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Since the release of Slipknot's self-titled debut in 1999, Joey Jordison's highly advanced, rapturous drumming has influenced legions of players across the globe. When it comes to his criteria of what constitute essential drum recordings, the double bass drum virtuoso has some pretty exacting standards.
“The drum records that I like are ones on which the drumming didn’t repeat itself," Jordison says. "The players didn’t stick to a format or formula. Part of that reason is also because of the quality of the material. On the records that I grew up with and loved, every song was unique – it’s almost as if you had a different journey every time – and the drums were big part of that story."
Beyond the compositional and performance issues, Jordison is also of the mind that sonics play a huge part in essential drum recordings. “A great drum record has to sound good; in fact, it should sound special," he says. "It should capture the richness and the actual tones of the drums themselves, regardless of who is playing."
Although he's regarded as a modern metal master, Jordison admits that a lot of his aesthetic sensibilities come from records of decades past. "I love listening to old records," he says. "Stuff from the ‘70s, even disco and funk records and a lot of early rock albums – what’s great about those recordings is that you can actually hear the true tones of the drums themselves. Modern production has removed a lot of those characteristics. You don’t hear the shells of the drums on so many new recordings, which is sad."
Recently, Jordison formed a new band, Scar The Martyr, and on the group's forthcoming self-titled debut, due out October 1st, he practices what he preaches when it comes to sonics. "Drums are the foundation of the music for me; they’re the core of the song," he says. "On some records I’ve done, I’ll track some guitars just a little bit for vibe. I didn’t do that this time. When I laid down bass, I took all the guitars out, so it was just me and drums. That actually let some of the drum hits stick out and breathe more."
Jordison tracked the album at Sound Farm Studios in Jamaica, Iowa, the same facility where Slipknot recorded 2008's All Hope Is Gone. The drummer has worked on a few projects at the studio, and through trial and error over the years, he says that he's found the sweet spots of the room. "You have to put the time in for stuff like that, which people don’t want to do these days," he says. "It’s a puzzle sometimes, but you have to work at it to get a record that has some life to it. The people back in the ‘60s and ‘70s knew that."
Expanding on his thoughts on recording drums, Jordison says, “In some ways, things are too easy these days. You’ve got Pro Tools and triggers; you’ve got studios packed in closets. It used to be a really big deal to get into a studio and set up the mics – you’d sit there tuning for hours. You actually had to get great at tuning your drums, and you had to put the kit in four different places to find the sweet spot. The way it works now is, you tune your drums pretty good and people just throw samples on them. That robs drum recordings of their character. I'll take a record where the drums have character over so-called perfection any day."
On the following pages, Jordison runs down his picks for 10 Essential Drum Albums. You can pre-order Scar The Martyr's debut album at this link. And for a list of upcoming Scar The Martyr tour dates, click this link.