Graham Brown Drums

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Recording Etiquette

It has been a while since my first blog post.

Apparently I'm supposed to aim for roughly one blog post a week, but frankly I couldn't think of anything to write about and I've been

Early this week I was in the beautiful Silk Mill Recording Studio in Newcastle Under Lyme. It is truly a wonderful place with some unbelievable gear and the engineers/producers Bash and Andy are lovely, talented guys. I was talking to them (as one occasionally does when you're trapped in a room with somebody for several days) about things that really annoy them in the studio and I've pulled together a bit of a list of some studio etiquette recommendations for making your life and your producers life just that little bit easier. Some of these are a bit more drum-centric, but the general rules apply to all musicians so here goes....


Seriously's not that hard. Don't be a douche. Ask how they are. Ask if there's anything you can do to help them out. Make the tea. Congratulate your band mates on a good take. You have to sit in a room with these people (producers and band mates) for a long time and it can be really tedious listening to your guitarist play the same thing over and over and over again. Have a friendly conversation, be nice and it will help everything run just that little bit more smoothly. This feeds into literally everything you do in the studio.


Learn what you need to do in the song, know which harmonies you need to sing and what tempo you want to record it at. Know that when you sit down to play you're going to be able to consistently reproduce the same drum beat over and over, and hit consistently so that your producer isn't constantly having to adjust levels during a take. Sometimes you'll have to do several takes and it really helps if you can pick and choose between them sometimes. Which leads me on to....


Practice to a metronome. Know how it feels when you are bang on time and when you push or pull the beat and play around it to give the song some feel. Know when you need to do these things for certain songs. A funky song, for example, needs feel. You'll probably want to sit back on the beat a little and really find that groove. A more dancey song needs a solid "four on the floor" right on the beat to give it that drive.


If you have opinions on something put them forward, but don't get upset if they disagree. These guys do this stuff every day, they know what sounds good and they know how to get the best out of the microphones and equipment that they have. If they ask you to play something a little different, do it. If they ask you to move a cymbal because they're getting loads of bleed through the snare mic, do it. If they tell you that you're not playing in time with the click you probably aren't, fix it. Most importantly, if they tell you that you've got the take and that the song is done, listen to them. It's so easy to keep adding things and changing things but sometimes you just have to stop. And all the while....BE NICE.


You don't need to play that awesome new solo you've been working on for 2 hours while everybody else is waiting to record. You don't need to hit things while the engineer has his face 2 inches from your snare drum trying to align a microphone. When the other guys are laying down their tracks you don't have to loudly practice your rudiments in the corner. Playing a fill from the song a few times to really nail that sticking is fine, but don't take the liberties. Finally....


Honestly. Be nice. It makes the world of difference to everybody involved.

Cairo 'Say' Album Reception and Related Musings

So....a blog.....

I have been told (by google) that this provides excellent "up to date website content" or some such thing, but I've mostly decided to do this because I occasionally have musings that I don't currently have a platform for. Occasionally I'll throw up some ramblings on what's going on in my little world or perhaps a few ideas for improving your drumming. Today, however, is going to be more of the former.

Since we (Cairo) released Say on the 3rd October it has been really lovely to see all the feedback and reviews from people who have heard the album. Most of the reviews that I have seen have been really positive and it's crazy seeing how many different countries around the world we've reached. I've seen pictures from Japan, Australia, Poland and the USA of my measly signature on a CD. It's a very surreal experience at the moment.

Stepping outside of my drumming shoes for a minute and looking at music from a fan perspective, a large part of my auditory diet is progressive rock and metal. I have loved it since my "awakening" in the early 2000s and I strongly suspect that I will continue to love it until the day I die. There's something about all those interwoven layers, crazy time signatures and insanely talented musicians that really comes together to be greater than the sum of those parts. I say this, not because I'm under any kind of delusion that will ingratiate me with any particular group of music lovers, but because Say is one of the first albums that I've made which falls into this genre and I am RIDICULOUSLY proud of it. It is an album that I would choose to listen to if I hadn't made it (I think).

It's a very curious thing turning your hobby into a job. You are asked to play a lot of things in the name of "work" which you wouldn't normally listen to - some of them you may not even like that much. Sometimes those songs can start to sap the joy out of something that you did purely because it made you happy. When I start thinking like this I have to remind myself what a ridiculous job I have. I get work with some wonderful people and there is no better feeling in my world than finding that groove that both lifts the song and yet is so dialled in that you hardly notice the drums are there; a beat that amplifies the feel of the song without trampling on it. That's my holy grail, if you like, and that is why I drum.

Wheeling back around to my original thought before I finally stop typing. It's albums like Say and bands like Cairo that allow me to explore a style of music that I love. This album didn't feel like work, it was an opportunity to make something really cool. This band don't feel like colleagues, they're friends. I'm very proud and fortunate to have made this album  :)