Welcome to Organic Drum Loops!

Loops are everywhere these days – All kinds of loops….loops all over the place.  Organic Drum Loops are not your average “let’s go to the loopstore and get some loops” loops.  These fresh and fine loops – these naturally un-typical, funky, gritty, gravy-laden, odd, swingin’, groovin’, beautifully recorded and produced loops were created to leap up out of the ordinary loopstore ordinary-ness and say “Hey! If your favorite drummers “fall down the stairs” and play “out” or “odd” and if the music that you love isn’t “slick” or “sterile” – CHECK OUT THESE LOOPS!!”

Who is Bill Mead?

Drummer, Percussionist, Craftsman and Music Educator Bill Mead is the son of a drummer’s son.  He resides deep in the mountain woods of Maine where he lives an off-grid homestead lifestyle that includes everything the name suggests.

As gainful employment, he teaches drums and percussion at nearby private schools and says that he “loves working with the young ones, because either they naturally get it, or are at least too young to have been ruined by someone who doesn’t.” When he’s not teaching, or doing all the things that anyone who’s crazy enough to want to live like that does, he’s playing his drums, building or modifying drums to play, or recording these amazing Organic Drum Loops.

In the 30 years he has devoted to being a professional artist who’s medium is drumming, Mead has often (think – always) been at odds with conformist thinking and playing.  Leroy Clouden (B-52’s, Steely Dan), his primary teacher at NYC’s “The Collective” had a “Zen-like approach that often found him asking his students to play the same simple beat over and over for months on end.”  Many (think – most) of the other students hated this approach.  Our man relished it.  If you had known him back then, you might have guessed all of this that has come later – including his having discovered the wonders of calfskin heads and his lack of indoor plumbing.

Bill has never been someone you’d think to call for a wedding gig – unless perhaps it was for one of those Cecil Taylor cover bands that are seemingly everywhere these days.  His is a purist approach, not about what music is being played but, more about how it’s being played.  He loves to do sessions.  It’s just that he’s a little more selective about what he signs up for than a lot of working musicians might be.  He says, “It’s just that I like what I like and decided that it was going to be easier to deal with the monetary repercussions of the preferences I have, than it would be to play music that I didn’t dig.  It’s not a judgement thing.  It’s a love thing really.”

In 2008, being on a session at Jerry Marotta’a studio for the Ken Burns’ documentary “Prohibition” and choosing drums for an “old Rag-Timey” cue, he selected an ultra-vintage bass drum with front and back calfskin heads, a calfskin-headed snare and some temple blocks, from the piles of drums Marotta had from which to choose.  “I was blown away!  The sound and feel of calfskin heads was unlike anything I had ever known, in years and years of drumming.  They were so unique and so cool and recorded so well that I was hooked, and started thinking about this project – almost immediately.”

Mead’s Organic Drum Loops are a perfect reflection of his skills as a drummer and percussionist, as a craftsperson, as a recording artist, and also of his desire as a person to bring meaning into his life by creating a product that will encourage and facilitate like-minded people.  The loops were all recorded using 100% solar energy.  It’s very important to him that you know this. If your music ignores cliché and if unorthodox rhythmic ideas interest you, you owe it to yourself to give these beautiful loops entrée into your world, and by doing so, discovering drummer Bill Mead.

Why Calfskin?

Animal skins simply were drumheads – forever – for thousands of years –  skins were fixed over wooden frames, tuned by a natural heat source and struck by a human hand or some handmade object.  Eventually, for “trap style” drumsets, calfskin proved to be make the best heads.  Around 1918 you started seeing advertisements for where to purchase a set of drums – all with calfskin heads.  Around 1957  Mylar came along and – well, everybody loves a new thing, especially one that you can use outside on a cold and rainy day –  so, soon everybody was playing on Mylar drumheads.

But, not everyone did.  No.  Some people, people with cool names like Ringo Starr and Levon Helm knew what was what about the beautiful tonal difference that calfskin makes. Drummers like Jay Bellerose still do. Calfskin-headed drums sound warm and dry and round.  Within certain tunings calfskin can be “barky” or “trashy” in ways that Mylar just can’t.  Calfskin. You no longer have to source, build or lug around calfskin-headed drums tuned by different wattage lightbulbs (yes, they did.) to get the sweet sound of calfskin into your music.    You can use these loops – all of which were recorded using only calfskin heads!

Handmade Drums and Tools?

All of the drums used in the production of these loops are naturally either custom or vintage.  The custom drums feature unorthodox sizes and details like (caution; nerd speak alert) nodal point mounting, independent bearing edge design and free floating bass drum designs.  Hand-crafted cymbals have been artfully chosen to suit every session and additional hammering was done to open up any commercially-made cymbals that needed it.  All of the sticks, brushes and mallets that were used are handmade.  The sticks crafted from the trunks of young trees – the sound and feel of wood that’s left “whole” being more vibrant than modern lathe-turned sticks.

The Cabin Loft Studio?

Great steps were taken so that you can get all this calfskin and grease into your music.  These loops were recorded in the loft of a cabin that was made from hand-milled boards, using a Glynn Johns style 5-microphone set-up (close mics on the kick and snare, 2 overheads and an omnidirectional room mic).  Wood, calfskin, metal and leather all speak each other’s ancient language.  The natural cellular  harmony that they present each other is clearly evident in the sound of these loops.

Multitrack Just For You!

All loops feature a very manageable 5 tracks . . . sort of a modified Glynn John’s approach with 5 mics: kick, snare, room, ohl, ohr.  The drum configuration is minimal, making this mic setup ideal.  Instead of dealing with 10-20 tracks (typical of a modern session) these loops are simplistic, while still offering plenty of flexibility.  

The beauty of this setup is it’s ability to capture the entire kit with all of its natural overtones, bleed and subtle phase differences.  When Bill plays the kit he inherently balances the different voices of the instrument.  It’s seen and approached from a holistic perspective.  Therefore, it’s appropriate that the micing method reflects this aesthetic.  These loops sound “real” because of this method.  Wood, calfskin, and metal all speak each other’s ancient language.  The natural cellular harmony that they present each other is clearly evident in the sound of these loops.

You can drag and drop the raw 24 bit WAV files into any DAW and start working right away.  All tracks come dry and unprocessed giving you 100% control over eq, compression and fx.  All loops were recorded to a click but were not corrected or quantized in any way.  Basically, with any download from Organic Drum Loops you’re getting a raw multitrack session, just like the real thing, but in ready-to-go loops format.