Stephen Perkins’ drum-centric studio in LA includes tom-toms of virtually every size and depth, snares and kicks, cymbals, gongs and hanging iron plates, all captured with TELEFUNKEN’s DC-7 microphone drum pack alongside multiple pairs of THP-29 isolation headphones.
“I’ve got almost every sound and color you can think of,” says Perkins. “From high to low, from sharp to dull. And to mic it is quite an experience for my engineer, Rob Gage, because when I sit behind the kit I use each drum. Some get loud, some are quiet, some stick out like a sore thumb, some blend.”
Perkins currently plays his monster kit with Jane’s Addiction and the band Hellflower. Following the dissolution of Jane’s Addiction, he continued to play with frontman Perry Farrell in Porno for Pyros, and he also has a solo project called Banyan, and in the 1990s was involved in Lil’ Pit with Mike Watt.
As a percussionist he has worked with Rage Against the Machine, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, and Suicidal Tendencies, among numerous other radio and video projects. Meanwhile, Perkins’ engineer Rob Seifert Gage has been an engineer/producer since 1985 and is noted for his work with Porno for Pyros, Wyclef Jean, saxophonist Gerald Albright, Mike Watt, Angels Cut, eels, and Los Amigos Invisibles, among many others.
“I want to capture the punch and the articulation of the beater hitting the head, but I don’t want that plastic, hard sound,” Perkins continues. “I want the sound of the attack and then the pillow after it, to capture that low end and also to make sure that enough real estate is left open for other instruments. A great microphone and a great performance — that’s the union, that’s the gel.”
In addition to recording numerous projects in his studio, he also hosts “Live at Perkins’ Palace” for the YoRadio App station, in which he invites friends over to chat, play and talk. The studio is based around a Universal Apollo 8x, plus an array of TELEFUNKEN mics and headphones.
“There are four sets of isolation headphones here, so everybody in the band gets to hear the same exact mix,” he explains. “Great speakers in those headphones, and the isolation is wonderful because I can play drums and hear what the mix is in my ears, not just what the room is doing. They’re lightweight, they’re comfortable, the actual cut fits around my whole ear, and they’re also nice for just listening to music quietly.”
TELEFUNKEN’s DC-7 drum package includes the M82 dynamic kick drum mic, a matched pair of M60 FET cardioids for cymbals and overheads, and four additional dynamic mics for snare, toms, and other percussion instruments.
“I’ve been playing drums since I was eight,” concludes Perkins. “Telefunken changed the world of recording so many years ago, and they are continually evolving. There’s a quest for precision, a quest for perfection. They’re always trying to figure out what’s next, while still honoring the technology of yesteryear, because it’s been proven. They really care about the music and the best ways to capture it.”