Hal Blaine: Inside the “Eve of Destruction”

ANATOMY OF A SONG
How We Got to the ‘Eve of Destruction’
‘Eve of Destruction,’ which topped the charts in 1965, was slammed by critics and banned by some radio stations. Here’s how the song came to life
By STEVE DOUGHERTY  Updated Dec. 9, 2014 12:06 p.m. ET

Hal Blaine

Hal Blaine in recording studio

[Barry] McGuire: We had booked a four-hour session. It was just Phil [P.F. Sloan] on guitar and harmonica, Larry Knechtel playing bass and Hal Blaine on drums.

Hal Blaine: …I call myself a method drummer. I wouldn’t play a song unless I heard it first. A song is a story, and if you don’t know what it’s about, how the hell are you going to play it?

As soon as I heard Phil’s song, …I went into the military mode. The song starts with the drum, the misterioso sound. Brrrrumm. That was supposed to be sort of a dirge, of men going off to war.

One of the tricks I used to do in the studios: To get a military sound, I would turn my snare drum over and just play on the snare side. For anything militaire, I would turn the drum over and have the engineer put the mic close to the drum. I would actually play that bottom head very quietly. The engineer would pick it up very big, and…they can make it sound like a whole group of drummers as opposed to just one.

On the record you can almost hear a parade of drummers and soldiers with rifles or pitchforks, you name it. To me it was very visual, and that’s the way I work, cinematically.

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