Junior talks drums and keys
Powerful snare drums and punchy bass and floor toms
Junior is a demon drummer and also plays keyboard too, even at the same time! So what drum sound is he aiming for?
Generally a real dead, deep, flat sound, that is easy to make punchable by the sound man. If there’s no resonance there’s no boom. Just gaffer tape the bottom, have him pitch it quite low. And then hopefully the sound man can bring the life with the punchiness afterwards.
Powerful snare drums and punchy bass and floor toms, that’s pretty much it. I like my floor tom to pretty much sound like another kick drum, as close as. I don’t use any rack toms, I never used to use an extra cymbal but I don’t think it makes my job less complicated. I think it makes you actually think about how else you can do your fills and your rolls and intricacies. Work them in, basically.
Junior plays a Ludwig classic maple kit, that he got at a bargain price.
When it comes to knowing about my gear I know little. I know how to use it but the history of that kit is I was just lucky. This gentleman who was in the rehearsal space just gave up on music all of a sudden and he had this lovely kit. Nigel said to me, he’s only asking £180 for it, and I think it’s worth ten times that and I was like, I’ll take that. And I’ve had it ever since, for about 11 years.
Because I haven’t played many other kits, I couldn’t compare it to others. The wood effect just keeps the sound really neutral. I wouldn’t use steel anyway but luckily, the wood, gives the deepness and the ability to keep it good. It’s really easily tuneable.
Cymbals - I tape them down
Junior has a Zildjian endorsement for cymbals, and unusually, tapes them to get the precise sound he is after.
I tape them down to sound as sharp or as dead as I want them. I never used to use a ride cymbal. I’d rather change the sustain of it by putting some moon gel (damper pads) on there than buy a smaller cymbal. I’ve now got an A Custom Ping Ride, which is beautiful.
He uses Zildjian A Custom Projection 14” Hi Hats, and also an A Sweet Ride 21”.
Zildjian A Custom Ping Ride 20”
The snare he uses is a DW 14 X 7 “ Maple Collectors Series.
I was doing the first album in New York, with a producer called The Machine, and he sent his engineer out to test all these snare drums. The only brief I gave him was I like a deep, powerful sound. So then he came back with this 14x7 inch and I was like that’s pretty big, and ever since I’ve played it, it’s just so nice. You are able to tune it, no matter what, it could be high or low, it just fits, it’ll just stay in that tuning.
Apparently it’s worth loads of money and I should look after it. I think I’ve had it for about 8 years.
DW Collector’s Series Maple Snare
Drums and keyboards at the same time
Junior plays drums but also a Casio keyboard and samples, and it’s amazing to watch. Another band - Make Believe - inspired him to start multi-skilling. Nate Kinsella, their drummer/keyboardist, plays a Hammond organ.
I just saw it done, and I didn’t use any rack toms, and I thought, why not? I used to put it to the right of the kit, away from the rest of it, and it used to work. But piano was my first instrument, so I picked it up that way. I find it easier because you’re just playing another rhythm with the separate hand, rather than hitting the ride cymbal in whatever form that you want it, you’re just hitting white keys, black keys.
I’ve got a little Kaossillator on there as well, which is really easy because you can set up the scales and the arpeggios and whatnot so you’ve just got to press the pad in whatever way you want and it’ll be in tune. Most of the time!
Boss Digital Delay DD-6
I can do loops or play freehand
And then lastly I have a DD-6 pedal, which I route the old Casio SA-21 through which I can either do loops or play along with it or I can just play it freehand while I play the drums. I’ve never stopped doing it. I do it less and less I think in different albums but it still creeps in eventually.
The vintage Casio SA-21 that Junior plays was a gift from a friend and has a very distinctive sound.
It’s got a certain sound a 07, I think it’s the only keyboard that has that sound on that soundcard, and you can’t really find it on any other keyboard apart from the Casio SA-21. And because of that we couldn’t use another keyboard, so, just stuck with it.
With the complex set up how much is all preset and how much does he improvise?
I’d say most of it is preset. At the end of the set, the old crescendo kind of thing when you just do whatever, most of it’s improvised apart from whatever I’ve done on an album. I may mix it up occasionally but I tend to stick to what I’ve recorded most of the time. Maybe add a few bits in, and if I’m a bit drunker, go a bit crazier.
Johnny Foreigner also have a few samples on an SP-404
It’s because when we did the vs Everything album, there was a lot of stuff that we couldn’t do live, so anything now we definitely need, I just make sure I have the sample ready. I don’t use it very often, just for the occasional sound that’s not on the keyboard or a loop of strings that’s in a nicer song.
Junior puts sounds together for recordings or samples using software such as Fruity Loops which he says is amazing for drum beats and easy to use. Other software in his arsenal includes Cool Edit, (the latest version is now Adobe Audition), and Logic.
Image-Line FL Studio 10
For drum beats it’s amazing
He has an interesting mix of early musical inspirations.
I first started off liking, believe it or not, Status Quo, the first alternative kind of thing that I got into, before that it was Motown stuff. I guess for the drumming and the keyboards it would be someone like Nate Kinsella (Make Believe) I know we’ve all mentioned that but they really are huge, my heroes. Dave Grohl, when I was a kid, as a drummer. Fast rolls and all that.
You can set up the scales and the arpeggios
It’s got a certain sound
A versatile portable sampler with effects.