Video: Recreating Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" on Drums | What's That Sound?

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Drums in the style of Talking Heads'
Drums in the style of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House"
By Reverb
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Today's episode of What's That Sound? is throwing it back to the 1980s with the recreation of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House." The drums on this self-produced track were originally performed by Chris Frantz.

While the core drum part itself isn't overly complicated—just a simple 1/8th-note kick and hi-hat dance beat with snare on the twos and fours—what makes it sound particularly interesting is all of the overdubbing that was done with a slew of toms.

To accomplish this task today, Jessica will be playing a main kit comprised of a Ludwig Vistalite bass drum, Ludwig Acrolite snare, and 14-inch Zildjian K-Sweet hi-hats.

The mic'ing for this beat was also originally simple, with the core kit mic'd with just three mics: an RE20 on the bass drum (a quintessential '80s kick mic without too much low-end), a specifically placed SM57 on the snare, and a Neuman KM84 above the hi-hat chosen for its well-balanced high-end and detail.

Kick Snare Toms Overhead AMS Reverb

The processing for this core kit was similarly simple, but very specific. The compression was one-half of the most important part to get right, and Noam explains in detail what needed to happen in order to achieve the sound of the original recording. The reverb is the other half of the equation and was accomplished here using an AMS RMX16, which sounds gated even though it's actually digital.

Finally, the most unique part of this beat are the overdubs done with the toms. This second kit was comprised of three toms from a 1970s-era Gretsch kit paired with a set of rototoms. The second was mic'd simply as well, with a spaced pair of Shoeps V4 U overheads.

Meanwhile, each tom had its bottom removed and a Sennheiser 421 pointed directly inside of it. This is itself a technique borrowed from the '80s, when getting as much isolation and as little cymbal bleed as possible on the drums for really gated sounds was popular. Be sure to check out the full video above to see the entire recreation from start to finish.

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