Denton Hunker of Green River Ordinance
By Andy Doerschuk Published July 21, 2009
Previous Bands: Many jam bands and jazz combo groups
Hardware: Iron Cobra pedal, Pearl hardware
Sticks: Vic Firth 5A
Electronics: Dr. Beat metronome
Out Of My Hands – the major label debut of the Fort Worth-based Green River Ordinance, released on Feburary 24, 2009 – follows independent debut The Beauty of Letting Go, a record that sold well online (reaching #2 at retailer Awarestore.com) and firmly put the band on the map. Following its release, Green River Ordinance won Artist Of The Year, Rock Album Of The Year, and Song Of The Year (for "Piece It Together") at the 2006 Fort Worth Music Awards, winning Artist Of The Year a second time in 2008. Regional fame landed the band opening slots with artists such as Bon Jovi, Collective Soul, Bowling For Soup, Simple Plan and many others, earning this young band (which formed in high school) the onstage experience and poise of a veteran act.
What is your favorite drum part on Out Of My Hands?
That is a very tough question to answer because each song has a special moment for me, but if I had to pick one I would say all of "Come On." I remember when [Josh] Jenkins first showed me his ideas for the song; it was just he and I in the practice room. He started playing the verse and I immediately got excited. The song has great form to it and is so interesting rhythmically. The verse has a great "in your face" four-on-the-floor groove that launches in to a dotted-quarter groove with a little bit of Larry Mullen Jr. in it. And then there's a simple bombastic fill that leads to the grooving halftime chorus. The whole song is my favorite to play but I must say that I have the most fun playing the bridge because of its trip hop/drum 'n' bass groove. And finally, for the icing on the cake, the bridge ends with my all-time favorite, a big fat pancake, the all mighty eighth-note triplet down the drums.
What was it like working with your producer and engineer?
I had the best experience working with all three of the producers and the engineer. It is awesome to not only have the pleasure of playing in front of and being recorded by producers such as Mark Endert and Paul Ebersold, but being guided by them and learning from them. In each song they had so much to offer, whether it was a different perspective/direction the drums should take or just a simple "that sounds great." They were so encouraging and positive. But I must say, I was a little nervous about recording with the guys who have recorded with people such as Matt Chamberlain and bands like Maroon 5 and The Fray.
Did you record to a click track?
Yes. I most definitely recorded to a click track, and loved every minute of it. I always do my personal practice with a metronome, full band practice to a metronome, and back in college I even tried sleeping with the met on. Really! Playing to a click is great – I love it. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Describe your favorite aspect of touring.
The audience! There is nothing better than getting in front of a crowd and watching them dance and having a good time to our music. I love driving to all the cool towns, loading in, sound checking, playing the gig, and hanging out with the locals. It is a lot of fun, and I love every minute of it.
What was the worst gig you've ever played?
The worst gig I ever played was when I got really sick with a stomach virus. I felt terrible and to be honest did not want to play at all. I played the show and just went through the motions. As soon as the gig was over I bolted off the stage straight to the bathroom and then finished the night drinking ginger ale and Gatorade.
Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them?
For the most part, yes, because just as the guitarist, bassist, or singer plays and sings the same melody, I do the same with my parts. When I am thinking of a drum part I feed off of what the melody is doing, the progression of the song, and the feel, so that each drum part has a specific place and purpose in each song. But let's be honest – some nights I change it up.
How do you stay healthy while you're on the road?
Well, I'm not sure. It's hard to work out and such when you only have time to drive to the gig, play the show, drive to the hotel, sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. I try to eat somewhat healthy, but I really love cheeseburgers and Dr. Pepper! I travel with a long board, so every now and then I get to take it out for a cruise, and I always try to get enough sleep. Sleep is very important to me, and the guys always make fun of me because I go to sleep early and wake up early, it's just what it do.
Do you do your own tuning?
Yes, I do my own tuning. I love tuning and have always done it. In high school, drum corps, and college I played the quads, so I have always tuned melodic drums and feel that I have a pretty good ear for it. I normally use a coated Emperor on top and a coated Ambassador. I tune both heads to the same pitch and tune in intervals of fourths or fifths.
What techniques have you learned by listening to or watching other drummers?
I am a graduate of Texas Christian University with a degree in Music Education. At TCU I studied drum set, marimba, vibes, and classical percussion with Dr. Brian West, Dr. Richard Gipson, Mr. Paul Rennick, and Joey Carter, all of whom I have learned my technique from. I also learned from listening to some of my favorite drummers like Brian Blade, Kenwood Dennard, Gary Chester, and Vinnie Colaiuta. I love linear and unrestricted movement, innovative thinking, great sound quality, and a relaxed grip – those are the techniques I have learned from my teachers and heroes.
Do you feel perfect time is mandatory in creating a groove?
No. I don't think that perfect time is mandatory because I don't think perfect exists, unless you are a robot or Vinnie Colaiuta [laughs]. But I do think that you have to have the ability to play in time. Although some grooves sound great when they are a little sloppy or waver in time, especially when the music calls for it, like a second line beat, or a dirty shuffle. But when recording music like pop or rock, great time is very necessary.