Jason Sutter of Chris Cornell Band
By Phil Hood Published September 28, 2009
Artist: Jason Sutter
Hometown: Potsdam NY
Previous Bands: Juliana Hatfield, American Hi- Fi, The Rembrandts, Smashmouth , Chris Cornell
Drums: Ludwig Legacy (green sparkle) or Epic X over (walnut maple walnut finish): 26" x 14" Bass, 13" x 10" tom, 16" x 16", 18" x 16" floor toms, 14" x 6.5" Engraved Black Beauty/The Chief snare drums.
Cymbals: Paiste 24" ride and 15" Sound Edge or Heavy hi-hats (2002s). (2) 20" rock crashes, 19" rock crash and a 22" groove ride as a crash, 8" splash (Alpha line). Noise works triple smash. (For recording I alternate between a full set of Paiste Giant beats or 2002s in similar sizes).
What's the greatest thing going on for the band right now?
We have just returned home from three and a half months in Europe alternating between festivals and headlining clubs. Before that we did a full North American tour including Canada and performed on David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and Carson Daily all this year! I am told tours of South America and Australia are pending for the new year! I am currently taking advantage of the time home to focus on my band : Run Through The Desert with other members of the Cornell band. Check out Run Through The Desert.
Any recording plans for Chris?
I believe a new album is in the works but don't know any specifics as of yet.
I read you recently worked on a Vertical Horizon album? How was that experience?
It was fantastic. I was going to play in the band years ago but had another band I was signed to so it is great to finally be involved. I basically tracked the record over the course of two years as I was constantly on the road with either Smashmouth or Cornell. I would track a batch of songs whenever we could fit it in. I've also managed to play a series of shows with Vertical in between Cornell commitments and am looking forward to more of that as well! As you may or may not know Neil Peart played on three of the tracks as well which is a pretty rare and very cool to be sharing a record with him. We were introduced after a show and it was pretty surreal to meet him after all these years and have him instantly start praising my drum parts from the record. It was indescribable.
That was a mega-selling band at one time, big on power ballads. Do you approach that differently than playing with Chris?
Definitely! That's the fun of that band and being able to play different styles. I thrive on being able to wear different hats and satisfy the music regardless of the style. Vertical is more precise and grooving. With the Rembrandts I used tiny drums and small cymbals for a tight clean approach. Smashmouth was more swing with a loose but tight feel and always driving. American hi-fi was reckless abandon with force and the Cornell gig incorporates a little of all those techniques.
I thrive on being able to wear different hats and satisfy the music regardless of the style.
With Run Through The Desert--How long did it take to track your drum parts?
The actual recording for RTTD was done very quickly as we didn't have any time as we were heading out on the Projekt Revolution tour for 3 months we had to have it finished. I liked the process as the songs were all fresh and what we played is what you get and I'm very happy with its realism. There were almost no edits and much of it is first or second takes and no click. I just played and didn't think too much like other projects and I couldn't be happier with the result. The looseness and mistakes are my favorite things about the performances. We recorded at 2 different studios in LA and I used the drums at the studios which in both cases where '60s Ludwigs 13", 16", and 22" bass drum and old beat-up heads which I cranked up and I brought in all Paiste 2002 's and Ludwig 6.5 "and 5" chrome-over-brass snares. I love the natural vintage sound of the drums and all the instruments on this record so check it out. I wrote and sang on the third song, too.
Do you usually record to a click track?
Almost exclusively, yes.
What do you like most about touring?
I love traveling and seeing new places, cultures and people. To be able to spend a day or two in a new country or state and experience all it has to offer and then get to play music there is my idea of heaven. The last three and a half months in Europe was exactly that. I enjoy the repetition of getting up on stage night after night and try to focus on something new about my playing each show and learn from it. There is no better way to improve as a musician like playing music nightly.
Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them?
I tend to stick to certain fills that may be characteristic of a song but in general I like to change things up. I like to feel as though I am reacting and playing music every night rather than following a part .
Love the Van Halen sticks of victory!
How often do you change heads?
Good question as it's all about the heads. I find that so many drummers on tour change their heads every two shows or even after every show. That doesn't make any sense to me. My favorite drum sound is from the '70s and if you look at photos ( and you can hear it) the heads have obviously not been changed in months. I think a drumhead sounds its best right before it is shot. So I have been experimenting for years with using heads for as long as possible. A lot of drum techs don't know what to make of it but I'm a firm believer that new heads need to settle and sound better after they have been played for a while. The Ludwig coated heavies are incredibly resilient and have a coating that doesn't wear off so they maintain their consistency longer . For the tour in Europe recently I changed my top heads 3 times and the drums never sounded better. I'm pretty proud of that and I think Bonham would have approved.
Do you use the same setup on stage and in the studio?
In the studio I usually use a stock 4-piece set. More often in LA I end up using the house set so I rarely bring drums as they are usually Ludwigs. I always bring (and have great luck with) a 5" and 6.5" Ludwig Black Beauty snare, a 6.5" Ludwig rosewood Van Halen snare and a 6.5 " chrome-over-brass snare. I can always get what I need with that combo. The snares all are fitted with Ludwig die-cast hoops top and bottom and Puresound 30-strand snares. For cymbals in the studio , if it is a rock or pop record, I have great luck with a 22" ride, 15" sound edge or custom heavy hi-hats, 19 and 20" crashes in the Paiste 2002 line. For softer or moodier tracks I can't seem to lose with a 24" ride (sometimes with a 2" piece of gaff tape on top) 15" hi-hats and 20" and 18" crashes in the Paiste Giant beat series (check them out as producers all love them)!
For more information and tour dates check http://www.Jasonsutter.com
Photo Credit: Ronn Dunnett