Canadian Musician - November/December 2017 - Page 50

Glenn Milchem Change of Heart, Blue Rodeo CM: What’s the most recent piece added to your live set-up and why did it earn the spot? GM: The most recent piece of gear I added to the kit I’m using with Change of Heart is a Yamaha 14-in. by 5.5-in. brass Recording Custom snare. It cuts through the loud guitar and keyboards and sounds great tuned up a bit higher than I usually tune these days, in accordance with how I tuned the snare back in the early ‘90s when we recorded Smile. CM: What’s the one thing you can’t go without behind the kit? GM: I really love the warm, buttery tones of Paiste 15-in. hi-hats. With Change of Heart, I’m using the Masters Series Dark hats, though I also use 15-in. Formula 602 Modern Essentials hats with Blue Rodeo and other bands I play in. I find I much prefer them to the chirpier, brighter sounds of 14-in. hats. CM: For this tour celebrating the 25 th anniversary of Smile, do you feel it’s important to stick to the recorded versions of these or any others in the Change Of Heart repertoire, or do you have some leeway to revisit the material with a fresh perspective? GM: When Smile was recorded, I’d never played the songs live and had learned and arranged the drum parts over a two-week period of rehearsals prior to going in the studio. When producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda listened to the tapes for re-mastering, he mentioned how different each take sounded from the next. In other words, the parts were never nailed down in a note-for-note fashion, and there was also a fair bit of improv involved, especially in songs like “Candystore,” “Erosion,” and “Falling Mouse Blue.” So for me, the most important thing has been to try to recreate the spirit and general approach of the record, but not worry too much about trying to recreate exactly what I played, since it never was the same way twice anyway. It’s more about adopting the attitude I had then – which was basically going for it and throwing in any idea that came to mind – and filtering it through the lens of 25 more years of playing experience. 50 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N The well-spoken drummer, known by many for his work in Blue Rodeo, took a moment to reflect on his time with influential alt-rock group Change Of Heart. The band is currently celebrating the 25 th anniversary of their album Smile. CM: Ian Blurton is also known as a great producer. How is it working with a frontman that’s likely got some good input on drum sounds and parts? GM: Ian is a great producer and I’ve had the pleasure of working with him in that capacity several times, but when we recorded Smile, he had yet to start producing and pretty much left me to my own devices. When we got back together for these reunion shows, I asked for his input regarding what drums to use in order to recreate the vibe of the record, while slightly updating the aesthetic to our current tastes. But in terms of what I play live, he has once again largely left me to my own devices, in keeping with that original approach; however, when we recently re-recorded a song left off the original Smile album called “Delivering a Pot” to release on Bandcamp, he put his producer hat on and got very specific about the parts he had in mind, with very cool results. It’s great working with Ian because he knows when to let things be loose and when to get in there and sweat the details. CM: What do you think is important about revisiting past work? Is there an artistic or musical benefit or is it just powerful as a human being? GM: I think that depends on the past work you’re revisiting. Sometimes it’s nostalgic, going back to a significant time in your life. There’s definitely a lot of that going on here, as Smile was recorded a week before I recorded Lost Together, my first record with Blue Rodeo, and my whole life changed. But for me, the most important thing with these songs is discovering the new things we can say musically within them. There’s a lot of room for improvisation in this material and we’re exploring that more now than we ever did, with the added benefit of 25 more years of musical and life experience. Some of the jams in songs like “Falling Mouse Blue” have lasted as long as half an hour or more in rehearsal. The fact that this past work has served as a springboard for new musical exploration has been a beautiful and unexpected revelation. The Gear Yamaha & Ludwig Drums • 12-in. Ludwig Vintage 1967 Rack Tom • 14-in. Ludwig Vintage 1967 Floor Tom • 22-in. Yamaha Club Custom Kick • 14-in. x 5 ½-in Yamaha Recording Custom Brass Snare Paiste Cymbals • 15-in. Masters Series Dark Hats • 19-in. Formula 602 Modern Essentials Crash • 21-in. Masters Series Ride Yamaha Hardware Evans Drumheads HeadHunters Drumsticks