Drums, Sessions & Jaguar Jonze in COVID Times
Jacob Mann has been drumming professionally for fifteen years and balances session work, teaching with holding down the drum duties for Australian band-on-the-rise Jaguar Jonze.
Jaguar Jonze were booked to play Austin’s SXSW festival when COVID-19 rolled through and up-ended the entire industry.
The band’s singer Deena Lynch came home from the de-railed USA tour with COVID-19 (now thankfully recovered), a fate Jacob luckily avoided.
Federal Audio chatted to Jacob in his Brisbane studio about responding to industry upheaval, being an effective session musician & being on the ground in the US during a pandemic crisis.
“We had some good touring lined up and some good shows, some good support slots as well.
Tentatively we had Great Escape (festival) lined up which was really exciting but that obviously all fell through as well. Lots of interesting stuff - Now I’m just sitting tight and seeing how it pans out.”
Which is not to say the band hasn’t been busy, with a new EP due out featuring drums recorded at Jacob’s ADAM Audio-equipped & Ultrafonic-designed studio in NW Brisbane.
“The next EP is pretty much tracked. It was all recorded remotely. We actually tracked a fair amount of our parts in an apartment in NYC once COVID-19 shut the tour down. Some drum parts started on SPD then I added live drums while in isolation after retuning home.”
“Jaguar Jonze tracks are generally a mix of live and programmed drums. In no particular order, I track live Drums, Aidan Hogg (producer/engineer/JJ bass player) programs drums, we find a way to mash them together.
I'll often put down a few different variations, top to tail, then another bunch of bits of pieces for specific sections like different feels or fills or potential parts for layering. It's fun to send off a mixed bag and see what comes back.”
Jacob was an early adopter of remote session recording, and was well placed to continue working during an extensive lockdown period.
Having recently acquired ADAM Audio T7V monitors, Jacob has moved away from the headphone ‘bubble’
“Just using headphones I found that my ears definitely got tired and I lost perspective on how things were actually sounding.”
Switching to monitors between takes made a massive difference. I can hear the finer details with mic placement, tuning and panning that were really getting lost previously.”
Most of the tracking done in the studio is sent off as raw files for the producer to mix at a later date, but Jacob has found the T7V integral to critical decision-making such as mic placement and record levels.
“T7Vs are powerful too with plenty of low end available. Its nice to have when you are listening between takes still sitting at the kit.”
It seemed Jacob was destined to be a drummer, having grown up in a musical household.
“There was a Rogers Big R (drumkit) in the house from day one. My dad played a little doing wedding gigs. I always just played, and assumed I always would.
My oldies were, and still are incredibly supportive of me playing drums and constantly lugged me around to shows, lessons and band practice from when I was around 11 or 12 years old.
I’m massively grateful for all their support.
From holding the drum chair for a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar at 11(!), Jacob went on to tour, perform & record with some big name players in the Australian music scene - including Pete Murray, Busby Marou, The Fumes, Allensworth (LA), Dave Orr Band, Dallas Frasca, and now Jaguar Jonze.
Jacob’s drumming is deep in the pocket, stylistically diverse and big on dynamics. His approach is tuned to what each situation requires, which makes him an in-demand session player.
In Jacob’s mind the key successful session work is Preparation (note the capital “P”).
“Get you as much information as possible about the way that the session is going to be approached and what role you'll play in it. Whether you're playing things that are very specific, or whether you're coming in and putting completely your spin on it, and how precise and how planned everything is within the recording.
Is there a very specific part to play or do they want you to hit the stops and starts and do your thing? Are there charts? Is it a reading gig? How much freedom will the players have in the situation?”
For the session itself Jacob recommends developing a quick shorthand method to write cheat sheets with critical info.
“Ideally have them done before the session, but be ready to make some on the fly or edit what you have pre prepared.
Have a small variety of drums and cymbals on hand, as well as a variety or things to hit with and definitely have muting options!
Don’t forget it can sound completely different in the control room than it does behind the kit!”
“Trust the engineer.”
Preparation is also paramount for remote session work via the internet -
“Particularly for a drummer, your perspective on how to put a drum track down remotely is different from how most people probably imagine.
“Basically find out exactly what’s planned once your part is done.
You might use the guide as rough guide only, putting it down in your own feel as if you are leading the way to completely rebuild the tune.
All existing parts could be finalised and you need to fit your parts into a very specific existing frame work.
The track may come half-produced, your part may replace the electric drums or double the electric drums, or just be used for effect like fills, layers or textures.
It can be a very different process than working in the same room as the producer or artist”
“Check other key info that can save heaps of time like do they want drums to click? Is the guide to click? Get the official tempo
Make a chart or cheat sheet with any critical info - Its easy to slip a little off track if your playing alone with no spotter.
Label your files clearly & take some pics of mic placement for the producer”
Jacob graduated from the Southern Cross University at Lismore with a degree in Contemporary Music, which has set him up with an ever-reliable foundation which he draws on constantly, both as a player and a drum tutor.
“I had a great teacher - Dave Sanders -
His teaching put a lot of focus on developing both physical and dynamic independence. This approach really opens up your ability to be flexible and play very musically and spontaneously. This has been crucial in my career.
(*Drummers check out Dave’s book “Progressive Steps To Better Drumming” - Highly recommended)
With a recent DW drum endorsement under his belt and plans for a tentative Australian tour later in the year with Jaguar Jonze, Jacob is literally set for the next stage of his career.
Remote session & e-tracking information can be found here: www.jacobmanndrummer.com
Find out more about the ADAM Audio T7V here