by Johnny Martin

Dennis carter Falcon Recording Studio

Ok, here we are. This is in no way a “big fish/small pond” story, but after seven months I landed Dennis Carter. Can you say, “busy”? Our interview was laid-back, relaxed and productive, Much like the sessions he engineers at Falcon Studios. When a fellow musician says “we did it at Falcon…” you can count on it sounding live and very real.

The main room there has a sound. Also, more importantly- a vibe. That vibe comes from the room and it’s owner. You’ll notice at the end of the interview, he tips his hat to a fellow engineer. That’s the kind of stuff that makes ours a music community. Dennis lends his years of professional drumming experience to every session, and didn’t hold back his 20+ years of engineering experience when we sat down together.

Thanks for having me Dennis.
You bet.

How long have you been making your services available here at Falcon?
At this location, I’ve been here since 1986. But I actually started in 1981.

You started to free-lance on your own?
You know I started Falcon in a house on Falcon street in Multnomah in 1981 in my basement.

Wow, Falcon Street!
That’s where I got the name. My girlfriend said “Well, we’re on Falcon street, why don’t you call it Falcon Studios?” (laughter) So, it kinda stuck.
Then I worked out of my house that I’m living in now for about a year, while Dave Lohr and I built this room. And I did a bunch of records down there. I did Lloyd Jones. I did Cool’r down there. I did a record for Meredith Brooks. All in the basement where I’m living now- I have an 1800 sq ft basement.

So you live on Falcon now?
No I sold that house, I’m on Taylors Ferry now. I put my studio in there while I was building this studio.

You moved Falcon to Taylors Ferry and did a few records there?
I did quite a few records there.

You built this place with whom?
Dave Lohr helped me and was my engineer for years. I didn’t engineer- I was a musician.

A drummer I hear, and a good one
I played with Calvin Walker and I also played jazz for years. Dave was engineering for me, then he got a call to do a Pink Floyd world tour. He comes up to me and says “hey I got a call to do this tour- I really want to do it.” I go, “ Dave you can’t pass that up.”

So the next day I walked in sat down at the console and started to learn how be an engineer. I mean- obviously you’re always learning.

Sure, but- right into the fire…
I had to jump right into the fire, and I hated everything I did for years. I kinda knew how the console worked but there’s a lot more to than just knowing the signal path as you well know.

Yeah and you knew the product you wanted and you weren’t getting it…
(laughter) That’s right- yeah.

Then in terms of building Falcon, how did you get the funds?
With loans, and I worked out of my house for years- one feeding the other. I was kinda buying and selling cars, the usual stuff. We’ve always got bank loans out because as you know- you always have to continuously buy! ( laughter )

And be with someone who understands that!
Especially with digital. I had to make that transition from analog to digital, and that’s always an on-going thing.

I know that’s an expensive thing because every link in the chain…
It’s only as good as you’re weakest link.

What’s the goal of the studio?
You know what Johnny, when I first started Falcon it was a hobby- I had no goal at all because was a musician. Then we decided to build this room, and I was young- I was in my early thirties. Then all the sudden I looked around and go “I’ve got this business now…”

You mean it got bigger than you thought it would?
Well, when I built it I never thought “I want to be a studio owner and I want to engineer and this is what I want to do.” I started as a hobby in the basement recording friends, and all of a sudden you look back and “Here I am!”

It just evolved.
Yeah, because Dave was doing the engineering at that time. It was another way to make some money and I was playing. I played for over 20 years, you know- going on the road. And all the sudden I just decided I’m going to stop playing and devote my time to engineering.

When did you start recording? When you were a kid?
You know what- when I was a kid I remember my Uncle was blind and he went to college. He got a degree in psychology and he had a little tape recorder and they used to send him tapes for his lessons and classes and stuff, and he’d listen to tapes.

Because he couldn’t read Braille because part of his illness was his fingers got numb.
He was struck blind when he was twelve. So, my brother and I used to sit with his tape recorder and record our voices, back then I was 6 or 7 years old and it just fascinated me.

You hear your voice back and go “Wow!”
Yeah we’re talking and joking and stuff. Then when I got out of high school I worked all summer to buy this Revox tape recorder- A77. I was living in this house with 6 of us in a band. I’d take that tape recorder and I go out and record the big bands all over town. Chic Colburn used to be in a big band. I went out to Clackamas when Carlton was out there. Anything I could record I’d record.

Two track stereo?
Yeah, I’d put two mics up and just record everything. I’d go (dopey voice) “Hey can I record your band? (laughter)

Years ago?
Yeah this was like late seventies- early eighties.

What do you mix-down to?
I don’t mix in the box, I’ve got the console but I’m mixing 96k- 24 bit to hard drive.
I still love analog.

Have you ever looked into tape saturation emulation?
I’m always reading the articles about that. Actually if you hit the Apogee converters hard with the soft limit on you get a bit of that. I try to use the old Neve and API mic pres, that does add some warmth to digital. But sometimes I don’t want that. When I’m recording a piano I like a lot of definition and accuracy, so rather than using a Neve which tend to be a little softer with more bottom, I’ll use the Millenia. But for guitar amp I don’t like the Millenia. I like an API/Neve sound personally because you can hit them harder.

That gives you that saturated sound?
I don’t know if it’s saturated, but there’s more bottom and there’s a little bit more color to it. I just think they hold up better.
Regarding mix-down, is there something you find yourself throwing on the stereo bus quite often?
You know I’ve been leaning more and more towards the SSL. I have an SSL G series stereo compressor and I’ve been running thru that. You can kinda get that SSL sound on the rock stuff. Once and a while I’ll use the Neve 33605 limiter.

Do you have time for experimentation?
I wish I had more time for it. It depends on the client and the budget. A lot of stuff doesn’t allow for it.

What type of music have you yet to record?
Gosh what haven’t I done? I think I’ve done just about everything there is to do.
Gospel, country, bluegrass, jazz, blues, rap, heavy metal, R&B, punk, funk…

Is there a preamp that you’re really sold on? Do you have a favorite?
I wish I could say I do but I don’t. I love the Neves, I love the API’s, the Millenia. If I could only have one preamp to do some all-purpose stuff, I might lean towards the API- the old API’s. They still have some snap in the midrange, they don’t have quite as much color as the Neve’s.

Is the top open enough?
Not as much as the Millenia’s. I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose! (laughter)

OK. What’s your “desert Island” pre?
Gosh- then again, with some of the Klaus modified mics… I have a pair of the old C414 which are like the C12. They work well with the Neve pre. When I’m doing acoustic piano, I’m using Klaus+Millenia. When I’m doing vocals I’m using Klaus+Neve. So it’s always a different combination for me. The original C414 are silver and they have the C12 capsule.

C12’s are like five grand now.
They’re expensive and it’s hard to find them. And, when you do- a lot of the times the capsules, because they’re old -are not in good shape. I already had one that I bought from Steve Miller back in 1981, but Klaus didn’t think it was good enough to do his mod to. He had a supply of new old-stock capsules. I bought a $1000 capsule and the mod was an additional $2500.

So it’s like a new mic?
It’s a new mic, yeah. I’ve got a pair of those and they’re just absolutely beautiful.

You use them A/B or…
You know what Johnny , it depends on the session. Sometimes if I’m doing a session where I need to record the piano and I have a bunch of people in the room, then you have to get the mics closer. Which I’m not a fan of, because it gets a little brittle. I have to put the lid down. I have this plastic vacuum attachment and I slide that over the short stick on the piano and it’s just right. Then I throw a sleeping bag over the whole thing.

Special Dennis Carter Vacuum Collar!
(laughter) But if it’s just a solo piano then I’ll use an X/Y with them back a few feet. I did this session with Dave Frishberg. He plays that Jump style piano- that’s his thing.
So I mic’ed it a little differently cause I wanted more of the bottom end. He played for an hour or two and then he said “ this piano kinda grows on ya.” And he would know.
I’ve like two or three different ways I mic it, depending on the session- but I’m always trying different things.

It’s crazy too, because when you get a top-end mic like that, it reveals noises in your piano & sounds in your room…
It does! I’d say 90% of the time I use the Klaus 414’s. I just love them. They’re so open and detailed. He’s a brilliant man.

What do you monitor on?
I use some Westlakes BBS-4 and a set of NS-10’s.

What do you look for in each? What are you using the 10’s for?
The NS-10’s will jump out at you a little more. Sometimes I have to turn them up a little bit, although I can’t listen to them very long. But they’ll show me things in the midrange that you don’t sometimes hear. Usually if you can get things to sound good there it’s going to translate pretty well.

And then the BBS-4 give you more top & detail?
More top end and easier to listen to for long periods.

Which ones do you turn way down?
I turn them both down. Sometimes people complain- they want me to turn it up, cause I monitor fairly quiet.

85(db) or under?
Yeah, you have to turn it up once in a while to get the feel of the low end. Especially if you’re doing an acoustic or real thumping bass. We have a pair of UREI 813, and sometimes to check the very bottom I’ll jump up there and turn them up a bit. They’re 2-15 time-aligned, old school 80’s soffit mounted.

Like you’re in an enormous car! (laughter)
Yeah, they’re the client speakers. I don’t use ‘em much because you have to turn them up to a certain volume in order to push enough sound thru them and I’m just not a high-volume listener.

Now even though you have this nice facility, are you a guy that stands out in the hall to listen?
Oh yeah. A lot of times I’ll set up a mix and loop it and just leave. Let the client listen.

Can you share a moment that elevated your engineering skills?
I think working with a few really good players has influenced me. I worked with Robin Ford and I think that was a really great moment. Bernard…

Yeah, so working with those guys raises your game. You know I’m always in contact with Dave Lohr, he’s with Neil Young now. He’s a live engineer and does studio work too, so I’m always feeding off of him.

He’s sort of a mentor as well as best friend?
Yeah, he’s one of the top live engineers out there. He did the Pink Floyd tours. Al Jerreau, Carly Simon, David Sanborn, CSN&Y. He’s a good man.

What part of the studio are you hoping to upgrade?
I’m kinda flat-line right now, I just dropped $8k into a Mac Pro and a set of Apogees, so…

How is it?
It’s screamin! I take the original drives out and put in 10,000rpm Raptor Drives cause they’re faster.

Does this mean you’re a Symphony Card user?
You know what Johnny, I tried the Symphony Card and it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I went back and forth with Apogee for about 2 or 3 weeks. It does low latency recording, but for me it doesn’t work because I need to have outputs that exactly mirror the inputs. I would have to group everything and that doesn’t work for me. I’ve got 24 inputs and 40 outputs thru my console. But, I love the Apogee converters and I’m an Apogee guy. I just don’t mix in the box- I know a lot of people do.

Well, a lot of people are restricted to it, but you have a console.
I still like coming back thru the console, I like the way it sounds coming back. If I want to insert one of my outboard pieces I can do it. I think a lot of engineers are still that way.

Are there a few engineers you hold in esteem?
There’s so many great guys out there. I love Ed Cherney. Bruce Swedien of course. Bob Clearmountain. Thomas Lord-Alge, Sometimes their mixes might be more compressed than I would do it, but they’re fantastic engineers. I love Ed Cherney- the Bonnie Raitt stuff- to me he’s real organic.

What about small pond?
Umm Sean Norton. Bob Stark. Both those guys I think are really good. And a guy that a lot of people don’t mention as much is Doug Dubrow- I think he’s a great engineer too.
Sean’s great, he started here at Falcon and apprenticed here for like 10 or 12 years, then he just reached that place and took off.

Name some recordings that still just kill you.
Sgt. Pepper. I still love some of the old jazz Blue Note stuff. It still holds up.
A lot of that late 60’s / early 70’s stuff, Eagles, Zepp. That’s some good stuff!
I grew up listening to so many different things. In high school I was playing Big Band, listening to jazz. we had a 6 pc. horn band and we were doing Blood Sweat & Tears as well as Zepp, and all this stuff. My dad had Fats Domino, Harry James & Louis Armstrong records- I listened to everything, and I liked it all personally.

How are you addressing cable runs here at Falcon?
A lot of the cabling in the control room runs under the floor. I have some special mic cables that I run out to the room using Gotham cable with a wiring system that Klaus uses. It goes right from the box to the mic pres.

The shortest path?
Yeah it’s not running thru the patchbay. So I sometimes drag a snake around but it’s just a real pristine path.

But what about the snake- is that also high end?
It’s individual Gotham. Then most of the rack is Mogami. Mike Moore did a lot of that wiring for me- he’s fantastic.

Mike Moore from (Dead Aunt) Thelma’s?
His wiring is just the best. If you want snakes done- DB25, Elko, any of that, call Mike.
His work is so meticulous and neat, everything’s shrink-wrapped- it’s just beautiful.

All quality stuff…
He uses whatever you want. He did my last runs with Gotham. If you’re going to have it done, what’s another hundred bucks etc.

Can you recommend some websites for information and reviews?
I don’t know- if I wanna research something I just type it in and start poking around.

Just Google it huh?
I just Google. There’s so much info out there.

What’s your headphone mix here?
I use the console. We have 5 individual sends on the console, so I can do 5 different set ups.

What’s your oldest piece of gear?
It would have to be maybe the LA-2A. I’ve had that for quite some time.

Is that usually in your vocal chain?
Sometimes. I’ve got some 160’s but I think the LA is older.

The 160 being a DBX?

Do you find yourself producing a session when you only begin engineering?
People will ask you. As you well know, people will ask “what’d ya think of that?”
If it gets to the point where you’re as involved in producing as engineering- then at some point you have to sit down and go “do you want me to produce this?” It’s a different approach. If your name is on it as producer, you’re going to be more meticulous about performance. I like working with producers. I prefer to have a producer there.

What percentage do you kind of end up there (producing)?
A lot of times the younger bands will come in to record and they don’t have any experience- you’re gonna help them. To a certain extent, as you well know.
It just depends how much involved you’re gonna get into it. If it becomes “what do you think- should we do this and this?” then it’s “do you want me to produce this, cause if you do then I’m going to charge you for producing if my names on it etc.”

Just stop the session and regroup…
Well, I like to keep things pretty easy here. You have to find a good way to present it.

No but you have to clear the air so to speak- so things CAN be easy…
That’s right. And if something is really bad you bring their attention to it instead of saying “hey man that sucks- you need to redo that”. You bring their attention to something that you think- maybe ‘needs attention’ (laughter). In the end your name is still on it. You can only do so much with a mic and a pre. In the end it comes down to the performance.

Let’s say you’re going into another room. What do you bring for comparative listening?
You know Johnny I haven’t had the opportunity to work in different rooms because I’m here. What I do is when I’m doing say a country record- I’ll go out and buy some of the good county stuff- Rascal Flats, Keith Urban etc. and try to familiarize myself with that. There’s some great stuff- some of the country stuff is just amazing. When I’m doing the jazz session I feel pretty comfortable with that because I’ve listened to so much of that and I have a certain approach with it. But there are things I don’t listen to all the time, so when you’re called to do a session you need to get familiar with the style etc.
You’re not going to mic or record or mix a country record like you would a jazz record.

And that comes with years of experience- cause when you’re starting out you mix everything as well as you can…
Just the whole approach- the mic’ing and things is different. Yeah, it’s taken a long time to learn a lot of this- especially recording jazz. There’s a lot more to it than you think.

It’s almost like you have to get to the end of the session to know what’s needed at the beginning of the next one- you know what I mean?
Yeah, you have to try and capture the moment. Sometimes with jazz too- you start isolating things too much, and cleaning things up too much and you lose something.
Like Mel (Brown) was saying the other day. One of the horn players didn’t like his solo and Mel was like, “well- that’s what came out of the horn that day.” With jazz you have to capture it. Some of the newer music and country today is more produced. You keep doing the part til it’s right- it’s a little more sterilized.

Is there a preferred EQ that you use a lot?
I generally will try and cut rather than boost. I don’t use the console EQ hardly at all. When I track I use the API’s the Calrec’s or the Millenia’s. I’ll EQ kick drum, the toms and a little bit on the overheads. I have these Royer ribbons that I’m quite fond of- so sometimes I like to boost a little top end there.

And they take EQ well.
They do.
When I first heard them I was like “why would you use them on overheads ?” cause they’re kinda dull- but the tick is I guess they take that top-end EQ.
You can put some 8 or 10k up there and it opens them up a little more. I also like the Klaus (modified) KM84’s for overheads on some jazz sessions ‘cause there is a lot of detail in the cymbals, That’s what I use on Mel. But I think that the Royer’s are a little meatier and I think they capture the mids and lower mids in the drums a little better. It’s a little fatter, more natural sound that’s why I like them. The response of them is real nice and warm but I like to add some top-end to them.

In tracking?
Yeah. With the Royer’s I like to go back to these old Calrec’s that Brent Averill did. They are kinda of a cross between API and Neve as far as the mic pre but they have EQ on them. So I’ll bump the top-end with those when I’m tracking. I’ve got some SF-1’s and R121’s. When I’m tracking drums I may have a guitar amp that I might keep so I’ll use the 121’s on the amp and the SF-1’s on overheads. I got turned on to those by Bob (Stark) back before Kung-fu (Bakery) was done- Bob had brought a pair in and that’s when I bought ‘em.

What’s the main difference between the R121 and SF-1?
I think the SF-1’s have maybe a little more top-end, that’s why I like ‘em on the overheads. The R121 you can put right up against a Marshall amp and they hold up really good.

And they’re quick right- ‘cause it’s a ribbon?
Yeah but they have a lower output. They do make a condenser. Actually I may pick up a pair of those.

Is that something you’re looking at now as maybe a “next purchase”?
(Sigh…) Not right now- I know you’re trying to get me to answer the next purchase thing.

(laughter) This is a confessional!
I’m considering maybe switching over to Logic. I like Digital Performer. I’d like to have a Pro Tool HD system, but to have an equivalent system I’d have to spend $20k and at this particular point, economically it doesn’t make any sense. I have a Pro Tool system in the C room. Most of the clients do know the difference, and I have a Digi Translator program so I can send ProTools files in and out.

Are there time’s when you compress going in?
Once in a while, but I don’t use a lot of compression going in. Once in a while I’ll put a limiter on a vocal to cap the peaks, and/or if I want a particular sound. Like a guitar amp- I’ll use the Joe Meek stereo compressor.

How are you approaching compression on drums?
On a rock session I might throw something on the snare, and compress the room mics fairly hard. I don’t compress the kick drum or the toms or overheads when I’m tracking.

Your room mic tends to be a single 1” diaphram?
Depends. Sometimes I’ll put two out there, like on a rock session. I did a session with Eric Singer, the drummer from KISS. He had me put the room mics down about 4ft off the ground, 15ft from the drums.

How about your approach to mic’ing acoustic bass for jazz?
Usually I’ll use a mic and a D.I. which I’ll use about 20%. I prefer the mic, the U47. Once in a while the KM84. I run two tracks generally.

Are you an “F-hole guy”? I find the sound to get really messy.
Depends on the bass. Sometimes I’ll be like 12” back not exactly on the f-hole, ‘cause it gets a little boomy. Sometimes up near the neck if you want a little more attack. Most upright guys prefer the mic- even though they use a pick-up (laughter).

Have you had any good luck with local mastering houses?
Ryan’s actually done a good job on some of the jazz records I’ve done. I’ve been very happy with what he’s done.

Ryan at FREQ?
Kevin (Nettleingham) has done a lot of records. My clients go out to Kevin.
There’s some guys out of town that I really like.

Who do you use out of town?
If the client can afford it and it’s an R&B or funk/rock stuff, Brian Gardner.

Brian “Big Bass” Gardner?
Yeah. He’s at Bernie Grundman. I’ve done a bunch of work with John Golden. He used to be at a place called K-disc on Hollywood Blvd. He’s done Zappa and a lot of the Capital records stuff. Stan Bock loves him and Terry Robb only uses John. And he’s very reasonable, he charges like $700 to do a record. The country record I did we sent to Bob Ludwig’s on the east coast. Adam A. did it- who does all the big country stars. That guy is bad! And it was expensive- like $3300 or something.

Your approach to mixing?
Depends on the project. For jazz I just put everything up, and get a feel. Then I’ll isolate instruments and maybe to clear things out I’ll put high pass filters on things to make space for the low-end etc.

It’s amazing how many times you’re cutting the low-end isn’t it?
Yeah. Especially when you need a lot of bottom in other instruments. Now for some of the pop records, I’ll start with the drums but if it’s more of the singer songwriter thing I’ll focus on the vocal and support instrument, but I’ll still go in and do certain things with the drums to clean them up. Then I’ll add the bass and maybe acoustic guitar- to see how the low end is working. You gotta make the kick and bass work together. Some of the rock stuff you don’t want the bass to be the low, low- sometimes you want the kick to be lows so you EQ the bass up. More than ever it’s the other way around with the kick in the 100’s (hz) and the bass is down some.

When you say “clean up”, are you saying you might totally clean up the whole drum set and its sends?
Yeah- some of the pop stuff. The jazz stuff- I let that stuff go for the most part. A lot of the pop stuff, there are different tricks I like to do that I’m sure a lot of people use. Like I’ll copy the snare, gate it, maybe EQ it differently, and then use that track to send to the reverb so that you don’t get a lot of hats etc.

There is a lot of meticulous work involved. You’ve got to know how to do this craft and also love it…
You’re always learning. I have to say I find myself using plug-ins more than I used to. The beauty of the plug-ins is that there is so much recall.

And they’re getting better.
They are. I’ve got the UAD stuff, the AltiVerb, the SSL Waves package…

Is that worth the money- the SSL Waves package?
I think it was $500. I find it pretty useful. It’s basically an SSL channel strip. The nice thing about it is you can bring ‘em up really quick and you have a gate, a limiter, a compressor and EQ all in one plug-in.

Can you adjust which one’s first?
Oh yeah- just like the console.

Speaking of which- what’s your console?
It’s a Sony. We just recently rebuilt the whole thing. Modifications on the master console and re-chipped the whole thing. It’s got a clean, non-colored signal path. I mix back thru it and I have automation on the faders. I come back analog and I can recall mixes fairly quickly.

How are you backing up?
I have firewire 800 ATA external drives. Western Digital etc. Normally I charge the client for the drive. I also put it on a drive and catalog it with a program I have, in case something happens to the client’s drive.

What signs tell you you’ve been mixing too long?
When I find myself putting high-end on something I normally wouldn’t do. You know what- I’m to the point where I usually don’t mix more than 8 hours a day.

How do you like to take your breaks?
I’ll come back to the break room and eat, or maybe walk around the block. I do like to get out of the control room, but I’m not one to take long breaks. I like to keep my focus.

If you were booked to mix 8 hours for a client and you weren’t happy with it- do you find yourself going long off the clock just the satisfy yourself?
Oh yeah, times are never set in stone here.

Any mixes you’d like to have back?
( huge laughter ) Quite a few! But we’re not going to mention any names!

On the flip side- do you recall any favorite projects?
Oh, I’ve got a lot of stuff. The Rubberneck records I think still hold up really well. The jazz records with Stan Bock, Dave Frishberg. Terry Robb’s records definitely. I did a record for Linda Hornbuckle with the No DeLay Band.

You’re a drummer- can you describe a typical Dennis Carter drum mic set up?
I like the SF-1’s on overheads. I’ll use the Klaus KM84’s to spot mic the ride and hi-hats. A 57 on the snare and 421’s on the toms. Depends on the kit’s toms, but I like to be about an inch in and an inch above the rim, pointing at the middle if the drums are flat. If they’re not- then I can’t do that because the mic ends up looking at the snare. With the jazz session sometimes I’ll spot mic everything but then end up using just the overheads and maybe bring the ride or hi-hat mic up.

Regardless of genre- do you tend to use your overheads and then bring the close mics into those for the drum picture?
I rely a lot on the overheads. If you want more of a room sound- your overheads are right there and they’re doing that. I like to have a center, where the snare is centered with the overheads, and if I move them apart I’ll try to create a triangle towards the snare. Some drummers set up to one side, so I’ll use and X/Y above the kit.

Are you measuring for phase?
Yes. I use a tape if I’m using 2 mics on a sound source, I use the console and my ears.
You can tell pretty quickly by listening. If you mic’ing an acoustic guitar and you close mic but you want to capture the room with a second mic farther back- then you have to fool with it and check the phase. Mic’ing is critical- that’s where it’s at.

Try to make the instrument sounds like it sounds?
I do, yeah. I tell people I would rather take a little more time setting it up and getting the sound right when you’re recording. So when you push the faders up it sounds more natural, and you don’t have to fool around with it.

Yeah- you did your work ahead of time as an engineer…
To me that’s a hipper way to approach things.
A lot of guys will say “ I like to know where I’m going beforehand” but that seems a little vague to me- because you don’t always know how the song is going to unfold- how hard a guy plays etc.
Especially with drummers. How you attack the drums makes a big difference in how they sound. It’s amazing how many guys don’t tune drums well in this town.

That’s what Bob (Stark) said- exactly that.
Did he? They want a drum sound but their drums don’t sound anything like it. The tuning is critical. And once you have them tuned it’s also how you play the drums.

I understand you can hit a drum softly and get a bigger sound…
To a certain point, but with rock you have to push a certain amount of air. If you hit it too quiet- the drum doesn’t get a chance to expand and you’ll never get the sound.

Do you do any sampling at all?
I’ve got Drum-A-Gog. I like to get the sound first. Sometimes if someone brings something in that’s been done somewhere else have Drum-A-Gog and a library of stuff. It just takes more time. I’ll always offer my kit. I talk to the drummers first…”what are you using- how old are your heads?” I keep good heads on my set, I keep them tuned and they sound great. Most of the guys in town have played them- Rheinhardt, Carlton etc.

Ok one more. I sure appreciate your time.
Oh, yeah. I appreciate the exposure Johnny.

Any advice for young engineers in their bedroom studios getting started?
Just listen and read, man. If you can hang out with some guys who are doing it- that’s the way to go. There’s nothing like hands on. I mean you’re smart. You’re going around talking to people and sitting in, and that’s the way to do it. You go in and ask Bob “hey can I sit in?” Shit I’d like to sit in on one of his sessions- I love Bob. He’s a good engineer.

contact: Dennis Carter 503.236.3856