Granger Smith’s Dirt Road Driveway album releases!
Hello everyone! Its been a while since my last post but I’ve been hard at work and extremely busy! I am proud to announce that I tracked the drums on Granger Smith’s ‘Dirt Road Driveway’ album that has finally released! The album is full of some sexy slow grooves and plenty of epic tom moments including the song ‘Stick Around’ which I actually recorded 2 drum tracks on top of each other to make the song even bigger. I’m really proud of the entire album and can’t stop listening to it myself. I hope you will all pick up a copy and come see what additional fun things the band and I are doing live to each of the songs. I’m including some videos of Granger talking about the album in this post.
Come is probably my overall favorite song on the album. I think it really captures the versatility and talent that exists in the Granger Smith band. I love the groove that Granger wanted for this song. The song doesn’t move too fast, it moves you along slowly and leads you deeper and deeper into it until the bridge and then spits you out into an awesome guitar solo before finishing off with one more chorus and a dead kick drum ending with no crash cymbals. The song ends abruptly which only makes me want to restart it and listen to it again.
On the next song, Stick Around, I wanted the song to be as quiet and as epic as possible. Last year I was lucky enough to see Bon Iver live at an amazing theater venue in Austin. I went with a friend who was a huge fan. I had never seen Bon Iver before and assumed from what I had heard of their music that I would fall asleep during the show. It was the exact opposite! They had 2 drummers who both were playing as hard as possible at some times and as quiet as possible at other times. After hearing this song and Granger telling me his ideas for it, I was reminded of that Bon Iver show I had been to. I recorded 2 drum tracks over each other for this song to make it extra powerful. You can tell if you listen to the cymbal crashes. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
If Money Didn’t Matter was a song that definitely needed a ‘less is more’ approach. My objective was to stay out of the way as much as possible but to not neglect any flavor the drums could add to the song. I kept my drum fills simpler, but longer, taking up more beats. I also tried to sneak hi hat sizzles and accents in between the vocal lines so that they’re there, but not covered up, and not occuring too often. I always try to avoid playing a patterned drum beat on any song. I guess you could say my motto for this song was to be ‘simple but unpredictable’, which I think is really what the entire song is trying to present to the listener.
Silverado Bench Seat was one of the first songs I tracked for the Dirt Road Driveway album. I (as well as everyone else) knew it would be a single from the first listen. I love songs like this for one because a ’4 on the floor’ drum beat is my favorite drum beat to play. Years ago in my old rock band I discovered a type of phrasing that I love to use on songs like this. I take the Chorus and find the halfway point. I add an eighth note at the end of the last bar before the half way point so that the last bar the kick drum has a ’1 2 3 4 and 1′ pattern. I feel like that powers the groove across the bar into the next half of the chorus. In the last bar of the next half of the chorus I do a ’1 2 3 and 4′ pattern which I feel gives the chorus a powerful ending statement. It also happened to end up being the way the song ends.
19 Forever is definitely the most driving up tempo song on the whole album. I like songs like this because when you play them live they always feel like they’re on the verge of falling apart, which of course they never do, but the song always feels like a roller coaster ride. I phrased the drum beat the same as I did in Silverado Bench Seat extending the beat across the bars in the middle of the chorus and finishing it up at the end. I like the way that phrasing helps hold the chorus together in the middle and helps to give it a finishing statement at the end. I feel like thats the kind of drum beat that subliminally tells you to keep listening throughout the chorus then at the end gives you a punch to the ear drums to make you really think about what you just heard. Granger adds a couple extra ‘post chorus’ lines on each chorus which I think are awesome. I just hold steady on the kick drum and wash the heck out of the hi hats and let the bass guitar take over the drive from there until the chorus is over.
Bury Me In Blue Jeans is the perfect ending song for the Granger portion of the album. This is another song where I wanted to be ‘simple but unpredictable’. Granger liked the way the song felt with a halftime style groove coming right out in the first verse. I love the way it feels with the slower drum groove in the first verse and chorus and then coming back after the bridge. I thought such a slow groove sounded good with a fast hi hat part in the background. I kept the ride cymbal going on the downbeats playing 8th notes back and forth between the ride and hi hat with my right hand which made for alot of fast cymbal and hi hat stuff going on over what is ultimately a slow halftime groove. Really the only fast moments of the song are the 2nd chorus and the very end of the outro where everything goes crazy. The 2nd verse is probably my favorite moment of the song. I like how everything in this song is constantly changing. No 2 verses are alike, no 2 choruses are alike, nothing is repeated. The groove constantly changes from kick drum only, to half time with snare, to kick drum and toms, to double time with snare, to straight up 4 on the floor halftime, then goes crazy during the outro with cymbals hitting on every chord change. Definitely the most epic song on the album.
Easy is probably the most confusing song groove-wise. Songs like this you have to be syncopated, but too much syncopation and the song won’t play well. Songs like this are usually the reason why cowbells and tamborines exist. If the drum part comes out too syncopated usually a good cowbell on the downbeats or a 16th note tamborine part will bring the groove right back down to earth. A good drum groove always has something constant that’s holding down the downbeat. On Easy it was the hi hat. A good heavy hi hat hand on the downbeat and the kick and snare can do whatever they want. I also love starting the 2nd verse with no cymbals. Cymbals are great at changing the mood of a song, meaning that their absence from a song can be even more powerful. Always consider omitting cymbals from songs or parts of songs where you would usually use them, you may like it much more without them.
I Am The Midnight is your classic country groove, although its a couple BPM faster than a REAL classic country groove. The only cool drum thing this song has is the only one it needed…the rack tom hit with the snare on the pre-choruses. Other than that, its just a meat and potatoes country groove. Let the fiddle and steel guitar do all the rest.
That’s a little insight into my thought process behind each song on the Dirt Road Driveway album. The live versions of the songs are a little different. We’ve added solos, extended breakdowns, I’ve added electronic effect sounds to lots of songs. If you love the album you need to definitely come see a live show because everyone you hear on the album is exactly what you get at the live shows. I’m very proud of the album and the live performance. I hope you all can get to experience both.+ Read more…