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Tame Impala Drum Recording Secrets Revealed

Drum LessonsJTM Music Administrator

I have been on a quest in the past few weeks, hunting down the drum sound that Kevin Parker of Tame Impala creates. The answer, I found was in a youtube video that I watched on Kevin's "Lonerism" album. I got a glimpse of his kit setup and noticed a few things:

  • Overhead mic placement - His overhead mic was placed off to the side over the top of the floor tom, angled slightly in toward the snare.
Tame Impala Overhead Mic
Tame Impala Overhead Mic

Overhead Mic Sound (I played some tom fills to show what the mic captures)

[audio mp3="http://www.jtmmusic.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/OH-Sample-Tom-Fills-and-Beat.mp3"][/audio]

  • Snare dampening - He used a rectangle pad on the edge of the snare, in which his stick actually makes contact with. I substituted this for a simple piece of cloth. It works quite well!
Tame Impala Snare Trick
Tame Impala Snare Trick
  • Snare Mic'ing - He uses two snare mics (1 in a standard position, and 1 mic'ing the snare shell). In the video he used a Sennheiser MD421 which is a dymanic broadcast/all-rounder mic in the standard position. I substituted it for an SM57. He had what looked like a standard dynamic vocal mic halfway down the snare pointing at the shell. This mic position captures a very "papery", flat, muffled, wiry sound; while the standard position captures the boom and smack of the stick on the skin.
Tame Impala Snare Microphone Placement
Tame Impala Snare Microphone Placement

Snare Side Mic Sample

[audio mp3="http://www.jtmmusic.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Snare-Side-Mic.mp3"][/audio]

Snare Top Mic Sample

[audio mp3="http://www.jtmmusic.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Snare-Top-Mic.mp3"][/audio]

Hi-hat microphone placement
Hi-hat microphone placement
  • I'm guessing he uses a kick drum mic (google them for the standard ones). Also I used a hi-hat mic because in some of his songs he gets a louder-than-usual hi-hat sound. Especially the hi-hat foot sound, he likes bringing that up in the mix.

So there it is. Kevin Parkers drum sound.

Dry Mix Sample (No processing on mics, dry recorded sound)

[audio mp3="http://www.jtmmusic.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/DRY-Mix-SAMPLE.mp3"][/audio] #NOTE# If you capture the sound you want initially, you won't struggle trying to create it with EQ, Compression or other plugins. Nothing beats a well planned out and intelligent recording technique!