Today’s post is an interview with Eric Carr, the man behind the Drum Battle YouTube videos that many of you in the marching percussion world have probably seen. Leading up to the election back in November, I remember being at a drumline rehearsal and one of the other staff members showing us a video of a Trump vs Hillary drumline battle. We all thought it was hilarious seeing Trump playing a quad solo and some bass split parts, but the longer I watched it, the more I realized how much time it must have taken to film the whole thing! As you watch you can see that each part is being played by one person, and all of the different parts are layered over each other.
Interview with Eric Carr
What is your background and how long have you been drumming?
I have been playing percussion for 17 years, starting in elementary school band. I went on to major in music performance at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ and later got my masters at the University of Delaware. I marched 4 years of drum corps with Carolina Crown 2010, Jersey Surf 08-09, and Bushwackers 2007. I also marched 4 years of WGI with United Percussion 08-11.
How did you come up with the idea to make the Drum Battle videos? Is there a story there?
For some time, I had wanted to green screen myself to create an entire drumline. When I got my green screen and lights, this was about the same time that Trump and Hillary won their party nominations. That was when I got the idea to do a drum battle between the two. I figured it would be a good change of pace to all of the serious political arguments going on in my news feed!
Is that you playing all of the parts for snare, tenor, and bass? Did you get some help from friends?
Yes, I am playing each of the parts individually. My friend Lisa played Monica Lewinsky in the Trump vs Hillary battle. And obviously, I had a few friends do the commentating with me in the Falcons vs Patriots battle. But as far as the playing, that is all me.
The individual parts to these drum battles are pretty difficult! How long have you been working on these cadences?
Yes, they are difficult! Writing them takes about an hour each. The snare and tenor parts are not too difficult for me to learn because I write parts that are comfortable to me. It’s the bass splits that are the most difficult. This is because I am only listening to a click track of the VDL recording. I need to hear if my splits are in time and figure out how to adjust. This is tricky with splits such as 32nd note hand-to-hands!
How much time does it take you to film and edit one of these videos?
The Trump vs Hillary battle was the first time I ever used a green screen. There was much trial and error in figuring out how to get the lighting and setup right. But once I figured everything out and did it all again for the Falcons vs Patriots battle, it took much less time. It takes about 3 hours to record 3 snares, 2 tenors, and 5 basses (depending on how much I screw up!) The video editing takes more time than the actual playing. I use Adobe Premier to edit the green screen effects and place the line into a background. Then I use Adobe After Effects to place the faces on top of mine. This editing process takes about 6 hours.
Can we expect to see more in the future?
Absolutely! I enjoy making these videos and people seem to enjoy watching them. I have a list of different battles I would like to do. I encourage people to suggest ideas as well!
What has your experience been like performing with Gallant Entertainment? What types of events do you guys do?
GEI has been a great experience. I started working for the company when they first began in 2012 with the NY Giants “G-Line”. Since then, they have expanded to work with several professional clients as well as private events. There are multiple ensembles in GEI such as: corps-style drumline, show-style drumline, cover band, brass, fife, and steel pan ensemble. For the corps-style drumline, we generally cycle through selections of our 23 cadences throughout the event. We also play arrangements to a click track, for which we wear in-ear headphones connected to the house track. The most memorable GEI event was performing at Super Bowl 48 at MetLife stadium. We played throughout the game during various commercial breaks. We were able to watch the game and halftime show from our platform. To top it off, we were allowed to keep most of our uniform including a super bowl jacket and hat.
Anything else we should know about you?
I have 10 years of experience teaching and writing for Percussion. I am always looking for new writing gigs! I have composed works for full indoor percussion ensemble including drill, percussion solos/I&E, marching band percussion arrangements, concert percussion arrangements, drumline cadences, and more! Anyone interested can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the two Drum Battle videos that Eric has made. If you’re interested in learning how to play the parts, Eric has uploaded the sheet music here and here. Be on the lookout for more Drum Battle videos from Eric in the future!
If you need some help writing your fall book or indoor book next season, reach out to Eric at email@example.com.