Chris Belin Drums - Traveling Drum School & Freelance Drumming
My Blog

July 2012

"Break Out" performed by Chris Brozek

   This week’s blog features Traveling Drum School student Chris Brozek playing “Break Out” by the Foo Fighters. The clip just made it’s way on to the web this past week! 
   I worked with Chris on this song for a few weeks leading up to his performance at a recent Norwin high school concert. For this year’s show I wanted to make sure everyone saw more of his skill level. He chose this piece over a few others I selected, as well as songs I knew he liked. This was also one of the most challenging options from the list, but I knew he could handle it. Right away he was a natural at all the parts, and with some extra emphasis placed on transitions, he was able to perform everything smoothly at song tempo.  
   For those who don’t know of Chris yet, please check out some of his other clips on You Tube, including the autobiographical documentary “Autism: Influence in Music” as well as last years’ concert performance of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Chris has also been featured in local newspaper articles and recently sat in with a blues band. Chris is definitely a drummer on the rise, making more and more waves with each public performance! 

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Break Out (Foo Fighters)
Break Out by the Foo Fighters, performed by Chris Brozek. Click here to view a special documentary about Chris!

Session @ J Bird studio

   This past Thursday I recorded a handful of tracks for the band Summer-Winter. The initial game plan for their third album was to track all the drums in two sessions, 4 songs each day with a possible 5th added for the second session. The first wave of this plan was successful, drum tracks were completed for the first 4 tunes.  
  The place that was chosen for this event was J Bird studio, located in the Cranberry / Zelienople suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the owner / engineer Jay Vega as well another engineer named Justin. Both were friendly & gracious, helping me carry in some of my gear. The vibe of this place is very cool, filled with an ambiance of warmth and comfort. Secluded from the busyness of the city, but definitely not too far of a drive from civilization either, its ideal for anyone wanting to record in a relaxing environment free from distractions. Nature fans will definitely dig it as its surrounded by wooded areas and while outside on a break I heard a woodpecker for the first time!   
  The studio's primary recording space has beautiful hardwood floors, multi level ceilings, large moveable sound panels, mood lighting, & a comfy couch. 

*The Drum Sound

  I was extremely pleased with the tones I got from my set. The room really brought out the warmth & the depth of each drum, especially the floor tom, and the cymbals sounded excellent in every way imaginable. The engineers were very precise on their miking techniques for this session, having reviewed the band's previous album prior. They seemed fully prepared to capture what the band leader requested, and were also open to my ideas and requests. Jay & Justin were easy to work with and it was an awesome experience. 

*Final Feedback

   From what I saw & experienced, J Bird has a lot to offer. The detached control room was equipped with the latest pro tools software and both engineers were very knowledgeable. They had an impressive mic collection as well as plenty of other instruments around; pianos, guitars, amps, and even an upright bass. All quality stuff, new and vintage.   
  I've been fortunate to work in many great studios. Each one has their own vibe and this one, a beautiful house converted into a fully functional recording studio, definitely had a true feeling of home. Really looking forward to recording the rest of the album there in a few months. 

*Sample Video

This is just a taste of my experience there, complete with mood lighting and video effects. Do yourself a favor & check it out for yourself, online & in person.  

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Session @ J Bird studio
This short video clip, along with my 7/23/12 blog @, documents my session @ J Bird studio for the band Summer-Winter. Shot on July 19th. drum tracks of 4 songs were recorded fo...

The "chance record" philosophy of album buying

  Yesterday I went record shopping @ Jerry’s Record’s in Pittsburgh, PA (Squirrel Hill area). This is one of my favorite places on planet Earth, and was voted #17 among the coolest record stores in America.  And by record stores I am referring to those places that sell the big round black Vinyl things, which make sound by placing a needle directly on the surface, not CD’s (no disrespect to the compact disc). Actual record stores can be few and far between nowadays but if you search hard enough you’ll find one.    
  Even though I am a huge fan of iTunes and the download revolution, I still love visiting Vinyl shops to acquire music. I could go on for days on why I love vinyl: the sound, artwork, nostalgia, smell (lol), etc, but I wont elaborate any further. Instead I am revealing a shopping philosophy I always do when I go called the “chance record”.    

My rules for the chance record go like this;
  1. Has to be something I’ve never heard before
  2. Price cannot be more than $3
  3. Have to be intrigued at first glance by the front or back cover
  4. Cannot sample the record in the store before purchase
  5. Must resist asking someone any ?’s or feedback on it

   I have discovered so much great stuff this way that I most likely would’ve passed up. I always vary it up too, picking different genres or eras. When I started to really get into Jazz I picked up Hank Crawford “I hear a symphony” as a chance and that changed my life forever. That opened me to checking out lots more stuff from CTI records, a label that rostered quite a few Jazz artists which have become some of my favorites.
   Yesterday’s chance record was “Soul Coaxing” by Raymond Lefevere and his Orchestra. The cover has a vibe of 60’s - 70’s  lounge music, and one of the tracks on the back is “Groovin”, which I figured was a instrumental version of The Young Rascals tune. I was correct on that, and the other tracks I listened to were very laid back w/ lots of instruments. Overall what I heard so far I liked, definitely good for a Sunday afternoon listen!  

Drumming after a long vacation

   This past week I returned to my normal routine of drumming and teaching after a 13 day vacation. It was refreshing, but I had my share of moments where I missed daily drumming. This was the longest break I had since 2008 and the second lengthiest ever. Don't get me wrong, this vacation was my best thus far, definitely beneficial mentally & physically, but I was still excited to get back to the craft.     
  My first two shows back this past weekend felt great! Two long performances, both 3 hours a piece, most certainly got me back in the swing of things right quick. That being said, I figured I would devote this week's blog to describing some techniques I used to adjust after a lengthy period of not playing.
  1. Extra stretching mixed with extended roll warm ups. I doubled my normal daily amount of time spent on hand technique. My focus started on repetition of basic patterns: singles, doubles, & the single paradiddle at slow tempos (50 - 70 BPM). I then accented strokes in my current favorite spots & blended in some rebounds. Nothing overly complex, just a nice ease back into playing.
  2. Vamping on melodies. I always enjoy playing rhythmic melodies after a solid warm up session. Improvising, playing in the moment, etc. No game plan, just creating new ideas or expanding on topics from a previous session. Since I had such a long gap in playing this session was all about spontaneity & creativity.
  3. The real work. When I’m playing drums in my office it’s normally intense practice sessions. Goof-offs are rare, a focused regimen is the norm. I worked through a few new books from Joel Rothman I recently received in a addition to topics from the newest issues of Modern Drummer & Drum! Magazine. My attitude was I wanted some fresh material to woodshed. Mission accomplished. 
  4. Song review for weekend shows. Had to get in the zone for the upcoming performances so I looked over the song list & ran through some tunes. Felt nice and loose with everything.
  5. Closing jam. Decided to make some more music to finish it out, kept it loose, but a lot of stuff I worked on from 1-4 crept into the experimentations. Definitely ended on a good note.

Future blogs coming soon will detail my daily playing routines as well as offer tips to help you customize your own. I hope drummers find this blog helpful, as Summer is the time of vacations and chillaxing on regular routines! 

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