Video: Can We Crack the Code of the Queens of the Stone Age Drum Sound?

Photos of Josh Homme and Dave Grohl both by Kevork Djansezian / Stringer / Getty Images.

For today's episode of What's That Sound?, Jessica and Noam are back at Rax Trax Studios breaking down how to recreate the huge, dry, and aggressive drum sound heard in Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows." The drums on this track were played by Dave Grohl and produced by Eric Valentine, but there's a secret to how they were recorded that you'll have to watch the video to find out.

To build this sound, Jessica and Noam started with a '70s-era Gretsch drum kit, with Zildjian K Dark Crashes, K Sweet hi-hats, and a 6.5x14" Ludwig Supralite snare. More important than which drums you use, however, is how you dampen them. Jessica and Noam used a variety of different methods here, so be sure to check out the video for details.

Mics-wise, a faithful Electro-Voice RE20 was placed inside of the kick drum with a subkick behind it for capturing low-end and sustain. The snare was mic'd with a Shure SM57 in place of what Queens of the Stone Age used, which was an Altec Salt Shaker. The band also uniquely taped a speaker to the side of the snare drum and used it in reverse, as a microphone, to capture the shell sound of the snare. Noam and Jessica taped a pair of headphones to the side of the snare and ran them into a DI for a similar effect.

The left and right overhead mics were a pair of Bill Bradley's Mic Shop MS-47s and the center overhead was a Neumann U 87. Finally, a pair of Schoeps condenser mics were placed roughly 12 feet high above the kick for capturing room sound.

To get into the ins and outs of how these drums were recorded and mixed (and to learn magic secret about how they were done original in the studio), be sure to check out the full video above.

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