Write one melody, scrap the other. Realize the new one warrants a new chord progression. Realize that chord progression doesn’t fit with the current song. Start a new song. Repeat.

That was my process for writing this song. I’m excited and relieved it’s out on the interwebs for your viewing and listening pleasure.

It’s a mathy one. Some parts are in 13/4 (3, 3, 4, 3). The outro is in 7/4. I didn’t intend to write in eye-rolling time signatures. I just dug the space between beats, and the room it afforded the melody.

Here’s the video of me playing through + the actual track (available for free download) on Soundcloud.




Subbing In With Hazel English

I had the pleasure of filling in on drums for my homie, Liam O’Neil, with Hazel English. Not only is the band comprised of the sweetest people, but their tunes ear candy. Here’s a video from the gig.

Thanks to the Hazel English crew for having me!

Post-show band pic. Shout out to @kylekellyyahner who filled in on drums and did a killer job 👏

A photo posted by Hazel English (@hazelenglishmusic) on Jun 6, 2016 at 2:57pm PDT


How To Play “Burn The Witch”

Burn The Witch

Radiohead disappeared from the interwebs Sunday, only to come back with a vengeance on Tuesday when they dropped “Burn The Witch” inducing mass hysteria.

I am not above the hysteria. I am enamored with this song.

Chalk it up to Greenwood’s minimalist orchestration, his collection of analog drum samples, or the peaks and valleys of Yorke’s crooning. I won’t be able to pick one. But, I did pick out the drum part and some samples that sound close(ish) to whatever black magic Greenwood is using.

The Samples

I used all analog synth and drum machine samples for the beat. Download them here.

  • Snare – Roland TR606
  • Kick – Jomox Xbase 09
  • Hi Hat – Teenage Engineering OP-1


The Beat

Here’s the beat by itself and the transcription.


The Play Through

Here’s the play through. LP9 can’t get here fast enough.

Elvin’s Sextuplets


The Sextuplet Effect

I’m working on a post showing how Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Art Blakey all use triplets differently, each in their own signature way. Elvin happens to have a rather large signature.

I was listening to a standard, “Dear John C” and one fill stood out to me. Elvin laces a tight grouping of notes together to propel his brother, Hank Jones, into a piano solo. If Elvin’s fill is full of spice, Hank’s laid back entry into a solo extinguishes Elvin’s spice in a refreshing way. It’s a small moment, but one to savor.

Elvin’s fill uses sextuplets as opposed to his signature triplets. The sextuplet fill has the same swing style of phrasing (obviously, it’s jazz). But, the amount of notes Elvin fits into two measures with such dexterity and feel is worth noting. Without picking it out, you might miss it.
Here’s the 4 bar phrase. Elvin comps for 2 bars and then fills for 2 bars

Here’s the transcription. I recommend playing this at 80, super slow, before going up to warp speed at the true tempo – 195.


Elvin’s average fill is still jam packed with wisdom.

Questions, comments, or critique on the transcription – let me know on Twitter


When you hang out with audio engineers, it’s easy to think of audio engineering as a bottomless pit. Some fell in it and are further down in their fall. Some are near the top. But no one is hitting the bottom. I’m near the top.

I’ve been doing remote studio work for a band on the east coast. I had a blast demoing tracks, transcribing programmed drums, programming more drums and working with the man himself – Chris Sugiura.

We laid down a track in an “improvised” setting – my rehearsal spot. Here’s the drum porn.

Tracksville, USA with the homie @csugiura The man has a tuned in set of 👂🏼s. #makestuff #drums #ludwig #agop

A photo posted by Kyle Kelly-Yahner (@kylekellyyahner) on Apr 11, 2016 at 10:15am PDT

The Rainy Season Of Shedsville

#NoisePop2016 came and went. I had the pleasure of doing my best Matt Johnson (St. Vincent) impression with Debbie Neigher. Now El Nino is pounding SF and the rain has me locked up in my practice space.

Debbie has been crafting some synth heavy songs that are absolute jammers. I listened to a ton of Matt’s drumming to get sounds for the sampler and get a vibe for the gig.

Here’s me in my natural drumming position – mouth agape, staring at a circle or square I will soon hit.


The Shed

With a slow season for gigs, I’m hitting the shed a ton and exploring. To get new practice ideas I’ve been trolling Instagram and transcribing beats from Aaron Steele (Chrome Sparks, Portugal The Man, Alice Smith + many others). His #stockbeats series is a masterclass in feel and brevity.

Here’s Aaron’s beat I covered.

Here’s my cover of it.

Shedded to @aaronsteele_damn's #stockbeat after listening to a ton of Chrome Sparks.

A post shared by Kyle Kelly-Yahner (@kylekellyyahner) on


Adam Tuminaro aka The Orlando Drummer also has some really killer drills to help coordination around the kit and general chops. The man is a savage as shown by this Instagram video.

If you find yourself wandering through shedsville – say hello. I’ll be posting transcriptions of what I’m practicing along with a few videos of the chops.

Happy playing!

The Road To “Easy Cowboy” + NoisePop


DONCAT finished up the first tour of the year. Our jaunt from LA down to San Diego, over to Phoenix and way up to Portland was a fun one. We kicked the tour off with a hometown show at Bottom of the Hill with VanWave and our homies from Lower Brite.

It felt great to dig into the tunes that will be on DONCAT’s upcoming record out this year, Easy Cowboy.
Now that I’m home in San Francisco (and slept for nearly an entire weekend to recover from tour) it’s back to the grind. Noise Pop is coming up fast.
I’m playing The Night Light with DONCAT on Sunday 2/7. Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, music is more important than the Super Bowl.
I’m also playing 2/25 at Bottom of the Hill with Debbie Neigher. She’s got this St.-Vincent-meets-Natalie-Prass on-a-soul-binge-thing going on right now. It’s awesome. I’m doing a ton of work on the SPDSX to capture the electro-side of her sound.
Here’s to a gig filled 2016. See you on the road, or at the show.

Christopher Hainey: Building Chops and Blending Styles


You know Philosoraptor? The T-rex philosopher? That’s what Maps and Atlases drummer Chris Hainey is like to me. He’s equal parts brain and brawn, and seems like he’s not from this age. He’s also a damn fantastic photographer, just look at his Instagram page.

He comes up with ingenious creative drum parts that draw from influences ranging from marching bands to frenetic afro-cuban rhumba patterns. Then he melds them together in a way that serves the song. He just serves Maps and Atlases’ songs in a different way, slamming sextuplets around the kit at a blistering pace while playing in 7/4.

That’s the case for the song “Everyplace Is A House” In six bars, Chris does a whole lot of work. Here’s the part we’ll be covering – the bridge. After the fold, I’ll show you how to play it in a video tutorial, along with a transcription.

Pssst – check out the homie, Evan Chapman’s incredible drum cover of this for the whole thing.

Here’s How To Play That Madness

Behold – my first hastily thrown together tutorial.

Here’s the transcription.

ChrisHaineyYou’ll need your rudimental chops for this one, good luck!

Tape Study: Jason McGerr Flips Some Paradiddles Into A Groove

It rained in San Francisco yesterday. So, naturally, I put on flannel and barricaded myself in my practice space to play some Death Cab For Cutie.

Here’s a video and transcription of the final part of DCFC’s “What Sarah Said” Drummer Jason McGerr plays a reverse flam double paradiddle. If you’re reading that in your head or aloud, it sounds like nonsense. But Jason turns a rudimental chop into a haunting and beautiful groove. Listen below.

Mc Gerr’s Groove

You can find the transcription of the chop below, and a video of me playing it as well.

Here’s a little more info on the sticking. The lower case, unbolded letters are the ghost notes of flams. The bolded letters are played at normal volume. But, keep this one on the quiet side. It’s a ghostly groove.




Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 11.47.12 AM



18,000 Miles On The Road – Coming Home From Tour

I covered 18,781 miles via car this year on tour. That’s about 313 hours on the highway, or 13 days straight in a vehicle.

An overwhelming amount of those days were filled with my favorite things: drinking coffee and making dumb jokes with my friends, playing drums, experiencing how massive and diverse the U.S. is in a car.

The life spent on stage, doing what you love in front of awesome crowds is well documented (look at any band’s Instagram). There’s another part of tour that doesn’t involve the stage – coming home.

Why Tour?

There are many reasons to go on tour, but when I ask myself why the hell I spent nearly two weeks this October driving around the country I never have a succinct answer.

The nights spent in hotels (if we’re lucky) or on floors (most likely) with your bandmates are like slumber parties. Who gets to have slumber parties as adults?! They’re the best. You fall asleep with your sides hurting from unexplainably stupid jokes. Does that count as a reason to tour? It’s certainly a reason. But you continue on tours even when you can’t think of a good reason to. The chase is intoxicating.

The morning after I got robbed on the Matt Pond PA tour, Shawn Alpay and I were getting ready to check out of a hotel room. He asked me if I was ready to leave. I looked at him, grabbed my ear plugs off the dresser, put them in my pocket and said, “Yup, all packed up!” The set of ear plugs was my only remaining worldly possession at the time. I had no clothes aside from what I was wearing the night before. Shawn started laughing. We continued on with the tour and played a show like nothing happened the next night. The police report waited till the next morning.

A week later, I got to play a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom in front of my friends, family, and girlfriend who surprised me by flying in from her vacation in South Africa.

The way the highs and lows pop up is unpredictable, but you know they’re coming. That’s part of the rush, and the chase.

Tour is wonderful, the worst, completely foreign but strangely familiar, and I want to get back on the road as soon as I’m done vowing that I’ll rest and stay at home for a while — so, tomorrow.

The Pressure Cooker
Tour is an act of pressure cooking. That cooking takes place in a van (or Volvo, or Mazda 3). With the windows up, the van is an air tight oven. Whatever you put in it expands. Friendships sprout faster. It seems like you laugh a little louder than you do at home. The highs and lows are heightened.

When you come back, it’s jarring. There’s no gradual descent out of tour and into normal life. You’re just dropped off at home after driving up nearly the entire length of Interstate-5, stretching from Tijuana to Seattle, like that was some normal thing and not a moment in a life completely separated from your life at home.

The Abyss
With this contrast, you dive into the thought process my friend referred to as “the abyss”. There’s a sense that your life at home is a ruse, and touring is who you are when you don’t have an apartment, job, and hobbies to define you. That dissonance between those two worlds (and being thrown back into one of them) is the abyss.

I’ve been in the abyss many times this year. But it’s not a bad thing. Part of what I love about tour is how it heightens the contrast between you and your normal life. You’re more grateful for a bed, your girlfriend, and salads when you come off the road. In turn, after spending time in normalcy, you’re also more grateful for your bandmates and the opportunity to play music.

It’s a crazy pursuit. There’s no other job where you spend 10 hours traveling to work for 40 minutes. It doesn’t feel like work. Whether the show falls short or it’s the best show of tour, you still go on to the next town. It’s the pursuit, the dogged attempt to get better at what you love doing no matter what. Despite every logistical and financial hurdle in your way, you keep moving.

The Other
To put my freshman-year-at-Bard-College hat on, we’re willing ourselves towards The Other. This is the essence of the tragic/glorious metaphysical nature of tour. The Other is different for me than it is to my bandmates. It’s a future I haven’t met yet, but am working towards. That’s The Other to me. It’s knowing I’m relentlessly pursuing something that, even if I catch, I won’t be satisfied with. I’ll always be hungry to play more and perform better. Knowing that, there’s nothing you can do but go on the road to do what you love, even if that’s a little insane.

This makes coming home hard. There’s no easy way to reconcile the two worlds, and the feeling of being split between them. But I’m sure I’ll have more time to think about that during the next 18,000 mile drive.