GEAR TALK TUESDAY: 505 Drum Machine with Teeth and Tongue
  • TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch



This week, we decided to talk to Teeth and Tongue, the musical project of New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based Jess Cornelius, about her favorite piece of music gear.

"It's probably not my 'favorite' piece of gear, because I don't use it anymore, but the 505 drum machine is close to my heart. It was the first drum machine I've ever used and it spawned a whole lot of different directions and styles in my songwriting," says Cornelius.

After doing some research, we found that Vintage Synth Explorer said that it's "extremely basic but does make a good starter or play-along drum machine."

Cornelius continues, "The 505 doesnt sound particularly hi-fi, and its not even that intuitive to program. You can only run one stereo out so it's a bit hopeless for a lot of things. And you can't edit the drum sounds. But it is very simple in its layout and appearance, quite easy to get started on, and has some wacky clap and cowbell sounds."

"I bought mine about eight years ago for one-hundred and fifty dollars, I think on eBay. I was aware of how limiting it was, but those limitations were quite good in a lot of ways. You have to work harder to get a song really interesting and dynamic without a lot of fancy fills. God, it was a pain in the arse to program, I remember now. But strangely enough I ended up using it in my live set for several years! I lugged it all around the UK, Spain, France and Germany on tour. I used to have a foot switch that made it stop and start mid-song so that we could add dramatic dynamics. But at one show in Sydney, the drum machine was completely out of time for the whole song and I realized afterwards that the foot switch had been set to 'offbeat' mode, so it would start the pattern a beat after you stepped on it. That never happened again..."



It seems like this drum machine offered one big learning experience. It showed Cornelius how to get started, and it also taught her to never set it to 'offbeat' mode... And even though it's not the most complex machine and Cornelius has moved on to bigger and better things, there's something lovable and endearing about it.

"Even though the 505 sounds were not great, there was something about them I loved. Eventually I upgraded to a new-fangled drum machine to reduce the chance of it short-circuiting mid-set, but it had huge banks of sounds and I ended up using a lot of 505 samples anyway. And now we have an actual human drummer -- but he still plays drum samples."

Also check out the Teeth and Tongue's new video for "Dianne," (below) off their forthcoming album, Give Up On Your Health, out this September. The video features a lo-fi recording of the band jumping around and singing in what looks to be someone's bedroom. It's fun, relatable, and catchy as hell.

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