November 16, 2007

"Pangako" Drum Recording Session

Seven a.m... Ah finally, there's sunshine! Most of you out there are just starting your day, while I just ended mine. I just finished recording my drum tracks for our single "Pangako". I said yesterday on my previous blog that I'll share my thoughts about the recording session. And here it is...

We were supposed to start our recording session at 8pm last night. But we moved it from 8 to 11 pm, because our keyboardist Teddy forgot to inform management about a prior commitment that he needs to attend to early last night. Teddy has the Pangako play-along track that we'll be using, and we can't start without him. It's all fine with me, because a few extra hours of rest and relaxation before the studio work were welcome.

I made it at Blue Door Studio at around 1030pm. Teddy and I both arrived at the same time. Ian, our recording engineer for the night, welcomed us. Minutes later, our manager Alona David and our road manager Jason Reyes arrived. They brought food, so we ate first while waiting for Paolo to arrive. Ted and Pao have to be present because their inputs for the song are essential. Teddy prepared the demos and my drum play-along track, and he'll be doing most of the important work in his studio. Paolo always has great musical ideas, and I value his inputs and suggestions. Oh yeah, I drank two cups of coffee and a few glasses of Coke to get me going. Caffeine and sugar help me during times like this hehe!

Recording began at around 12am. I did a couple of practice takes then made adjustments such as fine tuning the drums, making sure that the drum sounds will fit nicely with the song. Ian double-checked the microphone set-up and prepared a click track for me. Then we went on with the actual recording. I'm not aiming to finish quickly or become a one-take wonder. The most important thing for me is to serve the music by playing drum tracks which will compliment the song. But still, we need to be efficient and productive with our studio time.

On my first take, I wasn't quite warmed up yet, and I was still absorbing the feel of the song, the drumkit, and the studio room. But I felt confident that I'll be able to do better takes as we progress. I think it was on my third or fourth take when I finally got in the zone. I was fully warmed up and my focus was on a high level at that point. I thought I made a couple of good takes. But we know the drum parts can still get better.

It was already around 2am, and studio owner Eric Villadelgado, Ate Alona's drummer husband Joel "Jumi" David, and Angel's manager Jojo Pascasio were already present in the studio. After doing those two good takes, the computer suddenly needed to restart. I think it was a process overload or something. I was reminded of the computer crash on our studio session last year, so I hope it's not a repeat of that unlucky incident. Good thing Ian got it all figured out. It's just a simple restart, and we just need to delete some stuff we no longer need in order to lighten the load. While Ian was refreshing the board and the computer, I took a break. It's just wrong timing for me because I already built momentum at that point. But it's okay because I know it will come back.

Recording resumed at around 3am. I lost a bit of momentum, and my hands got cold because of the strong air conditioning. But good thing I regained focus, and I was able to do my best takes of the night. In order for me not to repeat the whole take, we just went back to the parts which needed refinement, such as cymbal crescendos and embellishments, some fill-ins, and some hits which will lock in with the bass guitar parts. Paolo had some great ideas for the drum parts, so we worked on those.

We finished the drum track recording at 4am. While we were listening to the drum parts, we felt good for doing a wonderful job. I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I'm looking forward to finishing the whole song. There's still plenty of work to do. We still need to record E's guitar parts, refine some of the keyboard sounds, and do its final mix. I hope that my drum parts have given justice to the song. And once it's on air, I wish listeners would appreciate what we've made.

We are delighted with the drum and cymbal sounds. My drumkit for this session is a Premier Artist Birch kit, which belongs to my good friend Ernest Ramos. I used two toms - an 8"x10" rack tom and a 14"x14" floor tom. Both toms are fitted with Evans G1 Coated batter heads. The kick is a 16"x18". Don't let its small size fool you. It's the biggest-sounding 18" bass drum that I've ever heard. It has a solid low-end thump, which often surprises those who hear it. The kick is fitted with an Aquarian Super Kick I Clear batter head, which contributes to that huge sound. The front head doesn't have a hole for the mic. I don't want to make a hole because the kit isn't mine and I don't want to ruin the nice white Aquarian coated front head. So we removed the front head and put a pillow in it (Ernest didn't put any muffling on his kick). The snare drum I used is my Old Faithful 5.5"x14" Tama Starclassic Maple, which is fitted with an Evans G1 Coated batter head and an Evans Snare Side 300 resonant head.

I used my Zildjian cymbals. My hi-hats are a pair of 14" K Custom Dark Hats and my ride is a 20" K Custom Medium Ride. The two crash cymbals used are my semi-retired damaged cymbals, which I both acquired from my friend Bennii Obana sometime last year. On my left side was my freshly-cracked 17" K Custom Dark Crash, which I recently retired from gigging. On my right side was my de-modified 18" K Custom Dark Crash which had so many hairline cracks when I acquired it, I had it cut after I wounded my finger. Even if these crashes are damaged, they still have that spirit in their sound. I thought that I'd just save these cymbals for studio work, where I think they'll sound well. And they did sound exceptional in the studio.
And last but not the least, we didn't have a drummer's throne. So yes, I was sitting on a state-of-the-art, high-performance monoblock plastic stool hahaha!

Overall, I'm happy with my drum recording, and I'm glad that things turned out well this time in the studio. I was sharper and more well-prepared for the studio work this time, and my focus and patience have become effective for me. I'm now eager to finish our song. I'll just post updates here in my blog.

We have a gig tonight, I should rest right now.