chops together, I wound up on the other side of the fence - retracking or laying down bass parts for bass players who had no studio chops. One one end, I retracked a whole CD, and the original bass player had no clue- nobody told him, and he thought for years that was his bass tracks. On the other, I was called in during a session- the bass player just was not getting it and costing time and effort. It was really sticky there, when I walked in with my bass over my shoulder- the bass player went ballistic, and I didn't blame him. But the producer told the bass player "just watch, and if this guy (me) doesn't get it in a couple of tries, you can go back in." I laid it down in two takes (the tracks weren't that hard, anyway), and the bass player just looked stunned. I asked for a break, and took the guy aside, and told him this is not personal at all, that I had done a lot of session work, and that I wasn't that good live, so he has something on me. I asked him if he would like to sit next to me while I tracked. I did everything I could to soothe his ego and it worked. He finally got that he was not going to be dumped over a session track. Later on, I laid down a really hot bass track for another guy, an R&B artist, but, my track was replaced by a really hot, well known bass player's work. It happens.

    So you guys that say you'd walk if your tracks were redone, you guys need an attitude adjustment and some maturity. You get your parts ready before a session- you get them down so you can play them all by yourself with a metronome - no other instruments but your bass-, you record them at home that way with no mistakes and right with the click, until you can pick up at any spot in the track and play it perfectly to the end every time. Then you can earn your attitude.
  8. there's a thread on this..... though the reasons for replacing someone with a session guy are money,money,and sometimes money,it's never going to be an easy sell for the guy who has to sit out....to most guys it would be a studio equivalent of walking on stage and taking the sticks out of his hand
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    You see, that`s why you don`t play in bands that have family members in them (be it yours or theirs). It just can never work out well if one of them isn`t up to par or if both of them team up against the band and say if one goes we both go... I recently had this conversation with my keys player who wanted to add his brother on as a second guitar. I told him my vote was a flat out no. The rest of the band also saw eye to eye with me. It`s just not worth it.

    But getting back to your case. Have your guitarist do it. It`s his brother and, in my honest opinion, his responsibility - especially if he knows the drummer is weak but is hesitant to remove him. That said, the drummer probably will get mad but there`s not much you can do about it other than say "sorry". He`ll either leave or resent you for it though....
  10. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Why don't you cut out the bad parts and loop the good parts? Quick. Easy. Done and move on.
  11. dalahorse


    Apr 14, 2010
    This is my first post on talkbass. So hello everyone!

    I'm a pretty new bassist, but have been a drummer for about 22 years. In that time, I've met, listened to, practiced with, taught to, and learned from so many drummers. Something I notice about a significant majority of beginning and intermediate drummers is that they aren't solid - especially through fills and such. If they have a click, they can usually play a pretty solid beat. But leading up to, playing through, and coming out of fills and transitions can get shaky. Even worse, the drummer may fill or come out of a fill at a slightly different tempo.

    A couple of things you might be able to do... First, have him play a part that's simpler and has fewer fills. While it's fun to play busy or pull off the greatest fill ever, it doesn't sound good if we aren't locked in perfectly with the bass and the rest of the band (but mostly the bass (edit: which is why I decided to become a bassist!)). Not everyone gets to be Neil Peart! So simpler with less fills. Maybe he could even just record straight beat, and go back and record fills where needed after the rest of the recording is done. If he nails a solid 8 or 16 bars and the studio is using computer-based recording gear, the engineer could cut-n-paste his part into the rest of the song and quantize the heck out of it. I'm assuming the engineer already has the drum mics (except overheads) gated and compressed.

    About replacing him for recording purposes... That's a tough one. If the whole band agrees, it'd probably be best to have the entire band sit down with him. I'd imagine that'd turn into more of a productive discussion and not single out anyone in the band as having a problem with him. One person barking orders and effectively firing him for studio purposes would likely make that one person look like a complete a-hole.

    I don't think you're a bad person for considering a session drummer. Also, a good session drummer should be able to listen to the initial takes and emulate the style with relative ease.

    Good luck!
  12. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    In my experience if you give one a guy a pass for shortcomings in their talent, but not another, you make for a poor band dynamic. You admit you're not the best vocalist, and that's an important part of a band. How would you feel about being replaced as the vocalist (or band for that matter)if the songs would sell better? Or what if the guys told you that your voice was holding them back?

    Only thing I've seen that gets a pass is if the guy owns the PA or books the gigs, and only if the gigs are real good.

    I'm sorry to say, but unless you're going to nail your vocals in 1-2 takes, you don't have enough cred to put this on your drummer. Otherwise, it's going to appear very unfair to have you do multiple takes for the sake of "quality", while you use a session drummer. And if you're flubbing and doing retakes, he probably won't see why he needs perfection in his playing. Also, if he's putting money into this recording, you better believe he's going to be pissed that his money will be going toward someone else playing drums and additional time to get your vocals right. And if you're going behind the drummers back to talk to his brother, and not him, and figure out what you're going to do without his input, well that's pretty shifty.

    Unless you're willing to step up your game, you work with the guy. The studio can take a few bars of solid drumming and make a loop out of it. But, if you were to nail your parts in the first two takes, it may inspire him to practice and get his act together too. Otherwise, he's just playing to the standard that he sees being set.
  13. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I agree fully. But, if the person suggesting the change can't nail the parts themselves in a couple of takes, they should also be heeding this info as well. If it's all in the name of saving money, and getting the best product out there, then everyone should be on board with this.
  14. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    That`s one of the things I hate the most about modern day recording. It basically allows you/a band to cover up for a players lack of talent. I`m not saying all takes are going to be amazing by all players, but it seems to bypass the true underlying issue that the OP addresses and that`s that the drummer simply isn`t up to par.

    Then again, the OP admit he isn`t up to par much himself.... I dunno anymore....
  15. duderasta


    Feb 25, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    LOL I want to know who's bright idea was it to go to the studio before all of you had the songs nailed anyhow? If 2 band members are having problems getting their parts tracked, maybe you just jumped the gun on recording?
  16. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    +1, this is just what I was about to say.

    If the OP had all his parts nailed, could pull them off in a take or two, then I could see using a session drummer. But the fact is that both the singer (OP) and the drummer dont have their parts down. Wait until you do, you'll spend much less $ on studio time.
  17. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009

    Something else that I may have missed in the thread: Who owns the songs?
  18. El Bajo

    El Bajo

    Apr 12, 2006
    Can he take multiple takes? If so then does he really need to be replaced by a session drummer. When I did my recordings I took several takes on each song, sometimes leaving out difficult parts until later. can't he just lay down a staright beat, then do teh fills after. It may even inspire him to be a bit more adventorous. If its sucks he can simply re record at a later date, it happened to me when the guys whern't happy with my parts.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    listened to a couple songs on myspace...i don't see what's so bad about him. he seems to fit the group dynamic on recordings. you guys seem to have a fun little band, and if you replace the drummer on sessions, you're going to create more ill will than it's worth at this point if you ask me.
  20. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Ideally, they should have their parts so nailed down that they could play them backwards and forwards to a metronome at various tempos. BUT, obviously this isn't the case. Studios cost money. So if your burning minutes trying to nail parts that should already be nailed, then you shouldn't have been in the studio in the first place BUT (and this is the reason for my post) in order to save money and stop the bleeding, a little cut and paste and loop is going to save a lot of time and money.

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