This is chapter three in an ongoing series of commentary from legendary drummer Mike Clark. His storied observations continue to provide a keen insight into ‘all things music’.
"OK… So the snares broke on ‘God Make Me Funky’ and I continued to play it on Tom. The engineer Fred Catero takes a brass wastebasket, puts a mike in it and puts the now fixed snare on top of the basket. He then plays the track to the snare which makes a sound at each backbeat, but leaving out all the ghost notes. I hated that sound, and without the ghost notes the beat sounded pedestrian to my ears…Like anyone could have played it. Now it’s one of the most sampled drum loops ever. They dug it, and some drummers say Hey, Man - I worked hard to get my snare to sound like yours!"
This is exactly what I used to get all the time on the West Coast.
"When I tried to play the stuff I did to ‘Actual Proof’ they all cried… Nobody will know where one is. Well, they didn’t, but I did… Oh, It’s too busy…For who ? What a bunch of punks all scared and whining. I know many other artists who dare to challenge mediocrity and hear BS like this…
Just because you’re good at ‘Big Time’ doesn't mean you’re any good at ‘Small Time’."
"I was checking out James Brown in the sixties and those snare drums used to ‘CRACK’ Down South Style, no monitors and a little sound system, but it was Poppin’...Then I listened to some later stuff with all the modern sounds and the snares sounded kind of Ploddy and sort of on Tom Tom... Having been trained in the South and Texas, I prefer it Snappin’. I did a lot of soul shows back in the day…I could hear everything and it was easy to groove - But now, with the sound real loud and in someone else's hands - not the musicians… I can never trust how things will go."
"I usually get it on the first take...Not because I’m so good, but I'm honest on that take and it’s hitting me on the real. If I have to do more, I tend to try to improve things and it just doesn’t work. James Brown used to say “the first take is God, and the second is man”. I think that’s how I feel. If it’s my record, I don’t care about the mistakes, only how it feels…Unless it’s a train wreck. When I’m playing I get to feeling pretty good on the first take as my brain chemicals are lighting up like when I first heard Jazz or Blues. So I'm having a blast and its not mental... Hence, I like first takes. Everyone is different!"
"Indulge me, I'm not trying to be slanderous....I like Buddy Rich, but need some expertise… Did he or did he not take skbob boppa, doodle abba, skeedlie deedlie, etc. to a genius degree?"
The other night, some young cats climbed into my taxicab. I said, "What's happening chaps". They replied, "Listening to some outrageous funk by a band called the ‘Headhunters’…They asked me if I had heard of drummer Mike Clark"...