Video: Recreating MGMT's "Time to Pretend" on Drums | What's That Sound?

Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT (2008). Photo by Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Drums in the style of MGMT's
Drums in the style of MGMT's "Time to Pretend"
By Reverb
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Noam and Jessica are back in the studio today for another episode of What's That Sound? and today, they're recreating the drums from MGMT's hit "Time to Pretend." These drums were originally performed by Andrew VanWyngarden and produced by Dave Friedman.

The drums on this song are definitely distinct and recreating them requires a ton of processing and some interesting mic'ing techniques. The story goes that MGMT originally recreated the drums from ABBA's "Dancing Queen" on a drum machine and used that on the original recording of this song. But when they got into the studio with Dave Friedman to rerecord and remix some of the parts they'd already done, Friedman convinced them to slightly speed the track up and record the drums acoustically.

The majority of the drum sound comes from a mono “room” mic that Noam placed about three feet from the snare, kick, and hi-hat. This microphone contains most of the sound you hear in the finished recording. The kick is recorded as many of the kick sounds have been in the series, with a kick-in and kick-out combo.

drum bus OD hat mono room Overhead Kick in kick out Snare top Snare bottom dist. snare

The snare is another really interesting part of this sound. In listening to the recording, Noam could tell the snare had some width that was not natural—which is to say that he could tell the length wasn't coming from a source like overheads or room mics (of which there were none) because there were no other signs of that space and length from the rest of the kit.

Noam then gated the snare drum sound and used a short ping-pong delay on it (six milliseconds on the right channel and 12 on the left channel with only one repeat) and then passed that through a cheap Ashly equalizer to get a heavy and distorted sound. Because the delays are so short, there isn’t a distinct slapback, but there is a distinct stereo feel to the snare and combined with the bombastic distortion, the snare sounds larger than life.

There's so much more processing and mic'ing to get into with this one, so be sure to check out the full video above for the entire scoop and to hear how close Noam and Jessica were able to get to the original.

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