Tracking at Sound Stage with Redmond, bassist Tully Kennedy, and guitarist Kurt Allison.
Redmond tunes his entire kit for every session, including tops and bottoms. “Tuning is more art than science, but I just try to get each drum to sing and be as fat as possible and sound good right there in the room. But I always err on the side of the engineer and ask, ‘What are you hearing in there?’ And if they want to bring it up or add some tape, it’s worth it, because when we listened back to the track, we said, ‘That sounds really cool, like somebody right out of the ’70s. It was worth the time we spent getting that snare drum sound.”
While he’s a stickler for tuning for every session, Redmond takes a bit more of a voodoo attitude about how often to change drumheads. “If it’s sounding good and it sounded good at the last session, I’ll push it. Sometimes I’ll get sentimental or even superstitious … ‘This head was used on a couple of hit records and I don’t want to change it!’ But as a general rule, I change kick drum heads every six months, depending on the amount of recording I’m doing. Tom heads once every couple of months. Bottom heads definitely every six months. A lot of guys don’t change their bottom heads, and those things are vibrating all the time, so they should be changed at least twice a year.”
While he doesn’t use completely different kits for live and studio work, Redmond does use slightly different configurations depending on what the situation calls for. “For the road, the guys in the band seem to like the 24" kick the best because it has the attack and it has the punch. The 24 in the studio is nice, because most of our style is rock-based and it’s a familiar sound, but on this session, I played the 22, because it’s tighter. I think the whole spirit of what we do as a production team is that we all lean on each other. ‘What are you hearing behind the glass?’ Some drummers are really set in their ways, like ‘this is my sound. Capture it!’ And we’re more about what’s going to be best for the song and for the project. You have to be flexible. Have your tools — your RTOM Moon Gels, your gaff, your Remo Rings — all the tricks.
There aren’t a ton of pieces in Redmond’s studio kit. “In the studio, there’s something really beautiful about just coming in with a Ringo kit — 12, 16 — there’s a nice spread there, the interval spread. And there’s the less-is-more thing; I don’t want to be distracted with chromatic toms up top that are going to make me want to go ‘DOOP, doop, doop’ and fall into that. I lost my splash cymbals about four years ago. I just find that every year that passes, the drums get bigger, the cymbals get bigger, I play less, and I make more money!” [laughs]
AKG D112 slightly off-axis, inside the kick.