Posted on May 21, 2012 by Mike
A Lily Gray…Utah’s Best Local Band!
A few words by Ben Frank, Drummer for “A Lily Gray”.
The opening groove is loosely based off of what Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) plays in the verses of the song “All Around the World”, which is one of my favorite grooves of all time and one in which many beats I play have been inspired by.
A musical concept that I regularly use is the idea of “tension and release”. I try to create that effect on the drums in a few different ways. During the verses I play a two bar phrase. In the first bar I intentionally leave out the snare on count two but play snares on two and four in the second bar. This is a handy trick because the average listener is conditioned to hear snares on two and four. Countering the listeners expectations in simple ways like this can make your parts more interesting.
Another trick I use for the tension release effect is during the first part of the chorus. The guitar implies accents on the counts of one and the and of two. One would expect the drummer to play crashes on these counts but instead I play a crash on the one but an open high-hat on the and of two. This is a trick I learned from listening to Derek Grant (Alkaline Trio); a strategy that creates an easy way to build up a song. As you may notice, the song picks up in intensity at about the two and a half minute mark. The increased intensity of the drums are achieved by simply replacing the high-hat with a crash at about the two and a half minute mark the song picks up in intensity. The drums start sounding more intense as well, but all I did was replace the high-hat with a crash.
The idea of working smarter and not harder pays off immensely when coming up with drum parts. I encourage every drummer to study the songs they’re playing and discover ways that you can make the song more interesting.
In the bridge, I ensure that I stay consistent with the musical themes of the song. I play a very similar beat to that of the verses, but instead move my right hand to the ride and keep my left on the high hat.
The final fill at the end of the song took a long time to develop. In the last measure, counts one and two are comprised of sixteenth notes, while counts three and four are comprised of sextuplets. I spent months trying to figure out the best way to approach this. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it would be best to play the sixteenth’s with my hands (all RL singles) and break up the sextuplets with my hands and feet. The hands (RLRL) the feet (RL). This is a concept that I most associate with Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater).
This song starts out with what I would call a ballad feel. The guitar and bass create a natural pocket for me to be more expressive that usual. In the first two verses I play a two bar phrase that changes from a sixteenth to thirty-second note feel. The first bar is inspired by the legendary Dr. Steve Gadd (Studio and jazz great). Using his tactics, I sought to create a nice groove with some added textures of ghost-notes and high-hat openings. The second bar is indirectly inspired by Stewart Copeland (The Police). Before I came to practice on the night that we wrote the song, I had read an interview with Mr. Copeland in which he said something to the effect of “drummers can be too inhibited by feeling obligated to play the snare on every two and four count”. I found this idea to be exciting, and decided that if an opportunity presented itself I would play something less conventional. In writing the song, I thought an interesting way to apply this concept would be to keep a backbeat, but rather than the snare I use the bell of the ride. The chorus was the Bain of my existence for several months. Basically I was simply trying to match the rhythm the guitar was playing. It took me a while to play it correctly, the rhythm is 1-e-a but I would always play a 1-and-a. That small detail can make a big difference and to this day if I’m not careful I’ll fall into that old habit. I’m especially proud of the bridge in this song. Being a die-hard fan of The Who I will happily take up any and every opportunity I have to do something in a way similar to Keith Moon. That’s exactly what I do in the bridge, it’s not derived from any specific song per se, it’s more or less how I feel Mr. Moon would approach that passage if he were playing the song. The ending of this song is also very tricky in that in my head I heard an excellent time to do a double bass lick though at the time I think I had bitten off more than I could chew, but after consistent practice I can now play that part in my sleep.
This was the first song written in the history of A Lily Gray. It was the second meeting between Suni (guitarist) and Dave (Vocalist) and the first time we were to play together. To make a long story short there was a magical spark in the room and it resulted in this song. This song has a standard 4/4 rock feel. With that in mind I thought long and hard of ways to make the drums sound fresh. The conclusion I came up with was to play a snare on the and of three (rather than the standard four). This enables me to play something flashy on the count of four. I decided that a fill using a paradiddle-diddle (RLRRLL) would be the best option. I must thank Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) for showing me how effective and versatile that rudiment is (as demonstrated in the Yes song “Heart Of the Sunrise”). The beat in the bridge was originally a beat with the left hand on the high-hat right hand on the ride. But I decided that it would be more fitting to play the left hand(lightly) on the crash. At the end of this song I decided that it would be interesting to play a variation of the beat in the verses. So I decided to play a snare roll at the end of the measure rather than ghost notes (on the snare).
This song was written with the extension of Whisper. I felt that place in which we left Whisper a marching snare part was the natural progression. Travis Barker (blink-182) was my earliest influence when I began playing. His use of the snare in rock songs is fantastic and always something that I wanted in my playing as well. In the chorus I accent the and of the three and four count. Originally I played a more elaborate fill, in which was fantastic(in my humble opinion) from a drum point of view but lacked in a song perspective. The producer Matt Wiengar described the fill as “too Ginger Baker (Cream) for the song”. After much deliberation I realized that sometimes the simpler option is the most musical. The jungle beat in the bridge is something I imagine Travis Barker would play. I didn’t realize this until well after the song had been written. That’s a funny thing about influences, sometimes when you think you’ve outgrown an influence you’ll play something and realize that the idea came from a childhood icon.
Ben has been taking Drum Lessons with Mike Dale for some time now. Ben has went from learning a basic drumbeat years ago to being able to create his own drum style based on a mess of his favorite drummers! Ben has worked on several drum texts as well as well as taught a few lessons to some of the neighborhood kids.
Ben started taking drum lessons in 2001, located in Cottonwood Heights. He has a strong interest in drum-line licks, deep drum grooves, wacky accents and a fist-full of over the top, in your face drum fills! Ben likes… scratch that. Ben Loves Keith Moon and it is always on the surface of his playing. Ben has to keep the Keith Moon influence tucked away like a loaded weapon! Ben has done a wonderful job as a drum student as well as a human being. Ben has supplemented his drum career with providing assistance to the disabled. Ben started his social work over 5 years ago and has worked his way up the ladder and now works for the U of U.
Ben is always willing to help young drummers discover drumming by sharing his love and talent of drumming. Ben is always able to locate his drums sticks faster than his car keys.
Two very true, funny stories about Ben Frank.
1. Ben met the love of his life by her asking Ben (a complete stranger at the time) “Why are you carrying drumsticks in a coffee shop?” Ben answered without words and instead chose to demonstrate a snare solo on the coffee shop counter! The rest is history.
2. On A Lily Grays first gig, Ben introduced the guitar player as the bass player. Oops! Yes, even Ben gets nervous.
Good luck Ben in all of your future musical projects.
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