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What kind of drum sound were you after?
”I wanted a very simple, natural and real drum sound, and I wanted to hear the room – not have things too dry or over-compressed. I remember playing Lou the beginning of the Rainbow track ‘Stargazer’ before we started recording – Cozy Powell’s drums on that solo sound so great... I’m not sure we achieved that exactly, but the drums sound like drums; not some amalgamated version of them, you know?”
Did you use the famous Sound City Neve 8028 recording console that now takes pride of place in the 606 Studio?
"Yeah, I guess we did – I hadn’t really thought about that until now... And I don’t mean to sound blasé – it’s just that 606 is ‘home’ for me – it’s where we do our thing. It’s funny, because after the movie came out people would come up to me all the time and want to talk about ‘that’ board...
"I do get it though, because every time I’m in London I like to go to Trident Studios, just to touch the hallowed walls where David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Free and all those other musical legends recorded.
"Stewart Copeland did his first real studio session in there with Curved Air for goodness sake – that place is like a church for me... But when I start raving about Trident to Roger Taylor, he’ll just tell me that he has a much nicer studio now and I’m like, ‘But, dude, you recorded Queen II there!’“
There’s a very definite tip of your hat to Queen on this latest offering...
“Of course my love of Queen will always be there; it’s in my veins and in the way that I think about songs and there’s no way I can get away from that. Everything I love is in there in some way, shape or form and it’s always going to be like that when I make music.
"One thing I do wish is that I could have had a few more friends come in and guest this time round – a lot of these tracks are just crying out for Roger Taylor’s voice, or Brian May’s guitar... One person I am thrilled did make a cameo, though, is my good buddy, Jon Davison, who sings in Yes now. He helped with backing vocals on ‘Raspberries’ and ‘Pieces Of The Puzzle’, and sounds great.”
One thing you can’t miss on this record is the distinctive sound of those concert toms – there’s your nod to Phil Collins...
“Absolutely! And what I love about concert toms is the fact that they are so simple and to the point. There’s no tone necessarily – it’s all about the attack and the quick note – and it doesn’t matter how heavy or loud the guitars are, you can always hear the concert toms piercing through.”
To be honest, I think the fact that I even get to play drums on Foo Fighters’ records is kind of astounding, considering one of the greatest drummers of all time is the lead singer of the band and could easily do it by himself!
You’ve talked in the past about the support role you play when it comes to a Foo Fighters track taking shape in the studio – even likening yourself to ‘Dave’s drum machine’...With that in mind, it must be great to be able to stretch out and have complete control of your drums on a project like The Birds Of Satan?
“Not having to share that department with anyone and being able to come up with all my own drum s**t – just the way I want it – is such fun, because I really don’t always get that freedom in the Foo Fighters. And nor should I, because those are Dave’s songs and, being a drummer himself, he knows exactly how he wants things to be.
"To be honest, I think the fact that I even get to play drums on Foo Fighters’ records is kind of astounding, considering one of the greatest drummers of all time is the lead singer of the band and could easily do it by himself!
"So, yes, there is definitely something I get with a project like this that I don’t get with Foo Fighters. And Dave understands that, just as I understand that he’s a drummer first and foremost and needs to go off and play drum gigs every once in a while.”
As well as drums, vocals and various guitar parts, some people might be surprised to hear that you’re also playing piano on the album...
“Well, in a very limited capacity! I only started playing piano because I had chickenpox when I was about 14 and wasn’t allowed to play my drums for a whole week... We had a piano in the house, so I just sat down and played that instead.
"I didn’t know what I was doing but, by the end of that week, I could make a fairly decent noise and now, if you give me an old Dennis Wilson or Elton John song, I can just about figure out what’s going on – albeit with a few bum notes here and there!
"I’m not great, and the piano I laid down for this record – like in the middle of ‘Thanks For The Line’ – was really hard work; it’s definitely the thing that took me the longest in the studio. I could have had Rami do it for me – and he did actually play on one song – but I really wanted to do the rest myself. It’s simple, and it is what it is, but it’s got my feel and that was important to me.”