Thursday, March 18, 2010

BDK Interview - Clive Deamer

While doing some research for my last post, I stumbled upon Clive Deamer's Facebook page. Having no shame I sent him a message with a link to my review of his performance on Roseland NYC and asked if he would be willing to answer a few questions pertaining to it. The worst that could happen would be I get no reply, and things stay exactly the same on my blog. The best that could happen would be for him to take out some time from his busy schedule to answer them, which is exactly what happened, so here it is.

1. What sort of adjustments (if any) did you make to your playing once the orchestra became involved?

The Portishead drum sound is based on a very small dynamic range. The albums were recorded with me playing at a tiny level, a stick moving 1 or 2 inches from the head or cymbal, acoustic instrument volume.

I also discovered the Zildjian Hal Blaine drum stick was the perfect stick for this kind of playing, I've used it ever since although Zildjian have discontinued it. I remember arriving at Roseland Ballroom and someone had taken it upon themselves to erect one of those ghastly Perspex screens for my kit. They must have assumed "English group - Orchestra - The drummer will be too loud". Before I even sat at the kit I explained we wouldn't need the screen.

2. You and Jim Barr (bass player extraordinaire) seem to be fused as one when you are playing, how long have you been performing together?

Jim is a fantastic Bass player, he has the mind to feel where the pulse is, which is not necessarily the same as hearing the notes being played. He understands the function of the part/parts being played. Jim and I have our own band called Get The Blessing (click the link to check them out).

3. I'm assuming you have endorsements for equipment, what was your main focus in selecting cymbals or drums?

To ensure we got "The Drum Sound" I simply used the same gear I used for recording the albums. The kit was my 1960's Gretsch sparkle, and the same cymbals used on the session. I can't remember exactly but there was definitely a 20" Paiste Full Crash that I used as a crash ride, Zildjian Hi Hats, I can't remember exactly which ones. Heads were Diplomat Remo on the toms. Can't remember the Bass Drum head, Ambassador or Diplomat on snares, I used the 3 or 4 snare drums from the sessions too, Gretsch, Ludwig, Premier.

4. Are there any slight mistakes or slip ups somewhere on the recording that you know about, but no one would ever notice just by listening? You know, something to prove you are not actually a well-crafted, slow tempo drumming robot?

I've only listened to it once or twice so I can't answer that. Again, you have to adjust your thinking because of the musical context, Portishead was based on drum loops I'd already played, so I was indeed being a slow tempo drumming robot, I just tried to do it with commitment and the appropriate mental intent. Mental intent is what counts.

5. What is your best memory from the entire session?

My son was at Roseland, he was about two years old. My wife and I bought him a Buzz Lightyear to distract him on the plane flight. I put Buzz on top of an amp and you see him briefly in the DVD (after the show Buzz got very drunk and disgraced himself!). My son is 14 now and thinks it's really cool his Buzz Lightyear is on the DVD.

So there you have it folks. Don't say random e-mails/Facebook messages never work. I'm living proof. While Clive is busy changing his Facebook privacy settings who knows who I'll randomly contact next. Watch out Steve Gadd.

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