SXSW '12 Bus Sessions: Matt Halpern Clinic (Periphery/Bandhappy)

Written by Guest Author Posted in: SXSW '12 Bus Sessions on April 03, 2012

by Crickie Thomas

We normally leave the word-smithing to Aidan and Chris, but I felt like chiming in on this particular session. Matt is an old friend of mine, and we played in several bands together over many years. Everyone knew he was a gifted drummer from an early age, but one incident stands out in my mind that really proved to everyone that he could steal a show.

Our band was loitering at MARS Music in Towson, MD in 1998; Matt was 15 or 16, and we were just tooling around the store. A bunch of kids had gathered around this dude in his 30's who was wailing on an enormous drum kit: double kick, five or six toms, a freakin’ remote hi-hat, etc. It was the kit that the sales guys put together to make everyone drool when they entered the drum room. Anyway, the guy finished up his wank-fest and everyone was decently impressed...but Matt was giving him a pretty gnarly smirk.  So in his retarded Baltimore accent, he says to Matt, “Ok, so whatcha got, kid?" Matt said nothing, looked around and sat down to the nearest kit--a used, beat-up three-piece Pearl Export series--and proceeded to do everything the other guy did and more, but better, faster, and in his own style.  The whole room exploded, sales guys were patting him on the back, and the other drummer just snuck off into the crowd.

I think that's when I "heard" Matt for the first time; he’d always played well, but I think it was around that time that he found his own voice on the kit. It is always a pleasure to see people's jaws drop when they hear and see Matt destroy a kit, and it was an extra-special pleasure for our team to get to record and film his Master Class during our Soho day party at SXSW. I hope you guys enjoy watching this video as much as we enjoyed making it.

As a technical aside, we used all Shure mics on Matt's kit. We used a Beta52 on kick, Beta57 on snare, Beta56a's on toms, and SM81's as overheads. We didn't use any triggers, and only a few hints of verb....everything you hear is real, with only slight gating on the toms to clean out the rumble. The mix passed through an API2500 and UBK Clarifonic before hitting the mastering chain. For those of you keeping DAW score, it was tracked into Logic at Soho's, and then mixed in the PTHD3 environment at Strewnshank Studios. Video was all done with Canon DSLR's.

Allow Matt’s educational solo (it was the demonstration half of his answer to a question about polyrhythms from an audience member) to wrinkle your brain in the video above, and be sure to check out his company Bandhappy if you think online lessons might be the right teaching or learning vehicle for you!

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