MD: How about a typical day in your own Home Court studio?
JR: I arrive between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. I go online and download the files. Sometimes people send files that are…how should I say…
messed up! Once I import their files into Pro Tools HD,
I put on another hat and become the engineer.
I stress to all drummers that they have to become multifaceted. You have to learn all aspects of the music business, including the engineer’s role. You need to learn about microphone technique and equalization of frequencies. You need to know about microphone placement and sound pressure. I was truly blessed as a young studio drummer; I was thrust into the studio world by working with the great engineers Roy Hallee, Bruce Swedien, Al Schmitt, and George Massenburg. I developed a great relationship with all the engineers I worked with. Because of this connection, the songs seemed to flow endlessly over the years. The engineers seemed to have an ability to play drums, even though I never heard one of them play.
Back to my studio, I then set up the song on my Yamaha DM2000VCM console. My engineer, Steve Sykes, and I have the exact same console, so whatever I record, he can mix. The learning curve on this console is like going to college for a couple of semesters! I assign the individual tracks according to where I like it on the console. I then get a very rough mix so I can write a chart.
At this point a lot of questions come up. I have a website that gives me ten-stave chart paper. I’ll print out what I need for the song, and then I’ll write a drum chart. This usually take me fifteen minutes or less. Next, I double-check my Pro Tools file and mix and make sure it coincides with my chart. On my console I have multiple mix settings, including playback settings. For example, if someone is in my studio, I can have him or her listen to a completely neutral mix while I can manipulate the mix to any degree to help me get through the song. This is not to say that both are synonymous, but there are times when I only want to hear certain elements. I then will assign a new click and record it. I always do this, so I know that the time will be controlled by me. Once I record the first take, I come back into the control room and dissect the performance. Usually the second take is the one.