Spitfire Audio The Grange Vol. 1
NAMM 2015: Headley Grange in Hampshire, England, is a place of considerable musical history. Bands including Fleetwood Mac, Genesis and Led Zeppelin recorded and rehearsed there in its '70s heyday, and it's the location of the famous wooden stairwell where John Bonham and producer Andy Johns created the definitive and often-sampled "When The Levee Breaks" sound.
It's been 40 years since the doors of Headley have been opened for a recording project, but during the Summer of 2014 virtual instrument and sample specialists Spitfire Audio convinced the owners to allow access to a crew of talented engineers for one more historical drum session. Over the course of five days, the musical landmark played host to Chad Smith, Queen's Roger Taylor and Andy Gangadeen, performing all manner of beats, grooves and fills – and fulfilling childhood dreams in the process.
The result is The Grange Vol. 1, a sample library and virtual instrument for Native Instruments' Kontakt Player that will allow musicians to add these iconic players to their own compositions.
Chad Smith, Andy Gangadeen and Roger Taylor were all recorded for the project
“I was having dinner with a friend of mine, who happens to be the son-in-law of the people who own Headley Grange,” says Mark Lo, one of project's coordinators. “The subject of Headley Grange came up, and we said wouldn't it be great to have someone go back there and play. But you've got to have players play and experience it. I went outside, rang Christian [Henson, Spitfire Audio] and told him I had an idea. Then we had to go and persuade the owners of Headley Grange, of course.”
They were successful, but the next step was procuring the right drummers to do the space justice and coordinating busy schedules. Amazingly, they managed to book Chad and Roger on consecutive days. Christian Henson: “Chad rolls up on the Saturday morning, did an incredible day of drumming – my god, the man is loud, in a great way – and then we came back the following day and Roger drove into the driveway. There are moments in life where you just go, 'That is Roger Taylor.' It was wonderful.”
Headley Grange was where John Bonham recorded 'When The Levee Breaks'
The modern-sounding samples were recorded via a combination of the finest and rarest classic mics, preamps, and a two-inch 24-track Studer multitrack recorder, with each drummer putting their own distinctive stamp on their beats. Christian continues: “We wanted the libraries to represent the personality and sound of the drummers. We wanted them to sum up their style, and we wanted to intersperse doing a series of loops with the individual drum hits. The drummers all insisted that they hit every single drum hit themselves; there are no techs or engineers playing.”
Andy Gangadeen, known for his modern and innovative approach to drumming and recording, really clung to the spirit of the project, turning up with a Bonham-style stainless steel '70s Ludwig kit. He was clearly made up to have been invited to take part: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in this space — something that will never leave me, so thank you!”