I've been talking to Mike Dawson over at Modern Drummer Magazine for a while now about doing a little web series with them that gets into my process when I record at my studio, The Loft. Since the studio is behind my house and I am often recording on my own while emailing with the client/artist, I typically end up recording tracks in my pj's. And so the breakfast sessions have come together. As I do more of these, i'll get more into the process of how I come up with parts, how I choose sounds for a particular recording, and how I get the sounds I do in my studio. There'll probably end up being some guests/friends that join me at some point as well. Who knows the craziness we'll get into... A big thanks goes out to Mike for encouraging me to get this going and also to the artists and producers that send me all these great songs to play!. Enjoy and please feel free to throw suggestions my way of what you'd like to see and hear.
I tried out Sabian's new line of HH remastered cymbals, along with my good friends Chris McHugh and Nir Z. The honest truth is that I'd like one of each please. There wasn't a cymbal there that I didn't think fit my style and worked in any song I could think of. And anybody who knows me knows I can't fake that kind of enthusiasm. I really appreciate Sabian having me be a part of this. Enjoy the vids
So I obviously do a lot of recording in The Loft that nobody gets to see as it's normally just me up there pounding away. The other day I got this fun song to play on and thought it'd be a great example of what happens when somebody sends me a song to put drums on. I hope you like it. Big thanks to Todd Lombardo for letting me use his song.
So this last Saturday night I filled in for my good friend Kevin Murphy with my old friend Randy Houser. Back in the day (yeah, that long ago), I used to play with Randy to packed rooms all over Nashville. The band was loud and really great.. It was a great time.. And now, all these years later, I got to go out and do it again, except without knowing most of the songs. Firstly, I gotta say how awesome it was to se how well Randy's done over the years. He's got this big ole backline with huge risers, tons of lights and crazy fog machines.. a long way from 12th and Porter. It's nice to see someone you care about break through. However, that also meant a lot of work on my part. Not only did I have to learn the set, but I also had to trigger loops and tracks which added a whole other challenge, not to mention all while playing Kevin's kit which was attached to the riser, so no moving that! And no, Kevin set up isn't anywhere close to mine. And then there were the fog machines.. A lot of fun, but it's hard to see the charts, or anything for that matter, when you're completely covered in cotton candy smelling clouds. Anyway, I had a lot of fun and I think the guys did too. Here's a little clip from my gopro which shut off at the best part, but that's how it goes.
And there's my first full blog! Not so bad....
Nick Buda is the featured artist on the second Working Drummer podcast. Before moving to the United States, Nick grew up in South Africa. Nick tells about his move to the U.S. as a young teen and, what led him to a career playing drums. While Nick was in high school, he had a chance meeting with Vinnie Colaiuta, who advised him to attend Berkeley to study.
His early career was spent touring extensively with a host of artists including Colonel Bruce Hampton. Later shifting his energies, Nick decided to become a full time session drummer. He talks about the transition and the lessons learned along the way, including recording with Taylor Swift and being true to yourself as a player.
About The Modern Drummer Podcast:
Everything you need to know about being a professional drummer . . . and a few things you may not want to know. Hosted by Matthew Crouse, co-hosted and produced by Mike Jackson: the podcast Working Drummer covers it all in interviews with dynamic pro drummers.
LAB: Getting Into Music and Making it Work
Berklee Alumni Spotlight: Nick Buda ’96
Written by: Shantell Ogden '05
Published in Berklee Blogs on May 3, 2013
Nick credits Berklee for his first experiences in studio work, expanding musical foundation and ear training.
“Working in the studio with other students made me much more aware as a musician and helped me gain studio experience in the safety of school,” he said. “Ear training was valuable for me, it helped me learn how to chart songs.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree with a focus on percussion performance Nick returned to Nashville. After two years, he heard about a touring position with Colonel Bruce Hampton through a Berklee connection.
“I toured with Bruce two years and it was a real-life road education,” said Nick. “Bruce was really quirky and he had a cult-like following. Shows were about ‘go to war’, and it was two hours or more of heavy-hitting hard work every night.”
Full article at Berklee Blogs: http://www.berklee-blogs.com/2013/05/lab-getting-into-music-and-making-it-work/
Nashville Session Drummer. The Loft.
Publication: Modern Drummer
Author: Dawson, Michael
Date published: November 1, 2010
South African-born/Nashville-based session drummer Nick Buda, whose recording credits include country star Taylor Swift's hit 2008 album, Fearless, and singer-songwriter Jewel's recent Sweet And Wild, owns a beautiful house in a quiet, reserved neighborhood just south of the city. Inside, there's very little clue to what Buda does for a living, with not even a single drumstick in plain sight. "The one thing I knew I wanted was to not see drums whenever I'm not working," Nick says while walking us up a staircase leading to a single door that conceals his studio, the Loft, from the remainder of the house. "I wasn't going to put the drums in a bedroom. I wanted a space that was set up just for them.
"When my wife and I first moved into the house, this space was completely unfinished," Buda continues after opening the door and revealing a clean and compact tracking room, complete with hardwood floors, a drum riser, and a gorgeous Gretsch kit. "The space was open to the rafters, and there weren't any baseboards or anything. I put in a double subfloor to help minimize vibration underneath, and I framed out the room. It's only about 230 square feet, but the ceiling is slanted, and it goes up fifteen feet at the highest point. It's just enough space to get a really big drum sound. But from the outside you wouldn't guess there's anything behind the door."
Buda spends most of his time tracking demos and masters in big commercial studios around Nashville, but he's been using the Loft for independent projects, overdubs, and his own productions. "It's fun to produce, not just thinking about drums but also thinking about the big picture of the song," he says.
To prepare the room for recording, Buda let common sense and his well-tuned ears guide him. "I built baffles that I hung on the walls," he explains. "It's actually a very live room, which is a great problem to have.
It's very hard to liven a dead room, but it's not so bad to deaden a live room. I built two more baffles that I can put in front of the drums if I want a deader sound. But the room sounded good right off the bat. The ceiling slants on top of the drums, so I thought I was going to get a lot of cymbal reflections. I put a little foam on the ceiling, right above the cymbals, which helps a lot. It sounds good to me, so I'm sticking with it."
One thing we noticed about the Loft is that it isn't overrun with the latest, greatest recording gear. There are just a few choice pieces that Buda feels he needs in order to get the sounds he bears in his head. "I learned from Taylor's engineer Chad Carlson that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to get a great sound," the drummer says. "I've seen him use Shure SM57s on everything but the kick drum, and it sounded awesome. So I know you can get the sound you want without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on mics and pre's. The biggest purchase I made was the API 3124, which has four channels of A-grade 512C pre's. API is very popular around Nashville. They make my drums sound big and fat, like what I'm used to hearing when I go to a big studio, which is obviously what I'm competing with.
"But I'm not a gearhead by any means," Nick continues. "I'm about playing drums and not about geeking out on mics and gear to ensure that I have absolutely perfect tones. If it sounds great, that's all you want."
When discussing what it takes to be a top session drummer, Buda offers the following advice, starting with how to choose a snare drum for a particular track. "There's always a little bit of randomness with everything," he says. "I'll listen to the song first and decide if it needs a snappy sound or a dead Fleetwood Mac-type tone. If it's an up-tempo song, I won't use a snare that's too deep. In country music, there are so many layers of instruments that you don't want the snare taking up too many frequencies. So I'll usually use a 5x14.
"Choosing between wood and metal just comes down to the moment. I have favorites that have gone in and out of fashion for me over time. If it's a slow 6/8 tune, I usually want that super-deep, slightly tuned-down, padded vibe. If it's a mid-tempo shuffley thing, I'll go for a 6½xl4 Black Beauty tuned a little above medium. A lot of the sound is how you tune the drum and what heads you use. Some producers are going to be more specific about what they want, so it's up to you to provide that sound. As drummers, we know that the spectrum of snare drum tones is endless. Producers are usually looking for one of four or five possibilities, so you should at least have those covered. But I'm not one of those people who says, 'It sounds good, but could it possibly sound better?' Ultimately, you have to acknowledge that you're looking for a great sound. Once you find one, know it's great and stick with it. Otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy.
"The same idea applies when I'm tracking drums. I'm comfortable doing just a few takes and feeling good about what I've played. I'll give clients two or three passes that I think are right on, so they have options for different fills and things. But I'm all about the emotion. I'll sometimes let a couple weird things go if the vibe is right.
"It's also important to focus on building the song," Buda adds. "You want to make sure the first and second verses have something that makes them a little different from each other. You want the song to progress in some way. But the vibe-how it feels-is the be-all, end-all for me."