“Without calling undue attention to himself, Vayenas shapes the music” - Modern Drummer magazine. Professional musician 30+ years live & recording experience. Whether I'm building on a demo idea provided, or starting from scratch, with good communication, I always strive to provide a musical foundation to a songwriter's new project.
I have been playing drums/percussion since I was 5 years old & have been touring the US & Europe or recording & teaching in LA, Austin & Nashville my entire adult life. Experienced in a wide range of styles & musical interests, I will work with you to tailor my drum parts, sounds, style & feel to match your projects vision.
I’ve drummed for Jeff Coffin (Sax w Béla Fleck/Dave Matthews), Tab Benoit (blues), Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Blessing Offor (gospel), Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The McCrary Sisters (gospel), Mingo Fishtrap (soul), Bruce Hughes (Bob Schneider, Poi Dog Pondering), Oteil Burbridge (Allman Bros/Tedeschi Trucks), Red Young (B3), Foy Vance, Grupo Fantasma/Brownout (salsa), Marc Broussard, Mojoe (hiphop), Mike Keneally (Zappa, Steve Vai) &many more.
At my home studio I provide live multi-track sessions as well as drum replacement, live & programmed percussion, backing vocals, & even horn arrangements. Additionally, I have access to a world-class Nashville studio (studiopunchup.com) and engineer.
As well as an ever growing collection, Gretsch, Ludwig, Sonar and Yamaha drumkits & 20+ snares. Some of my core electronic gear/software includes Superior Drummer 3 with many SDX libraries, Sunhouse Sensory Perc., Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Roland VAD & Alesis triggers & many other synth modules.
Click the contact button above & let’s talk about your project!
Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.
7 Reviews - 1 Repeat ClientEndorse Chip Vayenas
Working with Chip on this two song demo project was a great experience. He is a masterful session player and musician. He was very receptive to ideas and really worked really hard to make sure I was 100% satisfied with the end result. I'm really happy with how this project turned out, and would highly recommend Chip for any project. Thanks Chip!!
Excellent as always! 3rd time working with Chip!
Chip is an exceptional player. His drum tones and feel are amazing and I look forward to working with him again!
Chip is an amazing drummer. He was fast and efficient with my project and delivered the most pro sounding stems. Beyond stoked to have come across him.
Chip is one of my all time favorite drummers! He’s a machine on stage and pure fluid groove in the studio. His drumming will increase your musical happiness by 142%.
Chip was a pleasure to work with. His pocket and playing are amazing and communication was top notch. Because of the pandemic, we worked remotely and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
Chip can play anything and is an absolute pleasure to work with. Stellar musicianship and legendary hang.
Interview with Chip Vayenas
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I just completed 2 drum tracks for a Nashville singer/songwriters upcoming album. In the works is a project using samples and video projections that are live triggered via MIDI to Ableton Live.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both have their benefits and drawbacks. thats a very safe answer but I don't think it can be argued against. haha That said, the greater percentage of my favorite all-time recordings were recorded analog.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Have the tracks you will send me to play along with to record to, separated into at least, bass, guitar, or keys, and (scratch) vocal tracks. Make sure your tracks are all sync'd from beat zero with at least 1 to 2 bars of silence for a count off at the beginning.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Steve Gadd meets Steve Jordan meets Bernard Purdie meets Manu Katche meets Matt Chamberlain meets Tony Williams meets John Bonham meets David Garibaldi meets Dennis Chambers meets Rick Moratta meets.. I mean.. I at least strive to infuse what I've heard from these musicians and so many more.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will always make sure my clients are 100% happy before signing off with them and sending them the finished tracks. Sometimes it just happens the first time, first take, but good music often takes some adjusting, listening, discussion and adjusting again. You are paying me for my time and skill, but we are making music together to put out into the world, and I want that to be the best representation of my own playing and musicianship as well.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Music gear? A bass drum full of drinks and snacks? A solar powered keyboard that emits fresh water the more tasty chord progressions you come up with?
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I will have the client send me their music files, via Dropbox, Google Drive or other file sharing app. After some emails/texts or calls, discussing the project details, the logistic and timetable details being worked out, it's then on to working out the track style, feel and sounds the client is looking for. I’ll ask for some examples of other artists that they might like the drum sound/production of and just communicate as much as possible back and forth before starting. For one example, I had a recent client who had most of the parts finished in the project, but had used a very basic drum loop and wanted to have something that felt more “live” and had more character. A little more “grease” or character to it. I sent him a simple stereo file of a couple slightly different approaches, told him the one I seemed to prefer, and we ended up using most of that take, plus a little from other takes. It is very easy to swap between takes using the SPD3 software. Even a tiny little snare roll that you might not want, thats covered by a big washy cymbal can be pulled out after the fact. (Look for “Only Thing” in my soundcloud samples) Another client, just had a raw acoustic guitar and vocal demo to send me. I had him describe what he was feeling for basic rhythmic ideas through the demo, verse, chorus, build up to bridge, etc. I mapped that out in my DAW and then came up with a few stereo loops to send back to make sure our minds were thinking alike. (A short sample of this is the beginning of my profile audio reel here) I will make sure the client is happy with the tracks, everything, drum and cymbal choices, room sounds, etc. by sending them a stereo reference file. When they sign off on that, I will upload a folder that includes every raw microphone track in the studio, just as they would get from any studio, to mix themselves or send off to a producer. I have the ability to mix the drum tracks with full effects and EQ’s to them as well. Superior Drummer 3 also has the ability to remove “bleed” from microphones. For example, you would naturally hear everything from the drum kit in an overhead mic, but if you had a reason to not want the ringing of the toms, in it, with SPD3 I can remove or add that natural bleed as the client requests.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: For live drum/percussion recordings have access to an amazing full project studio in Nashville with over 50 snare drums and 6 drum kits, including all of my own at studiopunchup.com Visit Andy Freeman's studio website for his complete list of gear available. My rates for this space will have to be negotiated per project. My home studio utilizes a full Roland VAD drum kit to trigger Superior Drummer 3, software that many producers use to replace live recorded drum sounds, or to improve a snare or bass drum sound for example. I have sent the multi-track, full multi-mic unprocessed files to clients who send their project on to be mixed by professional producers, telling the client not to mention that they were software tracks. Honestly, every time, they can't believe it's not live drums recorded in an actual studio, because, they ARE live drums recorded in the BEST studios in the world! For a quick example, I can literally record a track for you using the actual snare drum that Jeff Porcaro used to record the hit, Rosanna, on TOTO IV. Recorded by the gentleman (RIP Al Schmidt) who was the first to record a bass drum with its own microphone. Some of the expansion SDX that I use: Decades - Produced by 23-time Grammy Award-winning engineer/mixer Al Schmitt Recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, CA Rooms of Hansa - Produced by Grammy Award-winning recording/mixing engineer Michael Ilbert (Adele, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Pink, Muse, Ed Sheeran) Legacy of Rock - Recorded by legendary engineer/mixer/producer Eddie Kramer in Studio 1 at AIR in London, UK Roots Vol. 1 - Recorded by Roy “Futureman” Wooten in Blackbird Studio Nashville, TN Core library - Recorded with an additional eleven separate room microphones set up in a surround configuration for a complete immersive experience As for live drums, as in the "profile description" I own 3 full drum kits, Gretsch Brooklyn, '68 Ludwig being my top played presently, and wide variety of snare sounds, 20+ and growing, including a newly acquired Ludwig 60's Jazz Festival snare. I like instruments with character. It doesn't matter how much you spend on an instrument. How many timeless classic songs have been performed on the most basic of instruments and studio setups? It's all about character and soul.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: This list could go on and on. I will say one of my first big concert moments was Peter Gabriel's "SO" tour then later the "US" tour, with Manu Katche on drums, and Peter's character and depth in songwriting, sound design and state of the art production really stuck with me forever. Steve Jordan as a producer, and a drummer, has been a huge inspiration. More recently, I have really been digging on UK drummer Ash Soan, for his great videos and drum sounds he gets at his amazing Windmill Studios setup. Definitely something I am working towards. Recordings of a handful of my favorite standby songs of drummers known as session greats include, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Keltner, James Gadson, Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Abe Laboriel Jr., Dave Garibaldi, Omar Hakim, Richie Hayward, Levon Helm, Manu Katche, Steve Jordan, Will Kennedy, Rick Marotta, John JR Robinson, John "Jabo" Starks, Clyde Stubbelfield, Carlos Vega, Zigaboo Modeleste and on and on..
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: What prompted me to create this Soundbetter profile, is I have been getting work from musician friends in Nashville and elsewhere for either replacing their basic drum loops to their mostly complete songs or demos in progress. Sometimes I am given just a vocal "drum part" idea or description, or a basic loop that they want expanded upon for more "live, drummer in a room" feel for more character. Also, through Superior Drummer 3 I have done some drum replacement, or additions to snare sounds etc.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I choose to ask broad questions at first then start to focus in on details after I begin to get an idea of what they are after, stylistically, sonically etc. If they have demo tracks, you already have a good start but it's not at all necessary. I would ask if they have some examples of grooves and sounds on other recordings that they are hoping to emulate in some way. Sometimes people have loops that were just place-holders but they are striving for something different from that. Are they wanting a "loop" approach or a full "live take". Busier parts or simplified from what they provided. Just asking and listening together so we can bring the project as a whole into focus first to then see what roll the drum/percussion tracks will play in it.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Short version. I have 33+ years live & recording experience playing drums and percussion. It has been my job for at least that long. I was so into drumming as a little kid that I started lessons when I was 6 years old. I quickly learned to read drum and melodic music with piano lessons starting at 10. I was fortunate to be a part of a musical family, that had and shared lots of different tastes. This continued on building with my first pit band musical paid gig, before I could be payed on the books as I was only 13 playing with a bunch of adults. Later Berklee College of Music, studying recording and music law, graduate school at the University of North Texas and a move to LA in the mid-90's and some fun tours with a few pop-stars at the time before moving to Austin, TX in 2000. Now in Nashville since 2017-18.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: In my studio, I have been mostly working on drum tracks for singer songwriters who are either wanting their scratch drum parts or stock loops developed into 'live' takes, drum parts replaced or created from scratch in the demo stage of their songs or projects or adding percussion or electronic parts and sound design added, again from ideas of theirs or something we come up with together.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: See above.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Musicality. Musicality encompasses listening/communication and having the vocabulary and taste to support whatever the song, project, or band requires at the time.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Don't spend too much time on your laptop listening over and over and tinkering with your project to "get it just right". A recording of an artist's song is a snapshot in time. The most timeless music has been recorded in a few takes. You can remove all the human qualities of music and of the musician's performances on it by "tinkering" for days. We didn't have the ability to do all that we can with just a basic laptop and a DAW. And if you're anything like me, what you did at that moment in time, after repeated listening over days, might become less interesting to you. Your ears can get numb from just listening, yes, but also to a song. Something that grabbed your ear and was exciting or evoked an emotion, when played repetitively over time, can tend to lose that feeling. It's an amazing thing to have this kind of access to recording at home and hiring experienced strangers to suddenly become a part of your own very personal musical project. Thats amazing! But with great power, comes great responsibility. At the end of the released stems of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", you hear Tammi Terrell, who just sang one of the most timeless soul tracks in history say something like "I think I need to do that again.." Nope, she didn't get the chance, she didn't need to. It was amazing and beautiful already and listened to all over the world to this day and beyond.