Phil Rudd's Views on Click Tracks

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Unfailing backbeat master Phil Rudd never uses click tracks. Here's an excerpt from an interview:

Interviewer: As for recording, do you enjoy clicking to every song?

Rudd: I have never used a click track on any of the albums I’ve recorded, never in my life have I used it. You know, it’s not about my timing per say, it’s the feel of the guys and what we’ve got. Man, you can’t rock to a click, it just doesn’t happen. We rock as a band and we all listen to our tracks and, if it sounds good, it sounds good and the songs are great to play. I’ve never used a click track, ever. The song will dictate your playing. Every riff has its own speed and feel and that’s the mental hook-up with the songs.

Source: https://solodallas.com/phil-rudds-interview

Clarification: I'm not launching this thread as an anti-click gesture. I treat clicks as situational recording tools. Sometimes I use them; other times I don't. The nature of the piece guides my decision.

Your thoughts on Rudd's words?
 
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Bozozoid

Well-known member
For me?...i couldn't agree more with his assessment (for him). I'm nooo studio whiz..Chris Whitten can help with this. I definitely see it working for that band though.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
There's a reason a rally car is built differently than a Formula 1 car, and that they're both built differently than a top fuel dragster. There's no single approach that works for everything, and it's more than okay to have an approach that works for you. But at the same time you must understand that your approach won't work for everything, and if you refuse to be flexible, it might not work out.

Phil Rudd has definitely nailed down his approach and his proverbial race course.

I've been on both sides of the glass for recording projects that both did and did not use a click track. The click was never the deciding factor as to whether or not the end result was a good one.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
I understand Cozy Powell had a similar aversion to clicks...AC/DC is a band that has great time and a groove all of its own. It works for Phil and sounds great so you can’t argue with that. The best time I ever had in the studio was playing without a click, I think it was a more honest representation of my playing. The majority of the time I have used a click though as it’s more convenient for multitracking, programming synths etc...
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I'm glad that it worked for him (not trying to be snarky).

I use one with the primary band I'm playing with now, and it's great. There's another couple or few bands I play and and we don't use one, and it's great not using one too. It just depends on the band.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
As different as AC/DC is from funk, they both have that massive downbeat and snappy back beat. I think maybe if all band members can really play to begin with, that heavy groove lends itself to instinctive timekeeping.

Good points. On one hand, when I listen to Rudd, I hear a timekeeping clinician, someone who could teach a metronome a thing or two about tempo. On the other hand, there's so much individualistic feel and groove and swing to everything he does that it's hard to envision him following an automated guide. His interview response doesn't surprise me in the latter sense.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Larrie London was a big big deal to me and he has said things that are with me to this day. Concerning playing to a metronome Larrie said very few drummers really KNOW how to play to a click..behind the click on a verse..ahead on a chorus at times and dead on at other times but the ones that do are MAGICAL!.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I don't know, it sounds more like an excuse than a reason.

But if it works for him, it works for him. But at the same time, he's never recorded with any other band, so I don't think anyone can take that as gospel if they're going to play in a variety of bands.

I recall Steve Smith saying he never recorded any of the 80's Journey albums with a click, but when he started playing with different artists outside of the one band, he had to learn how to do it to keep working.

There is a great video of Keith Richard floating around about Charlie Watts about how in the studio Charlie can turn on a click, and play a song perfectly to the click, and then turn it off and say it would feel better if he sped up here, held back there, etc. and redo it another take without the click.

There is no right or wrong way, as long as it works for the music at hand.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
I think everyone should learn to sound natural and groove with a click.
A lot of great recordings are made without clicks and will continue to be made without clicks, but at the same time, a lot of music includes programmed synth parts, sequencers and percussion, loops etc - so you really need to be able to sound like you are grooving alongside machines or else you can never record contemporary music.
I saw Prince live in 1988 and Shelia E was on fire, but almost everything she played was locked into sequencers and pre-recorded parts that were coming from computers backstage.
 
In a world of digital recording where editing is king, the click is your best friend. However whenever I record I´ll try to be ´fluid´ with the click as much as possible without wonking out the time too much. Use it as a guide not a straightjacket.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
For the record, I have worked with a few producers who have varied the click, up a few ticks in the chorusses, back down for the verses, that kind of thing. I personally don't think the groove should be harmed anyway - there are some phenomenal Pat Metheny tracks recorded with loops, computer percussion and (therefore) click.
 

Naigewron

Platinum Member
The way I see it, click tracks in the studio have two main purposes:

- It will keep the drummer and/or band in line if they have a tendency to rush or drag (where it doesn't fit the song)
- It allows for easy editing of tracks after recording - You can cut any part from any take and replace it with another, and it will all line up.

For a band like AC/DC, where the time feel is really solid, and where there's little to no need for editing the drum tracks, I see no reason why they would need to play to a click.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
You might edit a drum recording (or the whole band) to join two or three different takes of the same song. People have been doing this since The Beatles - also Miles Davis.
It gives you the option to record a few takes of a song, then edit in the best verses, the best solo section, the best outro - and in that regard ACDC are no different to anyone else making a record.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I agree with lots of what's been said already and to a degree forget the click track, AC/DC are a band that up until at least Let There Be Rock didn't even tune up "properly" they tuned to each others guitars. Rather than retune to a tuner they'd retune to the guitar that sounded right at the time, this can throw little spanners in the works when playing along to the record when learning to cover these tracks.

Also

 
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jimb

Member
Thank God for Phil Rudd. I wonder how many of those great ole 60's and 70's multi million selling hits were recorded to a click track?.....Everyone today has lost sight of what its all about....musicianship and feel!...yep a strange alien concept huh? haha...
Only one drummer needs a click track and thats the guy in the middle of a 100 piece orchestra....Would love to know if Hal Blaine played with Sinatra using a click track etc....I doubt it somehow.
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
I agree with lots of what's been said already and to a degree forget the click track, AC/DC are a band that up until at least Let There Be Rock didn't even tune up "properly" they tuned to each others guitars. Rather than retune to a tuner they'd retune to the guitar that sounded right at the time, this can throw little spanners in the works when playing along to the record when learning to cover these tracks.

And if you listen to Hell Ain't A Bad Place to Be the tuning is very obvious, as the guitars aren't even nearly in tune with each other or themselves!
 

mpthomson

Senior Member
I don't know, it sounds more like an excuse than a reason.

But if it works for him, it works for him. But at the same time, he's never recorded with any other band, so I don't think anyone can take that as gospel if they're going to play in a variety of bands.

I recall Steve Smith saying he never recorded any of the 80's Journey albums with a click, but when he started playing with different artists outside of the one band, he had to learn how to do it to keep working.

There is a great video of Keith Richard floating around about Charlie Watts about how in the studio Charlie can turn on a click, and play a song perfectly to the click, and then turn it off and say it would feel better if he sped up here, held back there, etc. and redo it another take without the click.

There is no right or wrong way, as long as it works for the music at hand.

He's recorded with his own band, granted it's similar music but with different musicians (it's not that great an album to be honest!).
 
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