In modern recording, recording a drum kit has become an exact science. The drums are usually close-miked, frequencies are surgically removed with EQ, and then a ton of aggressive compression is let off the leash. The resulting sound is very clean, punchy, and impressive. Now that’s all good and well, but I’ve completely lost my passion for recording drum kits. These days, I can’t wait to get to the guitars and vocals so I can add effects and do cool things. Why aren’t we doing this with drum kits? Why are the drums being left out of the creative process?
In the 60’s and 70’s, drum kit recordings could be heard painted with flangers, phasers, delays, you name it. Then in the 80’s, the modulation effects stopped and it was all about reverb/echo. The 90’s dropped the ballad style reverb and resigned to distortion and lo-fi effects…Then it seemed to stop completely and I haven’t heard an effected kit since.
So the next time you record a kit, or even use virtual drum software – whatever drums you have in your mix, mess with them! Try a flanger, a phaser, a chorus, distortion, crazy panning delays, anything to make it more exciting. Not only will you find that you need less instruments to fill out the mix, but it’ll be so much more interesting and unique. And don’t forget that drums are all separate instruments and as such, can all have different effects. Flange the toms, distort the kick, put a multi-tap delay on the snare, and how about a nice airy chorus on the cymbals?