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Show #38: Thomas Lang

IZ: What’s up y’all? This is IZ. I’m with Connected and, man, another blessed opportunity to be standing here with an amazing drummer. Talk to me a little bit more about your process.

Thomas: Right.

IZ: And playing and playing on records or playing in a live gig?

Thomas: Well, just like you said, and pointed out, you know, pocket is really number one. It’s the most important thing and it’s really the essence of what a drummer should do. So one thing that I really pay a lot of attention to feel, pocket.

IZ: Right.

Thomas: Making it feel great for the other musicians and really laying down a really solid beat. Whenever I’m working, producing, writing, for me as a drummer, the beat, the rhythm, the groove, the feel.

IZ: It’s everything.

Thomas: That’s everything and everything hinges on that. I’m sure, you know, when the beat feels right, everybody is…

IZ: Yeah. You know, there’s one thing…

Thomas: …nodding along…

IZ: Exactly. You feel something. And as a drummer and listening to you do your thing it’s like, you know, you hear it right away, right? It’s like…

Thomas: Exactly.

IZ: …I’ve heard a thousand drummers.

Thomas: Right.

IZ: You know, I’ve heard so many but when somebody’s hitting that groove and that pocket, it’s like, you stop and you’re like…

Thomas: Exactly.

IZ: …”Man, that shit is dawg [SP].”

Thomas: Yes, time stops.

IZ: You know what I mean? Yeah, time stops. And just the experience you’ve had, man, what are some of the things, as a drummer, you would do in a live setting versus playing on a record or in the studio and the micing process?

Thomas: Right.

IZ: Tell me all those different things.

Thomas: Sure. Well I mean, obviously, in a live situation, there’s a lot of factors you can’t really control.

IZ: Right.

Thomas: As well as you know in a studio, and in your, sort of, very familiar environments. So you have to deal with a lot more bleed on stage which affects gates on the kits. I mean if you have 20 mics hot on a large drum set, you have to really make sure you work with phasing problems, you know, overheads, that’s a big problem, usually.

Also, if you have internal and external micing on the kits, to make sure that the phasing is right and that it’s out of phase. Bleed, you use gates a lot more in a live situation…

IZ: Right. Gates, yeah.

Thomas: …than in the studio. But other than that, from a playing point of view, you know, I approach it the same way. I make sure that, you know, it feels great, that everybody can hear what I do really well. That I speak… I sort of say very clearly on the kit and that you play the room. That’s the really important thing that you play the stage and the size of the room, and adjust your volume and the power to the side of the room, I think. And make sure that you always listen to what everybody else, I think.

IZ: Right. You know, that’s really crucial information. And even for this, the new generation of drummers coming up, how important is it knowing how to tune your instrument? Knowing just the Sonics of what the kit should sound like for a certain record, or a certain sound, or a certain thing you’re going for? How important is the tuning aspect?

Thomas: Super important. It’s really important and I mean there’s really no rule to that. Because obviously, it’s also important to be creative, and completely disregard history, and write a new chapter and try new things. But, I think, in order to learn your craft, you have to listen to a huge amount of music and analyze, you know, the tuning sound, the micing, the effects, etc., on records and recordings. Analyze that and try to recreate it to really learn how to use your equipment. And learn and understand what works in certain styles of music and what really supports those specific style, or feel, or groove, sound wise. If you listen to, you know, some Janet Jackson records with those like super gated snare drums…

IZ: Gaited snare,, it’s real big…

Thomas: …that is just so aggressive and has a certain feel to it. Or if you listen to a Phil Collins [inaudible 00:03:44], you know, and some of the ’80s recordings. You know, you have to know how to create that sound and recreate it. And once you know and have a great vocabulary in terms of creating sounds, and making things sound and feel a certain way, then I think it’s still like playing an instrument. Then it’s time to develop your own style.

IZ: I agree.

Thomas: And try and create something new and get creative.

IZ: What you do is a huge inspiration to…

Thomas: Thank you very much.

IZ: … a lot of the cast that wanna do and be who you are. And, you know, it’s a great roadmap, man, you know?

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