Phil Rudd's Views on Click Tracks

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
I will also argue that playing to a click creates added pressure when the musician should be thinking about the flow and feel....

I would just say it's good to learn to do both. We can walk and chew gum.
Andy Newmark locked in with a drum machine with Sly Stone in the 70's. No one thinks 'Sexual Healing' by Marvin Gaye has no feel.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
No one is saying anything is 'wrong', but why wouldn't you challenge yourself, master a new skill?
I learnt by playing along to records (Motown, Philly, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, E,W & F), which meant I wasn't dictating the tempo, I was playing along to the drummer on the record, which is no different to playing along to a click.

Not our place to question my friend, we all have our reasons for playing and are on our own drumming journey.

Going back to the title of the thread, bands like AC/DC record as much as they can live so not using a click works for them. I'm getting into recording tracks for other people and doing everything virtually so a click makes my life a lot easier. It's nice to have the technology to be able to e-mail everything.

Horses for courses n all that!
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Not our place to question my friend, we all have our reasons for playing and are on our own drumming journey.

Going back to the title of the thread, bands like AC/DC record as much as they can live so not using a click works for them. I'm getting into recording tracks for other people and doing everything virtually so a click makes my life a lot easier. It's nice to have the technology to be able to e-mail everything.

Horses for courses n all that!

This above. I haven't read the original interview but my guess is that Phil was asked the question in the context of him, his music and AC/DCs way of working so whatever anyone else's opinions, he's talking about "his" experience.
And to show he and the band can play to a click/backing track here's their latest video. None of them were in the same room as it was shot with each of them individually in different studios in different countries, not that you'd know by watching.

 

NouveauCliche

Senior 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?

I've done records both ways - I think the whole feel of a click being too strict typically comes from people that haven't spent a lot of time with them. I've been in plenty of situations, even jazz, where we've used a click and still be able to explore and be expressive.

I think it's great for a lot of people for modern day recording, but if you just hate them and it messes up your feel...then don't use it and just be prepared for whatever tempo variations you might find. Probably won't get you in trouble unless you're trying to do some editing in post or multi-tracking. I had to do this album for a singer song-writer a few months ago and she didn't record with a click and her tempo was all over the place...so it was an absolute nightmare - but she really should have known that if the entire band was going to be added later that a click was a must.

It's a tool like anything else.
 
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MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Give me the click. Been playing with one since day 1. And no, I don't sound like a robot. The click doesn't have any effect on dynamics or feel, only tempo.

The click is just a placeholder. If playing to a click somehow makes things more rigid, have less feel, and is overall ruining the song, that's the drummers fault, not the click. Its blaming the hammer because you cant drive a nail.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
It's entirely fair to say, "I love click tracks." It's also entirely fair to say, "I hate click tracks." What's unfair is positing that a drummer who uses click tracks is relying on a rhythmic crutch or that a drummer who doesn't use click tracks is unprofessional in some way. Anyone who's recorded knows that the inclusion of a click isn't always left to the exclusive discretion of the drummer. Sometimes the band wants a click; other times, the engineer wants a click. Furthermore, some compositions lend themselves to clicks more than others. That evaluation will vary from player to player. Stating that a click should always be used or should never be used is similar to stating that a snare drum should always be muffled or should never be muffled. Uniformity rarely applies to drumming scenarios. I try to let circumstances inform my strategies.

My respect for Rudd's work is absolute. That he's never used a click on an AC/DC track doesn't alter my opinion of his playing one way or the other. One drummer's gold might be another drummer's rubbish. It's the result that matters, not the method of achieving it.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
Sure, I agree 100% with everything you say.
Rudd says in the quote "you can't rock to a click", not I can't, not we can't. Instead it's a bit of an absolute.
It's only a minor point, but I think you have to be careful when younger learning drummers read your interviews.
So many times I read drummers say I will never put a pillow in my bass drum in the studio. Bonham never did it. The engineer just has to deal with it.
The same goes with clicks. You never know when a scenario might crop up when you need that skill, even in a local cover band.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Sure, I agree 100% with everything you say.
Rudd says in the quote "you can't rock to a click", not I can't, not we can't. Instead it's a bit of an absolute.
It's only a minor point, but I think you have to be careful when younger learning drummers read your interviews.
So many times I read drummers say I will never put a pillow in my bass drum in the studio. Bonham never did it. The engineer just has to deal with it.
The same goes with clicks. You never know when a scenario might crop up when you need that skill, even in a local cover band.

I agree that flexibility is vital. No two situations are alike. While we all have preferred methodologies when it comes to music, the capacity to deviate from our customs is what makes us truly valuable as drummers. It should always be about the project, not about rigid expectations.

It would be interesting to ask Mr. Rudd to elaborate on his click stance. I suspect he'd qualify his points by explaining that while he isn't an endorser of click tracks, he doesn't think less of drummers who champion them. I don't know that he'd express that perspective, of course, but he's certainly been around the block enough to recognize that his mode of conduct isn't the only legitimate one.
 

Steve30907

Well-known 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

Inspiration!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Ever hear this? Oh man this drummer is like a metronome! Compliment, right?

But when a drummer plays to a metronome, it's robotic. What?

It still boils down to the drummer...how well they can make the click feel, or not even needing one..

On the other hand, when I was gigging, I had to play with a looper live with no monitoring. Which isn't a click.

I had a hard time with that. Especially when I had to correct myself, ugh. I remember 2 great dancers and I had to correct my time when they were both in mid air. That was AWKWARD! I threw them all off. If I had it to do all over again, I would have not corrected and whatever. It's hard to hear a looped rhythm part in the same exact tone, coming from the exact same speaker, but with less volume as the lead part over it, when I am looking at the back of the speaker cone.

Live, I don't want the energy too well controlled. As the drummer, I like to influence the mood. I like the dangerous-ness of it. I LIKE THE CONTROL! Live, it's un-natural for me to follow anything or anyone. Live. I have no issues with metronomes on a record. Live? I'm good there. If a song ends up 5 bpm faster than it started, it's really not a big deal live in my world, no matter what anyone says. Organic music is very human, and I dig that. It's all about making a good time for the people live, not musical perfection lol..That's pretty important.
 
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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I can play with a click track if needed. I prefer to not do that. And I have noticed that many non-drummer musicians hate playing to a click track. I'll bet you can guess why.

I've been playing drums live with bands for 60 years. For the first 50 years I was really good at keeping a solid tempo. A few years back, just for fun, I started using a BPM meter on my cell phone. I was still rock solid keeping the tempo. But now I have come to rely on the BPM meter. I guess now I use it as a crutch. Kind of sad, but now I don't have to think about how good or bad my timing is on any given day.

I also now realize that having the tempo modulate 3 or 4 beats per minute is ok. The audience and the other band members never notice that much change in tempo. So when the guitar player speeds up a little during his solo, I can let it happen. Then I can slowly bring the band back to the original tempo. The BPM meter really helps me keep the feel of the song and yet not have the band speed up or slow down to where it is noticeable.


.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
Or option 4: I have a desire to make people happy and have a great night out enjoying good music. Mystery what full time music has got to do with 'fame' and 'ludicrous trappings'.
I despise most of the public as a rule and therefore harbour no desire to bring any of them enjoyment. I also hate bars and their clientele and again have zero desire to set foot in one for any reason.
Some people are perfectly happy making music for themselves.
I reiterate, perfection is boring and lacks soul.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I despise most of the public as a rule and therefore harbour no desire to bring any of them enjoyment. I also hate bars and their clientele and again have zero desire to set foot in one for any reason.
Some people are perfectly happy making music for themselves.
I reiterate, perfection is boring and lacks soul.

I feel sorry for you. Maybe music is the wrong hobby for you.
You sound like the perfect drummer to replace Ginger Baker. Too bad Jack Bruce is gone.

.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
I feel sorry for you. Maybe music is the wrong hobby for you.
You sound like the perfect drummer to replace Ginger Baker. Too bad Jack Bruce is gone.

.
Dont feel sorry for me, I'm quite happy with my life. I have never wanted to do any more than make music for myself, I get that it's an incomprehensible mindset for many to grasp, but it remains the truth.
As for the public as a whole, I've been fixing their crap for 40+ years, 90% are totally unappreciative, 95% complain about cost, 70% treat me like a leper because I get dirty at work. I have no desire to create enjoyment for people who can't be bothered to care about their fellow humans.
There are good people out there, but they are a dwindling minority.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Dont feel sorry for me, I'm quite happy with my life. I have never wanted to do any more than make music for myself, I get that it's an incomprehensible mindset for many to grasp, but it remains the truth.
As for the public as a whole, I've been fixing their crap for 40+ years, 90% are totally unappreciative, 95% complain about cost, 70% treat me like a leper because I get dirty at work. I have no desire to create enjoyment for people who can't be bothered to care about their fellow humans.
There are good people out there, but they are a dwindling minority.

OK my friend. I get it. I do understand about how hard it is to find people who appreciate what you do for them.
But I have always found that music makes most people happy. And they appreciate you when you make music for them.

.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
Each to their own.

In my own option and experience sometimes a click is great for a song, other times it is not.

It depends on the song and a click is just a tool to use, if needed.

However, to be a really reliable studio drummer you’ll need to be competent and comfortable with a click and without a click as one of your skill sets.

If you’re in a band like Rudd that doesn’t use them as a rule then great, if that works for you. He’s just saying for them they go without so his opinion is completely valid as he’s talking about himself there.

However, what works for one person may not work for others and that’s totally fine. No need to get all extremist about it really.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I'd say the listening audience's ears are more sensitive to perfect time nowadays, after several decades of computer-perfect timing on virtually all popular records. And with digital recording providing the option of re-aligning a live take to match with 'the grid' (ah, the dreaded 'grid'), I doubt any of us has heard a major label release without metronomically-perfect timing since the early 90's.

Phil's from a different era. It was okay to vary a few BPMs in the course of a song when he was growing up, and that in itself gives the records from that period a definable characteristic. But as many have noted above, the times...they are a-changin'. Not saying that's better or worse...just different.

For the record, I always practice with a click on my own; I want my inherent timing as close to perfect as possible. But I don't use one to play with a band, which allows for a little emotional variance; sometimes a mild tempo change can be magical.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
The click can't swing.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
I sat in with a band who used sequenced tracks so they had a click set up for me to play to that deliberately sped up “to add natural feel”... :unsure: ?
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
The click can't swing.
It's not supposed to. It makes sure your swing doesnt waver.

I sat in with a band who used sequenced tracks so they had a click set up for me to play to that deliberately sped up “to add natural feel”... :unsure: ?
That's just weird. Did the sequencer speed up also?
 
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