The best of eighties gated drums.

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Blazer, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Well I guess we all recognize this guy and we all know THAT sound.

    But what not many people realize that Phil Collins wasn't the only one who utilized that powerful "cannon shot" gated drum sound, in fact it was more every day than people figured it was.
    This is Tony Thompson, best known for being the drummer for Chic but he also was the guy who embraced the gated drum sound even more than Phil Collins did.

    So where did it start?

    Well it got its origin when Phil worked with his former Genesis band mate. Producer Hugh Padgham conversed with Collins using a microphone which went from the control room into the studio and by accident left it on while Phil began recording, resulting in feedback coming through the speakers and bled into the drums' overhead mics which made the drums sound really powerful.

    We know the rest of the story "In the air tonight", "Mama" and further Phil Collins and Genesis material from the eighties used that sound. BUT Collins also knew when NOT to use that sound, a song like "that's all" for example has Phil Playing without that sound.

    But let's talk about other examples of eighties music in which that gated drum sound was heard.

    Madonna "Material girl"
    When being interviewed about his work with Madonna, producer Nile Rodgers told her "Look, we can make this album sound like your previous album, which will make it fit right in with every other pop album which is out there. OR, we can make it stand out and have some serious musicians play on it, it's your call." No drum machines and as little synths as possible. Madonna agreed with his logic and Nile brought in his buddies from Chic, Bernard Edwards and Drummer Tony Thompson and track the songs in a power trio set up. Using the gated drums to really give this song in particular some serious punch.

    Well with Cannon shot drums, it shouldn't be surprise that Metal bands also took notice. And a band which needed a shot in the arms pretty badly was Kiss and they got it when drummer Eric Carr was coupled to the gated drum sound.

    "I love it loud" put the band right back to full strength.

    Duran Duran "A view for a kill"

    Duran Duran had already started working with gated drums on their debut album but truly got the hang of it on the "Notorious" album where they had Tony Thompson (familiar name?) provide all the drum tracks and most notably on the song "Skin trade" But original DD drummer Roger Taylor (No, NOT that one...) was pretty adept to working with that sound as well, as this song and songs like "Wild Boys" showcased.

    Finally and this one might catch people off guard.

    With Tears for Fears the gated drum sound was used to make the general sound of the band really vast, it wasn't as in your face as a song like "Some like it hot" was but it's there.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
  2. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    +1. He also had/has an amazing knack for knowing where a drum machine would work and where it wouldn't. I have a lot of respect for drummers who get this concept – they are few and far between. Reading Collins' Not Dead Yet: The Memoir (2017) helped me to gain a better appreciation for the guy as a musician and producer.
    Padgham. Another brilliant guy with the patience of a saint who was somehow able to put up with toxicity of working with The Police.
    Bobro likes this.
  3. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Another Padgham helmed masterpiece, this whole album, with a vastly overlooked drummer, Terry Chambers;
    a key track...
    jerry likes this.
  4. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Captain Pedantic would like to offer a few minor corrections to your origins story:

    His name is Hugh Padgham. And he was the engineer on that third Peter Gabriel album; Steve Lillywhite was the producer.
    And the "effect" wasn't because of feedback or bleed, it was because the talkback circuit on an SSL4000 console has an extremely steep limiter strapped across the mics, which ostensibly allows the folks in the control room to hear musicians from anywhere in the tracking room regardless of how close they are to the mics when they complain that their headphones suck or that they're "not feeling it, can we get more chips and blow?" and so when they left the mics on during a take they heard Phil's drums processed through this high-ratio/low threshold limiter which was both squashing the drum transients and bringing up all the background room ambience.
    JimK likes this.
  5. Blazer


    Nov 27, 2003
    The Netherlands
    Rogue luthier employed at Knooren Handcrafted bass guitars
    Okay, my bad, thanks for the correction.

    Getting Padgham's name wrong was more a result of a typo though.
    JimK and Bob_Ross like this.
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