Phil Rudd's Views on Click Tracks

Lennytoons

Senior Member
The audience will still clap on one and three, click or no click. Seriously, I don't hate the click but I do feel it hurts some types of music. The Charlie Watts example is perfect. He is a jazz drummer and has great timing and feel but he certainly slows down and speeds up. Listen to Tommy Castro's "Can't Keep a Good Man Down". As the song builds to a crescendo you're certain the band is going to break out but it just goes flat....perfect timing but flat. I guarantee it was recorded to a click. I practice to a metronome to polish my timing. When I'm on, you can't hear but one sound, my drum over the metronome.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
It's important to recognize that a click can be used in several ways. You can treat it as an unbending law, doing your best to ensure that you never deviate, even momentarily, from its monotonous measurements, a legitimate approach if the situation calls for it. Another option is to use it as a roadmap that keeps you on course but doesn't dictate your every stroke. Sometimes it's acceptable (and even desirable) to be just in front of or just behind the click, depending on the mood and feel of the song. Just because a clock is on the wall doesn't mean you have to observe its every turn. The same is true of a click track.
 

SomeBadDrummer

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?
Phil Rudd is one of the masters of timekeeping. Growing up in late teen years AC/DC had a very heavy influence on my drumming.

Phil does not keep perfect time, however his timing is kept perfectly within the fluidity of each song with respect to the other members of the band and the Feel at that point in time.

This is the groove that is loved and probably taken for granted by those who have it, and seemingly out of reach for those who don't. You either get it or you don't like thermodynamics or nuclear fusion.

Million $ take away: Man, you can’t rock to a click, it just doesn’t happen.
 

MG1127

Well-known member
In my career I have found the only people who complain about playing with a click are the ones who can't do it or just can't sound natural when it is on.

It is a large part of what takes place in todays session and even live world sometimes and as been for a long time

some of you sound like my mom complaining about everyone emailing and not sending letters anymore

"they've forgotten how two write in cursive!"

It's very easy to write a letter

also very easy to send an email

we are musicians ... adaptation is what we do constantly in every aspect of our professional lives

It is not a big deal
 
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someguy01

Well-known member
It's very easy to write a letter

also very easy to send an email
Yeah, nah. Letters don't have spell check, grammar check, and word recommendations. I've seen too many fails to even bother pointing them out anymore.
As for cursive, I'd settle for legible writing with less than 3 misspellings per sentence.
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
You turn the box on and it's a guy with a one note thing who happens to have really good time and you do your best to hook in because he's unrelenting.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
One time when I was recording with a band in the studio the band as a whole had a hard time playing with a click. So I asked the engineer to change the click sound to a tambourine sound. That worked perfectly. It felt much more natural to push and pull the tempo a tiny bit around the imaginary tambourine player.

.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
It's important to recognize that a click can be used in several ways. You can treat it as an unbending law, doing your best to ensure that you never deviate, even momentarily, from its monotonous measurements, a legitimate approach if the situation calls for it. Another option is to use it as a roadmap that keeps you on course but doesn't dictate your every stroke. Sometimes it's acceptable (and even desirable) to be just in front of or just behind the click, depending on the mood and feel of the song. Just because a clock is on the wall doesn't mean you have to observe its every turn. The same is true of a click track.

Exactly this. Being able to play to a click is a great skill to have, especially with modern music largely being made digitally/via pro tools..etc these days and the different ways to edit a song.

Some drummers see it as a negative, like it's a badge of honour that they don't need one, or they are simply too scared to use one over a worry it'll highlight a drummers own timekeeping deficiencies but the crafting of a song really is not all about us.

Choosing a random example to ask the thread. What about a song where there are lots of breaks without drums? You may find it helps your bandmates a lot and saves time with takes to have a click to reference time in those periods.

Why not be ready to play with one and without one just as equally?
 
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BruceW

Senior Member
Our band is just a bunch of weekend warriors, a bar band. We set off to record an album this last year, since we couldn't play out. None of us have experience playing with a click, so we didn't use one. (Our time together is limited, so we'd rather work on the material, as opposed to spending the limited time we had learning to play with the click.) I was sensitive to the tempos fluctuating, so I kept a BPM meter going on my phone. Listening to the playback, I can sense the tempo still varies, but not much.... If we do it again (big if) i hope we learn to use a click, if only for editing and retakes.
 
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michaelg

Member
In my career I have found the only people who complain about playing with a click are the ones who can't do it or just can't sound natural when it is on.

It is a large part of what takes place in todays session and even live world sometimes and as been for a long time

some of you sound like my mom complaining about everyone emailing and not sending letters anymore

"they've forgotten how two write in cursive!"

It's very easy to write a letter

also very easy to send an email

we are musicians ... adaptation is what we do constantly in every aspect of our professional lives

It is not a big deal

The click can become a crutch and is not conducive to confidence for some people (if you play most of your time with a click at gigs)

I'll bet Phil can easily play with a click but prefers not to. He's got great feel, time, confidence and groove.

There is also the concept of great human time which is different to metronomic time and is unfortunately being lost in the modern age.

Ill also add that practice with and without a metronome is important. You need to just pay attention to how it feels with and without.
 
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jimb

Member
Have to say this topic has got me excercised, guess getting old and grumpy has its benefits haha. But what I'm saying is...in the limited amount of recording I did back in the 70's...there was no "click track" and those old tunes still sound great and do they wander?.....maybe a bit but not so u would notice and even in the odd bar where they do it gives the music a warm fuzzy feel....this seemingly manic necessity for perfection has got nothing at all to do with making great music.
 

michaelg

Member
Have to say this topic has got me excercised, guess getting old and grumpy has its benefits haha. But what I'm saying is...in the limited amount of recording I did back in the 70's...there was no "click track" and those old tunes still sound great and do they wander?.....maybe a bit but not so u would notice and even in the odd bar where they do it gives the music a warm fuzzy feel....this seemingly manic necessity for perfection has got nothing at all to do with making great music.

That's what I mean about human time being lost.

Listen to the old Chuck Berry records, Rolling stones, The Police, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis big band, Toto, Led Zeppelin and of course AC-DC to name but a few. The time moves in all these great bands.
 

MG1127

Well-known member
Time is supposed to breathe in music

It is supposed to ebb and flow ... it creates emotion

As a musician that doesn't excuse you from learning to be able to sound natural with a click

All the best to do it can record with a click and have you bet your house that there was no click on when they tracked

Gadd, Vinnie, Kunkel, Vega, Keltner, Newmark, Robinson, Jeff, Marotta etc

There is no way to tell what tracks they recorded with a click and which they recorded without.

It's only the guys who cannot stop sounding like they are chasing a chicken around a farm when it's on who hate it.

It's part of what we do.

Learn to be free with it and move on
 

michaelg

Member
Time is supposed to breathe in music

It is supposed to ebb and flow ... it creates emotion

As a musician that doesn't excuse you from learning to be able to sound natural with a click

All the best to do it can record with a click and have you bet your house that there was no click on when they tracked

Gadd, Vinnie, Kunkel, Vega, Keltner, Newmark, Robinson, Jeff, Marotta etc

There is no way to tell what tracks they recorded with a click and which they recorded without.

It's only the guys who cannot stop sounding like they are chasing a chicken around a farm when it's on who hate it.

It's part of what we do.

Learn to be free with it and move on

Do you mean breathe as in playing behind or in front of the click ?

Many older records would actually move in BPM going in or out of sections of a song. That's not possible with a click.

There's a website somewhere (I'll try and find it)where you can pick any song and it will plot a graph which shows the BPM moving in different sections. I was really surprised at some great drummers, Pocaro, Copeland etc etc
 

MG1127

Well-known member
Do you mean breathe as in playing behind or in front of the click ?

Many older records would actually move in BPM going in or out of sections of a song. That's not possible with a click.

There's a website somewhere (I'll try and find it)where you can pick any song and it will plot a graph which shows the BPM moving in different sections. I was really surprised at some great drummers, Pocaro, Copeland etc etc
I'm aware that they move

they feel great that way

it doesn't excuse us as drummers from being able to complete tasks that are expected of us in professional settings

You can be against clicks all you want but if you work as a drummer you will eventually be asked to play with one.

If you cannot execute that task and sound natural you may not be asked to work again

word travels fast in this business
 

michaelg

Member
I'm aware that they move

they feel great that way

it doesn't excuse us as drummers from being able to complete tasks that are expected of us in professional settings

You can be against clicks all you want but if you work as a drummer you will eventually be asked to play with one.

If you cannot execute that task and sound natural you may not be asked to work again

word travels fast in this business

Absolutely. I'm only ever asked to play with a click in the studio and although I didn't like it at first years ago, I'm cool with it now.

I can appreciate where Phil Rudd is coming from. The band he plays with have their own "thing". If your not familiar with them check them out. I'm not a big fan of their music but he's a wonderful drummer.
Obviously his approach works for that band.

Its ironic that he's called Phil though, as he never plays any.................boom boom
 

Houndog1964

Active member
No, I am chiefly saying that times have changed, so you can't compare the music of the 60's and 70' to now.
The exhaustive ;list above is pretty much my favourite music of all time, however, it isn't immune to speeding up.
I have loaded E,W&F plus various soul and funk records into my DAW to play along to. Very often by half way through the song the tempo is significantly faster than the first verse.
Times change and you can't get away with that now.
I saw Keith Carlock with Steely Dan and he checked a metronome before EVERY song. Yeah, he wasn't playing to a click, but Becker and Fagen weren't prepared to play the songs at different tempos from show to show, like everyone was in the 70's.
Times have changed and standards are much tougher on timing.
I’ve never noticed those old songs speeding up .
That makes me question my time ...
Hmmmm ....
 

michaelg

Member
I wonder if some of the older guys could play with a click now, Charlie Watts for example.

If he couldn't would that make him less proficient at his job in the Rolling Stones or just less employable in todays current environment ?
 
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