Join Ryan Hewitt for an in-depth discussion in this video Josh Freese, session and touring drummer, part of Drum Recording Session with Josh Freese.
(drum music) - So we've got great drums in here. Ross Garfield's tuned them up. We've put microphones on them. Now we need a guy to him them, and what better guy than Josh Freese, one of the most recorded guys in rock and roll today. He played with some of my favorite artists, he tours with everybody, he's all over the world, and I couldn't be more excited. - Cool man. - Thank you for coming. - Yeah, happy to be here. - So you've worked with Ross a lot. He's set your drums up on a regular basis. When you sit down at the kit in a recording studio, what's the first thing you do? What's your routine? - I'm kinda just making sure that everything's in place, and the drums all feel comfortable, and you wanna make sure there's no mics that you might come down and hit.
So yeah, you just wanna make sure that it's business as usual and you can kind of go from there. - Do you work with Ross on the selection of the drums for the set, or how does that work? Does he just show up with stuff you like? - Yeah, sometimes, I mean, usually it's gotten to the point where the majority of the stuff that I do is in the rock and pop genre, and for the most part, it's a pretty meat and potatoes kind of setup with a 22 inch kick, a couple racks, and a couple floors, or one rack and one floor, but it's usually a four or five piece drum set.
- And then, you know, when you sit down once you've got the sound and you're comfortable at the kit, what's your interaction with the engineer and the producer as far as getting what they want on this side of the glass? - I've been involved in every situation from me coming and them saying, do whatever you want, we hate the drum programming, we want you to be you. And then the other end of the spectrum is we want exactly what we programmed on that demo, and we want you to recreate that. Usually it's a hybrid, it's somewhere in the middle. It's like, here's the drums, here's kind of the vibe that we like, the chorus needs to be simpler, like our programming's too complicated there, or vice versa, you know, you gotta make it a little more busy in the bridge and liven it up, or we like the beat, but give it some cool fills and maybe ramp it up at the end.
You kinda, you know, like I said, you go back and forth, and you work on it a little bit, and hopefully get to a place you both are happy with pretty quick. - Do you like to get direction from them? Do you like to give them direction in terms of sounds, and songwriting, and parts? - I might be in the studio with someone that I really, really admire and really respect, so I'm really open to stuff, you know? And even if they're someone that I don't know or a producer I've never heard of, you still want to be open-minded to what they're going to suggest, you know? And there's been times that I think that I'm right and I'm behind the drums kind of pouting and pretending like I'm not pouting, and I go, oh, yeah, I'll try it that way.
Then you try it and go, God, that actually was really great. So once again, it's having that relationship and kind of being able to get along musically and personally with the people that you're working with, and feel like you're actually taking it somewhere good, you know? - Do you like to come into the control room after doing a take or two just to hear like, you know, are my ghost notes coming across, are my kick drum details coming through? - Yeah, and it's good to because I'll be out there and I'll be working on something and I'll think that it sounds great, and you come and listen to it, and maybe in context with the song you go, oh, man, it was feeling good out there, but that seems a bit much, or it's a little distracting.
Or you think that what you're doing's not that good, and you come and listen and go, that's actually working a lot better. So it always differs, and you can never really tell until you kind of get into the situation and play the song and come back and listen. But as far as the sounds and stuff, I'm lucky enough to have gotten to a point where I work with great guys, I've got great gear, I'm usually in nice studios where guys know what they're doing, so-- - It's a good place to be. - Yeah. - In a career. - Yeah, it is. - And when you come in as a studio drummer, as a session guy, to perhaps, a band that's mostly assembled, like if you're replacing a drummer or coming in to be the guy, how does that feel versus playing with a band that you're already in? - It's fun for me to come into situations kind of cold and blindly sometimes to walk in and meet a new group of people.
You're working with someone you've never worked with before, and there's something special, and spontaneous, and cool about that. Also, you know, you can look at it in a good way or a bad way as far as being able to come in and be kind of detached from it, but still come in and try and do the best job you can do, and you know you're being hired to do what you do best and hopefully make their song better and sound the way they hoped it would sound when they decided to hire me. And then there's something to that where it's like, I don't really feel a part of it, but you still come in and give it a go as if you were their drummer of 20 years, you know, and make it sound like you've been in a room rehearsing these songs.
Then when you're working with someone that you have a longer relationship with, you're kinda on a mission together to do something, and that's a little more personal and special, I think.
Check out how Ryan prepared for Josh's session in the first course, Drum Setup and Mic'ing in the Studio.