Gavin Harrison here!

Adam Sayers

Member
Hi Gavin, hope you're well and enjoying downtime from the mighty Crim' - although I know it will probably be spent practising!

I just wanted to ask you for some advice on an issue I'm currently facing in the early stages of my journey as a professional drummer. I know it has probably always been the case to some extent, but it seems that nowadays in order to really support yourself as an aspiring professional you need to have your fingers in many pies. I've been teaching and playing in bands for a number of years, and I've been fortunate enough over the past year or so to be able to venture down the route of working as a remote session drummer too.

(To provide a bit of context, myself and a friend decided to team up and open a studio together specialising in remote session drumming at the back end of 2019 - granted it probably wasn't the greatest time to do so with everything that was to follow! That being said after a rocky year or so we're just about ready to open our doors and offer our services to the public).

The issue I'm having is recording with my main band. I'm sure you've been subject to many a band member, artist, engineer or producer being very particular about what you play. Which I've accepted as the nature of being in a certain band or situation, there is usually some amount of democracy/fair say, and a level of professionalism to adhere to. However, the issue I'm having is that the main songwriter in this band or 'main creative influence' wants to have full control over my drum sound. Which once again I'm willing to allow to some extent, given that it's justified for a textural purpose or sonic effect. But in all honesty, he's not only butchering the sound of the drums by not understanding the process and intricacies of working with such a complex instrument, but he's also ruining the intention of the parts and their execution.

I'm stuck in a difficult situation, apart from this issue, everything else with regard to the band is as near perfect as I could ask for. It's a pretty good gig to have at this stage of my 'career' and there's plenty of opportunities for me with this band - although that isn't my primary motivation! I know you're someone who is very particular about your sound since it reflects the intention of your parts too (and I must say as well as being such a beautiful sound it's an instantly distinguishable one too!).

Looking back on your own career, if you've experienced a similar issue/situation what did you do?
Did you accept it for what it was and where you were at the time in your career? Or has it always been something that you've been able to maintain control of?

As a final note, I'm aware that this situation can occur when working as a professional remote session drummer. The overall sound can be ultimately at the mercy of the client, which will be the case until I potentially reach a point or level where 'my sound' is desired. But that's just something to aspire to for now.

If you've made it this far thank you for taking the time to read all of this, I tried to condense it down but at the same time wanted to provide as much detail about the matter as possible. It's a rarity to be able to be in direct contact with one of your greatest influences, let alone to have them take the time to respond to your questions. I think I can speak on behalf of everyone in this thread to say thank you for doing what you do!

All the best
Adam
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Adam

I understand the situation you find yourself in - I have been in similar situations. There's nearly always some kind of compromise needed in a band. Sometimes there are personality clashes and egoes and someone might be trying to have control over you. If it's something you just can't live with - there's always the option to just quit - but trying to see the bigger picture is an important part too. Sometimes it's a balance you just need to keep working on and things can change and improve.
Being a professional session drummer is a bit of a different thing - until the point when they specifically want you and part of that is your drum ideas and sound. In the decades when I worked as a professional session drummer - I was happy for the work (and I needed the money) so I accepted that for a majority of the time I'd be asked to play music I didn't really like and possibly play in a way I didn't love either - but to have any success in the session world you need to give them what they want and be nice and smiley along the way - or they will find someone else - and I handed over the drum files and didn't worry about what they were going to do with them. 90% of the times I heard the finished mix - I was disappointed - but I gave up my 'rights of control' the minute I was doing the session just for money. I'm in a fortunate position now that I don't need to do that kind of work anymore - but it was all part of a long musical career journey. Occasionally some things were good/interesting/inspiring and I met and worked with people that I would never have met otherwise.

best of luck
Gavin
 

GalenMusic

Member
I'm not sure if it might just be burnout-related, but every gig I play at the minute, I'm totally wiped out physically the day after! I'm still able to play everything I need to, but it's definitely making teaching work and practice time a whole lot harder. I keep a fairly good diet, get enough sleep for the most part, don't drink alcohol, and stay relatively fit and active without overworking myself. Have you gone through any phases like this? Have you found any good ways of getting out of the rut, or figuring out how to prevent it in the first place? I've got (relatively) good technique and haul as much gear as possible on a trolley so I don't overwork myself on the gig itself, but drums is always going to be a physically demanding instrument I guess.
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi GalenMusic

yes I have certainly felt that way before. A few things can make me feel exhausted (apart from the obvious stuff of touring like lack of sleep or jet-lag). Playing too hard, holding my breath when I'm playing (together with poor posture) - all of which I'm guilty of - but I'm not always aware that I'm doing it. Film yourself playing and see if you can see where you are straining or making movements that don't flow and look natural.
I have to also consider that I have been doing this for the last 41 years - and I can remember breezing through some hard 3.5 hour shows in the past - but that might have been 30 years ago or so. In my mind I still think I can do it - but I'm 30 years older. I'm pretty determined to not let the age thing be a factor - so I try to build up stamina from cycling and resting. Playing the drums won't make you fit - you need to be fit to play them in the first place.
I read an interesting interview with Roger Federer (World Champion tennis player) and he said that - when he's playing competitively - he sleeps about 12 hours a day. 10 at night and then a 2 hour nap during the day. I do try to get 9 or 9.5 hours sleep if I can - and during this last King Crimson tour - I slept for an hour or so every afternoon.

best of luck
Gavin
 

sal_tpa

Junior Member
Hello Gavin, I notice in songs like "Dark Matter" , "Cheating the Polygraph" , and "Mother and Child Divided" you'll play single paradiddles on the double pedal as 16th note triplets. My question is, for the paradiddle, what technique are you using to get the last two notes of the right-left-right-right? Heel-toe or just two "normal" strokes played quickly? See you at Sony Hall again next year!

- Salvador
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hello Gavin, I notice in songs like "Dark Matter" , "Cheating the Polygraph" , and "Mother and Child Divided" you'll play single paradiddles on the double pedal as 16th note triplets. My question is, for the paradiddle, what technique are you using to get the last two notes of the right-left-right-right? Heel-toe or just two "normal" strokes played quickly? See you at Sony Hall again next year!

- Salvador
Hi Salvador

I don't actually play any kind of paradiddles on the double pedal. I only play single strokes and always start with the right foot.

best of luck
Gavin
 

MusiQmaN

Platinum Member
Dear Gavin.

As I watched the IA documentary, I noticed you used a Yamaha snare (I thought it was a Tama at first, but just read your reply earlier this topic 😬)

I also saw some other snares like a 5” maple DW, and a LM402.

Could you tell us a bit more about the snares used on the songs, and why those were chosen?

Thank you in advance, I love what you are doing (so sad I had to miss you here in Amsterdam last week) good luck with the tour!!!

Also, thank you for everything these past years. Me and pops loved PT (we even went to see a show just around the IA release) and now that he is gone, these memories live forever.

I used your dual drumkey tuning ever since I learned about it, and it always helped me getting the sound im looking for (I hope Sonor will release your keys for slotted tuning rods too in the future).

My previous custom DW kit had 15/18 floors too, and I hope to get those sizes in the future wiht my current custom Horst Link SE kit too:
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Roger//

Junior Member
Hi Gavin,

I was at the gig in Amsterdam (Paradiso). I was wondering how you are mounting your microphones with you using s-hoops. Could you take a picture (or 2) and show it? I have an s-hoop on my snare and also would like them on my toms. But when it comes to microphones the s-hoops are somewhat more tricky. A separate mic stand for a snare and bass is common but not for toms (at least live in my experience)
Thank you so much!
I enjoyed the gig a lot. You guy where great and spot on. You sounded great. That snare was just a gunshot! Amazing tone out of the drums.

Regards,

Roger
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi MusiQmaN

As I watched the IA documentary, I noticed you used a Yamaha snare (I thought it was a Tama at first, but just read your reply earlier this topic 😬)
I also saw some other snares like a 5” maple DW, and a LM402.Could you tell us a bit more about the snares used on the songs, and why those were chosen?


In the end I think I just used my my old 1982 Yamaha 14x5 snare drum on everything. The studio had a lot of snares and I tried quite a few (like the Ludwig LM402) but in the end none of them suited the way I play. I think I used a 14x4 Sonor as a left snare tuned really high.

By the way you got a beautiful old Sonor set there!!!

HI Roger//

I was at the gig in Amsterdam (Paradiso). I was wondering how you are mounting your microphones with you using s-hoops. Could you take a picture (or 2) and show it? I have an s-hoop on my snare and also would like them on my toms. But when it comes to microphones the s-hoops are somewhat more tricky. A separate mic stand for a snare and bass is common but not for toms (at least live in my experience)

yes it's not easy to attach 'hoop mounted' mics on S-Hoops - but I really don't like mounting mics straight off the hoops anyway. So I found a mic attachment from Shure called A75M (it usually comes supplied when you buy the Shure Mic 98AMP)

Screenshot 2021-10-27 at 13.32.57.png

and that way I can mount it off the Sonor tom suspension arm which is away from the shell...(here it is holding an EV 468)

IMG_4250.jpg

and here it is holding a Shure 98AMP

IMG_4252.jpg

for the floor toms I just mount the mic arms off the Gibraltar rack.

cheers
Gavin
 
Porcupine Tree and the teaser video, nice. Have high hopes we’ll be able to hear/see you guys soon
 
Love the new song Harridan! Looking forward to everything. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally on the horizon. Glad PT is back together
 
Congratulations on the return of Porcupine Tree! No doubt I will be there at the Wembley gig. I was only 17 when I attended the last PT gig at the Albert Hall and I'll be 30 by the time of the Wembley show which feels pretty weird. Can't wait though!
 

bananers

Junior Member
Hey Gavin,

Just came here to say how absolutely excited I am to have Porcupine Tree to look forward to next year... I got into PT only a few years ago and it's a dream come true to see you with them in 2022!!!

Best,
Alannah
 

GalenMusic

Member
Really appreciate the advice on lots of sleep, it definitely seems to be the solution - next question, how to fall asleep in a chair without getting woken up or weirding everyone else out when you're on the road!

Serious question though, I've been dealing with left hand fulcrum slipping for a long time, which doesn't seem to be a right hand problem. I've been tackling this with mirroring and maintaining constant fulcrum pressure rather than allowing it to tighten/ loosen, but I've found that I'm able to adjust my grip mid-playing to get back to the ideal position rather than my grip slowly moving further down to the butt of the stick. This seems fine in the short term, but in the long term, is this a maladaption that will cause problems, or just a step toward getting my left stick under greater control that will smooth out over time? I'd rather not get complacent with such a fundamental part of technique!
 
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Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Folks
thanks for the kind words about the return of Porcupine Tree. It will be a blast I'm sure.

Hi GalenMusic

I've been dealing with left hand fulcrum slipping for a long time, which doesn't seem to be a right hand problem. I've been tackling this with mirroring and maintaining constant fulcrum pressure rather than allowing it to tighten/ loosen, but I've found that I'm able to adjust my grip mid-playing to get back to the ideal position rather than my grip slowly moving further down to the butt of the stick. This seems fine in the short term, but in the long term, is this a maladaption that will cause problems, or just a step toward getting my left stick under greater control that will smooth out over time? I'd rather not get complacent with such a fundamental part of technique!

yes for sure the grip is very important - but I'm really not the model 'perfect-grip-technique' guy. You might be better off asking a guy with great hands - like Jojo Mayer.
I guess I do what feels right and what I need to do to get my sound. I play 'matched grip' but they really are not matched the same. For most of the music I play - the left hand does a very different job (90% of time) to the right. I grip the left stick at the absolute end of the stick with my little finger and I guess the fulcrum is between the little finger and the next one up (the ring finger). I must say that once I started using Mr Zog's Sex Wax (surf board wax) that was a game changer for me. It helped enormously and I've never looked back. Before I started with any kind of 'grip-aid' I used to have a feeling that the sticks were slipping away from me. Best of luck with it.

Cheers
Gavin
 
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