Session Drumming Month: Remember your first time?



You never forget your first time. As part of our session month we asked a trio of top sticksmen to recall their first foray into the studio.

Andrew Small (Kylie, Massive Attack)

"I'd been playing with a few bands before I became a full-time musician so got some studio experience relatively early on. The most vivid memory I have from what was probably my first recording was that the engineer commented that my snare drum sounded different each time I played a backbeat. That prompted me to work hard on trying to get a consistent sound all over the drum kit."

Ian Thomas (Sting, Tom Jones, Eric Clapton)

"In 1987 I was doing a summer season with Cilla Black in Eastbourne and I was asked to play with the John Altman Big Band at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. After the first gig John Altman came up to me, I was with the bass player Jeff Clyne, and he said, 'What are you doing next Tuesday?' I had a dig in the ribs from Jeff and he said, 'He's not doing anything.' He said, 'Be at Sarm West Studios at ten o'clock for a session for George Michael.' I said, 'Okay.' So that was my first session for a major artist. I remember we were doing the track 'Kissing A Fool' which is on the Faith album, it was a jazzy kind of track. I just took the kit that I had down, which was a white Yamaha 9000 and we got a decent sound out of it. I just had one kit in those days and that was my sound but now I have lots of different equipment and different sounds."

Troy Miller (Amy Winehouse)

"One of my first major studio sessions was with Roy Ayers and we spent a day recording a commercial for Puma. Roy spent five minutes explaining the track and then he said, 'Let's hit it!' We recorded live on to two inch tape, no click and no headphones just the instruments and our ears. Experiences like that really forced me to attain a greater level of listening. Listening back to myself in earlier sessions I did was painful to say the least! Playing to a click used to be a battle for me, especially coming from a jazz background. These are things I had to iron out."

For more session hints, tips and secrets pick up the latest issue of Rhythm and check out our online Session Month.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).