“No Drummer???” ¯\(°_o)/¯

Comments: 4

The number-one question people ask us is, “Why don’t you have a drummer?” Well, in order to answer that, it’s worth noting that we actually DID, at one point. When Chris and I (Kevin) first started in 2009, his brother actually picked up a super-cheap drum kit and joined us. He’d grown up with us and was into most of the same music, so it was a good fit. For the first few months, at least. But we grew in different directions. Chris and I decided we were enjoying it so much that we wanted to dedicate everything to music, and hopefully create music professionally one day. So we spent every waking moment on it. Meanwhile, his brother stopped trying, stopped practicing, and eventually just quit.

The thing is, Chris and I didn’t want to slow down. Not for a second. As you may know, this band and the music had become our singular coping mechanism for quite a few horrible things we were both dealing with. We would hang out at my house and play guitar over a Guitar Pro file, with its horrendous 8-bit audio quality, because that’s how I was writing the songs anyway. So we would hear drums, keyboards, even vocal melodies played through some kind of synth. The whole time it was just the two of us playing guitars, we were experiencing the music as though it was complete. Thing is, that was FUN. We never felt that we’d be having more fun playing music if only we had someone playing drums, or bass, or keyboard. So it’s not that we had some kind of aversion to adding new members, although the practice space we had at that point was pretty unfriendly to acoustic drums. Moreso, we were just having all the fun we could ask for with just us.

But once Adrienne and Louisa joined and we started trying to put together a live performing setup, we realized there was actually a really good reason to keep things the way they are! In fact, not having a physical live drummer is a key reason that we have one of the clearest, most polished live mixes out of any of the bands we’ve played with.

See, if you’ve ever been on-stage, you’ve experienced firsthand the sonic chaos that is having an acoustic drum set pounding away behind you. While the audience might hear everything great through the venue’s speakers, what the band hears on stage is drums and not a whole lot else. Unlike amplifiers, where you can set your volume with a knob, drums are guaranteed to be a certain volume based on how hard they’re hit. And that volume is LOUD. Not the kind of loud that makes you want to headbang, the kind of loud that makes you need to wear earplugs on stage or be deaf for the next three days.

Wedge monitors (those things at the front of the stage that guitarists and singers sometimes prop one foot up on to look all cool) can help somewhat, by blasting the same sound coming from the venue’s speakers back in your face, but it’s a band-aid, not an actual solution. 90% of the time you hear a vocalist go off-key live, it’s because they can’t tell how loud they actually need to be because the drums are just too damn loud.

Every single symphonic metal band, even the best of the best, use backing tracks live for their orchestral arrangements and vocal harmonies. What we did, first out of necessity and now out of preference, was to add drums to these orchestral backings. These are played on an iPod or a laptop that runs into the venue’s speakers, where it’s mixed with the vocals. We have, of course, used EQ and other such polish to get everything set up to play nice beforehand.

We also use something called an “amp modeler” for our guitars and bass, which is basically a device that allows us to get a distorted electric guitar sound straight into the venue’s speakers without actually needing an amplifier. These also have EQ applied to mesh with the rest of the mix. The result is an INCREDIBLY clear overall sound, blended like the instruments on a studio recording, which goes out to both the audience and to us onstage. If it weren’t for the wedge monitors, we could basically have a conversation at speaking volume onstage while the audience is being absolutely pummeled by a wall of sound.

We’ve actually had multiple local bands comment on the clarity of our sound after shows we’ve done together, which is always extremely flattering, but the satisfaction comes from knowing that we’re able to bring our listeners the absolute best sound possible, and deliver the most powerful live experience we can.

Now, to be clear, we might totally end up with a drummer at one point. But he or she will probably be playing an electronic kit that runs direct into the PA, similar to what we’re doing with guitars and bass. And we’re not actively planning on holding auditions, mainly because – again, as you may know – we were a band of best friends first, musicians second. Adrienne learned to sing for the band. Louisa learned to play bass for the band. As happy as we are with each other, it would have to be someone we like a LOT to change up the dynamic of the band with someone we’ve never met.

I hope that makes sense, and I hope you still enjoy our music despite the lack of a drummer.

4 Comments

  • Cliff Minors says:

    The sound IS good, there is no denying that, but I’m sorry, I can’t agree with the no drummer stance. The nature of symphonic metal DOES need a lot of tapes being used, this is the ONLY sub genre of metal I’ll allow this in, as I may be old school, but I’ve always been of the opinion that if you can’t recreate your music live with the musicians you have, it’s not valid, but symphonic IS different, I concede. But no drummer? Sorry, the drums are the backbone of a band’s rhythm section, and not to see a kit on stage, real not electronic garbage, is just plain wrong in my opinion. It IS only my opinion guys, but there you have it.

  • Eric says:

    Three words: In Ear Monitors. Could convince you to shift your outlook on a lot of this.

    On the subject of live performances… Water the chances of recording these for everyone’s viewing pleasure? 😀

    • Kevin Goetz says:

      We actually have started using in-ears 🙂 I’m not sure what difference it makes after that point, but the sound engineers we’ve worked with still comment on the clarity in the absence of acoustic drums. Regarding recorded performances, we actually have something quite big planned with that! 😉

  • Adam Ruedas M says:

    Do what needs to be done for y’all. Yes it’s weird not seeing a drummer but you’re making good points. But the e kit thing is a great idea

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