Country drummers!

moxman

Silver Member
After all these years of not really paying that much attention to country or 'New Country' and snickering at Boom Country (songs about tailgates, trucks, tight jeans and dixie cups!).. I've got to say - I think I'm hooked now! There is just a ton of great country drummers out there that are just killing it and pushing the envelope with innovative beats and fills.. Not to mention the wicked guitar players and chicken pickers, as well as the multi-part harmonies.

It first drew my attention when I noticed at local country fairs a few years ago, that as soon as a country act came up on the stage the ladies would start filling up at the front stage - and ready to rock! Hmm .. there must be something to this! Now I find out that a lot of the fairs are booked solid with country bands and one of the handful of local bars here that plays country (the Crazy Horse saloon) is packed everytime they have country bands. So I started listening..

What gets me is a lot of the rythmn is a subtle mix of rock, 70's funk, a touch of rap, layered rythmn tracks with some added drum programming here and there.. and just great dynamics.

Here's a sample of the kind of stuff I'm talking about;

Luke Bryan - Play It Again
Luke Bryan - This Is How We Roll
Brantley Gilbert - Bottoms Up
Miranda Lambert - Somethin' Bad (With Carrie Underwood)
Miranda Lambert - Automatic
Thomas Rhett - Get Me Some Of That
Brett Eldredge - Beat Of The Music
Justin Moore - Lettin' The Night Roll
Rascal Flatts - Rewind
Blake Shelton - My Eyes (Feat. Gwen Sebastian)
Lee Brice - I Don't Dance
Chris Young - Who I Am With You
Tyler Farr - Whiskey In My Water
Joe Nichols – Yeah
Eric Church - Give Me Back My Hometown
Lady Antebellum - Bartender
Dierks Bentley - Drunk On A Plane
Billy Currington - We Are Tonight
Dustin Lynch - Where It's At (Yep, Yep)
Craig Campbell - Keep Them Kisses Comin'
The Band Perry - Chainsaw

So.. for you country experts out there .. is there any other stuff you'd recommend?
- and who are those drummers - do they use studio guys primarily to record this stuff and live guys on the road? Who are the killer drummers in country these days?
 

BradGunnerSGT

Silver Member
Some of those are recorded by the bands themselves, but there are probably about 100 "first-call" players in Nashville that basically rotate through a dozen production teams that generate a lot of these.

One of the current production teams that get a lot of work is the one headed by Rich Redmond, and the core of the team is basically Jason Aldean's band. They do a lot of work for a lot of different solo artists in addition to being Jason Aldean's in-house production team, recording band, and touring band. Rich is probably "the" country drummer these days and is all over the place.

The artist will come up with a idea (or their label will get demos from songwriters) and these production teams will go in, come up with a demo/rough draft of the arrangement and a rough tracking vocal, pick the instrumentation needed (bass, drums, rhythm, a couple of different lead players), and they will set up a session where they go in and do 2-3 takes of the song. The artist goes in and sings the final vocal takes (if needed) and they produce the final mixes (going back and overdubbing, adding/swapping out parts, etc).

Nashville operates this way because the label/producer gets to hire people who can go in, look at an abbreviated version of the chart, and completely nail the tracks in 2 or 3 takes. They can produce a complete album within a week this way, even having different teams working on different songs at the same time, and the end result is fairly consistent across the whole album.

The musicians have all worked together on various projects so they all know each other, and when it is a complete team like the Jason Aldean one, they all know exactly what the others will do and are capable of. Here's a session with this team tracking the song "Flyover States". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N7Qvx45Wds

Check out this session of Paul Leim where his team gets together, looks at the chart for a few minutes, figures out a couple of hooks and things, and basically one-takes a demo for an artist. Imagine that on a slightly larger scope, but basically the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWMKAX8Chuc
 

rtliquid

Senior Member
I think modern country is basically modern rock with "twang" in the vocals. Jason Aldean's "Hicktown" kicks serious butt! Rich Redmond is one of the best guys currently out there.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
The artist will come up with a idea (or their label will get demos from songwriters) and these production teams will go in, come up with a demo/rough draft of the arrangement and a rough tracking vocal, pick the instrumentation needed (bass, drums, rhythm, a couple of different lead players), and they will set up a session where they go in and do 2-3 takes of the song. The artist goes in and sings the final vocal takes (if needed) and they produce the final mixes (going back and overdubbing, adding/swapping out parts, etc).

Nashville operates this way because the label/producer gets to hire people who can go in, look at an abbreviated version of the chart, and completely nail the tracks in 2 or 3 takes. They can produce a complete album within a week this way, even having different teams working on different songs at the same time, and the end result is fairly consistent across the whole album.
v=XWMKAX8Chuc[/url]
Interesting....'consistency' could be mistaken for ' it all sounds the same' too.
No disrespect intended but does that process not sound 'cookie cutter' to you? How does a country artist innovate or create, or deviate from the pack, when it is so assembly line, especially in the studio?

I am fascinated how popular country has become in both US and Canada....maybe Europe too. Clearly it has the hook for people.

On a related note, what do you guys think separates a really good country drummer from the pack?
 

SpareRib

Senior Member
On a related note, what do you guys think separates a really good country drummer from the pack?
Big Ears, solid time/feel and groove, restraint and a modicum of taste, ability to sight read chord charts, able to get the sound from the drums and cymbals that fit the songs, and a positive attitude.
 

steadypocket

Gold Member
Listen to most Keith Urban albums except Fuse and you'll experiene the greatness of Chris McHugh. Talk about a guy who can groove and lay down a backbeat. Keith uses him on tour as well. My kind of drummer.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I like country, it Rocks... which leads me to believe in fusion.

Get a tight rocking band, throw a pedal steel, banjo or a fiddle in there someplace, perhaps a mandolin and it's suddenly country.

Not that I mind, in fact I prefer listening to classic rock lead breaks in country songs over some of the other pop genre's out there.

Shoot, even John Anderson got a little rock thing goin' a while back.

I prefer the twang, the George Jones of it all. That's what I miss, but every now and then someone breaks out with a old style country tune that just oozes what used to be... before the suits got involved.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I like country, it Rocks... which leads me to believe in fusion.

Get a tight rocking band, throw a pedal steel, banjo or a fiddle in there someplace, perhaps a mandolin and it's suddenly country.

Not that I mind, in fact I prefer listening to classic rock lead breaks in country songs over some of the other pop genre's out there.

Shoot, even John Anderson got a little rock thing goin' a while back.

I prefer the twang, the George Jones of it all. That's what I miss, but every now and then someone breaks out with a old style country tune that just oozes what used to be... before the suits got involved.

Exactly !

I agree !

.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
Yeah, I've played country most of my bar-band life, starting in the early 90's when new country hit. Up here north of Toronto, there's still lots of gigs for doing country. I still do the odd pickup gig with some of the old guys I used to play with.

It's hard to describe what makes for a country drummer, but you can hear it right away. It's not like playing blues shuffles, although it seems like it's the same thing. It's very subtle. I always caught grief for being a rocker, in a country band. But when I play in rock bands, I still catch criticism from time to time for being too country. lol.

THe modern stuff is very much a fusion of 70's rock and country music. I believe it's from the 90's. Teenagers then would listen to everything.. classic rock, country, rap, lots of times on the same mixed CD. They are the studio cats now, who are able to mix all the different influences into one thing now.
When I was a teenager in the 80's, you picked a genre and kind of buried yourself in it. I was totally into metal and hair bands. THe first country bands I started playing with must have had the patience of a saint while I learned how to play their stuff.
 

moxman

Silver Member
One of the current production teams that get a lot of work is the one headed by Rich Redmond, and the core of the team is basically Jason Aldean's band.
Cool videos thanks... Rich is really slammin those skins. I'm always amazed by players that can learn a song that fast and nail the perfect take in one or two tries..

Also re Keith Urban; yes he's on my hitlist as well, wicked player and singer. I've tried to get my 4 piece band to play some of his stuff for years but it's always " he's got banjo, mandolin, and 3 guitar players in there!" Or there's too many chord changes or too many words or some other lame excuse haha.. so I finally gave up.

We do play some Dwight Yokum, George Strait, Travis Tritt, Johnny Cash, and it always goes over well.

.. And those Rascal Flatts guys are awesome..it takes a lot to surprize me, like a drum riff i haven't heard before.. But that drummer has some really great original fills that made me go 'what?' Rewind!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I used to follow a great Southern Rock band because I knew the drummer was leaving to travel around to do Godspell. So I seamlessly slid into the band when he departed. "Urban Cowboy" had just come out and our agent told us to learn a Country repertoire, like right now. I never played Country music at all, and much to my chagrin, I had to become a Country drummer.

I'm so grateful for those 2 years. It taught me a lot, like how the song is more important than the drum part and how to support the lead players. Country drummers have a skill set that is not in your face. They learn to be creative within the confines, to goose the song from the inside out. I love that so much.

I consider the newer Top 40 Country to be closer to light rock or pop, only with a Country sound and twang, but that's another discussion.

Brad Paisley is a superior guitar player. Autotune does NOT belong in Country music, sorry Taylor.
 

Axe

Senior Member
I like some newer country, but how are you supposed to have your own sound when you're not writing your own songs, and everyone's using the same studio guys? That aspect is very very lame.
 

j-ronimo

Member
Man, i'm really sorry; i'm posting this response having not yet read all of the other responses posted, but I promise I will following the rant i'm about to go on: with all due respect to you moxman, that crap is not country. I am aware that statement is a bit confrontational, so again, I do apologize. I live in NE, and I am lucky to stay fairly busy with an artist from Nashville that passes through the Midwest once every few months, as well as keeping busy locally with 2-3 honky tonk/Americana bands. I have done a few fill in gigs with some guys opening for some of those big names, and this is my two cents on "Modern Country": it's corporate arena rock that is trying to cash in on the "Buck Wild" demographic; that stuff is one dimensional, all of the songs are the same, and it's just a bunch of pretty boys wearing guitars they can't actually play. Now, for something positive, a list of REAL country artists and their drummers:

Dwight Yoakam (Mitch Marine, Jim Christie)
The Mavericks/Raul Malo (Paul Deakin/Ernie Durawa)
The Gourds/Damnations TX/Shiny Ribs (Keith Langforde)
BR-549 (Shaw Wilson)
The Little Willies (Dan Rieser)
Lyle Lovett (Russ Kunkle/various)
Steve Earle (various)

there are various other amazing country drummers, including Shannon Forest, Billy Thomas to name just a couple more. I guess my issues really lie more with what the media has done to the genera, rather than the drummers who are backing the album, but it is just ridiculous to me what the genera has been reduced too; it's a joke now. Same can be said for modern music in general though, in my own humble opinion. Rock and RnB used to have more too over on the main stream stage as well. Que Sera; just gives us more treasures to fund under all the b*llsh*t in the record bins, am I right?
 

moxman

Silver Member
Dwight Yoakam (Mitch Marine, Jim Christie)
The Mavericks/Raul Malo (Paul Deakin/Ernie Durawa)
The Gourds/Damnations TX/Shiny Ribs (Keith Langforde)
BR-549 (Shaw Wilson)
The Little Willies (Dan Rieser)
Lyle Lovett (Russ Kunkle/various)m
Steve Earle (various)
https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/the-npd-group-country-music-rises-to-become-americas-favorite-genre-in-2012/
Thanks.. I'll check some of those out. I know a lot of Dwight's stuff, which is great - and has interesting lyrics as well; no trucks and tail gates! The Mavericks as well and Steve Earle mainly from Copperhead Road. Not a fan of Lyle apart from a few tunes, as a lot of his material just bores me. Russel Kunkel on the other hand is one of my all time favorite drummers..

The 'new Country' thing has been around so long now it's not really new. My spidey senses are telling me that it's getting more and more popular and mainstream, and according to one chart it surpassed classic rock as the most popular music in 2012 across all genres. Compared to all the other crap out there in pop music these days and the dearth of good rock bands, I find it hard to 'mess with the success' it's having.. Maybe it's the 'whiskey in the water' LoL.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I think modern country is basically modern rock with "twang" in the vocals. Jason Aldean's "Hicktown" kicks serious butt! Rich Redmond is one of the best guys currently out there.
Very true. Country has evolved a great deal - perhaps it has strayed from its roots. But some of the evolution is cool, like Hick Hop.
 

j-ronimo

Member
I really have to recommend listening to Yoakam's "Blame the vain" along with all of his stuff; that one is I believe Mitch Marines first with him, and there are some awesome fills and especially time changes, and some cool spots where the quarter note stays the same but it goes from a country shuffle to a four on the floor rock. Also, and maybe even more so from a drumming stand point, The damnations Tx "half mad moon", and ALL of the Gourds!!!! Keith Langforde is a phenomenal drummer; in my opinion, the Stanton moore of country drummers. Keith is an Austin guy, and has this awesome style that seems like a jazzy/surfy take on country; lots of nuances. The dude is super nice, and very unassuming; he doesn't know how much ass he kicks.

Gourds recommendations;
Heavy Ornamentals
Noble Creatures
Cow, fish, fowl or pig
old mad joy
Haymaker!
Ghosts of hallelujah

A fun fact about the gourds; one of their multi-instrumentalists, as well as the writer of a few of their songs, is Mr. Max Johnston of Uncle Tupelo and early pre-lineup change Wilco!!!
 

j-ronimo

Member
For me, country was always just blues, Rn'B and gospel, but it got the name "country" because, back when radio waves could only reach so far, and most guys only listened to regional music and a handful of nationals like Aretha and Sinatra, country was just popular music that didn't come from the city; it came from the south and the heartland, and it was usually a little rough around the edges. There are A LOT of similarities between old style country, gospel, blues, and even big band and swing music, specifically the shuffles and the natural progressions that the hooks seem to take. Roy orbison and elvis were pretty good examples of this!!! Wanna hear some awesome country swing done old school? Check out "Asleep at the Wheel"!!! and yes, some of Lovett's stuff is not as happening as his others, but I highly recommend the albums "road to ensenada", "my baby don't tolerate", "natural forces", and "it's not big, it's large". I think that is a big part of my problem with current country is that, they skipped all of this awesome stuff that came before; you never hear country shuffles or train beats anymore. These guys are basically just bon jovi and deaf leopard fan clubs that wear fancy cowboy boots and hawk bud light; I just equate it to some punk kids acting like they are the epitome of hard rock, and then having more in common with Flock of Seagulls than Led Zeppelin. Again, I apologize, it's just hard to watch these scenes roll over the way they do.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
I agree with some of the other commenters, country is not in a good place right now. Too corporate, to same sounding, and not country. I think the new country boom of the 90's was the high point, I don't know where it's at now. There are still some good ones out there, but it's hard to find.
I love Zac Brown Band. They are great.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I think the new country boom of the 90's was the high point, I don't know where it's at now.
To me, that was called Alt-Country no? ...Uncle Tupelo, Jayhawks, Son Volt. Sadly that stuff didn't stay or catch. Where it is seems to be small clubs and bars again.
 
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