Recording interesting-sounding drums has always been my main goal as a session drummer. There are enough players these days creating great "drum tones" from their personal studios, but my intention is always to create something that sparks musical ideas, creation, and inspiration. I’ve just always personally found that the “normal” drum sound is not my vibe. This is the reason why I use a different kit, snares, microphones, preamps, compressors etc. for every session I do—I never use the same thing.
When Pro Tools approached me to create a loop pack for them, I immediately thought, “What can I do to make this different and make people WANT to make awesome music?” I wanted it to feel natural yet creative, and also keep my pocket without sacrificing the loop points so that they’re easy to work with. Griding and quantizing the loops seemed pointless to me as it takes away my feel, which realistically defeats the purpose of having ME do it, so I worked hard on making this work. “Mike Avenaim Burnin’ Breaks” is where I landed.
About six months ago I snapped up a 60’s Japanese set. I had been on the hunt for something in my recording arsenal like this for a long time. Sizes 12", 14", 20", with a matching 14” snare. I come from a very heavy jazz background and always feel most at home on smaller drum sizes, even though most of my touring and recording rigs consists of larger drums.
The kit was set up in a medium-sized live room with A LOT of microphone options. The combination of ribbons, dynamics, and condensers is, in my opinion, where all the magic lies. Finding the balance between all of these is key. I’m really big on committing to sounds, so I record compression, transient designers, pedals, effects, etc., while I’m doing the takes. I spend a lot of time working on sounds before every session to make sure what I’ve got is perfect for what the artist is trying to achieve. In this case, I wanted to nail the sound and feel of vintage sampled drum breaks, but ones that are more functional for modern use. One of the secret weapons on this pack is an old Ampex tape Hi-Z mic hanging over the kick drum pointing at the beater. That is running through some pedals and then into the preamp. This provides SO much mojo and really helps to create something special in the overall sonic palette of the kit.
I applied a fair amount of saturation going in and actually played really soft to get the gear to respond in the way I needed it to for the sound. It’s really important as a session musician to understand how much your feel and touch come into your overall vibe and sounds. This is almost always what actually gets things to sound good, not the gear. However, it does help having lots of toys—haha!
The intention of this pack is to spark inspiration in anyone using it. I just want people to hear something and immediately feel the influx of musical ideas. Chop them up, add them to drum machines, put the one-shots in Pro Tools | GrooveCell. Make these loops your own and let me hear all the awesome stuff you come up with!
Thanks so much, and I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them for you!
Like all Pro Tools | Sonic Drops, Mike Avenaim Burnin’ Breaks is FREE with your active Pro Tools annual or monthly subscription or current Updates + Support Plan (for perpetual license holders). Check the Sonic Drop tab in Avid Link (version 2023.3 or later) for a list of all the latest Sonic Drops. This is also where you can play audio samples and manage your content downloads. Watch this video to learn more.