In today’s video we will be going through a breakdown of the drum recording for The Fray’s “How to Save a Life”!
This is a very exciting song for me. When I worked on this song many years ago now, I had no idea how big of a hit it would become. At one point it was the most downloaded song of all time and it has been used in more teen dramas and TV shows than you could ever imagine.
One of the things I love most about this song is how simple it is. When you take away the drums, it is only 24 tracks, and even when you add in the drums, you are up to maybe the mid-30s, depending on how you recorded the drums.
Something else you will notice as you listen to the session I use in the video, is that the piano is different than the one on the final track. This is the session that I tracked the drums to, and at the same time that I was tracking the drums, Aaron Johnson was at Sony Studios in New York tracking a new piano part on a Yamaha C7. So, if you were among the first 70,000 people to buy this album, you actually have a different piano part than anyone who bought it after that!
For the drums on this track, I used a 24-inch Rogers kick drum, and the snare I used was my 1973 Ludwig Supraphonic. This snare is the most versatile snare I have ever used, and I have used it on Aerosmith albums, both Fray albums, for Augstana, James Blunt, and for nearly every single album I have recorded since I did this one! What I love about this snare is that it can be tuned higher or lower depending on what you want for the song, meaning you can use it for almost anything. The cymbals on this track were overdubbed, and there are actually no toms.
I absolutely loved working on this album, and the one that followed! When we were recording the song, none of us had any idea of the massive hit it would become!
Watch the video below to see a full breakdown of the drum recording, including which drums, mics, and pres we used! I hope you enjoy!