Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz here!

DogBreath

Administrator Emeritus
We are honored to have Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz join us on our forum. He was one of the first artists to be added to the DrummerWorld site when Bernhard first started it, and hopefully now he will be willing to share some knowledge and wisdom with us from his many years as a pro drummer and clinician. If you ever do have an opportunity to talk with Jon, come prepared and bring your thinking cap. His insight into the world of professional drumming is staggering, and even though his clinics are known to run over in length (because of his thoughtful and complete answers to questions), he always leaves his audience wanting more.

Visit his personal website for more information and dates, and of course check out DrummerWorld's page for pictures and a bio.

Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz's web page

Jon's page on DrummerWorld
 

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T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
This guy rules, I would love to catch one of his clinics someday. Such a great amount of recording, and on really fun music too. Growing up in the 80's, Weird Al was pretty much a staple in my music consumption and Jon was layin down the beats. Welcome Jon!
 
F

fourstringdrums

Guest
Jon is a great drummer and a great guy. I actually sold a 16" Zildjian K Dark Crash to him a few years ago when he made an appearance on another forum.

Welcome aboard Jon :)
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Hey Jon, good to see you kicking around our forum. Loving your Sabian 30" Ride. You've got a great body of work and you're a great guy; wonderful to see you!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Thanks guys! What a busy place, and a great resource of knowledge and ideas! If anyone has a specific question, I'll do my best to answer. Otherwise I'm enjoying reading the posts and commenting if I can add anything to the discussion.

Bermuda
 

DogBreath

Administrator Emeritus
Very cool, thanks. I was wondering how much creative input you have when you guys are doing an original song. I just assume (and correct me if I'm wrong) that when doing a parody that Al allows you the freedom to do whatever you need to do to recreate the sound of the original, but what about for new songs? Who is involved in the writing and how much input do you have?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Al's originals (which account for 50% or more of the material on each album) each have a specific style, and are often a homage to some of Al's favorite artists (DEVO, Zappa, Aerosmith, Talking Heads, Boingo & MANY many more...) So from the start, we know the feel he wants, and the kind of signature parts and sounds that will help convey that. Sometimes we are left to our own devices, and sometimes Al wants a very specific part or fill. So there's a certain amount of input that we have on the originals, and over the years we've learned there are certain little things he likes, so we don't require a lot of direction. But as the writer/artist/producer, Al always has the final word.

The process is also very efficient: Al makes a demo for us with 5 or 6 originals, we think about parts for a few weeks then get together once to rehearse and massage the parts. Then the band records a demo and we privately ponder the songs a little more and zero-in on parts. Then we're in the studio, ready to cut them all, usually in one day.

With the parodies, there's no input whatsoever, since we're copying existing parts & sounds. If Al says we're doing "Pretty Fly For A White Guy" (Offspring,) we use that recording as a road map, possiblly incorporating arrangement or key changes. We do a huge amount of pre-production on our own in terms of writing-out parts, assessing sounds, and in the case of sequenced songs, creating samples and sequences. No rehearsal is necessary, since there are no subjective parts to work on - we are copying another song note-for-note - and we show up at the studio playing the songs for the first time as a band, typically tracking them all the same day.

With respect to the parodies, copying parts and sounds is difficult work. We aren't permitted to just 'get the flavor' or play a few signature parts. Our version has to be as close as possible to 100% accurate, with the knowledge that 99% is probably not acceptable. It's often a trying process where we have to 'backwards engineer' recordings to decipher parts and how sounds were achieved. I'm pretty sure that there are no other guitarists, bassists, or drummers who have the sense of purpose (or the patience!) to chart every note, every dynamic, every mistake, and every tempo change for their recordings.

Bermuda
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
The production going into just the parodies does sound like tons of work. Figuring out a part and playing it usually isn't that tough, you do it in a cover band all the time. But to get the total feel and sound of the drum track you're copying? No thanks! What exactly do you mean by "Our version has to be as close as possible to 100% accurate, with the knowledge that 99% is probably not acceptable."? One thing is certain, I would love to watch you guys hash this stuff out and spitballing the originals.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
T.Underhill said:
What exactly do you mean by "Our version has to be as close as possible to 100% accurate, with the knowledge that 99% is probably not acceptable."?
Fortunately for Al, we all have good ears and are very persnickity in our approach to parts & sounds. But Al is this much more meticulous than we are, and has caught us a few times on something that we somehow missed. It's rare, but it does keep us on our toes. I said 99% because in hindsight I know there are a few instances where something wasn't 100% and somehow got by Al and us at the same time. However, on a literal level for me, 99% allows for at least one wrong note every 8 bars, and that would indeed be noticeable and unnacceptable to both me and Al. My accuracy is far better than that though, and while I may not always be 100%, I'm at least 99.9%. :)

I probably should have said "Our version has to be 100% accurate, but 99.9% is probably acceptable."

Bermuda
 

DogBreath

Administrator Emeritus
I've been a Devo fan for decades, and one of my favorite Devo songs is "Dare To Be Stupid," which of course isn't even a Devo song but your tribute to them. Both the song and the video perfectly captured their essence in a playful way that was still respectful of the music.
 

infernal drummer

Senior Member
hello jon.
regarding the huge kit you used with al yankowich, on the "money for nothing" song. dont remember al's name for song hehe... do you have more pictures of it? it looked awesome.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Thanks, that was "Money For Nothing / Beverly Hillbillies" (the TV show lyrics sung against Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing") There were only a few stills taken on the set, these are the only decent pictures of the kit:





Apart from the gongs, I don't recall any special attempt to copy the kit from the original video very closely - I'm pretty sure he didn't have octabons, for instance - but we sometimes take a little artistic license in the videos and just wanted the kit to look big. The Straits' Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher played on our track (from the sanity and safety of London) and the actual kit I recorded with was a 5-piece, which is now on loan to my brother who plays guitar with Mark Knopfler! Small world.

Bermuda
 

PreppieNerd

Silver Member
I saw you post elsewhere that you have hundreds of cymbals so you can get the different sounds necessary. What do you do on the road? do you have one set of versatile cymbals, or do you swap them out between songs? I think in your case it would be advantageous to have an electronic kit, then you could push a button and have your kit for "I Love Rocky Road," then after the song is over push the button and it switches to the pre-programmed set for "Amish Paradise," etc.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
On tour I use one kit (no triggers) and one set of cymbals. The tuning and cymbal sounds are fairly generic so they mesh well with everything we play. My live sound doesn't need to be quite as specific as the studio tracks, so there's some leeway.

I'd considered samples for each song in order to be completely true to the original vibe. After all, the guitar, bass & keyboard players change patches as needed. But there are too many potential problems with relying on triggers/pads for a main kit. If a trigger breaks or a cable goes bad, let's say on the snare, that sound is gone, essentially until the problem can be troubleshooted and cables/pads replaced. With a live kit and mics, if the snare mic goes out, the overheads and vocal mic will still pick it up... the sound doesn't vanish.

I can't think of anyone who uses an electronic or triggered kit onstage with complete success. Even one glitch is one too many.

Bermuda
 

jazzsnob

Silver Member
Jon-
I have to say thanks for the inspiration. I've been a fan for 7 or 8 years now and I still listen often. I have two questions:

A: How do you practice you time keeping and mimicing(sp?) time feels? How do you practice listening? How time do you spend setting up drum sounds in the studio?

B:What do think about Polka Party? Because I know it didn't too well commercially, but I've been listening to it a lot recently and it's really damn good.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
jazzsnob said:
Jon-
I have to say thanks for the inspiration. I've been a fan for 7 or 8 years now and I still listen often. I have two questions:

A: How do you practice you time keeping and mimicing(sp?) time feels? How do you practice listening? How time do you spend setting up drum sounds in the studio?

B:What do think about Polka Party? Because I know it didn't too well commercially, but I've been listening to it a lot recently and it's really damn good.
Thanks!

A: Mimicing feels is sometimes tough. It's one thing to play the parts, and another to play the feel. In some cases I've had to be a little loose, in others, dead on tight, and for Genius In France (Zappa homage on the Poodle Hat album) while copying various drummers from Ralph Humphrey to Bozzio to Wackerman, and Chad's in particular has a deceptively light touch with a very matter-of-fact style, it's almost choppy. I guess 'deliberate' is the best word to describe it. That was a tough one, and I'm very proud of my work on that.

For listening, it's always been natural to me. Even as a kid, I focused on the drum parts, and played along to whatever was on the radio (mid-60s) or the family turntable: Beatles, Gene Krupa, and a host of Afro-Cuban albums from the late 50s.

For the studio, I pre-select toms and kick/s, snares, and cymbals that fit the material, and may bring additional heads as required. I've got everything tuned when I come in, and our engineer has been with us for over 20 years (and also happens to be a drummer) so we get sounds in 10 or 15 minutes per song. We'll cut 5 or 6 tracks in a day.

B. I thought the Polka Party! album was good as well, one of my favorite tracks is Dog Eat Dog. There's some nice programming too, despite having to trick my Yamaha RX11 into playing certain parts. Not sure why the album didn't do well though, and it's one of only a few that failed to even go Gold, which after literally 20 years in print isn't too much to ask!

Bermuda
 
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PreppieNerd

Silver Member
Just curious about your Drummerworld habits.

1. Do you answer silly questions? (such as the next two)

2. Do you ever check out the videos on drummerworld

3. Do you ever look at the off topic section of the forum?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
PreppieNerd said:
Just curious about your Drummerworld habits.

1. Do you answer silly questions? (such as the next two)

2. Do you ever check out the videos on drummerworld

3. Do you ever look at the off topic section of the forum?
Yes.... rarely.... no.
 
S

Synthetik

Guest
Hi,
I read that you have a Tempus snare drum in your arsenal. I ordered a 14x5.5 fiberglass snare. I was totally blown away by it's tuning range and power. Do you have any comments to share on that specific snare?

Thanks!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
I have 3 Tempus snares - 4x12, 6x13, and 8x14 - and I've also been playing Impact fiberglass drums and snares for 21 years, so fiberglass is nothing new to me.

You'll find the drum to be very versatile, and with the appropriate heads and tunings, you should have no problem getting a variety of sounds. I think you'll be very happy with it.

Bermuda
 
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