Herman Matthews: To Click Or Not To Click

I did a handful of sessions this month, all unique in different ways. I did a straight-up r&b session with electronic hand-claps and all. The next day I did a ’70s retro kind of thing for an ad agency. Two days after that I did a date that was a cross between Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, and all of this was right after recording the latest effort for Tower Of Power. I do realize that no two sessions are alike, but the thing that strikes me funny is the love-hate relationship that people in the business have with a click track. Some artists hate it, others won’t record without it and I’m pretty much stuck in the middle.

It really gets confusing when you have an artist who hates the click, and half the songs are sequenced, and they want to overdub some instruments later, and they don’t have a loop. Yet I also understand that the click can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on whom you’re working with. In this case everyone is correct. Personally I love a click, but there are times when it gets in the way. That’s why it’s important for us drummers to be diplomats. Practice with a click at home, because it’s important to have good solid time embedded in your psyche, but then it’s also important to be able to bend well with others. You’ve got to make that person who speeds up and slows down sound great too, especially if that person’s name is on the marquee.

This groove is from the song “Gotta Make A Change” from Tower Of Power’s Souled Out CD. Half the rhythm section wanted a click and the other half didn’t. I think the metronome setting for this is 118. Be careful because it flips inside-out at times.

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