Articles

The Art of Double Drumming


So I’m here in New Delhi, India. I’m here with
Shubh Saran, Adam Neely is here, Jared Yee, Josh Bailey. Josh and I spent the last week playing double
drums for both Sungazer and for Shubh Saran. I’m Josh Bailey. I’m a drummer. Sungazer went on tour with Shubh Saran in
November. That was the first #shubhgazer tour in the US. I ended up subbing on one
of the gigs with Shubh’s band, very last minute. It was really fun this time to
have a little bit more time, and like, get much much deeper into the subtleties of
the double drumming. So that was a totally different
experience and definitely a rewarding one. I think the hardest part about it is
where you feel the beat and then coming to an agreement live with the other
drummer. We didn’t have an issue but it can easily become an issue. Ego is often
attached to the work you put into something you care about. And so, like, if
we were approaching each other like, “man I don’t think this is working, like,
you’re just like rushing the sh*t out of this thing.”
Then it would be super destructive from the beginning and then no creativity
would happen and arguably the whole point of this music is to be creative
within a confine of playing with two drummers. Day two at Jaipur Jazz
Festival. Who wants a keyboard? You want a keyboard?
Here’s a keyboard. Tonight we’re performing with Mr. Shubh Saran, right
behind me. So last night was a lot of fun. And tonight we’re gonna be rocking out
with Shubh. So the highlight of tonight’s show is
that we’re playing with not only double drummers and double sax, but also…
double bass! The optimal balance of, like, unison drum parts to arranged parts that
complement each other depends on the style of music, and the song, and the
moment within the song. Rock music tends to be a little bit simpler, a little bit
chunkier, a little bit louder. What’s one way to make something loud? Double it. That’s the best argument for, like, why
would you have two drums. It’s like, man, I don’t know, like, why do you put extra
guitar layers on tracks? Or like, why do you add a clap track? Or why do pop
vocalist literally double the lead vocal? It’s like an effect but it also helps
move it forward. And like too much of that in drum
world can be too much. So we orchestrate stuff to then complement it. It’s like an arrangement technique more than more
than a drum technique. So the argument as to why you should
have it is because then you have more options from an arrangement standpoint. We don’t necessarily want to both play
fills at the same time. Sometimes we do– –it’s a lot of fun. But not all the time. There’s so
many things that I’m discovering that you have to be really aware of. Not only
the sounds and the rhythms, but like, kick placement: like the rhythms on the kick.
Like, I can’t be as free as I would be in like a normal ensemble where I’m the only drummer. Yeah, there’s a lot to be aware of and this is all stuff that’s
really beneficial even in a normal band. This is opening my eyes to a lot of new possibilities. -[Shawn] Is this the house kit? – [Josh] A few more toms than we’re used to. Jesus christ, look how many toms there are. -[Shawn] Well, we should have enough then. -[Josh] That’s for damn sure. You’re
gonna still use one tom aren’t you? Yeah man. [Mark] There’s a lot of a lot of inputs in there. [Shawn] A lot of stuff
plugged-in for no sound to come out. Stereo DI, right? Yeah yeah, stereo nothing. We’ve learned over time that just
physically the closer we are the better it is for double drums. And oftentimes when we play outside
that’s the worst case scenario because sound gets away from you really
fast and then it makes everything feel small and then you might overplay. If
it’s really loud right here, but they’re five feet from you and they’re also
playing loud but you can’t hear them. So like Jaipur was sort of that’s
kinda what was going on. But honestly the Mumbai show was a
lot of fun. I thought it felt like the cleanest representation of like here’s
the parts, plus here’s Shawn and Josh plus, here’s us trying something tonight. But Goa was kind of the best show for us even though we were outside, but we were
like almost like touching. Today we’re gonna be performing in Goa and we’re
gonna be doing it first a clinic in the morning and a show later tonight. [Adam] Shawn and I started this project as a duo. And we
performed as a duo there a fair amount but it’s so much more inspiring when we
have other people on stage and I want to give a brief shot-out to Mr. Josh Bailey
back there on the drums. Because Josh whenever we do these like double tours
with Shubh, Josh sits in on a couple of tunes. And I wanted to actually pick your
brain a little bit about this. You know Shawn has fairly set parts because he
wrote the parts because the music is fundamentally based on Shawn’s drum
parts. So how are you supposed to add on top of that kind of a very set
background and I just wanted to ask you how you’re thinking when you’re approaching this. Like you said the songs, are based around Shawn so there would be no point
me doubling his incredibly complex and awesome drum parts. In fact for the
Sungazer set I pretty much don’t play the kick drum until maybe, like
Jared’s going in on solo and the groove happens to be four-on-the-floor based, I
might double the kick on that. Otherwise I’m not going to eat up any
low-end world because he’s triggering 808 bass drums, plus playing a real bass
drum, plus the band’s let by a bassist. It’s like why would I think I have a
place in the low-end world? [Adam] Get outta here man. And then otherwise when music is
really complex I view it as a welcome challenge to find an un-complex part
to add. Essentially I’m looking for little pockets within the groove that
Shawn’s already created to add a sound or rhythm that isn’t already heard. Who are some of your favorite double drum pairs? Oh, double drum pairs. Okay so the first thing that comes to mind is, so
Tedeschi Trucks Band has two drummers and the one guy is JJ Johnson who’s
like my favorite drummer in the context of double drummers and then the other
guy — Tyler Greenwell, my man. They’re all super aware of this dynamic in which
essentially like JJ plays the meat and potatoes, just like [boom, kah, buh-boom, kah] and then Tyler
will double that or be the guy that does the drum fills
or maybe waits to enter until like on a later chorus, just to add that extra lift.
But it’s kind of this like spoken — not unspoken spoken thing that like JJ’s
is like the earth on which everyone is standing on, even though the
other drummer is playing the same instrument. And the fact that that’s
defined seems to really work for them and that’s cool. Like our dynamic
was a different definition and it also worked. There’s no one way to do this. You know we have all
these very loose rules: Don’t fill at the same time. Don’t play the same sound sources. And then there’s definitely moments in the show where we break all of those rules. [Josh] Jazz! I think that Cory Henry had two
drummers at one point and I know one of them was a TaRon Lockett. And TaRon
seemed to be the guy that then like backed off and simplified a little bit
to let something else to happen. If I’m the only drummer in the band I’m usually taking care of all the fills, you know, I gotta support the whole band the band by myself. But
when there’s two of us and I hear that Josh is going for something, like, “OK let
me just back off and him take this moment.” And then like Snarky Puppy, now they’re
cutting records with like three drummers at once. You know, which is super cool. I
should mention too like in terms of the lineage of this whole concept like
Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead always had two drummers. I love that
music. I love the Allman Brothers, like my dad got me hooked on them pretty early
but it wasn’t for the double drummers. It was for, actually I used to like it
because of the guitar harmony, like the lead lines that were harmonized. Again
it’s the same concept though. 2 guitarists, harmonizing, complementing
each other. It’s like you know the band of 2’s. Okay so it’s the last gig of
the tour today. There was a last-minute change because of the weather, it’s gonna
rain so we’re moving from outside to inside. This is the spot. Adam’s vlogging behind me. Everybody’s vlogging. Vlog. Vlog. No one gives a f*ck. Shubh. It kinda works for most things: “Acha!” Sometimes we’ll yell each other on a gig, like, “Come on! Yeah!” or whatever. We were joking that like, for some of this stuff, we should just start yelling, “Acha!” [Dhruv] It sounds so wrong! The way you say it sounds so wrong! Acha! So I’ve definitely learned a lot about
double drumming on this tour. It’s been really nice to have a bunch of
shows in row because it has allowed us to get into the subtleties of this kind
of drumming. By the second gig great we weren’t
really talking about parts anymore. It was more talking about how to play
together. To me that’s like the biggest thing. To get away from what the drum parts are and figure out how to execute it as
tightly — cuz like double drums is like so exposed. The goal is to get away from just
worrying about the parts as soon as possible. That way we can actually worry about
like executing this super complex idea of double drumming. [Shawn[ It’s been, it’s been fun. [Josh] Yeah, killin man. [Shawn] Dog. [Josh] He gets it.
[Shawn] Yeah, totally, totally. you

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