Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 | Page 51

versus , interesting fills , and a heavy metal bridge . My favourite fill in the song is in the last chorus , a quick snare / splash combo ending in a double kick roll . Joey and Chad always laughed at it and called it the “ drummer in a blender ” fill !
CM : Whether it ’ s Nickelback or other musicians you ’ re playing with , what ’ s your approach to finding the right drum tone and part of the songs ?
Adair : Tuning in the studio is a tricky one because it has to suit the artist , the song , and what the producer wants to hear . Sometimes you need higher tuned toms that have lots of sustain , and other times really low , big toms that are muted to the point of sounding like a wet paper bag . Both work perfect for certain situations . I think it ’ s an intuition at first to determine what ’ s called for , and then you actually have to try it out in the track and listen back . It will stand out quickly if it doesn ’ t belong there . Snares are the biggest part of the puzzle in the studio . I ’ ll usually have eight to 10 of my favourite high-quality snares to choose from — different depths , brands , materials . You have to have it all — steel , brass , wood , etc . Then we will do a snare shoot out , record a pass of the song with four or five of the top picks and listen back . It ’ s amazing the difference when you hear it in the track . Something that sounded fantastic in the live room can be a dud in the song and vice versa .
CM : What ’ s your best advice to other drummers on how to most efficiently and effectively improve on the drum kit ?
Adair : Back in the day I spent a lot of time practicing to a slow metronome . Like painfully slow . A simple rock beat with eighth note fills at 50 bpm , and land on each click perfectly . It ’ s one of the hardest things to do . But if you get comfortable with that , you will never have a problem playing with a click . I also learned early that internal dynamics are very important . I think that was from listening from lots of Dennis Chambers . If you are playing the kick , snare , and hat all at the same volume , you end up sounding one dimensional . Plus , cymbals are inherently louder , so smashing hats as hard as your snare just makes you sound top heavy . My approach is to work from the bottom up . Rock solid kick , solid backbeat . And less power on the hats and ride . ( Depending on the song , of course , but it ’ s a general rule ). When you pull back the volume on your lead hand , the cymbals stay in control and you can do some tasty hat work without it being overbearing . Engineers love this because you don ’ t get all the hi-hat bleed into the snare mic .
And if you find your drumming is getting stale , sit down and work out of a book . If you can ’ t read music , it ’ s a good skill to learn . It ’ s a skill that ’ s helped me work out difficult patterns and odd time signatures . Gary Chester ’ s The New Breed is great for practicing reading and playing . And for new ideas , Gary Chaffee ’ s books are legendary . Linear Time Playing is my favourite .
CM : When it comes to drum and gear preferences , have there been any significant changes you ’ ve made in recent years ? If so , what led to the change ?
Adair : Touring wise , my kit has been pretty much the same since 2009 when I switched from Pearl to DW ; just little changes here and there like cymbals and an extra floor tom . The bigger change has been in the studio . I definitely got more experimental looking for the right sounds at the right time . My father was a drummer and I have his original 1967 green sparkle Ludwig Super Classics . My friend and master drum maker , Ronn Dunnett , was nice enough to refinish the bearing edges on the kit . Once I got it set up in my studio , I couldn ’ t believe the tone of it . Now I understand why people search for these great old instruments ; same with guitars . Nothing new sounds like them . Must be the age of the wood or something . I ended up recording quite a few songs for various Canadian country artists and used some of it on the new Nickelback album . In the end , most of the album was a frankenkit ! A DW kick and 10-in . tom , a ‘ 70s Gretsch 12-in . tom , my dad ’ s Ludwig floor tom , and a variety of snare drums . On this album I used some Dunnett Stainless Steels , Ludwig Black Beauty , and a couple of Brady Jarrah snares .
CM : Lastly , for the gear heads , can you describe your go-to touring kit right now ?
Adair : I ordered a new DW kit for the tour we had scheduled in 2020 and of course that all got shut down . So , it ’ s been sitting in San Diego for a couple of years and I finally got to play it in November for a couple of shows . It ’ s a beauty . The finish is called “ Darth Vader .” It ’ s a matte black hard satin finish and the shells are a maple / mahogany hybrid . They sound amazing . Deep and full tone , with sustain , but not too much . Perfect balance of ring and control . Sizes are : 10 x 8 , 12 x 9 , 14 x 14 , 16 x 16 , 22 x 18 kick , 14 x 6 top edge snare , and 12 x 7-in . snare .
The cymbals are all Sabian . The crashes are a mix of 18-in . AAXplosion and HHXplosion with 14-in . HHX Groove hats and 21-in . HHX Groove ride . There ’ s 10-in . HHX splash and 19-in . Paragon Chinese .
There are Remo Clear Emperor heads on the toms and CS Dot on snares . And Regal Tip Daniel Adair drumsticks .