In theory, it’s a pretty straightforward idea: Get a multi-Grammy winning drummer who has the complete history of rock and roll in his veins, put him in a world-class studio and create a new set of drum loops. Preferably, this drummer should have a unique and identifiable style, an individual sound, a solid groove and plenty of power.
The goal was to duplicate the platinum-selling feel of Mick Fleetwood’s drumming. What is it about his timing, interpretation and style that makes his grooves famous? According to Jonathan Todd, who produced the Fleetwood sound library for Sonic Foundry, “It’s a musical contribution that is greater than the drumming itself. There is a musicality about the way Mick strikes the drums. He plays a little bit behind the beat, and his touch is a big part of his sound.”
In order to prepare for this session, Fleetwood immersed himself in a number of CDs containing a retrospective of his work, from his early blues-playing and dues-paying days through the multi-million selling Rumors era and beyond.
“To revisit that, for me, was a pleasure and a lot of fun,” he notes. “Often, when you go back, you hear something that is really quite innocent and has a certain charm to it – maybe something you’ve forgotten about. The whole process was really interesting and in some ways beneficial. In terms of style, feel and sound, I am now aware of what I do. But back in those days, I wasn’t aware of anything, to tell you the truth. I was just doing what I was doing and picking it up along the way. I really worked hard at listening to these recordings and took all those sensibilities into the studio for this recording. I think we did a pretty good job of representing where I came from and the journey that I’ve taken to the present day.”
Todd said that they didn’t set out to provide enough of a loop series so that anyone could simply duplicate an entire Fleetwood drum track. In fact, the loops are not note-for-note recordings of the grooves that Fleetwood played on any particular song. It’s not a “paint-by-numbers set of loops,” according to Todd. “Instead, the idea was to offer bits and pieces so people can construct their own music with their soul intertwined with Mick Fleetwood’s.” Fleetwood agrees: “People can go into their own world and create their own projects and maybe add something that they’ve never thought of before, because they are playing with a representation of my style.”
As you listen to these loops and fills, you hear that the sound of his kit changes from style to style, and sometimes from groove to groove. For this session, Fleetwood raided his storage lockers to find the exact drums, cymbals and heads (getting new ones when necessary) to reproduce the sounds that he used during different phases of his career. “Long ago, I found a really wide set of snares on an old second-hand drum. It was like this mutant thing. I would use those snares and tune the bottom head so tight that it would almost explode.
“A lot of care was taken with the sound, and we were dealing with people who knew what they were doing. And, in truth, I’ve got fairly good ears for stuff. Once we got the sound, I had full comfort with what was being done and felt completely free to do whatever I wanted.”