Hans Zimmer and Jason Bonham collaboration

Video of Jason Bonham sample library on Hollywood home turf

Posted Under: Expert

Drum tools creator Spitfire Audio is proud to announce availability of HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES — the second (Mac 10.6 or higher and Windows 7 compatible) virtual instrument installment of Hollywood soundtrack supremo Hans Zimmer’s tantalising take on his truly trailblazing approach to cinematic percussion production for Native Instruments’ KONTAKT PLAYER platform, this time featuring unbeatable pearl performances from rock aristocrat Jason Bonham on his huge-sounding DW Vistalite drum kit, recorded at the equally epic-sounding Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox Film Studios (Century City, California) and the Sony Pictures Scoring Stage (Culver City, California), the largest motion picture scoring venue in the world, as well as a large concrete space within Zimmer’s remarkable Remote Control Productions lot in Santa Monica, California, known as ‘The Cathedral’ — as of July 15…

A distinctive pattern, product, or characteristic by which someone or something can be identified. So reads a typical dictionary definition of the word signature. Spitfire Audio’s Signature Range sample library luminaries certainly have a signature sound, hence the apt appellation. As one of the most successful, influential, and prolific film composers of his generation, and no stranger to sampling himself, of course, Hans Zimmer — with whom Spitfire Audio previously collaborated on the multi-award-winning HZ01 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LONDON library, a definitive collection of hybrid cinematic widescreen percussion ensemble excellence — surely needs little in the way of introduction. For his not inconsiderable part in its Los Angeles-recorded followup’s performance proceedings, legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son, Jason Bonham, is quite literally no stranger to distinctive patterns himself as a world-renowned rock drummer in his own right, having stepped up to the plate to fill his fathers shoes when musically hitting it out of the park at Led Zeppelin’s renowned reunion concert at London’s 02 Arena on December 10, 2007. Today he happens to be one of the hardest hitters around — of drums, not baseballs, that is!

Rightly so, then, the genesis of HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES dates back to its film composer namesake’s relatively recent quest to craft the Man Of Steel soundtrack with uniquely powerful percussion sessions. Says Zimmer: “At one point I had this idea of a sort of drum circle, and I invited some of the best drummers in the world into this. I had Sheila E, Pharrell Williams, ‘JR’ Robinson, Vinnie Colaiuta — a fair list, but the thing I noticed was that, even with all these other drummers around, Jason was just louder! There’s a spirit — of course it’s in his DNA, and I think there’s something to be said for that, so it was just an absolute delight to have him come in, because here’s my thing about sampling: ultimately, there is a performance in every single hit. You can recognise the character of the players, so you want to find these players that have a sound of their own, where each hit has an identity and commitment behind it, and you hear it and feel it, and it does something extraordinary.”

The admiration is mutual. “I love the fact that his attention to detail is huge, and he was so sweet,” says Bonham, before continuing: “I can’t read music, so I felt a little out of depth when the sheet music was next to me and all the other drummers were reading it. But Hans told the conductor, ‘We’re not going to read music today. We’re going to do it by feel. I’ll tell you what the part is, and we’re just going to do it.’ So Hans did that just for me. I come from the jukebox method. My dad would play his songs and I would play along as a kid. That’s how it went until I got older and then I kind of figured things out as I got to watch these fantastic drummers that I got to work with.”

Interestingly, Bonham’s lack of formal music training far from phased producer Zimmer. Quite the contrary, in fact: “I had two weeks of piano lessons. That’s my formal education. So I know that’s not the be all and end all of knowing how to make music. Everybody in the world reads, but that doesn’t make them into Shakespeare, does it? So the reading part isn’t that important. The heart part is important. And Jason is all soul and all heart — he really is, and, at the same time, there is a courage to hit things in a certain way. There’s an imagination that goes on as well, which I find really great.”

Having recorded HZ01 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LONDON at London’s legendary AIR Studios, this time Zimmer chose to record on his Hollywood home turf when working with Bonham. His reasoning is sound: “AIR is a big hall — it’s really a church, so the acoustic is very different, and the Newman Stage is a big room, really — plus it really has a beautiful acoustic with a beautiful top end, and the bottom end is second to none. It’s actually my favourite stage in Los Angeles, even though we did some stuff over at Sony as well — plus we did some stuff here where we have, let’s say, a very interesting-sounding room. It’s really rough. It’s got real grit and character. So having these different acoustic environments is, I think, a real plus, because, firstly, the musician responds differently to each acoustic, and, secondly, you get a much larger palette to play with, and one of the things that I thought would be interesting for this project is to really create a fairly large palette of sonic possibilities. At the end of the day, we want to end up with something really extraordinary, because, once you get the guys in to start playing, and you see how much effort and sweat they put into this, you need to honour that at the other end and do a good job of preserving that energy. You can’t just crank it out. Each hit is treated like a little diamond that needs to be shaped and polished, tweaked and played around with.”

As such, Spitfire Audio is once again delighted to present another extraordinary entry in its Signature Range of products produced by a true Hollywood hotshot and his diamond-class crack team of engineers, musicians, and technicians. Recorded by the GRAMMY Award-winning Alan Meyerson using numerous microphone positions at those three legendary locations to capture Bonham playing and hitting his one-of-a-kind DW Vistalite drum kit with numerous snares, beaters, and sticks, as well as banging 20th Century Fox’s thumping great bass drum (originally commissioned by Alfred Newman for the famous 20th Century Fox theme), and mixed in stereo and 5.1 surround by GRAMMY Award- and Oscar-winning engineers Geoff Foster and Steve Lipsom, HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES also features exclusive content created by Zimmer himself, including some serious hand-crafted synth drums courtesy of his monstrous modular systems at Remote Control Productions.

With everything deeply recorded with multiple round robins, dynamic layers, beater types, and playing styles under Zimmer’s deft direction (resulting in no less than 29,477 samples from 35.6 hours of source material to create 34.3GB of WAV format file data), and all GUI and scripting design handled back in London by the finest sample developers in the world, the resulting virtual instrument is truly a world-class product through and through. Hollywood here we come? Well, with more than a little luck and attendant talent to write home about, anyone with their sights seriously set on following in Hans Zimmer’s fabled footsteps should surely sit up and take note of HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES! Attention to detail is, indeed, huge, as is its sound, thanks in no small part to the persuasive percussive talent of Jason Bonham.

HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES can be purchased and downloaded directly from Spitfire Audio for £199.00 GBP (subject to VAT within the EU).

For more detailed info and several awe-inspiring audio demos from professional composers, including Spitfire Audio co-founders Christian Henson and Paul Thompson, please visit the HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES webpage here: http://www.spitfireaudio.com/hz-percussion-los-angeles.

Watch Spitfire Audio co-founder Paul Thomson’s telling HZ02 – HANS ZIMMER PERCUSSION LOS ANGELES video walkthrough here:

 

 

 

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