Andols Herrick Plays “Try To Survive” By Chimaira

Andols Herrick

Here’s something you may find odd – or not: When Andols Herrick lays down his drum parts in the studio, he plays to nothing but a click track. As in, no guitars, no vocals, no nothing except the incessant clunk of a faux wood block counting off eighth-notes through his cans. That, and a few words of encouragement from Chimaira’s long-time producer, Ben Schigel, whispering in his ear for him to hold back just a tiny bit behind that click because, he says, “I sometimes have the tendency to play a little ahead.”

Herrick (who’s given name is Andy but who goes by the nickname Chimaira guitarist Rob Arnold gave him in high school) doesn’t see anything weird about recording this way. “People always think, ’Oh, that must be complicated.’ Or, ’That must be hard.’ But it’s really not, because, you know, you play the song so many times when you’re writing and rehearsing and getting ready for the studio, it really is second nature. I’m sure if anyone else tried it they would probably be surprised that they would have no problem doing it.”

Care to find out? After you give “Try To Survive” a few attempts with the transcription and the song spinning away on the ol’ Victrola, give it a go with only the click as a guide, playing entirely from memory. You might be surprised to find it’s not as tough as you think. Or, Herrick could be lying and your suffering will be great. Either way you’re bound to learn something.

Herrick recorded his drum parts at Ante Up Studios in Cleveland, par for the course on the last few records. “They have a really good room for that kind of stuff there,” he says. Everything else was done at Spider Studios, in the band’s hometown of Strongsville, Ohio, with long-time friend Ben Schigel again at the controls. Having done their first EP back in 2000, followed by The Impossibility Of Reason in 2003, and the self-titled album in 2005, Schigel helped them breeze through this latest effort with the speed and efficiency that can only come from a decade of working together. “Preproduction was relatively brief,” Herrick says. “We only did maybe five days. And then drums were done in about three days – so about four songs a day for three days.”

Most of the songs on The Infection were written over the course of the last tour in support of Resurrection, where guitarist Rob Arnold and vocalist Mark Hunter had a Pro Tools rig set up in the back lounge of the bus. “They wrote, I think, seven songs within a span of a few weeks,” Herrick says. “And I think ’Try To Survive’ was actually the first one they did. It kind of set the tone for the majority of the record and the feel on this album. Maybe something a little more AC/DC and Slayer, as far as drum beats go. Not, like, super-thrashy. They were more just kind of 2 and the 4 on the snare, just deep-in-the-pocket kind of stuff.”

When the band got together last August to start putting the pieces of The Infection together “Try To Survive” again set the tone, as well as the pace. “This song I remember actually having everything kind of fall into place pretty quick,” Herrick says. “I think maybe within the span of, like, an hour on my own. I mean everything pretty much played out how I wanted it to. You know, you go back and after actually playing it live for a while, you kind of start to think, ’Man, I wish I would have done this.’ You start thinking of cool things after. And I tried to get that all out of my system during the process.”

What makes that an interesting proposition is that Herrick in the studio is a vastly different animal than Herrick onstage. If the studio is all about separation, the stage is all about immersion. “I just use the standard monitor wedge and I can hear a little of everything: bass drums, both guitars, vocals,” he says. In fact, the only thing separating him from the full assault of a live Chimaira show is a simple pair of foam earplugs. “If I don’t have them,” he says, “it just sounds like trash and garbage. I just spare my ears so I can hear later.”

But as analog as his live performances are, Herrick is quick to embrace the possibilities for precision the studio affords. For this album, he was even willing to forgo any acoustic signal from his bass drums in place of triggered mesh heads, which he says “made the editing process easier because there was no bleed into the microphone. So you can sit in the control room, have the triggers going, and you could pull out the bass drum all together, and all you would hear are the hands.”

And while it allowed for some pretty clean bass drum hits, it was definitely a challenge at first. “I was pretty apprehensive about it because I have a kind of weird issue with the feel of my bass drums,” he says. “But it wasn’t so much a bad thing because they actually had almost a bit of a trampoline effect. They actually had a really nice kickback to them. So I was kind of a pleasantly surprised with how it worked out.”

But whatever kind of heads you’re beating on, Herrick doesn’t suspect you’ll have too much trouble with “Try To Survive.” And even if you’re looking to play Herrick-style for the first time – that is, purely from memory – this is a good one to start with. “The whole song is kind of laid-back, in-the-pocket feel,” he says. “I don’t think a part has to be incredibly complex for it to be really cool. I think it’s more important that it fits the song, and it doesn’t step on anybody else’s toes musically.”

Andols Herrick Andols Herrick Andols Herrick

Herrick’s Setup

Andols Herrick

DRUMS Ddrum Dominion Ash Pocket in Blackburst
1. 20" x 20" Bass Drum
2. 13" x 7" Snare Drum
3. 10" x 8" Tom
4. 12" x 8" Tom
5. 16" x 12" Floor Tom
6. 14" x 12" Floor Tom

CYMBALS Sabian
A. 15" AA Metal-X Hi-Hats
B. 18" AA Metal-X Chinese
C. 18" AAX Metal Crash
D. 12" AA Mini Chinese
E. 19" AAX Metal Crash
F. 22" HH Power Bell Ride
G. 20" AA Metal-X Chinese

Andols Herrick also uses Axis X Longboard pedals, Gibraltar rack, Ahead sticks, Evans heads, Ddrum bass drum triggers, and an Alesis DM5 brain.

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