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Karl Brazil Expand / Collapse
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Posted 06 November 2012 03:53


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Karl was interviewed for the American magazine "Modern Drummer" in February 2012. I stumbled upon the text on Internet, so here it is.

http://www.readperiodicals.com/201202/2547429901.html

He's a pop hitmaker with a rock 'n' roll heart. But a song is a song, and this is one drummer who knows what to do with a song.

Publication: Modern Drummer : MD
Author: Stemkovsky, Ilya
Date published: February 1, 2012

Don't call U.K. drummer Karl Brazil on his home landline-chances are he's not around to answer. Once he's done laying down an unwavering pocket on tour with popster James Blunt ("You're Beautiful"), Brazil shoots off to do dates here and there with Brit icon Robbie Williams and then convenes with his Feeder bandmates to bring the heavy for festival appearances and club gigs. And, oh yeah, the drummer is in and out of the studio with the aforementioned artists and countless others as he busies himself on the session scene during his downtime.

The real question: What downtime? And how does one juggle all these gigs without overlap issues, ŗ la June 2011 MD cover artist Josh Freese? "I've always been careful not to take too much on," Brazil says. "No matter what you do on the drums, you don't want the reputation of being unreliable."

The philosophical challenges of such disparate gigs also yield unexpected musical approaches. "James Blunt asked me to try not playing the hi-hat for a certain tune," Brazil recalls. "Drummers automatically go for the normality of kick/snare/hats. But I tried it and it worked well, so I always think of throwing weird things like that into the mix, because sometimes that can make the track. It's also good to be open to the suggestions of others."

Whether reflecting on playing with house bands, doing TV, or fitting in studio work after lengthy absences, Brazil is refreshingly down to earth. MD caught up with the drummer after he took a long flight from Australia back to his home base of Birmingham, England. He wouldn't be home for long.

MD: What was it like to play in Ronnie Scott's House band?

Karl: I was always a natural and self-taught, so I never refied on reading or writing stuff down. I had an opportunity to take over for a drummer who was going to sit out, and my dad told me that if I wasn't confident reading the dots, we would record the gigs for a week and just learn every track. So that's what I did. It was all jazz. And after a year, it was one of the best things I ever did, for self-confidence and dynamics and not being heavy on the kick. I was about eighteen. Out of that came Bitty McLean, a reggae gig, and it was my first taste of TV and arena tours.

MD: And the Darius gig?

Karl: One night at Ronnie's, I met a guy who was auditioning drummers for Darius, who had won U.K.'s Pop Idol [England's equivalent to American Idol]. There were about sixty drummers there, and I thought, Oh no, what a waste of time, but someone was keeping an eye on me because they asked if I could start the next day, Darius rose to fame so quickly, and he put his arm around me and we enjoyed the experience together. We hit it off personality-wise too. From that I met lots of producers and haven't looked back since. Kids ask me how to get into the scene and maintain an existence, and I always stress how important it is to get on with people.

MD: Robbie Williams' material includes a lot of different kit sounds. How do you make choices that cover the middle ground?

Karl: I worked with the guy who did the programming and loops, and he wanted me to keep it pretty rock 'n' roll and real, without a lot of pads. We decided to have two bass drums-one small 20'' with dampening that's a punchy, disco-y sound, and one open 24'' that's a kick-*** rock machine. And then I'd have two snares and two hi-hats as well, which works wonders.

MD: How does it feel to play a remote kick where your beater isn't actually going into the head?

Karl: There was a resistance at first. It felt like, "Where's the kick?" It's like you're hitting something underwater. But I have a sub speaker now and have gotten used to it. It would have been strange if the main kick was [a remote], though.

MD: How do you approach playing Robbie's more famous material, where you weren't on the original recordings? Do you throw in some Brazil spices, or do you try to stay as reverent as possible?

Karl: You can really grit your teeth and have fun with Robbie's songs. There are definitely arrangements with his tracks, and I stick to what's on the records. But sometimes we'll have a breakdown or a tail-out. We even go into the Chili Peppers' "Give It Away," and I do let rip with my own thing.

Robbie is excitable and fun to watch, so when he goes for it, I like to do the same and be expressive on the kit-without overplaying, of course. When I was a kid, I'd do too much. So now I try to play what's right, and if you get your moments, have a blast, as long as it's tasteful and within the parameters of the gigs.

MD: Your drum sounds for James Blunt's material are pretty dry. Did that come from your love of the Eagles?

Karl: James's gig is all about the songs-discipline and groove. It's not a technical muso gig. No one's going to hear some drumming and say, "Wow, what is that? I want to learn that!" [laughs] James likes the '70s thing, so the references are Bread, the Eagles, the Band. When you make your kit sound like that, it makes you play a certain way, and that suits James's music. You work harder, and there's less sustain and ringing going on. If I had a 10'' tom and a splash cymbal sticking out in "You're Beautiful," I think I'd get in trouble. [laughs]

I've also gone bigger with cymbals. I don't hit them as hard. I let them do their own musical thing. Our front-of-house engineer makes the kit sound like a vinyl record out front. If one of the toms is ringing, he'd rather me dampen it than put a gate on.

MD: Feeder is the other, heavier side. How much of a green light do you have for writing the drum parts?

Karl: On [2010's] Renegades, I'd try different ideas out, and Grant [Nicholas, singer/guitarist] would pick out what he liked. So creatively he gave me a bit of freedom there. In Feeder, the drums and guitar speak to each other, which is quite easy for me to understand.

MD: Do you have to change your mindset and get more amped up for Feeder songs? Or is it just about being professional and switching to a more aggressive style?

Karl: I have to change my style a bit. It's just bass, drums, and guitars, so it's a big wall of sound, and the cymbals do a lot of the work. There are some double kick parts too. The drum parts are based on patterns that will have a slightly more alternative approach for the bridge section than for the chorus-going from the crash to the hats. We have to all be an engine together. I don't try to be John Bonham all over it either. It's a bit more full-on than that, with a real urgency and energy. All the drummers before me in Feeder were great players, but it was nice to come in and put my feel on it, and to play a different genre and get my rocks off.

MD: Do you call on any references for each gig-say, the Eagles for Blunt or maybe Dave Grohl for Feeder?

Karl: I'm a rocker at heart. I love Phil Rudd and Jeff Porcaro and Led Zeppelin and MotŲrhead and the Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam. I played all that stuff in college. With Feeder, it was the first time I was able to sink my teeth into that. With James and Robbie, I understand what the gigs are and what they need. But I wouldn't say I think of a drummer for each gig. I just think in terms of a certain genre or band.

MD: How's the session scene different between England and the U.S.?

Karl: A lot of U.K. producers have their own studios, so I go to personal spaces rather than the bigger U.S. complexes. With technology, you're seeing producers build facilities within their own buildings. But I recently did a session in L.A., and the room was fantastic. The kit was there ready to go, and they're obviously churning out stuff regularly. It was slick and fast-everyone knew what they wanted, and there was no messing around.

For James's last album, we recorded at Mark Knopfler's British Grove Studios in London, and I actually had three kits set up: a Rogers and a Gretsch in the big room, and a smaller Gretsch in a booth. We had everything covered, so if we wanted to try something, we didn't have to faff around for an hour with mics. It was a luxury, but it definitely paid off.

MD: Is the session scene changing?

Karl: I'm a newcomer. From what I'm told, back in the day sessions were aplenty, with a lot more going on, and the bigger studios were more active. Now there's a lot more programming, and people have their own studios where they can take their time and record the instruments themselves.

I've been fortunate over the past few years to play on some great records-although, because I tour so much, I take myself out of the session scene, so I'm not constantly here to see whether it swells or it goes quiet. And it's healthy to be able to tour and also do sessions, to mix it up. But even if you take yourself out of the scene, I don't think anyone can take away what you do. When people know you're back, they call you. Also, there's a load of great players in the U.K., but we all go off and tour, so it's a constant circle-a conveyor belt of good drummers for sessions.

MD: You show some serious ambidexterity during clinics, riding your left-side crash with your left hand and playing backbeats and ghosting with your right. You're naturally lefty, but do you work on that stuff?

Karl: I don't really work on it. When I play, it feels tike dancing. I go where the balance is shifted. I'm left-handed at everything I do. I'm even left-footed when I play soccer. My dad bought me a kit at age two and set it up for a righty player. So I lead with my left, and it gives me a bit of an ambidextrous feel. But it's too late to turn back! I enjoy the creative openness it gives me. And I've tried to play a lefty kit, but for the kick drum, my left foot is not as good as my right. On James Blunt's track "I'll Take Everything" [from All the Lost Souls] there's a pattern going on with the hats and the ride that has that ambidextrous thing.

MD: Have your clinics changed with so many different gigs being added to your rťsumť? You've got to have a wealth of ideas and beats in your arsenal at this point.

Karl: I try to focus on a little journey of how I got started. I'll do a country-shuffle blues track and then I'll do some things from my Celtic past. Then I'll talk about discipline and versatility and the reasons I think I get calls for gigs. I'll play to some Jason Mraz, James Blunt, and Take That and talk about sound and my approach. I'll change a snare and speak about not crashing going into a chorus or not playing any toms in a song. Then I'll solo and talk about feel and timing and how to present yourself and look after yourself on tour. I don't fry to be someone I'm not-I'm not Dave Weckl. And I try to make it a bit of fun.

MD: The 2010 Brit Awards performance with Robbie Williams features what has to be the biggest challenge of all-you playing in a tux.

Karl: [laughs] Not only that, but we had to play an eleven-minute medley of Robbie's hits, with an eighteen-piece brass section, live on TV to a click with cues. The pressure was on, but I feed off pressure-it makes me work.

Post #222187
Posted 06 November 2012 15:59


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MD: Your drum sounds for James Blunt's material are pretty dry. Did that come from your love of the Eagles?

Karl: James's gig is all about the songs-discipline and groove. It's not a technical muso gig. No one's going to hear some drumming and say, "Wow, what is that? I want to learn that!" [laughs] James likes the '70s thing, so the references are Bread, the Eagles, the Band. When you make your kit sound like that, it makes you play a certain way, and that suits James's music. You work harder, and there's less sustain and ringing going on. If I had a 10'' tom and a splash cymbal sticking out in "You're Beautiful," I think I'd get in trouble. [laughs]

Hahahhahaa...I can imagine..James singing Youre Beautiful as usually..and Karl banging the drums..hahahahaaa LOL

Thanks jbfan132!!!!

Post #222207
Posted 06 November 2012 18:22
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Great interview, thank you Aline
Post #222222
Posted 10 November 2012 00:20


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Nice interview, thanks for posting. Karl's passion for the drums really shines through, and interesting to read how others influence his musical style and help him to experiment a little.
Post #222330
Posted 15 October 2013 14:41


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Only just found out by chance that Karl was a drummer for Robbie Williams too.


A great interview.

Post #239690
Posted 15 October 2013 21:41


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Posted Today @ 13:53


Sorry if this has already been posted, but I think its a great video, with karl talking about the love of his life, his kit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAYgjSyHZKQms

Wow! Didn't realise drumming was so technical. Karl is a joy to watch, he always has a smile on his face, its obvious he loves his job and so good at it
Post #239767
Posted 15 October 2013 23:20


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Thanks Billy
Post #239777
Posted 02 September 2014 15:34


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Karl is again featured in a specialized magazine for drummers.

iDrum Magazine, Issue 29 (Free, video-based online magazine)
"Karl Brazil back in the swing"

http://bit.ly/iDrum_issues

Video snippets of the content:
http://youtu.be/Kl0OFgAYIBw

Post #255420
Posted 21 December 2015 22:56
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On British TV today, John Bishop's Christmas show, Karl was playing drums while singer Olly Murs was on stage.
Post #273601
Posted 15 January 2016 18:16


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A great interview with Karl.

http://www.mikedolbear.com/story.asp?storyID=4213

The name Karl Brazil certainly doesnít need much introduction anymore.
Having played and recorded with some of the biggest names in the industry including Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Paloma Faith, Mika, Elton John, Take That. James Morrison, Westlife, Girls Aloud, Starsailor, One Direction, Gary Barlow, Olly Murs, Leona Lewis, Joss Stone, Alison Moyet, and Charlotte Church - just to name a few - Karl has repeatedly proved to be one of the UKís most versatile drummers.

And his work with Feeder and James Blunt means he is now better known in the drum community as well.

For over seven years now Karl has been touring the world, holding down the groove for Robbie Williams, while still remaining to be a very in-demand session drummer.

I caught up with Karl at the London Drum Show to chat about his upbringing, his work behind and in front of the drum kit, and the struggles between tour life and family.

You grew up in a very musical household. How did that contribute to you being such a versatile drummer today??

My dad used to have a great set of speakers in the house, a good record player and a good record collection. To get inspired he played music around the house and in the car. Heíd often convert stuff from vinyl to cassette tape and play it in the car. So I was listening to anything from Huey Lewis and the News, to the Eagles, Toto, The Little River Band, Lionel Ritchie, Michael Jackson, Dire Straights - all sorts of stuff. That was a massive influence on me. Music makes me feel good, chord progressions make me feel good (if theyíre the right ones) and songs always drew different emotions from me and made me quite reflective at times as a kid. I think music is just in me in many ways, but I would definitely say the stuff mum and dad played me had a massive influence. Discovering drummers drummers like Richie Hayward (Little Feat), Jeff Porcaro (Toto), Steve Smith (Journey) was so exciting... I mean, there are three fabulous players. Yeah, it definitely had an effect.

From early on I just knew what it was, I knew what felt good drum wise. Not necessarily ďchopsyĒ stuff but just great grooves and good parts.

I donít think he did it on purpose, but my dad definitely drove me to wanna do what Iím doing now.

Youíre actually left handed but you play your kit right handed. Have you every tried setting it up left handed?

Yes, I''m left handed and left footed. I can actually play left handed but I didnít because I started so young. I guess my dad (heís a guitarist) just put the kit up right handed and I just learned to play like that. So when I play now, I lead with my left. Recently on the Robbie tour I injured my calf muscle so I just rigged up my left pedal and played some of the set with my left just to get through.

It has its advantages at times because it definitely makes me approach things in a different way. It gets difficult sometimes when Iím teaching because I have to do things the other way to show somebody.

I do sometimes open up and play open handed as well. All in all itís just something I got used to and use it more as an asset now.

How did the Robbie Williams gig come about?

I met Robbie about eight years ago at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. He came to see a James Blunt gig I was on drums for, so we met. I was making Jamesí record over there for a month, where we got to know each other and played some football together. A while later he sent me an email telling me he was in need of a drummer. I was obviously delighted and well up for the gig. Sure enough a year later his manager got in touch and we started the campaign of ĎReality Killed The Video Starí. That was Trevor Hornís record so I got to play with him too and got to do the Brits with him and his band. It was a great start and Iíve been with him ever since. He is a diamond of a bloke!

How did the gig develop over the years? Robbie has such a big back catalogue, it must be tricky to do each song justice.

Yes, itís about 20 years of music heís got. You can play anything from a ska/reggae tune to ĎRude Boxí which is electronic, to a very acoustic strong rock tune. Thatís why Iíve got quite a complex set up of sounds. Two kicks - disco kick and big rock kick; two snares, one rack, two floors and another floor on the left; pads, triggers - Iím equipped for twenty years of music really.

Heís got so many good songs to choose from he canít possibly do all of them. Thatís exciting. Iím always constantly nagging about ďCan we do this one? Can we do that one?Ē, he just goes: ďShut up Braz!Ē.

I watched the 2012 Live At The O2 gig on TV. What an amazing gig! As you said, 20 years of music in one show.

That was my favourite gig. It was amazing! Probably my favourite gig to date. The way we started that gig was quite incredible and it was in the round as well. Iíve got a little tingle just thinking about it. I remember after the first night I went back to my hotel room and just couldnít believe what just happened.

The recent swing album was a bit of new territory for you, wasnít it?

I didnít actually play on the album but I did the live tour and that was a major challenge for me. Definitely one out of my comfort zone and I had to put extra effort in and dig deep. I was actually having second thoughts of whether I was equipped enough to do it because it had been a long time since I played any kind of swing. I threw myself in the deep end and came out the other side feeling a real sense of achievement, and I think I did the right thing. It definitely improved my drumming (if I can say that myself) and I love playing that style of music now.

Iím not a massive reader so I had to learn everything by ear, but Iím pretty quick at picking things up now.

Anyway, it was definitely a huge challenge, but I got the vote of confidence from a good few people. Mike (Dolbear) came to a show and said he thought Iíd done a great job, that was nice to hear. Itís the only compliment he''s ever paid me actually [laughs].

The swing tour was hard work and at times I felt like a young kit auditioning for something again, but once I got in there and had done my homework I feel proud to say I think I nailed it. I definitely wanna do it again now.

Itís nice that a gig youíve done for so long can still challenge you though. Keeps it interesting.

Yeah. It was me and the bass player who basically got asked: can you cut it? We said we would give it a go and had a little jam in London. After that I got a phone call off Robbie himself to say he heard I smashed it and that he was really pleased. I was like: Yeeaaayy, letís go to the pub! [laughs]

Tell me about Feeder. Are you still working with them?

Yes, Feeder has been on and off for me because there have been different bits and bobs. Also Grant Nicholas has been doing his solo record which is called Yorktown Heights Ė a great album! I did the album with him but I havenít done the live shows.

We have just started a new Feeder record and there is talk of us doing festivals next year, which Iím very excited about. Being in Feeder is great. They had a few different drummers over the years for obvious reasons, but Iím thoroughly excited at prospects of us doing shows and getting a new album out next year. Thatís definitely on the cards. Weíre back in the studio in two weeks time.

Are you involved in the writing?

Grant brings all his ideas to the plate and we just get in there jamming them. He normally has something thought out to be fair, but the writing side of things is something I definitely want to do more with different people over the next few years. Iíve just started doing it now and Iím actually really enjoying it.

Apart from all that youíre still doing a lot of recording work.

Yes, Iíve just done Mikaís new album and Iíve recorded some new material with Zayn Malik from One Direction. Iíve also just done Ben Haenowís record from X-factor, Gavin James who is an amazing new artist from Dublin, and most recently Thomas Ward who are a great Country duo from the U.K. Robbie''s new album is now underway too which I''m very excited about! Now Iím back off tour Iím happy to do studio work and get home for my tea at six oíclock.

How does the studio work compare to the live shows for you?

I like both but being on stage with a performer you can be a bit more expressive and can put more in. In the studio you have to be much more disciplined, play for the track and you have to remember that this track will be listened to forever and ever. Whatever you choose to do has to be simplistic and tasty and not get in the way of vocals. Itís just a discipline thing. Drums are under the microscope in the studio, so youíve got to remember that.

You just mentioned Ďbeing home in time for teaí. Youíve got a young son at home. How does tour life and family life work together?

Yes, one little boy and he needs his daddy around. I havenít seen him enough this year. Thatís the hardest part of it.

I lived in a similar environment when I was a kid. My dad played in bands and went to America for quite a long period of time, but me and my dad are closer than ever. I get what it was though, and he gave me a great upbringing. He involved me and thatís what Iím trying to do with my boy. He knows his daddy is down here doing the drum show. Iím doing the Alan Carr Show with Olly Murs next week and heíll be watching that on TV. The older he gets the more heíll understand it but thatís why Iím not rushing off on tour now, Iím gonna do studio work, living a bit of a normal life.

Thinking about this, touring with Robbie over the last few years has been pretty broken up. Itís not just disappearing for months on end. Heís got family too. We can fly the family out and all that but itís still pretty hard at times especially if you''re somewhere as far as Australia.

Anyway Iím home now and really looking forward to Christmas.

You also started MD''ing recently? Tell me more about that.

Yes, Iíve done it a lot before. I MDíd Natalie Imbruglia, Charlotte Church, Bodyrockers, Rita OraÖ Iíve done quiet a lot of MD work over the years. I left it alone since I was playing with James Blunt and Robbie because I kind of just wanted to focus on the drums and not have all these extra things to deal with.

I have been taking care of the 5 Seconds Of Summer boys for the last three years. That doesnít involve playing of course because theyíre a band. Thatís been a different perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four great lads on a huge rollercoaster to fame, They''re great players, an absolutely solid band and great performers. Iíve just enjoyed being there as a sort of coach figure or mentor or whatever you want to call it. Itís called musical director, but I think I''m more an uncle figure to rely on and to run opinions past. I give them an idea of the set list, how the show should run, rhythm and syncopation of the whole thing really, weíve gone through arrangements and intros to the show and so on. I really enjoy it and they make life easy for me.

They''re such a nice bunch and a great live act.

Whatís next?

Once Christmas is done I havenít got anything in the diary for January so Iím gonna take some time there, shovel some snow off the drive hopefully and then Iíll be back in the studio finishing Feederís record. Then weíre gonna do some dates early next year.

I have a few one-off shows with Robbie to do. After that weíll be starting Feeder festivals. Iím very excited about that.

But mainly Iím gonna be doing the school run, get back to doing some hobbies that I love: playing football, squash, watching my local team - just catching up on normal life. I need to do a bit of that because before you know it Iíll be prepping to go back out and start again. Enjoying the time off is my main priority.

Thanks a lot for your time Karl! Enjoy your time off!

Post #274869
Posted 21 January 2016 18:00


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A great in-depth interview with Karl in Italy. He talks not only about Robbie Williams but of all his work including with James.

https://youtu.be/nJEezwU9ecE

Post #274954
Posted 01 January 2017 01:40


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Did anyone in the UK see Karl Brazil on the new years eve show, playing drums for Robbie Williams.
Post #278667
Posted 01 January 2017 13:46


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Yes i saw him
Post #278670
Posted 07 November 2017 19:49


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Please, vote for Karl.

http://www.musicradar.com/news/who-is-the-best-studio-session-drummer-of-2017

Who is the best studio session drummer of 2017?
By MusicRadar Team
6 November 2017

Which drummer consistently delivers the goods in the studio?

Some drummers are simply gifted with the skills and possess the work ethic to record perfect take after perfect take in the studio. These are the players who are first-call for big name producers and artists and who you almost certainly hear whenever you turn on the radio.

Many of these drummers are fantastic live players too, but here we are celebrating their ability to deliver brilliant beats and superlative sound on-demand, and with a feel that most drummers can only dream of.

So, which drummer on this list do you think brings their A game when the red light goes on?

Want to vote in other Best in drums 2017 categories? Have your say here.

Post #284662
Posted 09 November 2017 15:26


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Help !! I can't figure out how to vote.
Went to the site, but did not find any ballot to submit.
How were you able to vote successfully?
Post #284684
Posted 09 November 2017 16:31
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Hello,

It is possible direct below the picture if you scroll down.


http://www.musicradar.com/news/who-is-the-best-studio-session-drummer-of-2017

And if you visit the Internet page of www.musicradar.com directly, you'll find also another thread, you can vote for him as the best life session drummer.
Post #284685
Posted 10 November 2017 16:19


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Thank you Asmina.

Maybe I'm not allow to vote from my location? I'm not seeing a list of names after

Who is the best studio session drummer of 2017?

Some drummers are simply gifted with the skills and possess the work ethic to record perfect take after perfect take in the studio. These are the players who are first-call for big name producers and artists and who you almost certainly hear whenever you turn on the radio.

Many of these drummers are fantastic live players too, but here we are celebrating their ability to deliver brilliant beats and superlative sound on-demand, and with a feel that most drummers can only dream of.

So, which drummer on this list do you think brings their A game when the red light goes on?


Good luck Karl.
Post #284703
Posted 14 November 2017 18:28


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Karl is nominated not in one but two categories. Please, keep voting.

Best studio session drummer 2017
http://www.musicradar.com/news/who-is-the-best-studio-session-drummer-of-2017

Best live session drummer 2017
http://www.musicradar.com/news/who-is-the-best-live-session-drummer-of-2017
Post #284757
Posted 14 November 2017 19:43


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I did it

I think I encountered a problem because I had been using an older software, which I prefer. I just had to switch over to one of my other devices.
Post #284761
Posted 11 December 2017 01:46


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Look how cool is this! Karl Brazil signature shades.

https://www.facebook.com/jeffersoneyewear/videos/851232845058527/

Shades made from drum shells and cymbals. Handcrafted, unique designer sunglasses at an affordable price.

http://jeffersoneyewear.com

Post #284991
Posted 03 March 2018 03:41


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https://www.moderndrummer.com/article/april-2018-karl-brazil-james-blunt/

ON TOUR
Karl Brazil With James Blunt

The U.K. touring and studio vet flawlessly supports the pop singer-songwriterís flowing and dynamic set with ease on an international arena tour.

Article by Willie Rose | Photo by David Phillips

At a performance at Brooklynís Barclays Center this past fall, Karl Brazil confidently slammed home the pop mainstay James Bluntís set while trading enthusiastic smiles with the close-knit backing band. Brazil maintained a serene yet jubilant demeanor while dressing Bluntís material with the powerful left-hand stickings and fills that define much of the drummerís aesthetic. As he continues on Bluntís worldwide trek through the majority of 2018, Brazil explains to MD how he developed his calm nature on stage over the past fifteen years in the singerís backing band.

ďI think that mindset comes with experience,Ē Brazil says. ďWeíve done a lot of touring together, and even though James is a well-established artist, we share the same dressing room and tour bus. So weíre very comfortable as friends and people, and everyoneís confident at what they do. We also set up in a close space together, no matter how big the gig is. James doesnít have any drums in his wedges. He just has his vocals and guitar, because heís hearing enough acoustically on stage. So weíre all listening to each other quite a lot.Ē

When heís not with Blunt, Brazil keeps a busy schedule touring with the pop star Robbie Williams while filling in off days with session dates. ďI finished Robbie Williamsí stadium tour last year,Ē Brazil says, ďand thatís all to a click, because weíre synced up to pyrotechnics and backing tracks. So Jamesí gig is very different. Thereís no in-ears or click tracks. Itís very dynamic, and you can hear everything thatís going on. But thatís the great thing about the two main live gigs I do. Robbieís on a click, and even with that, the click moves. And when you play with James, itís a bit like swimming with goggles on underwater. When you take them off and come out of the water, itís like two different worlds. But Iím lucky enough to experience both of them.Ē

While growing up in Birmingham, England, Brazil surrounded himself with many of the cityís established musicians. Eventually, though, the drummer realized he needed to branch out. ďI had to look out for auditions and things happening in London,Ē he says. ďThe only thing that will get you out there is to play different gigs and throw yourself into auditions. And auditions are quite a tough process, especially if you put the effort in, travel there, and donít get the gig. When you come out, you feel a bit deflated. But you have to remember that if you donít get the gig, youíve still met people and made your mark. If you werenít right for one reason, you might be right for something else. You donít know what youíre giving them.

ďThereís no real golden strategy to getting gigs,Ē Brazil adds. ďI think if youíre a good player, a half-decent person, and a professional, and you work hard at being good at what you do, everyone gets an opportunity. Itís what you do with that opportunity from there on.Ē

Brazil plays Gretsch drums, Sabian cymbals, LP percussion, and Roland electronic drums and uses Remo drumheads, Vic Firth sticks, and DW hardware.

Post #285536
Posted 15 May 2018 19:03


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Interesting interview with Karl in which he talks family and career. His little boy will be 8 years old in June.

Video snippet:
A GRETSCH ABROAD Sneak Preview
https://youtu.be/YPzUtOO5Dao

https://www.gretsch.com/2018/05/a-gretsch-abroad-exclusive-interview-with-robbie-williams-and-james-blunt-drummer-karl-brazil-part-1/

May 11, 2018
A Gretsch Abroad ó Exclusive interview with Robbie Williams and James Blunt drummer Karl Brazil (Part 1)

Karl Brazil is one of those guys who tricks you with his behavior. You meet him for the first time and think heís just another happy-go-lucky guy with a penchant for English football and 80s pop.

If you had never seen him at his workplace you would assume he was pulling pints at the local pub for a living or maybe a lifeguard at the local swimming pool. Yet below this friendly laid-back demeanor looms a highly disciplined and versatile perfectionist who has mastered his trade. He is a consummate professional who prides himself in making no mistakes behind the drumkit when heís on the job.

Karl Brazil has struck that perfect balance that you will often find amongst A-list drummers. They are fun to be around in those gloomy 4-hour delays at the airport, but when it comes to laying down the groove, whether on stage or in a recording session, there is no more joking about. Itís this very professionalism and adaptability as a player that has landed him top level gigs with the likes of Robbie Williams, James Blunt, and countless others, making him one of the busiest session drummers in the UK.

We sat down with Karl at the Musikmesse 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany to talk about his one big career rough patch, his love of That Great Gretsch Sound, and much more.

Lucas: You have a son, right?

Karl: I do, I have a son named Fin and he is going to be eight this June. He is a lovely little thing and very forgiving at the moment because I have been away a lot.

Lucas: I talk to a lot of touring professionals who have kids. Talk a little about that work/family balance.

Karl: We have a really good understanding. He lives with his mom. Iíve been away a lot this year but he is at the age now where he knows what his daddy does for a living. He understands that he has a nice little set up in life. He is very happy-go-lucky like me. My dad was away a lot when I was young. That doesnít mean that my son should understand it, but with having the use of FaceTime thereís no excuse for not seeing each other and making his little brain realize that you actually are not too far away. He counts the weeks until the end of my tours and on this last one I told him there was still a week left on the tour on FaceTime, and then I showed up at his football match that very same day to surprise him. Iím taking time off in July because he is on school holidays. My lifestyle isnít normal but Iím not going off to fight in the Army so it could be a lot more difficult. I involve him a lot and he comes to plenty of gigs, school permitting. Finlay has a great hands-on mom and grandparents who all run him around to his different activities which include trumpet and piano lessons, he is not so much into the drums yet though. When people ask him what instrument he plays he feels a lot of pressure to say that he plays the drums. Itís a shame he doesnít play because we could get him a lovely drum set, but he seems very happy with his piano for now. Heís doing great in school; loves his football. His grandparents are all still there and all love him. So he has plenty of people around him. Iím very proud of him.

Lucas: So, growing up, who were your influences?

Karl: I hate putting them on a list because it changes over time. There are so many great drummers around who come to your attention at different stages of your life. When I was growing up my own father had a great record player at the house, and Jeff Porcaroís work got played a lot, whether it was with Toto, Fools Gold, or Steely Dan, he was the drummer that I listened to a lot.

Lucas: OK, but I also heard you mention Phil Gould of Level 42 as an influence, and he is also one of my favorite guys. I love that you mention him because his playing is amazing yet he rarely comes up when folks talk about major influences. Obviously with Level 42 Live and Running in the Family and all that he was a huge superstar, but to younger kids today he is perhaps less known.

Karl: I know what you mean. Me and Garry Wallis were having dinner last night at this Remo event and we ended up tapping out some of Phil Gouldís drum fills on the dinner table.

Lucas: Which Level 42 album was it that drew you into Phil Gould?

Karl: Their live album A Physical Presence from 1985 but also their earlier hits like Hot Water and The Chinese Way. The fill I played on the table last night was from Leaving Me Now. His fills, like Jeff Porcaroís, are just really well thought out, very musical, and very well put together. His playing is also so laid back with the open style, left hand on the high hat. Iím left-handed and I can play like that but itís easier for me to cross over. Watching Phil on that Live at Wembley performance, itís almost like he was bouncing around the kit, Iíd love to see Phil on the dance floor, I reckon he can move. He just did things that made me excited about drumming, like when he goes into the chorus of Hot Water, he would end the fill with a quick snap open to close on the high hat instead of just hitting the crash. Itís all about taste and feel with Phil Gould and I always know his playing if I hear it. Heís a very musical guy.

Other influences would be Jeff Porcaro, Mickey Curry, I also love Phil Rudd from AC/DC. Another feel guy, again. I donít know how he smokes cigarettes and plays at the same time but good work. My father Peter is Irish and introduced me to Celtic music and thereís a band called Stocktonís Wing and a drummer called Fran Breen. They are this Celtic fusion funky band with a fiddle, banjo, flute, bass, keys, guitar, and Fran Breen on drums. Iíd seen this guy play when I was a little kid. He had a remarkable expression and feel, and a personality that I admire. He went on to play with Nanci Griffith and also played on the Commitments soundtrack album on tracks like ďMustang SallyĒ and ďTake Me to the RiverĒ with that beautiful snare drum, which I will own one day apparently, he said he was going to give that to me. Iím holding him to thatÖ.

Lucas: When I look at your own career now, and what you have achieved and the projects you are working on today, you are really this high-flying drummer. Were there ever any rough patches in your career?

Karl: When I was 17 I was working in a drum shop and the shop manager Gary Chapman offered me an audition with reggae artist Bitty McLean on my day off. I actually got that gig and came back to the shop the next day with a couple of bottles of wine for Gary. That was the gig that really ignited my career.

Lucas: Didnít you play in Top of the Pops with Bitty McLean?

Karl: I did, that was in 1994 and I got into a little bit of trouble for that because I was very young and I didnít know how endorsement deals worked and I played on a Yamaha electronic kit and I had just signed a deal with Pearl. I also had a ponytail in that performance and my seven-year-old son Fin tells me now that it looked ridiculous! We then toured the UK with Wet Wet Wet in 1995 and we were playing large venues and I was like ďWhoa, is this what itís like?!Ē When that all stopped, and Bitty had a rest, I sat around thinking and wondering how I could get back on tour again with a major act. Things were a bit quiet, so I had to find local things to do in Birmingham, and I didnít have a driverís license at the time either. A few auditions popped up in London, including one for Robbie Williams which I went to but didnít get.

Lucas: Why didnít you get it? Was it your timing or your playing?

Karl: I think I played OK but I was just too young for the gig. Robbieís bandmates were a lot older than me at that time and I think it was just too early in my career to be honest. There were also a lot of drummers auditioning for the gig that day. At that audition though Guy Chambers took my details and called me again for other sessions, and when I got a bit older and the opening came around again, it all fitted together nicely. I always advise young aspiring drummers today to never turn down auditions because even if itís not for you, you might meet people there that will remember you later for something else.

Lucas: So were you living with your parents after the Bitty McLean tour?

Yeah, and I remember driving my dad nuts at that time. I was back home living with mom and dad and I asked my dad what I should do and he was like ďwhat do you want ME to do?Ē I went back to work at the music shop for a bit and started playing around town with Birminghamís Ruby Turner and Trevor Burton. It was a great Birmingham scene and I had lots of fun, but I needed to get down to London where the new pop stuff was happening if I wanted to get back on a major tour. So I auditioned for a few things and I ended up touring with the winner of Pop Idol (Darius Danesh) and after that some sessions and other tours came about thanks to some very influential people.

Lucas: How do you get to be doing what youíre doing?

There is no strategy or golden ticket as a session drummer. You will get your opportunities and if you throw yourself in the deep end, get on with people, you will get your shots. You canít guarantee that any gig you got is going to last forever, thatís for sure. Enjoy it all and make the best of your opportunities is my advice.

Lucas: There is a lot you canít control so you just have to push on every front.

Karl: Absolutely. Who knows what Iíll be doing two years from now?

Lucas: Yeah you could end up back at your folkís houseÖ

Karl: I promise you, I wonít do that to them!

Post #285983
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