Rich Redmond slams his DW Collector's Series kit on a session at Sound Stage Studios in Nashville.
Talking about Rich Redmond as simply an outstanding drummer is like trying to describe a whole house by just focusing on the kitchen. He’s the quintessential successful, modern-day musician: a multidimensional jack-of-all-trades and master of several, with a fierce work ethic. In addition to playing drums both live and in the studio, Redmond is also a producer, songwriter, drum clinician, and motivational speaker. He’s equally comfortable speaking to a classroom of kindergarteners, or drumming onstage behind his long-time employer, country sensation Jason Aldean (“a 12-year ‘overnight success’ story,” Redmond says wryly). He’s very appreciative of the breaks the gig has afforded him. “Whatever notoriety or visibility that that outlet has provided has fed every other thing,” he says.
There are few facets of Rich Redmond’s personality that he infuses into everything he does, including drumming and producing in the studio. One of his most sacred tenets is teamwork. His team (more like a band of brothers, really) and their production company, New Voice Entertainment (newvoiceentertainment.com), was an outgrowth of working as Aldean’s backing band. The musicians on the team include Redmond (drums and percussion), Tully Kennedy (bass), and Kurt Allison (guitar), who affectionately refer to themselves as “The Three Kings.” “It’s been me, Kurt, and Tully playing music together for 12 years,” says Redmond. “Clothing styles have come and gone, wives have come and gone, hairstyles have come and gone — and three presidents — and we are still making music together, and growing as musicians and as people and as businessmen together.”
Rounding out the core production team is engineer David Fanning, who manned the Pro Tools rig at the session we attended. “Adding David into the mix has been great. We met him cutting sides as an artist, and then we realized that he’s also an amazing vocal coach and a Pro Tools whiz. David knows that not all my parts are going to be slammed to the click, and he knows where he’s going to have to edit and what he’s going to let ride. It’s been really, really, really amazing.”
There’s no dictatorship or hierarchy on the production team; rather, it’s a collaboration based on mutual trust and respect. Even when working on drum parts during the session, Redmond takes as many suggestions as he gives. While he has his own ideas about whether he has executed a part correctly from both a technical and a musical standpoint, he relies of the feedback of the rest of the team for a final decision.
He adds, “Sometimes we fight like brothers, but in a good way, because that relationship is going to affect the end product. Kurt is like Switzerland. He keeps Tully and me from killing each other! [laughs] But it’s good. It’s this great thing where we’re all fully committed to the end product. That’s what we want — we want it to be great. We’re accountable to each other and we don’t let each other off the hook.” Collectively, the team genuinely is concerned about working on every aspect of the track until it’s right, and not settling or falling back on a “fix-it-in-the-mix” attitude.
Redmond summarizes the team’s individual roles this way: “Everybody chimes in with what they do best, for the company. I get a lot of clients and I do marketing and I manage the books, and then David does all the co-engineering and the digital editing. And then Kurt and Tully are song guys, so they’re always taking song meetings. So we’ve got four arms [that we can draw upon].”
Also on the session was engineer Jim Cooley, whom the team employs on every session. It’s obvious that Redmond has great respect for Cooley and trusts him implicitly. “Jim was trained by [top Nashville producer-engineer] Chuck Ainlay, so he knows all of Chuck’s philosophies and tricks. What’s cool about Jim is that he knows that we’ve got something going on and we have a vision for what we want to do and he wants to be part of it. So we’re happy to have him on board. It’s a people thing. People make the world go ’round, and we would all rather work with our friends. Jim is kind of inside my head and he knows where I’m coming from.”
The session took place at the legendary (and newly renovated) Sound Stage studios on Nashville’s Music Row. “We have a really excellent relationship with the new management at Sound Stage studios, and we do everything there,” Redmond enthuses. The day’s order of business was tracking a couple of songs for an upcoming release by singer/songwriter Kristy Lee Cook, who first received national recognition for her musical talents through her seventh-place finish on American Idol’s seventh season. We observed the team producing “Every Boy’s Got One,” a bouncy rocker that showcased both Cook’s and the production team’s studio prowess.
A view of the tracking room, with an AT4081 "crunch" ribbon mike, center.