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Mark Schulman: The Rockstar Drummer

People simply call Mark Schulman the “Rockstar Drummer”. Not because of a star attitude (not at all!) but because he’s recorded and toured with a bunch of superstars, including Cher, Foreigner, Sheryl Crow, Destiny’s Child, Billy Idol and Udo Lindenberg, just to name a few.

But wait, there’s one more superstar with whom Mark’s been touring the world for the past four years. It’s no one less than Alecia Beth Moore, better known as P!NK. Her Funhouse Tour has sold more than 700,000 tickets and the journey is not over yet. Mark and P!NK will be back in Europe between October 14 and December 20 — ready to break the 1,000,000 ticket level.

Attila Kormanyos met Mark on P!NK’s tourbus and enjoyed listening to his perspectives on making music, touring the world, recording DVDs and, of course, about using Steinberg products.

Mark Schulman

Hey Mark, how does it feel to be on the road for such a long time?
Great, but it’s also exhausting from time to time, especially because I don’t take many timeouts. In my spare-time I love to do some drum clinics — or look, between the UK and Australian shows, where we recorded P!NK’s amazing new live-DVD, I flew back home to the USA for a few days to record my own drum DVD called A Day in the Recording Studio which will change every drummers life [laughs]. And, of course, Cubase 5 will be one of the highlights in my DVD, as I show everything about how to edit drum tracks. From tuning to miking to final mix tracks, that’s what this DVD will be about.

Do you use any sequencing software on stage with P!NK?
No, I’m not using any software live on the P!NK gig, because everything is controlled by Michael Bernard (backline tech) at his station — all samples, loops, sequences or multitracks we are playing along with, etc. But Steinberg saves my life on the road, because I am producing music and commercial jingles and I’m able to edit everything on the road in my laptop. I’ve been a Steinberg user since 1994, when I recorded an album with Simple Minds and since then I have never used any other recording software than Cubase!

So what are your favorite features of Cubase?
My favorite feature is the time-stretching function. You just lock and stretch or compress a file by adjusting it visually to the grid and it sounds perfect. This is a truly phenomenal feature! But also the new pitch correction function and the whole user-interface of Cubase with VST instruments is simply great. All those functions are helping me to swap files between my studio PC (actually a Mac) and my laptop to work on my productions while I’m touring. This is how I produced four different records when I was on tour with Cher and P!NK. Later when I go home, I bring everything back to my studio PC, listening to it again on the big monitor speakers and make the final mixes. And I tell you something, I even made some final mixes on the road, with headphones [smiles]. I even recorded some vocals for a McDonald’s spot on tour — right into my Mac, without any special audio interface. Being able to do things like that is wondeful and horrible at the same time, but the flexibility with such a system is sensational and unbeatable. I am the happiest Steinberg user!

On the tour bus

Do you have any favorite VST instruments?
I love Xphrase, it’s very musical. And I also use all the other plug-ins that come with Cubase, the “stock stuff”, it all sounds great.

Any VST drums?
I always record my own drum tracks and time-stretch them if needed. I’ve recorded dozens and dozens of drum tracks and drum sounds myself so I don’t need to use VST drums. That’s another reason why I did my own drum DVD, to inspire drummers to experiment with their own sound and creativity.

What is your main recording setup, like mic-pres, converters, etc.?
I’m a freak for using the best possible mic-pres. We have a couple APIs, Telefunken, Neve, Summit mic-pres — and Apogee converters. And we’ve also got a great-sounding recording room. Also, I never use any digital reverb on my drums as I record them organically in my studio and control the sound and largeness by changing the EQs.

Mark Schulman's studio

What are your next studio and live projects?
Well, first of all, touring with P!NK. We already booked some summer festivals in Europe for 2010. And we will also do a lot of shows in the USA next year. Also I will do many seminars and clinics all over the world. We have a new project named “Rock the Schools” and we are trying to enhance the “artistry” in public schools, particular in America. We want to inspire kids and create awareness about the importance of creativity. As you guys at Steinberg point out in your slogan: Creativity First! I’ve learned so much in all of my years, now it’s time to give something back.

Do you have a message for our readers, or maybe even some personal tips and tricks?
I think that Cubase 5 is the most comprehensive recording program on the market. The way Cubase interfaces with all the VST instruments and plug-ins has made my (recording) life incredibly easy and allows me to produce records and international commercials on the road. So I’m greatly grateful to Steinberg for bringing technology to me that changed my life and has enabled an enormous amount of creativity.

And I also have a tip for you guys out there...

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Thank you very much Mark, it was a pleasure to talk shop with you!
Thank you, the pleasure’s all mine.

Enjoy some exclusive snippets of Mark’s DVD A Day in the Recording Studio, which will be released in April 2010 by Hudson Music.

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If you’d like to order a copy of Mark’s upcoming DVD or you’d like to hire Mark on a song by song basis to record drum tracks, please send an email to info(at)markschulman.net.

You can also download the DVD booklet on Mark’s website at www.markschulman.net or directly at www.markschulman.net/pdfs/DVD_Booklet_9-09.pdf.