Working out songs with live drums is a special treat. It feels very much more organic than programming or even messing around with loops, and I also love how it's so very collaborative. We've worked out live drum parts for both Tashirojima and Challenger Deep, but on a much more limited scale.
When we were recording The Decider, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted it to be. We had an electronic drum part already worked out-- in fact, cleaning up the sonics on our garageband drum loops was the first thing our producer/engineer Drew Gingras worked on with us. We got about 75% done with that version of it. I recall the middle bridge sounding very much like the theme song from the Office. In the end, we felt we had totally missed the mark on the vibe and ended up just deleting the mess we made until we got into Sound of Music Studios. Drew's boss / the owner of the establishment had agreed to play session drums on a couple of our tracks. Fortunately we had enough time set aside to totally jam out The Decider with him-- interestingly, the process was very similar to what Jay and I had done in writing it years earlier. Just playing it over and over, furiously, sweatily until Miguel Rodriguez-Urbitztondo took us to where we needed to go.
When I first found out my childhood friend, Kevin Kinglsey, was now playing guitar and had written a few songs, I could not wait to hear what he had cooked up. Kevin was a regionally recognized saxophone player among high schoolers in Fairfax County (maybe even beyond?) so I was very curious to see what he would do an original composition. His stuff was crazy, packed with back-to-back guitar solos and unusual song structures. Writing lyrics at first seemed too daunting, so I stole them from a meme I found about bathroom graffiti. The result was interesting in that it didn't quite work but there was enough promise to warrant putting it on our next record. Enter J. B. Gamble. Working again with Drew in Richmond, we had lined up two days of recording horns and, more importantly, drums. J.B. was a beast on drums, quickly knocking out all the pre-written stuff we'd given him to do. Then the time came to record Kevin's song, Every Word Rewritten. We set up Kevin on guitar, J. B. on drums, and, in a separate room, me on vocals. This time we picked apart the song structure, radically reworked the tempo/vibe, and, again, jammed it out until it felt right. It was surprisingly easy, but I think that can be attributed mainly to J.B.'s keen sense of knowing exactly what the song needed at key moments and delivering.
I am excited to work with Brian, having seen him perform several times. He seems like he would be an extremely good fit for us-- his drumming style is a bit more angular, almost like an Alan Myers (DEVO) type. And while working with Richmond gentlemen was cool, those guys were more session drummers, chosen by our engineer. We picked Brian!