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Share your favorite technique to get that Dirty Indie Rock drum sound...
Old 23rd June 2007
  #1
Gear Head
 
rootsandruins's Avatar
 

Share your favorite technique to get that Dirty Indie Rock drum sound...

I'm curious to know what other slutz are doing to get that nice thick distorted drum sound a la Broken Social Scene, Interpol, Wolf Parade, etc etc.

Parallel Compression? Smashing Room Mics? Culture Vulture? Taking good recordings and then endlessly compressing them? Mixing close miked drums with distorted room mics? Smashing the close mics and running parallel samples?

Please share some tricks that have worked well or that have failed miserably!
Old 23rd June 2007
  #2
i have had some good results with an extra tube mic in the room. just walk around till it sounds good and you have your placement. mine was in front of the drums and back about 12 feet. then i would smash it (maybe limit it) and distort it. i have used the blue tubes overdrive plug, the digi comp plug with the output all the way up, and several guitar plugs (sans amp, amplitube, amp farm). just mix to taste. i have had some really cool sounds with that.
Old 23rd June 2007
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Omni room mics in a somewhat splashy room. Smash the parallel compression. Put a mic right above the BD pointing at the SD and distort it.

Those techniques work well for me.
Old 24th June 2007
  #4
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rockrev's Avatar
 

I second the tube mic in the room and/or front-of-kit. My absolute favorite setup is M/S about 10-15 feet in front of the kit. Use a tube mic for the mid (cardioid or omni), and a nice LDC for the side (figure of eight, of course). Now you can have mono, slight stereo, or wide stereo. It's up to you! Oh, and Digi's Smack! compressor is a great plug for the L/R after you matrix.

David Jennings
Old 24th June 2007
  #5
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BradM's Avatar
There's some good suggestions here. The key is to mult and smash and distort. Other ideas:

- Use crappy mics...but the good crappy.
- Use mic preamps that can sounds like distortion pedals (I have an old Altec that does this beautifully)
- Record the drums to a 4-track with really hot levels.
- Camel Crusher plugin is cool.
- Stick a mic in front of the drum kit and run it into an overdriven guitar amp. Then mic the guitar amp.

Brad
Old 24th June 2007
  #6
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

Actually you might wanna start with a vintage drum set....a bit of compression on the overhead...recorded to tape.....thats it man.
Old 24th June 2007
  #7
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lowfreq33's Avatar
 

R-121 as an extra room mic, about 4 ft. high.
Old 24th June 2007
  #8
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numrologst's Avatar
Smash tape and crush the room mic... Overdrive good pre's like api...

Compress the drumbuss with a piece like the chandler ltd-2
Old 24th June 2007
  #9
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some great info here... I just love the drum sound on Broken Social Scene's records. I've noticed their drums are mixed very dry!
Old 24th June 2007
  #10
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rainsinvelvet's Avatar
along with the regular micing type stuff I'll often put a sm57 or Senn. 441 off to the
side of the bass drum pointed at the snare (from the front of the kick)

This is my "wild card" mic and when distorted(slammed 1272 pre) or whatever it sounds nice blended in to taste with the other microphones.

The M/S stereo trick is also a fun one. For a good example of the way that sounds:
Open Itunes store
look up the band "the sleepover disaster"
Check out the song "comet"

(yes, this is my band)heh heh

ERic
Old 24th June 2007
  #11
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Dog_Chao_Chao's Avatar
 

nice tips.

I have 3 more:

1.I usually track indie drums with very loose drum skins. This tunning is crucial. i also try to get a real dry place in the room to place it. The rest of the room I leave it as reflective as possible, i even take the carpet out. I place the room mics there.Then smash them with distressors or whatever.

2. I use a copperphone somewere between kick and snare, usually under the Hh. The idea is to have a lot of snare and some drumbass there. I then mix this mic with the rest. This is my secreat card! You can use just a bit to get a crunchier drum sound, or, like sometimes I do, you can end up using most that mic and just a bit of the "regulars" to fill in, like just a bit of OH, or toms....Theres a band I tracked and mixed recently were you can check out how it sounds:

www.myspace.com/norton

song name: pleased to get home

3. last, not very original, but i do use my nord modular alot to process drums for indie bands. In the link i gave you above, drums are almost copperphone and nord modular. there is no electronic programming whatsoever...
Old 24th June 2007
  #12
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rootsandruins's Avatar
 

Wow. amazing responses! I'm wondering if "vintage kit" could also mean "crappy kit" for a lot of the distorted indie sound. ha. Does anyone cross 2 dark sounding ribbon mics in front of the kid and hit those pretty hard?
Old 24th June 2007
  #13
84K
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84K's Avatar
the bias knob on the Thermionic Culture Vulture. Use gingerly on snare mult and mono room.
Old 24th June 2007
  #14
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lpkyer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandruins View Post
Wow. amazing responses! I'm wondering if "vintage kit" could also mean "crappy kit" for a lot of the distorted indie sound. ha. Does anyone cross 2 dark sounding ribbon mics in front of the kid and hit those pretty hard?
Crappy? No. Though having heavily used heads could be cool. It's all about a dry room, dampened tuning, analog tape etc...especially if youre looking for the broken social scene sound. You NEED tape.
Old 24th June 2007
  #15
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Engine Room's Avatar
 

slam tape (we end up transferring those to PT)
crush room omnis
secret weapon:compress and eq in MS matrix then decode (you can use a wide variety of plugs in PT, or build yourself an OTB decoder and use outboard)
ribbon mics!
distort the pre!

seriously, the sky's the limit. Use mults, and smash away!!

/dirty doug
Old 24th June 2007
  #16
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Benmrx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine Room View Post
slam tape (we end up transferring those to PT)
yup

Distortion is your friend.

Also, anything to make it sound "unique" in some way helps.

I'm doing a few songs with a friend that does a pretty good job of thinking outside the box. For instance, he's got a kit set-up using a pair of 20" cymbals as hi-hats.
Old 25th June 2007
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by 84K View Post
the bias knob on the Thermionic Culture Vulture. Use gingerly on snare mult and mono room.
+1 for the Culture Vulture!!!! thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup -it makes it soooo easy to get that dirty sound - but in a real cool hi-fi way!!!! Room mics slammed thru Distressors works nicely too...Recently been loving a Golden Age Project R1 Tube Ribbon in the FOK position thru Pre->(Slammed thru)Distressor->Transient Designer(To make it a bit pointy again & control the sustain part of the envelope)->Culture Vulture(Play with knobs until it sounds cool!!) into DAW... Blend with rest of kit mics.... - job done...!!!
Old 16th July 2007
  #18
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Jon Harter's Avatar
+1 for the vintage drums, dampened/low tuning and tape.

I'd recommend using just one mic (a ribbon would be great) out in front of the kit and smash that. Maybe blend in a kick mic.

A key component to tracking like this is lies within the drummers technique.
Try to explain to the drummer that recording is a lot different than playing live.
Get him to whack the **** out of his snare and really hold off on cymbals.

A really cool technique is to record a super-compressed drum kit sound and then go back and overdub the crash cymbal hits completely uncompressed.
Old 16th July 2007
  #19
C/G
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C/G's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rootsandruins View Post
Wow. amazing responses! I'm wondering if "vintage kit" could also mean "crappy kit" for a lot of the distorted indie sound. ha. Does anyone cross 2 dark sounding ribbon mics in front of the kid and hit those pretty hard?
I'd bet that the distortion was most likely added at mix time and not tracking.

Vintage kit does not mean crappy unless it is indeed crappy.
Old 17th July 2007
  #20
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dokushoka's Avatar
 

man, this is sort of a weird question. Getting an "indie" or "dirty" drum sound is actually really easy as the genre sort of allows for really crappy drum sounds. Its all over the records I hear now a days. Throw a single 57 up in a room, aim it at the bass players butt (while the drums are playing, mind you) and pummel it with the cheapest compressor you have. Isn't that what all these genius engineers are doing now a days?
Old 17th July 2007
  #21
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Is it pretty safe to say that a lot of indie sounding drum tracks don't have a lot of gating on them and really rely on the room and the player?
Old 17th July 2007
  #22
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Im another fan of a Tube Mic in front of the kit also I have this little Philips stereo mic and you can detach the Mics if needed it sounds so trashy.Another little trash tool is the Fostex MN15 mini mixers compressors seriously dirty.
Old 17th July 2007
  #23
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BradM's Avatar
I'm getting the impression reading this thread that some people think that "indie rock" is a very niche music genre. In reality is quite a big umbrella of music that encompasses many different aesthetics and styles. The drums sounds are way more varied and diverse than what goes on in pop, country, or modern rock. If you take a record like Broken Social Scene you may hear a lot of crunchy distorted and overly compressed drums. Going back a number of years and referencing a band like Eric's Trip you definitely get lo-fi: they recorded in their house to a reel-to-reel 8 track probably with old dynamic mics....they were hardly engineers. Then you take a band like Sigur Ros and you get amazingly detailed, big, and natural drums recorded through gear many of us would drool over.

I personally record a lot of indie rock. And 80% of the time I just try to achieve a drum sound that is real, natural, and won't sound dated a decade from now. In other words I try to make the drums sound like drums being played by a musician in a room. I use the best drums and cymbals I have at my disposal, put new heads on them, tune them correctly, and hope the drummer will play well. Most indie rock bands just want to sound like themselves. The other 20% of the time we try to achieve something unique sounding that fits with the vision for the project. Anything is fair game.

I think most indie rock drum recording is pretty moderate/average with its use of mics. Rarely do you have 15 mics on the drums and conversely it's not often that there are only 2. I think somewhere between 6-10 is pretty standard for me. I put up overheads, snare, kick in, kick out (maybe), toms, and a room mic or two. Isn't that what most of us do regardless of genre?

To answer Methlab's question...yes I think it's a fair to say there is limited use of gates, sample replacement, and extreme editing. Like I said...80% of the time the goal is just drums in a room. Personally I have little patience for chopping up drums and getting samples to trigger properly. I just like to pull up the faders, use a little parallel compression and tweak some EQ and then be done with it.

Brad
Old 25th July 2007
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
To answer Methlab's question...yes I think it's a fair to say there is limited use of gates, sample replacement, and extreme editing. Like I said...80% of the time the goal is just drums in a room. Personally I have little patience for chopping up drums and getting samples to trigger properly. I just like to pull up the faders, use a little parallel compression and tweak some EQ and then be done with it.

Brad


Thats the way I like to go too.
Old 25th July 2007
  #25
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BLueROom's Avatar
 

dead-ish heads, tube pre on OHs driven to the saturation point, then use an A-Designs ATTY to tame the incoming signal...copy this track to another channel, compress the bejeezus out of it and bring it up under the original OH track. sometimes mix with a small room verb.
Old 25th July 2007
  #26
Gear Addict
 
hw2nw's Avatar
 

In addition to the close mics on the kit, I get stereo rooms, a FOK mic about 10 feet back, and a mic behind the drummer's head. With some gnarly comp work I get some fantastic tones! Then I'll mix close mics in to taste.
Old 25th July 2007
  #27
I think Peter Katis said he used the Thermioninc Culture Phoeninx on both the drums and a whole lot of things on that record.
Old 25th July 2007
  #28
Gear Nut
 

The freebie plugin Blockfish can be good for this kinda thing, turn up the saturation a little, use complex mode and squish em.
Old 25th July 2007
  #29
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kjcoral's Avatar
 

snare mic through ampex 601 tube pre

mono overhead, usually a ribbon ( in to another tube pre ) to kill some cymbals; squash the hell out of it with original Joe Meek comp.

D12 on kick. D112 if you must. compress slightly.

this is my recipe...your mileage may vary, as they say...


BTW, be f***in' amazed by how HUGE your drums sound with a well-placed MONO overhead...for the life of me, i don't know why more people don't do this. i was a stereo-overhead guy, cuz that's how i was taught, 'til i read about the "old-school" way of recording drums with very few mics and a mono overhead. it was revelation! my drums sounded BIGGER!
Old 25th July 2007
  #30
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Jon Harter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I'm getting the impression reading this thread that some people think that "indie rock" is a very niche music genre. In reality is quite a big umbrella of music that encompasses many different aesthetics and styles.
Amen. Indie rock isn't a sound.

I was getting a little upset until I read your post.

A lot of these "genius engineers" are doing a little more than just crushing stuff with cheap comps.
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