After the short tour of Europe with the Libertines, I decided that I would take some much needed time off – paternity leave, if you like – so I could be a dad. As much as I wanted and needed a break, as a freelancer it’s always very difficult to say no to work. Such was the case the morning after returning from the Libertines when I received a very pleasant phone call from a man who introduced himself as Marcus Mumford. He went on to explain how he had secured my number, the reason for the call, and then asked about my availability for a session starting the following day.
The session would be at Air studios and I agreed to be there. Also, as per our coversation, I agreed to bring a selection of my rental drums for the band to try out with a view to using them for the session: 1964 Ludwig Superclassic 22”, 13”, and 16”; 1957 WFL 22”, 13”, and 16”; 1953 Gretsch Roundbadge 20”, 13”, and 16”; a 1940s Slingerland RadioKing 14”x7”; a 1970’s Ludwig BlackBeauty 14”x6.5”; and a 1960s Ludwig 400 COB 14”x5”.
Arriving at Air, laden with drums, I met the band for the first time. They were instantly impressed with the aesthetics of the drums, but in the studio the sonic is king. We did some tests on various drums and after an hour or so it was decided that the band would keep everything I brought down for the duration of the session. The band wanted a ‘vintage, woody drum sound’ for their new record and these drums were perfect for that.
When I’d finished the extended tuning session, I spent some time with Marcus, and he instructed me to source him a big kick drum – 26” to be precise. This wouldn’t be a rental item, it would be for Marcus to purchase personally. I went away and contacted a few people I know in the vintage world to see what was available. A few days later, I presented Marcus with a 1940s 26”x14” Leedy kick drum, finished in white marine pearl and in stunning condition. After a little tweak of the tuning in the studio, the guys were happy with the sound – it added the much needed ‘boom’ they were looking for.
I was then asked by various members of the band to source them other kits for home use, which I am now in the process of sorting. A few more visits to Air followed for some tweaking and tuning before a call came in to continue a long running album session with Suede.
Again, I was asked to provide drums for the week-long session. This time the request was for big sounds, which has been the sonic of choice throughout the current album session. I made arrangements with John Henry’s to provide a certain selection of drums – Yamaha 9000 RC 24”, 15”, 16”, and 18”, complete with a Premier snare. As specified, the kit came fitted with Remo Clear Pinstripes to enhance the big sound required. We also had the option of the band’s own mid-90s Ludwig Black Beauty 14”x5” and my 70s Ludwig BB, recently returned from the Mumford’s session.
As I have worked with the band and producer many times, I knew instantly what they wanted sound-wise. The first day was spent getting the kit set up and sounding right for the session. In total, with frequent tweaks and demoing the tracks, the band would record for the week ahead – I was there for a long time.
The second day was about half as long as the first but no less intense. There was lots of tuning and tweaking on the snares and the kit. We also had a delivery of five extra ride cymbals of varying sizes and weights to give more options.
The third day was much shorter – more general tweaking for the last two drum tracks to be recorded. The guys would keep everything set and I’d return at the end of the session for pack down.
My thoughts could now turn to the next big project – the London Drum Show.
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