Gavin Harrison here!

rafaelrafalex

Junior Member
Hey Gavin!

It's such a pleasure to be able to ask you some questions, I'm a huge fan, I admire a lot your work, your technique and the way you play your songs... it makes you one of the greatest drummers! ''19 days'' song is just incredible! The way you add drums in a simple song is amazing, congratulations.

First, I would like to ask you where your originality comes from I mean... to be so original as you are, you write your songs and try a lot of things wasting a lot of time on it or you just know what to insert there or what sounds better in that part of the song?


Second, and a little bit of the first question, when you are working on a new song you put everything you try on a paper or you just write the things you like more? Or you don't even use sheets?
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi HenryColt

If you could play with different brands ( rather than Zildjian, Vic Firth and Sonor), what would they be?

I can't really answer that - there are lots of nice companies out there making great stuff - but I'm extremely pleased with the equipment that I have chosen. I'm only interested in playing what I consider to be the best available - and I think I have arrived at a sound that suits my artistic and practical needs.

Have you heard the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album ( The getaway)?

No I haven't.

Is there any music genre that you want to play but you can't because of lack or oportunities or time?

I think eventually I'd like to go back to playing more jazz music. It's kind of where I started and it's close to my heart.


Hi rafaelrafalex

First, I would like to ask you where your originality comes from I mean... to be so original as you are, you write your songs and try a lot of things wasting a lot of time on it or you just know what to insert there or what sounds better in that part of the song?

Life is full of choices - and the choices that you make are just a reflection of your personality. As you get older your personality evolves and you start to recognize things that resonate with you. So to be original you need to seek your inspiration from unexpected sources. I find a lot of inspiration for drumming outside of music. I look at design, I look at architecture and can recognise similarities to composing rhythms.
(In fact Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said "I call architecture frozen music").
So to answer the question - I might spend a lot of time looking for (what I consider to be) a great drum part. None of the time is wasted if I end up with something that I like. Sometimes it comes together in the first 5 seconds - other times I can't find anything that I really like. At that point probably I'm finding the music uninspiring - or I need to go away and come back to it another day.

Second, and a little bit of the first question, when you are working on a new song you put everything you try on a paper or you just write the things you like more? Or you don't even use sheets?

It depends how complicated the song is. If it has a complex structure - I will write a chart so I can navigate all the hurdles. As my ideas start to come - I just start recording them - and I might even transcribe some of the "accidents" that just happened when I was playing without really knowing what I was doing. It might be something as small as an open hi hat that I really like the placement of - and I want to remember to do that exact same thing in the next verse. The beauty is in the detail.

cheers
Gavin
 
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supermac

Senior Member
Hi Gavin, I recently saw a great video clip of you playing on a small kit with a jazz group in a bar room setting.

For myself, at a recent pub gig in a tiny room, I had to sacrifice much of my biggish kit, and ended up playing a 4-piece with hi-hat and a couple of cymbals. Ample enough, of course.

In the event, I quite enjoyed it - and it definitely got me thinking differently about the drums/music as the gig progressed.

(I will, though, be returning to my biggish kit next time,even though tear-down was much quicker!)

Just wondering what your thoughts are on large kit versus small kit? Cheers.
 
Thanks a lot for your answer. Yeah, that makes complete sense. It´s surely the case that a few things here and there I play are mechanically "too less practiced" to focus on the timing at the same time. So simplify these things is a very good idea and should help immediately. Thank you very much!

Let´s go on:
A few posts back there was a discussion about pre-amp choice and you posted a link of where they tested a few. Thank´s for that very interesting article. I kept on reading the forum there and they had a opinion test going on. So you have a lot of recording experience under the belt as well.
How would be your order of the following points when it comes to what is most important of getting a good recording? Points to consider (and you can of course add points) would be:
performer, instrument (new heads, in tune, etc?)/ where you place the mic / mic choice / the environment or room / mic pre choice

And maybe something up to date:
What do you do at the moment - I mean in between the touring legs of king crimson? how often do you go through the material? (like once a day, ...). Do you have some other (remote) sessions that you work on currently?
 

ThomasBaricevic

Junior Member
Hi Gavin. Thomas once again here. As Simon Phillips said: "The minute when the music stops being fun, you should stop. Because you need every ounce of fun in this bussiness."

Ahh...Someway along the way the music, playing drums and hanging out with musicians stopped being fun. Reason? I wish I know one. I think something is missing in my character. Yes...I have a ADS (anxiety-depression disorder). But me doctor says: "That's not the reason you are not enjoying your hobbies." So what is it?

Before, drums were so exciting and playing with anyone, ANYONE, was Christmas. Now...everything seems like it has no future. Every band with which I tried to coexist has some sort of problem. What sort of problems: lack of direction, lack of friendship, lack of simplicity, lack of positivity... Here was I trying the be positive, enthusiastic and friendly and none of it came back. NONE OF IT! NONE!

So here I am. Once again, alone with my thoughts. Is the problem in me? Am I the one who destroyed all those bands when i just said: 'Guys, I'm done. This is not working.'

As I look back I see 2 things. One, as a kid I was just enjoying to play music and there were no thoughts on is this band or music going to have any future. And two, after a turned 20 I started thinking:" What's the future of this? Are we gonna' get gigs? Let's try to make I bussiness out of it." And something obviously really wrong happend along the way...

Sorry for being so complicated and philosophical...but those are the best words I can put it...

Any thoughts, Gavin...
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi supermac

I recently saw a great video clip of you playing on a small kit with a jazz group in a bar room setting. Just wondering what your thoughts are on large kit versus small kit?

I think I know the clip you're referring to. I was just sitting in - it wasn't my drumkit. It can be an interesting challenge to play on a much smaller kit - but it felt right at the time in that jazz setting. It almost never happens to me that I play such a small set - but I enjoyed it that night for those couple of tunes.

Hi Robert Schmidt

How would be your order of the following points when it comes to what is most important of getting a good recording? Points to consider (and you can of course add points) would be:performer, instrument (new heads, in tune, etc?)/ where you place the mic / mic choice / the environment or room / mic pre choice

Really the most important factor (by a very long way) is the performer. They can change the sound so much just by their touch. Then I would say the room is crucial for the sound of the drums. A good drumkit with good (well tuned) drum heads (and great cymbals) is next on the list. Then I would say the microphone and it's position would make a noticeable difference. I would put things like the digital convertor and mic pre way at the bottom of the list that would make a really noticeable affect.

What do you do at the moment - I mean in between the touring legs of king crimson? how often do you go through the material? (like once a day, ...). Do you have some other (remote) sessions that you work on currently?

At the moment I'm practising a lot. Mostly coordination and timing stuff. I don't go through King Crimson material every day. I'll work on it a few weeks in advance of the rehearsals. I make occasional remote sessions if I find things that I like and I feel I can make a good contribution to. I just recorded (a few weeks ago) a new album for a band called "The Pineapple Thief". They gave me complete creative freedom - and I really enjoyed doing it. I believe their album will be released in August.

Hi ThomasBaricevic

Ahh...Someway along the way the music, playing drums and hanging out with musicians stopped being fun. Reason? I wish I know one. I think something is missing in my character. Yes...I have a ADS (anxiety-depression disorder). But me doctor says: "That's not the reason you are not enjoying your hobbies." So what is it?

I don't fully understand the details of ADS - but sometimes I think it's good to take a rest from something. Especially if you're not enjoying it. There have been times where I haven't enjoyed aspects of the music business and I've taken a break when it stopped making sense to me.

cheers
Gavin
 
Hi Gavin.

Thanks a lot for your answer! This is great. I can put this on my wall to remind me to work more on my drumming instead of thinking which expensive recording equipment I want to buy next...

Very interesting. May you share one or two of the 'secret Gavin Harrison timing and coordination exercises'?

Regarding the remote sessions: It sounds like you have access to sort of a big pool of possible tunes you can play on. Is that the case?

I checked out The Pineapple Thief's earlier work. Great stuff and I can definitely imagine your drumming in their music. I´m going to get it when it comes out!

Btw: You did an formidable job on this one!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhKqUHCXZUA

Greetings Robert
 

RinkyInky

Junior Member
Hi Gavin,

I've read and seen some interviews that you do lots of transcribing. I've recently been trying to transcribe Freddie Freeloader from Kind of Blue by Miles Davis to hear how Jimmy Cobb phrases around the soloists and I'm having trouble hearing the snare drum part. There are some obvious snare drum hits but Jimmy Cobb also does a lot of ghosting/very soft comping on the snare which I can sort of tell is there, but can't quite confirm it. I've also tried using slow downer apps like Transcribe! and The Amazing Slow Downer and all they do is make the quality worse and the snare comping harder to hear. Is this due to the poor(er) quality of the recordings?

Do you have any guidelines when doing transcriptions like these because I would like to make my transcriptions as accurate as possible.

Thank you very much!
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Robert Schmidt

Very interesting. May you share one or two of the 'secret Gavin Harrison timing and coordination exercises'?

There's nothing secret about it. I just work on basic stuff and try to really play it as accurate as I can hear.

Regarding the remote sessions: It sounds like you have access to sort of a big pool of possible tunes you can play on. Is that the case?


No not really. Folks contact me and send me their demos. If I like the sound of them and I feel I can add something meaningful to their songs - we work out the logistics (budget and timeframe) and I do the session. A lot of the time they trust that I will do the right thing and give me very little direction. Other times they can be a lot more specific - and both ways are fine. If I'm inspired by the music - then it's quite easy - I'll do what I feel and send them that.

Btw: You did an formidable job on this one!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhKqUHCXZUA

thanks - that was a classic example of a 'remote session'.

Hi RinkyInky

I've read and seen some interviews that you do lots of transcribing. I've also tried using slow downer apps like Transcribe! and The Amazing Slow Downer and all they do is make the quality worse and the snare comping harder to hear. Is this due to the poor(er) quality of the recordings?


Actually I do very little transcribing. What I do the most is writing out ideas that I have improvised or figuring out exercises like complex polyrhythms. Terry Branam (who I believe contributes to the Drummerworld forum) is an excellent transcriber so you might have a better answer from him. When I've messed around with "Transcribe" I noticed the attack of the drums goes a bit fluffy around the edges and doesn't always help that much. I believe Terry Branam does all his transcribing in real time.

cheers
Gavin
 
Hi Gavin,

Thanks for your answer. It´s alsways interesting to see how this business works!

In your recent video advertising the speedcobra (which I had the chance to check out last weekend and must say, that they feel very smooth but powerful at the same time. I felt that I could execute a double a little easier than on my current dw 5002...) there is something - that looks like a pot or anything - near the floortom. What is that and what is it good for?

A few teachers I took lessons with, f.e. Stefan Schütz - the owner of the drum department Stuttgart (who you probably know), says that a lot of pro players think their hits not on the downbeat but on the upbeat. They focus not on hitting the drum but when to lift the arm or leg up and then the beat falls sort of automatically by gravity into place. Do you heard about about it and do ou also do that or whats your opinion about that concept?

Greetings Robert
 
Hey Gavin, hope all is well!

I have got my kick sounding exactly like I want it to, but when I bring my floor tom into the setup, the reverberation from my floor tom alters the sound of my kick drum and to be frank, it sounds quite terrible. As a result, I have found myself playing a simple kick and snare setup more and more as of late. I have tried many different floor tom tunings, but I cannot revert the kick sound to its original state (besides removing the floor tom). The floor tom has a moon-gel on it and sounds satisfactory. Has this happened to you? What I should look for when tuning my floor tom to solve this problem? Although I do enjoy playing such a small setup, I would like to incorporate my floor tom into my playing again.

This leads me to my next question. I know of people who play on smaller kits to "restrict" and "force" themselves to be more creative. Do you think this philosophy is bogus? Do you sometimes play a small setup from time to time for fun?

Lastly, I know that you play other instruments besides drums. Have you ever thought of making an album by yourself? I think it could be a very interesting project! I've been listening to some more downtempo, acoustic music lately. I've been particularly attracted to Gustavo Santaolalla, a wonderful musician. His soundtracks are lovely.

Thanks for your time and all the great music!

Cheers,
Quinn
 

Rítmico

Junior Member
Hi Gavin!!!

I noticed that your drum set sound changed on your last records.

I heard the Pineapple Thief song (in exile) and other recent video record on youtube (the Tama speedcobra), and for my ears the drums and cymbals sounds more "open" when I compared with your "old" records, like rhythmic illusions/perspective DVDs or even with 05Ric records. Is it correct? What changed? The microphones (now AKG), room, recording equipment setup...

Thank you for always inspire us.

Marcos
 

Gavin Harrison

DRUMMERWORLD PRO DRUMMER
Hi Robert Schmidt

In your recent video advertising the speedcobra there is something - that looks like a pot or anything - near the floortom. What is that and what is it good for?


It's just a little tin that's holding up a light to illuminate the bass drum head.

A few teachers I took lessons with, f.e. Stefan Schütz - the owner of the drum department Stuttgart (who you probably know), says that a lot of pro players think their hits not on the downbeat but on the upbeat. They focus not on hitting the drum but when to lift the arm or leg up and then the beat falls sort of automatically by gravity into place. Do you heard about about it and do ou also do that or whats your opinion about that concept?

I don't really recognise what you mean. Are you referring to the Moeller technique?

Hi Lightbulb_Sun

I have got my kick sounding exactly like I want it to, but when I bring my floor tom into the setup, the reverberation from my floor tom alters the sound of my kick drum and to be frank, it sounds quite terrible. As a result, I have found myself playing a simple kick and snare setup more and more as of late. I have tried many different floor tom tunings, but I cannot revert the kick sound to its original state (besides removing the floor tom). The floor tom has a moon-gel on it and sounds satisfactory. Has this happened to you? What I should look for when tuning my floor tom to solve this problem? Although I do enjoy playing such a small setup, I would like to incorporate my floor tom into my playing again.

Is it a 14" floor tom? Sometimes it works to drop a zero ring into the drum so it's resting on the resonant head inside - or sometimes a small amount of cotton wool.

This leads me to my next question. I know of people who play on smaller kits to "restrict" and "force" themselves to be more creative. Do you think this philosophy is bogus? Do you sometimes play a small setup from time to time for fun?

I almost never play a smaller kit (unless I'm "sitting in" on someone else's drums). In terms of restricting myself for creative purposes - I don't have a problem to not play all the parts of my drumset all the time. If I choose to just play the Bass Drum, Snare drum & Hi Hat - I can resist the temptation to play anything else.

Lastly, I know that you play other instruments besides drums. Have you ever thought of making an album by yourself?

No not really. I find interaction with other musicians the most stimulating. Playing all the instruments would feel like a conversation with myself.

Rítmico

I noticed that your drum set sound changed on your last records.
I heard the Pineapple Thief song (in exile) and other recent video record on youtube (the Tama speedcobra), and for my ears the drums and cymbals sounds more "open" when I compared with your "old" records, like rhythmic illusions/perspective DVDs or even with 05Ric records. Is it correct? What changed? The microphones (now AKG), room, recording equipment setup...


Apart from the audio from the Rhythmic Illusion/Perspective books (which were recorded in a rehearsal room a very long time ago) all the others were recorded at my studio. Probably what you're referring to is the amount of big room mics that I'm using. I felt that the amount that I used on the Pineapple Thief record were appropriate for the music - same for the Tama demo. On the records with 05Ric - I didn't feel like that amount of big room sound would be good for the music and I went for a closer more intimate sound. The mics have changed over the years and doubtlessly had a small affect on the sound.

cheers
Gavin
 

Florsky

Junior Member
Hy Gavin,
first of all, thank you for your great support last year. You helped me a lot in configuring my new SQ2. Since one year I'm absolutely happy with the new drum.
I'm also one of the 200 happy drummers who own a Sonor 135 years anniversary 12-5 snare drum with your signature on it.
https://www.pearldrummersforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=383878&stc=1&d=1280034737
I was thinking about buying also your 12-5 protean snare. Are the two snares similar or is there a big difference? (Don't worry I also have the 14-5 protean!)
Thanks for the advice,
Flo
 
Thanks for the reply!

Is it a 14" floor tom? Sometimes it works to drop a zero ring into the drum so it's resting on the resonant head inside - or sometimes a small amount of cotton wool.

It's a 16", but the cotton balls did the trick! Thanks. :)

Quick question. In the live performance of "Dislocated Day" from Octane Twisted (https://youtu.be/Dl5rv8LzEUk?t=2m23s), I have no idea how you're playing both the rims and the hihat pattern at 2:23. What is the sticking? It's such an intricate song. I love how you took an already great drum beat and made it your own.

Also, I loved your Guitar Center duet with Simon Philips. Although labelled as one, it never felt like a "drum duel" to me, and I loved how both of you worked together instead of just showing off, like in most "drum duels". It was incredibly musical and inspiring. How often do you jam with drum friends like this? Is it helpful towards your playing?

By the way, due to the recent announcement of a new Dizrhythmia album, I just checked out the song "Standing In The Rain". Absolutely phenomenal, thanks so much for this great material. It's crazy that you were so young at this point. Great stuff. I'll definitely go and get the album while I wait for the new one. Will it be available on vinyl? :)

Cheers,
Quinn
 
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DunkirkDrums

Junior Member
Hello Gavin! I was wondering if as a musician of your caliber, do you still get star struck by other musicians? Also do you remember the first cymbal you ever owned? Cheers!
 
Hi Gavin,

Thanks again for your answer!

No, I´m not referring to the Moeller technique. Let me try to give an example:

If you for instance play a 16th note groove (one handed and continuous 16th) or a half time shuffle groove (4/4, BD on 1 and 3, SN on 2 and 4) - when do you lift your left arm (or wrist) up to play the backbeat?

Especially on grooves like this I wonder if it´s better to come up on the "&" or the "a" before the backbeat to make it feel best. I always struggle with that.

Do you think about stuff like this or do you just do it naturally?

Another question is: When preparing for a gig or session, do you ever slow down songs for practicing purposes?
(I do but I feel that it´s harder to get the right feeling of the song when it comes to playing it in its original tempo again.)

Thank you in advance.
 

HenryColt

Member
Hi Gavin:
Given the oportunity, would you work along with Zildjian to make your own cymbal set? Like Akira Jimbo with the hybrid or Steve Gad with the Session..
If that happened, how would they be, sound , look?
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Hey Gavin,

Just wondering when is the next time you're touring through Southern California with a band. Any plans for N America anytime soon? Thanks.
 

Florsky

Junior Member
Hy Gavin,
first of all a big thank you for your support last year. You helped me a lot in configuring my dream SQ 2. Since one year I'm very happy with my new drum!
I would again need your advice:
I'm one of the lucky guys who own the Sonor 12' 5' 135 years anniversary special edition with your signature.

https://www.pearldrummersforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=383878&stc=1&d=1280034737

I'm also interested in your 12' 5' Protean Snare. My question is: how big is the difference between these two snares?
(Don't worryI already own the 14' protean!)
Thank you for your time!
Flo
 
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