NEW YORK —Tony Verderosa, recording artist and founder of Thwak! Music, appeared in an explosive performance with Katy Perry and
Aerosmithâ€™s Joe Perry on the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA). Verderosa doubled as the live drummer and music director for the Perry/Perry collaboration — an unforgettable cover of Queenâ€™s classic â€œWe Will Rock You.â€?
A classically trained drummer, percussionist and electronic music pioneer with a deep artistic and commercial music portfolio, Verderosa talks about the experience of performing at the 2009 MTV VMAâ€™s.
Q: Whatâ€™s your connection to this show? How and why did you get the call?
Verderosa: MTV was looking to hire a musical director to work with Katy Perry and Joe Perry. They wanted to have something massive sounding for the opening of the VMA’s this year: huge sampled beats, triggered live with acoustic drums.
Q: How did you approach meeting the needs of the showâ€™s producers?
Verderosa:As musical director and drummer, my job is to make sure Katy and Joe were comfortable with the grooves and the arrangement. The producers also wanted to add some other elements, so I added percussionists to play timpani and concert bass drums as well.
I was a good fit for this assignment, because I have experience performing live on stage with drums and samples, creating live remixes, triggering vocals and more. I am very comfortable taking the production values from the studio and adapting those to my live drum kit. There was lot of pre-production work in terms of creating the loops, pitching the key up slightly, adding some cool layers and grooves to blend in with the main loop from “We Will Rock You” — then mapping it all out on the kit and rehearsing everyone to create a tight arrangement.
Q: How does this song choice bring out the best of what you, Joe & Katy can do?
Verderosa: â€œWe Will Rock Youâ€? is great showcase for Katy Perry and Joe Perry. Katy was perfect for this anthem: She gives 150% on every performance, and Iâ€™m amazed at what she did with this iconic song. Joe put his stamp on this song. It’s a perfect space for him to solo in creatively. I am triggering all of these beats, layers and vocal hooks live on stage, plus playing acoustic beats on top. This was not a Pro Tools computer rig just playing pre-recorded tracks back live. We could extend the mix as needed. If Joe turned to me and wanted another 8 or 16 bars, we could just go. It was a no-restrictions live remix.
Q: What does it mean to you to play with such high-profile artists? How do you characterize their talents?
Verderosa: Katy is an amazing singer — powerful, confident and very unique. She has become a household name and international superstar. Joe Perry has developed such a voice on his instrument: You just need to hear two or three notes and you know it’s him. It’s a huge thrill and a big honor for me to work with such great artists.
Q: How does this experience differ from other shows/productions youâ€™ve been involved in?
Verderosa: An estimated 1.2 billion people will see this. The scale of this production is insane. MTV pulls out all of the stops –it really doesn’t get any bigger than the VMAs.
Q: How did you decide what to equip yourself with technically for the show?
Verderosa: This is probably the most famous drum beat in the world, and we wanted to bring something new to the feel. To produce a remix in the studio and then play it live, I need a Drum Triggering Module and also a sampler. Fortunately, Yamaha has created a new drum module called the DTXreme 3. It has 500 mgb of sample memory for my loops and vocals, and the triggering speed is insane. I have the whole show saved on a small thumb drive. All of the preproduction was done in Cubase 5.
Founded in 2001 by international recording artist Tony Verderosa, Thwak! has built a loyal following in the Film, TV and Advertising Industry by creating custom music, original songs and re-records of classic songs with it’s roster of award winning songwriters and film composers. It also is the home of music supervision/music licensing division, ThwakIT.com. For more information, please visit www.thwak.com, email [email protected] or callÂ 212-937-5177.
Click here to watch â€œWe Will Rock Youâ€? from the 2009 MTV VMAâ€™s
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