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4 October 2022

"I was slightly obsessed with John Bonham when I was growing up. He's my biggest influence. I mean, I'm sure he is the biggest influence of bloody thousands of drummers, but definitely, I'm happy to put my hand up and say I'm one of them." - Ben Gillies

About the 


Ben Gillies is an award-winning Australian musician celebrated for his exceptional drumming skills. Best known as the drummer of the iconic rock band Silverchair, he played an instrumental role in their global success. Beyond music, Ben has explored various creative avenues, demonstrating a versatile and enduring talent in the entertainment industry.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • The beginnings of Silverchair

  • Ben's take on small vs. high-end studios

  • Recording to analogue tape

  • Editing music on analogue tape

  • Ben's choice of drums, heads and cymbals

  • Songwriting at Silverchair

  • Ben's drum heros

  • Ben's advice for young musicians today


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Extra Content:

Behind the Beat

with Ben Gillies of Silverchair

Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


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Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, yarn of mix au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be. Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends. This is The Production Talk Podcast, episode 63. Well, welcome back to another episode of the Production Talk podcast at the beginning of this episode. As always, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the country that I'm recording this interview on today, the Iraq world, people of the Bunong Nation, and I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to elders past, present, and emerging. Today is a very special day as we are continuing the series of interviews with phenomenal drummers. Over the last couple of weeks, we had amazing drummers on the podcast. You may wanna go back to interviews with Adam Gardner, or Grant Gareth, or Lucius Borich from Cog. There were some amazing drummers among today we are going to introduce the next. Drum master. He's been a professional drummer since the early nineties. He's had number one hit records. He's toured the world and his band has won 21 Aria Awards. With us today is founding member of Silverchair Ben Gilles. Welcome to the podcast. How are you? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Ah, yarn What an what an amazing intro. Thank you for having me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Look, I really hope I got all these facts right. But, uh, there was so much more that I could have put in there. You've had an amazing career in music. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Oh, thanks man. Yeah, look, I think, you know, they, they, it sounded right to me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, good. Look, in addition to all the music that, uh, that you've got on, you've got a lot going in your, in your life. Um, um, if you don't mind me talking about this, you are a young dad. That's right. How's the family? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): No, the family's great, the boys. So we've got, um, for those that dunno that are listening, we um, have twin boys. They're about 10 months old. Um, and they are lots of energy and they take up lots of my time, but that doesn't matter because I love them more than life itself. And, uh, there, it's fantastic. You know, it's, oh great. If you don't have a child, I'd highly recommend it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Uh, do you get any sleep lately? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): We do, we have been actually, we, um, we got a sleep, uh, expert I guess, to come in for a few nights to help actually. She's a, she's like a maternity nurse, but she specializes in sleep for kids. So she came and stayed with us for a few nights to help us kind of train them, I guess, to, you know, self-soothe. And, um, once we did that, Mate, they sleep 12 hours a night. Oh, wow. Yeah. Oh, well that's a godsend. Yeah, it is. I think, you know. Hmm. Fantastic. Considering twins. Like if there was one win that you're gonna have, I think that's the one. That's the one you need. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, look, let's talk about your, your music, uh, career. How often have you toured the world in your life? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Um, I don't know. It'd be interesting actually to go back and just. Calculate how many times we would've circumnavigated the planet, but um, I don't know, maybe, I mean, it's a guess. I don't, I really don't know. Maybe 20 or 30 or something. But we, we've, wow. We've definitely, um, particularly those, those early days with silverchair, like we, we toured quite a lot, um, all through the US and. And Europe. And we did, oh, we didn't really do Asia. We did, we did a few dates in Asia early on. Um, but yeah, look, you know, we've, we've done our fair share of touring and traveling. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And are there any highlights in, in your touring career that you are happy to share with us? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah, I think the, I mean, the gig, the gig for me that. Is the standout is Rock and Rio. I mean, I've said that in several interviews and I mean, it was just, I think it was a bit of a pinnacle for the band. Like, you know, we were, we were really united as as a band and we were play. I think our musical abilities were really starting to, um, flourish at that stage. And. And just getting on stage in front of 250,000 people in Brazil, um, wow. Was, was incredible. So yeah, it was just a bit of a, a bit of a magical moment, so I'll never forget it. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. Can you talk to us about the beginnings of Silverchair? You know, you started as a fairly young, uh, teenager, I guess, uh, if that's right to say. Yeah. Early teens. Uh, what was it like to, to start, how did the first recordings come together? Can you, can you describe how that, how that eventuated? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Well, actually we started, before the band took off, we'd, we'd tried our darnedest to get in into the studio as much as we could. There was, um, there was like a little two track. Record or four track recording studio in Newcastle that we went to. And, um, there was another place in Cardiff, in Newcastle, um, I think it was called Platinum Studios. There was a, I can't remember the guy's name that used to run it. Um, but this is like when we were like 12 and 13. Um, but yeah, we, I mean I, we always enjoyed the recording side of, of being artists and being in a band and mm-hmm. Um, So, yeah, like, so I think it's, funnily enough, I think we had just enough experience to be able to pull, pull it off when, when the band took off because we were only 14. Um, so, you know, we, we definitely had some level of confidence when we went in into the studio, so we didn't really understand it. Yeah. Um, at that stage, you know, you kind of. You get in there and you're just being told to play, you don't understand what they're actually doing or, or the technical stuff behind it. But, you know, o over time and experience, you start, you know, understanding what's, um, what's going on. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm. So the first recordings were done in a small studio in, in Newcastle. Did I, did I get that right? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Not the, not the, not the music that was eventually released to the public. I guess just as from. Mm. The first recording that was released under Silverchair was recorded at the Triple J J studios in Sydney, or maybe they're called the A b C studios, I'm not sure. Um, and that was with a, a producer called Phil McKellar. Um, but yeah, no, I guess leading up to that moment, we felt like we had, you know, we'd had maybe three or four or five recording experiences already. Mm-hmm. Um, so, you know, we, we knew. We had a rough understanding of how it all works and how it all comes together and, and what our roles were during the process, so, okay. Yeah. You know? Yeah. So Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you've basically been in all kinds of studios from, you know, smaller ones at the beginning to the big a, b, c studios, and I guess, you know, the best, uh, of the best, uh, for, for your, you know, albums that you released throughout the years. Yeah. What, what difference does it make to be in a, you know, small, um, Local studio or, you know, in a big professional studio. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Uh, to be honest with you, I, I believe, and maybe this is more so now, there, there's a, there's a bit of a balancing act between the, the gear that you have Mm. Um, and the person that's operating it, and then the performers. So I, I don't think it really matters if you're in a small studio. Um, but there's definitely sonically, there's definitely a difference between. You know, um, equipment that isn't top quality and the equipment that is top quality, like, there's just a sonic difference that you, that you, that is undeniable. Mm-hmm. Um, but you know, if you had a tiny little studio in Newcastle or anywhere that was, you know, basically just a room and a control room or even, you know, you could even have it all in one room and let it all bleed together, I don't think it matters. But if you've got, you know, some nice mics, Some nice preamps and you know, you've got someone behind, you know, driving the car that knows what they're doing. Yeah. I think you can pull a cool, a cool, really cool sound. Yeah. Um, but that, look, I think some of those early recordings that sewer chair did was done on, you know, equipment. I don't even know what it was done on, but I think it was a quick, I remember seeing it like a tape deck. In one of the, in one of the control panels at the studio. And look, I think it was, you know, they, they weren't losing neves, let's put it that way. Yeah. Right. Yeah, of course. Um, so yeah, I, I, I, I don't know, but there's still like, there's always a charm in any of it, you know, like, yeah. I think that the beauty of recording and the beauty of writing and, and being creative and to, to kind of put it all under one umbrella, like I think you can find a charm in anything. Mm-hmm. You know, if you go out and you, and you buy like a, you know, the cheapest mic and the cheapest recording set up, and, and that's all you've got, but you've got a, a cool idea like, you know, and particularly with some of the, the tech, I mean, I. You know, you know all this, you know, all this yarn like that. Some of the technology you have in the box these days, you can have the crappiest gear, but you can make it sound really cool. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's right. Yeah. Yeah. That's right. Okay. Um, look, uh, I guess when you started, uh, releasing albums with Silverchair, that was in the early to mid nineties, I believe, 95, is that right? That's right. Yeah. Chances are, that was probably recorded to analog tape at that time, wasn't it? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): That's right. Yeah. We, uh, we recorded all of the silverchair albums to two inch tape. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, really? Even, uh, young, modern at, in 2007. Yeah. Right. Okay. Talk to me about, uh, the why, please. What is it you like about it? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): I don't, I don't fully understand, and maybe you can explain this, ya, I don't fully understand why the tape just particularly for me, but. Particularly for drums. I guess the tape just gives the drums this warmth and it, it compresses it or does something to it. Mm-hmm. That just makes it sound so punchy and warm and beautiful. Yeah. That is, you know it, it's really hard to emulate when you're not going through a tape machine. That's right. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's called Saturation. Yeah. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah, so we, uh, so we, we always, we always, um, use two inch tape with silverchair. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Um, and there are obviously some disadvantages with tape. You know, it's got finite space, you know, it runs out after half an hour, then you need to change it, and they don't always sound exactly the same. Have yet any, any, uh, negative experiences with analog tape as well. I Ben Gillies (Silverchair): would say no. Um, oh good. I would say that some of the producers that we've worked with may disagree. Um, yeah, I remember. Um, Nick, Lorna. So I guess like any, like when you're working in Pro Tools, right? You say if you do. Half a dozen per half a dozen performances of a song. And then, you know, to get that best take, you might take, I don't know, the chorus from take three and put it on the, you know, the, the, the verses from take five. Or, you know, you might grab the verse from take one or What, whatever, whatever kind of. You know, whatever you put together. Um, I mean, I, I always find the least, the, the least amount of edits is the best way to go anyway. Oh, agree so much. Yeah. Yeah. But edit, but edits are totally normal, right? Because there is, sometimes there just might be a little magic in one take that doesn't quite have it in another take. So, For, I remember Nick Lorna doing it, and I, I, um, and Kevin Shirley did it as well, but I, I wasn't quite as aware of it when Kevin was doing it, the, who produced Frogstomp, but Nick, Lorna, I remember watching him edit the two inch tape with, um, with Eraser and to me Sticky tape. Yeah. Wow. And sticky tape, which is just like, Even this day and age, like it's just to, to do something like that would just, that would gimme a, like a heart attack. Like Jan 'Yarn' Muths: trying to Yeah. There's no undo button. Yeah. There's Ben Gillies (Silverchair): no undo. I know. Exactly. There's no, there's no Command Z. Like it's, it's, it's a real, you make a mistake. That's it. You know? It's a real commitment. Actually, one, one great thing that happened on one of the silverchair songs, it's called No Association, he misjudged where the edit was, so he actually added two beats. To, um, I think it's a verse, one of the verses. Anyway, so he did the edit and he was like, we'll use this verse with this chorus, or whatever it was. And he added two beats. And I remember we came back in, he said, Hey guys, I made a bit of a mistake with the edit. Um, I can, I can redo, I can fix it. I can just gotta chop them out the extra two beats. But it's kind of cool. Do you wanna hear it? And maybe we'll leave it in. So, yeah, we just, we, we, we heard it back and was like, it's a bit of a weird kind of twist in the song, but it's cool as shit. And we were like, let's leave it. Oh, really? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. And did you play it, play it like this, uh, afterwards, you know, live on shows and so Ben Gillies (Silverchair): on? I don't remember. We haven't played that song for a long time. I, I don't, I don't recall. If we did or not. Okay. I don't, I don't think, I don't, I don't remember playing it live. Mm. And I remember the timing of it was really bizarre too. Mm. Like it kind of made it really weird. Um, a. Yeah, it was a total happy accident. We like it when they, when they happen. Yeah. Cool. Nice. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Then you've got an incredible, powerful rock sound. Um, now the drums just sound punchy in your face, loud as if you hit him like the Hulk, every single hit. It's just huge. Yeah. How much of this sound is attributed to your playing technique? Or your instrument or the production, can you give us an idea of how, how that fits together? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah. I think, I think it's a combo of all three. Yeah. You know, there's a, there's um, it's like when you do a sound check, And, uh, either in the studio or, or for a live show, you know, if, if the producer's asking you to hit certain drums, like, you know, sometimes the drum tech might get on there or someone else might get on there if, if I'm busy or whatever to hit the drums, you know? And I reckon dozens of times throughout the career of the band producers have commented like, oh, well we need Ben to hit it because he just hits it differently. Uh, and that's true for every drummer. Like every drummer just strikes the drum differently. So it's definitely how, how you play. Um, but I also think, you know, like we're talking about the, the compression on the, the two inch tape, it's definitely the, you know, some of the tools that you're using as well, you know, is, is important to get that kind of, that punchy, um, that punchy sound. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And can you share what, um, what drum sets you you prefer to use in the studio? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Um, I don't know if you can, well, it's not, we're not using video here yarn, but you can see behind me that, yeah, there's a little nice little soprano kit there. Mm-hmm. But yeah, I, I do like the, I like the Sopranos. Um, my drum teacher when I was about 18, I, I think I had a teacher, even though the band was successful, I had a teacher until I was about, Or early twenties. Mm-hmm. Um, or mid twenties anyway, because, you know, I think we all, we all, we are all always learning. Um, so true. So he, yeah. And he had a soprano kit and I went into a couple of shows that he did. And he was a jazz, you know, he's, jazz was his main kind of focus. And every time I heard his kid I was like, oh man, that thing just sounds so beautiful. Like it had this. Warmth and roundedness to it that, that I just loved. And maybe that was me getting a bit older. I'm not sure. Like, I guess I really liked the pearl drums that I used a lot when I was younger. Mm-hmm. But, and they were great for rock, that rock sound, but I dunno, the Sopranos, they just, they just sound unbelievable. Mm-hmm. So, yeah, that's, That's what I got. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice. And uh, what's your choice of drum Ben Gillies (Silverchair): heads? My drum heads are, they're rema. Oh, let me check. I think they're emperors. Oh yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I Ben Gillies (Silverchair): love emperors. Remo coated emperors. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Lemme just think about that. They're, aren't they like, like thinner versions of pin stripes? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): I think they're, I think like I should know. I'm not, I'm not a super techie drum guy, but I think they're like a, uh, double ply. Like coated head, like, so, so yes, it is like an ambassador, but it's a double coated Mm. Head. Yeah. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. They, they can take a, a stronger hit. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah. Nice. Yeah. That's it. They just, they've just got a bit of, um, they've got a bit more durability. Yeah. And they, uh, but they're good. Like good. You know, if you, if you're laying into the Toms too, they just give you that, you know, nice kind of tribal. Mm-hmm. Kind of rock vibe, you know? Yeah. Nice. That's what, that's what we want. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Beautiful. And, uh, what are your preferred symbols Ben Gillies (Silverchair): at? Well, I've used Sabian. I, I actually, I've had a Sabian endorsement for forever. Um, they, they've been so good to me. Lovely. Um, but at the moment, let me look what's on here. They sound great. They do, they sound beautiful. Um, that's a suspended. S a hh. Oh, that's right. The ones that I'm really loving at the moment are called Sabian, um, complex is the series. Um, they're a hand habited symbol, and they're, they're pretty, they're just gorgeous. They've got like a, yeah, they're not too loud. I, I find, you know, I think when you're younger, you're like, You really like loud, harsh symbols. Yeah. Uh, and as I certainly did that loud, and oh, that was, I mean, if I heard them now, I'd be like, that's disgusting. Please stop. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Um, but yeah, look, I think, I mean, as far as symbols go, like, you know, they're all so good at, you know, you could, you could pick any brand and if any sound and just pick what you like. They're all, they're all so good. That's right. Yeah. You know. Nice. Even the cheapies, like, they're good. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's just go one step back, be before we talk more about studio. Um, the songs that you wrote with, uh, silverchair, I guess they probably originated somewhere in the rehearsal room or so how much did they change until they were finally recorded? Were, was the arrangement, uh, the lyrics, was that all basically dialed in from the beginning or did the songs evolve over time? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah, the songs always. Or almost always evolved. Um, there was, there was like a, a, a process that they would go through, um, with the band and, you know, even like sometimes even management would have, um, you know, I guess that management were very careful, you know, where they kind of got involved. But there were certain songs that they had, you know, they had their opinion on and certain songs that they were actually really right on as well. Um, Yeah. You know, like through rehearsal and because say if, say if, um, so on the early records, Dan and I wrote a lot together, and then Dan kind of took over the songwriting later on. But even then, like, you know, so like once you play a song as a band, you might have an idea of what it sounds like. If you're on your own kind of coming up with an idea, but once, once you play it, play it in a band setting, you know, you do make little adjustments, you know? And particularly for me too, like, yeah, like I didn't have any drum parts, like if songs, the songs didn't have drum parts, so you just play what you feel. Mm-hmm. And then, so over time, like I would adjust my drum parts to, you know, you want to accent certain things and um, and then sometimes whatever Dan was singing or whatever the lyrics were, I didn't always know what they were. And so when I started hearing the, the melody in the lyrics, you might kind of, you know, make slight adjustments to the those parts, but also, You know, then part, another part of that process is, you know, when you get a producer involved, you know, you go into pre-production and then I guess a producer's role. It isn't always to, I think a, a good producer doesn't automatically just try and change songs. Yeah. I think a good producer. It helps enhance a song, you know, or gives you that perspective because you can, you know, when you are in it, when you're inside of it, it's really hard to step away from yourself and have that perspective. So they also, I, I always found producers. It was always important for Silverchair to have producers, um, because they helped give us that pers perspective that we weren't able to see, um, you know, and make suggestions, you know, for changes or trying different structures or, you know, does, does this song, does it. Can you cut parts out to kind that, that are unnecessary or whatever it was? Yeah. Um, so look, I, you know, there there was, there was quite a process, you know, before you get into the studio and the red lights on and you're like, we're we're doing it for real. Yeah, of course. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And uh, how much time did you spend in the studio for, for your records? I guess that varied probably, but can you give us a rough idea? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Yeah, it varied. Like the first record, I think we did frog stump in like three weeks. Like we just got in there and, oh, actually no, it was even less. It was like 10 days. Okay. Uh, and then we did, I think Freak show was like three weeks. Neil Ballroom was like six weeks I think. And then the last two records, like they blew out like they were like months. Um, but also like the last two Silverchair Records had a lot more orchestration on them as well. So that obviously takes a lot more time and, and. Um, planning to, to get those parts together. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I love the sound of diorama. That's, you know, that's, they're all phenomenal. They're all phenomenal in, in their own way. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Thanks, man. I think, um, yeah, David Brow was probably one of my favorite, um, producers to work with. He was, um, yeah, he was just really honest and he just gave us honest feedback and it was like, yeah. I think at, at that point in, in anyone's career, it's, it's important to, you know, to hear that kind of feedback. And it was, you know, he'd just call us on stuff like, that's not working, or, you know, we need to change this on. Yeah. He was great. I really liked, yeah. I, I've, you know, I've enjoyed working with all the producers. It's, I, I would've actually liked to have done another, um, record with Kevin who did Frogstomp because we were so young. I just, You know, and Kevin's great. He's awesome. Like he, and he is really raw and just like, you know, I have such good memories of, of recording that record with him. But yeah, like, it would, it would be fun to do, to record with Kevin, you know, once, once we're a little more aware. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: RTO came together and you said about 10 days and then the later records took a lot more time. Can you talk us through the pros and cons of, you know, having a short and punchy recording session in the studio, just you know, in laid down and out again, or a really lengthy, extensive one. Is that necessarily a better way? What are thoughts? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): I think one of the challenges of saying that you are going in to do a record. Is that when you do hit play like record, you kinda like, you almost tense up and you're almost like, oh, this has gotta be the, the best take of, you know, and I, I think the aim of the game is actually to relax and not worry about it and mm-hmm. Um, I, I always found that a lot of silverchairs, demos. Like, you know, a part of me was like, oh, we should just use that. Yeah. Right. Because the demos, the demos were always really relaxed and not worried about it being so perfect and just had a raw, a raw energy about it. That's, that's ultimately what you're trying to capture. So I think in terms of that, I think that the good thing about the way we recorded Frog stomp is that we just got in there and did it. We weren't thinking too much about it. It might have had something to do with the fact that. We were young and there was no success at that point. So we were just like, you know, there was, yeah, we had nothing to lose or we weren't, you know, we didn't have another album that people were gonna compare it to or whatever, whatever, you know, issue, issue that might arise. So we just kind of went in there and just banged it out. And, you know, I, I, I remember Kevin's suggesting that we put some keys on it, some keyboards, and we were like, nah, man. Nah, nah, that's un, that's uncool. You don't put keyboards on this. So, yeah, I don't know. I think there's, you know, I think. Artists and bands, when you go in to do a record, you are, you're fighting against that, that tension you feel when you're like, mm, when you're finally doing the recording, right? That's right. Yeah. That's, yeah, and I think, I also think that's why, you know, a lot of, like when I record my music, like I really, I love using. Stuff that you record on the fly. Mm-hmm. Because nine times outta 10, you're not thinking about it. You're not worrying about it. You just see going like, oh, this feels good. And that's what you want to capture. Mm-hmm. Um, so yeah, I think as, as time went on with Silverchair, that the, the, um, yeah, fighting against the, the red light is the. Was one of the, one of the things that I used to think about. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So it's in, in many ways, it's actually a mental game and, you know, overcoming nervousness and, and the pressure of being sort of under, uh, under the microscope in some ways. You know, all the microphones are aimed at you, they're producers watching through you through the window and Yeah. Then to, it's actually an environment that doesn't really work for performing. Effortless and blissful and with a lot of joy because the pressure builds. So can you give us some practical examples? What, what can you do, you know, if, if you are in the studio and you fear this crunch, what can you do to loosen yourself up again? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Um, I think it's just trying to be in the moment. Mm-hmm. You know, and not. Kind of when you're a musician and you are confident at your instrument or you're confident in what you're doing or you've done lots of rehearsal and you're ready to record it, it's almost when that, when it comes to that moment that you need to record or perform, you know, do your performance, that you just let it all go. You need to clear your mind, let it all go, and then just let it happen naturally. And the great thing about recording is it doesn't matter if you make a mistake because you just hit stop and you go again. Yeah, of course. Mm. And if, you know, if you do dozens of takes and you still don't get the right one, just go and take a break for an hour and try again. Like that's, that's the beauty of it. Yeah. Um. Yeah. You, I mean, that's way easier said than done. Okay. But, you know, I think for me, like yeah, there's, it's just being really present in the moment. And I find that's when you, you know, you can, you can block it all out and just listen. Like literally just listen to the music. Mm. Listen to the 'cause. Uh, one, one other thing that we also used to do on Silverchair, like we, we'd always play the, um, we'd always play the whole track together. That, you know, to get the initial drum track. So you know you're feeding off each other and you're listening to each other, and I think that's a really important part of capturing that magic as well. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you set the entire band, perform together in the studio so everybody could. See each other, look each other in the eye and yeah. Okay. And yeah, that's, uh, were those, uh, pilot takes or guy guide tracks, or were those the final takes? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): I think, I think early on we used to do that to capture the drums. Yeah. And then Dan and Chris would go back and they'd overdub Mm. Yeah. New guitar parts. But I do think on. Young, modern. We were, we were like, why would we get rid of those? That initial bed of the three of us together. Like ultimately that's, that's the core of the band. Mm-hmm. And I always wondered why, you know, obviously you layer up the guitars. Yeah. Uh, you know, you might have to fix up a couple of little, if there's a couple of bum guitar or bass notes, you might have to tidy them up. But I always wondered why they would go back and do. Because you've got this, such a great bed that, so like I don't get it. But anyway. But yeah, I think, I think on young, modern, we did do that as, as far as I recall, we did use more of the kind of band, those initial band performances as like the, the basis of the tracks. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Nice one. Look, that's also what I've figured out for myself. It's my preferred way of, of recording a band. And, uh, what I often get that way when I track bands altogether in one room often is, you know, a bit of spiel. You know, there's an occasional little bum note in there that's not perfect, but there's a certain magic often that I get, you know, a vibe that, uh, I often don't feel when a band overdubs just drummer to the clique and then bass onto the drums and all of that. It's often musically more perfect, and I guess sonically more separated and, but there's a certain vibe that I just love about recording a band in one room, so I, I can really resonate with what you just said. Uh, I, I would assume that the vocals were probably just guides and they were then later. Lay down again. Yeah, yeah, Ben Gillies (Silverchair): yeah. Replace the vocals were definitely the, definitely the, the vocals were definitely guards. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of Jan 'Yarn' Muths: course. That makes, that makes sense. Mm-hmm. Um, how do you play a, a drum groove? You know, some of your drumming is, is highly complex, but there also some res straight bits that really hold the band together.Yeah. And they groove like crazy. That's few notes played. It just grooves so much. It's so deep in the pocket. Yeah. I can play the same notes. I'm an average drummer, but I could play the same beat, but it would sound terrible. What's the difference? What, what is it that you can put into a drum groove that other people cannot? Can you, can you share that? What's going on in your mind when you do that? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): That's a funny question. I dunno. I actually, the answer to that. Okay. I mean, I was slightly obsessed with John Bonum when I was growing up. Like he's, he's my biggest influence. I mean, I'm sure he is the biggest influence of bloody thousands of drummers, but definitely, you know, I'm, I'm happy to put my hand up and say I'm one of them. Um, and I think Bonum had a real, like, he just, I think there's a certain level of drumming when you can get, when you can, when you can take the same tempo and you can, you can sit back in it or you can sit on top of it and, or you can sit right on it, you know? And I always found the bottom kind of sat just behind it, just behind the gr, just behind the beat. And, and it just, just gives it this heaviness and this kind of, it does it this, it's this groove that kind of just, It's like you're in a swamp, you know, just kind of trying to walk through a swamp, but you're really enjoying it, you know, with gum boots or something. Um, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I love that. Ben Gillies (Silverchair): So to me, I don't know, I, I think I just, I just listened to so much Led Zeppelin when I was growing up that, um, subconsciously I just. Tapped into that bottom vibe, you know, and obviously made it my own. Like, you always make it your own because we're all individual musicians. You know, you, you can't help but not put your own signature on your sound. Um, but yeah, I think, I think that's it. I've just, you know, I've ized myself, I guess. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, I still need to figure out how to do that myself. But, uh, thank you for sharing. Um, Music is produced very differently today than it was in the nineties, in two thousands and so on. You know, there's lots of, we've got new technologies and, you know, we've had the coronavirus and all, everything has changed. Um, yeah. What advice would you have for young musicians who start out today? You know, the, the people who are 14, 15 forming bands right now? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Oh, I don't know. Just, it's funny. I think when, when we started, We, we just loved it so much. Like we loved what we were doing. We were so excited by music and, and look, we were really ambitious. Like we wanted to, like we talked about, I remember Dan and I in particular talked a lot about, you know, we want to be this great band and we wanna be the biggest band in the world. And, and, but you know, I think deep down inside our. Actually not even deep down inside, it was very much at the surface. We just loved what we were doing. Um, okay. And I think that's really important. I mean, obviously like, you know, you hear that it's, maybe it's a bit cliche, but everyone says, you know, you need to enjoy what you're doing. And I, mm. I think there, it's. It's just because it's, it's true. Doesn't mean it's a cliche, like it is true. I, I believe, you know, like, yep. You know, my old man was a plumber for 55 years and I can guarantee you he didn't enjoy it. Mm-hmm. So, you know. Do it because you love it. Don't do it because you know you want to be famous or you want to be, I mean, you can be ambitious for sure. Yeah. But the, the baseline that, that needs to be, that you just love making the sound that you make and you love performing with the songs that you've written and. Um, you know, maybe you, you you really love performing with the guys that you're in the band with, like Yeah. You know, that comradery as well can be, there's, there's something really kind of special about that as well, um, that I really enjoyed. So true. Um, but yeah. Yeah, you just, just love it and then, you know, you gotta, you gotta work at it. Like, I think you need to, you know, you gotta put the time in, like, um, Like master your instrument, like, you know, practice. Like, it really, it like challenge yourself musically as well. Mm-hmm. Um, I think in Silverchair, like, you know, we, we were all growing as musicians and we're all always pushing ourselves and looking to how we can improve and try new things. Um, that's all that's important as well. But yeah, if I was 14 again, I'd just be like, Just enjoy what you're doing. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Enjoy. That's great advice. Thank you. Um, Ben, can you talk about your current projects? What are you up to these days? Ben Gillies (Silverchair): Um, yeah, I've, I mean, I've, I've kind of been releasing my own music under, under, under Ben Giles. Um, which, you know, I have so much fun doing and I've worked with some different producers and, you know, I've done a bunch of film clips and I've got more in the works and yeah, man, I guess it's, it's just, it's like what I was just saying, it's uh, that's, I do what I do because. I keep doing what I do because, you know, it just gives me so much joy. And you know, when you get on the piano and, and you come up with a really cool chord progression with a kickass melody and you know, you lay it down in pro tools and you play some drums to it and you'd hear it back and you lay down a bass line, you know, when you play it all back and you go like, Cool. That's, you know, I really dig that. Yeah. And you know, the whole, that whole process of writing and recording and playing and like, it's just, it's like that, that flow state, people talk about this flow state. When you get into that zone, when you're in that flow state and you're not, you are almost not thinking you're just. You just, whatever, whatever expressions are coming out of you through whatever instrument you are doing, if it's on your computer or an actual, you know, keyboard or whatever, when you're in that flow state, like it's just so joyous. Yeah. And, and to have the pleasure of finding something in your life that you can have that experience in is, is also a pleasure. So, yeah. I love it, man. I, I, I really enjoy. Writing and recording and, and playing and, and, uh, you know, working with different producers and yeah, man, I, I love it. I mean, I'll be doing it. I'm an old man. Maybe. I think I already am an old man. Apparently. Are you an old man of 42? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nah, come on. You've got young kids. You're in your best years. You are also on YouTube, uh, with your project behind the Beat, which is, uh, you know, definitely a gem for Silverchair fans. And now can you just explain what's going on there? I Ben Gillies (Silverchair): just had an idea to, to, I just thought it would be fun to. And kind of explain. What I, what I was thinking and, and why I did certain things on the drums, and then I, I just thought it would be fun to, you know, add in some, some old Silverchair stories as well, or some bit of, just some background on the tracks, you know, no real reason why, why I did it. Like it's, maybe I just, I was just feeling nostalgic a couple of years ago and, mm-hmm. I was gonna do it a fair while ago, but I guess, you know, pregnancy and babies got in the way and Oh, they didn't get in the way, they just happened. Yeah. But they do, they do restrict you from, you know, enough time to do anything really. So, but I managed to squeeze them in and yeah man, I've really enjoyed doing those and I'm gonna do some more, and even some songs like, like I think, uh, I think I know Pure Massacre is one of the tracks. You know, I haven't played Pure Massacre in. 20 years. Oh wow. So to go back and, uh, you know, I had to go into a rehearsal space and kind of practice it and, you know, get my chops back up with it. Just 'cause I mean, it's, they're all pretty, like you said, they're not, my drum parts aren't super complex. Um, Some of them are more challenging, but you know, pure Massacre is like, it's not a super hard song, but, you know, even just to kind of lock back into the groove that I was playing when I was, uh, you know, 14 or 15 years old, like it, and some of the timing actually because, um, I. I dunno if you noticed on the, the behind the beat series that, um, a lot of the Silverchair recordings, I actually, the majority of the Silverchair recordings, we didn't use a click track. Okay. So particularly that in those early recordings. So what that meant was that, you know, 14 and 15 year old drummer like, man, your tempos are like, my tempos were all over the place. So, you know, now, like, you know, I guess more just with more experience, like you just, you lock in a lot easier just to sit in on like one tempo. Mm-hmm. So it was actually challenging as a 40 year old to, you know, have those really big tempo shifts. Even like, like there's al, there's, there's almost like micro tempo shifts in some of the songs. Like just little moments just slow down for no good reason and pick back up again. And you're there like kind of playing along, going like, holy shit, dude. Like what were you thinking? Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, you know, people love it. Yeah, no, it's the way it was and it's, it's just the way it came out of you back then. So it's, uh, like a, Ben Gillies (Silverchair): and maybe people don't, maybe people didn't notice it, you know? Or maybe I'm just noticing it because it's lovable. Yeah. Yeah. So I don't know. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I find that, you know, the right amount of little imperfections makes their performance lovable. If there's no, I imperfection, if it's just perfect, that's usually boring. Well, I guess with some exceptions. But if it gets too clean, It doesn't groove as much in my opinion. Yeah, exactly. I always like to, you know, I like to listen to music and visualize what the drummer is doing, how he moves his hands, or what the singer is singing, you know, what face expression she, he or she has, and, you know, these things. I need to relate to the humans. And so imperfections are actually a good thing to some degree, I reckon. Yeah, I agree, man. Ben, where can our listeners find out more about you? Have you got a website? Have you got social channels? Uh, where, where could we follow you? I. Uh, Ben Gillies (Silverchair): on, so on social media, my handle is Ben Gilleys triple eight. Uh, and then my website is just ben Okay. Um, yeah, man, I'm, yeah, I'm on, I'm on most, I'm all, I'm on, I'm on all of the popular social networks, so, Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. I'm going to put all the links into the show notes. So once you're done with the episode, just scroll down, uh, hit the button and, uh, check out what, what Ben is up to on online. Ben, thank you so much for, for sharing all your wisdom with us today and, you know, for your time today, I know that you're a very busy person, so I really, really appreciate. That and it's fabulous talking to you. Thank you Ben Gillies (Silverchair): so much. No problem, mate. Thanks for having me. Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow, how good was that Master Drummer been a Gillies of Silverchair on the Production Talk podcast. Not only is he a real gun on the drums, but also just the most amazing human being. Funny story. Before we recorded the episode, we had a quick chat about the talking points and, uh, I said that I wanted to talk about overcoming nervousness in the studio, and sure enough got nervous myself and couldn't get the intro together. So Ben, uh, Guided me through and gave me the confidence and said, you've got this. So I did it again and narrowed it in the second part, but, uh, how good was that? Well, Ben, I really appreciate, uh, everything you've shared with us. What an amazing music career. I wish you all the best for your future projects and of course for your young family, and I really appreciate you sharing all your wisdom and knowledge with us today. Please check out Ben's social channels. Of course, his YouTube channel, uh, is warmly recommended. Uh, I really love his videos behind the beat. It's amazing stuff, not only for drummers. Check it all out. If you want to reach out to me, of course you can do so via my website. Mix au. Which, as you may know, was a mixing only website some time ago. However, nowadays we also offer recording services and my website just received a full overhaul. So, uh, check it out and tell me what you think about it and maybe you could spot some errors. I would love to iron them out and let me know. Now, in all honesty, I think it should be all good. Yes. Um, reach out to me if you want to. I specialize in helping people finishing their projects effortlessly. Painlessly and quickly. And, uh, I think that's one of the most satisfying, uh, aspects of my work for me to see people achieving their goals quickly and work together at, at a relatively quick pace without rushing, of course. But, uh, yeah. Getting people to the finish line is what I specialize in. So if you need any help, reach out to me via mix au. Also, please subscribe to the podcast. Um, if this was your first episode, um, check out all the other episodes before. They are phenomenal interviews with other amazing musicians among. And, um, I would really appreciate if you could please, uh, give me one minute of your time and go to your podcast app and, uh, give us a five star rating and a nice little positive comment would also be very much appreciated. Okay, and that's all for today. Next week we will continue with another interview this time with two phenomenal musicians from the Northern Rivers. That's all for today and bye for now.
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