John Stanier: High On The ‘Hawk

john stanier

Easy On The Ears: Engineer Collin DuPuis

Since it opened two years ago, there’s been more than a dozen acts that have recorded at Easy Eye, the Nashville studio that has gotten red-hot ever since its owner, The Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, cut a record there with New Orleans keyboard legend Dr. John last year.

Tomahawk is not the blues and soul stuff most people associate with Easy Eye, but the band had an in thanks to guitarist Duane Denison, who lives fulltime in Nashville, and wanted to lend the studio’s imprimatur to his own project. “He’d pop over every once in awhile to see what was going on,” recalls Collin DuPuis the studio’s full-time engineer.

Tomahawk’s love of earthy, dirty sounds made it a natural fit at the studio. “They were all easy to work with and it got tracked really quickly,” DuPuis says. “The mixing process was a little bit longer –12 or 13 days – and tracking was like six or seven days.”

Oddfellows was an exercise in time-tested recording techniques. After laying down guitar, bass, and drums – played live, all in the same room –DuPuis did guitar overdubs and then Mike Patton did his vocals. “There’s some bleed [of guitars] onto the drums but not a lot because John plays really loud – he’s a very powerful drummer. There was some bleed in the overheads but it just created ambience for the guitars, and Duane doesn’t play a loud guitar … it helps create the space around it, which is something missing on a lot of modern rock records.”

Speaking of bleed (or lack thereof), the same mike setup was used for every song: close-miking on toms and snare using both Shure and Electro-Voice dynamic microphones. For the overheads, DuPuis hung a pair of ’60s Neumann-Gefell RFT CMV-692s (“They look different but the internal electronics are basically Cam 84s<

Stanier tracked on a Slingerland/Ludwig mongrel of mismatched colors and eras for that pawnshop drum sound. The pièce de résistance was a 14" x 8" Leedy-Ludwig from 1949, personally owned by DuPuis who, not surprisingly, is also a drummer. “It’s all wood with gold wrap that I got for like 60 bucks 20 years ago,” he says. “I realized 15 years later what it was and was like, ’Oh, my god.’ It’s the best-sounding snare drum that I’ve ever heard … it records really well. For the more lower pitched snare sounds you hear on the album, it would be that one.”

The gear talk is ironic coming from a guy who downplays the equipment, or who on principle at least, intends for it to be secondary to the music. “As far as records, I don’t see the benefit in spending a full day on snare drum sounds. A lot of producers or engineers will do stuff like that, but the drummer gets bored. The other members get bored. They just want to play – that’s what they come here to do. I have a very old-school aesthetic of ’Hey, let’s cut this as quickly as possible and still maintain the energy and sound you’re trying to get at.’ Plus, it’s a lot cheaper for the band if we don’t spend all that time.”

john stanier

Stanier's Tomahawk Setup

Drums Tama CUstom Artstar II (Ol' Yeller Finish)
1 24" x 18" Bass Drum
2 14" x 8" Brass Snare
3 12" x 10" Tom
4 13" x 11" Tom
5 16" x 16" Floor Tom

Cymbals Zildjian K
A 14" Hi-Hat
B 18" Crash
C 20" Crash
D 22" Ride

John Stanier also uses Tama Iron Cobra pedal and hi-hat stand, Zildjian Session Master Sticks, and Aquarian heads (Coated Response 2, toms; Classic Clear tom resos; Superkick 10, bass; and Hi-Velocity or Triple Threat, snare).

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