Interview With Session Drummer Ben Satterlee

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Interview With Session Drummer Ben Satterlee

Ben Satterlee is one of the top touring/session drummers in Nashville Tennessee. He is known as the Nashville drum coach and teaches students online from his professional studio. Ben's studio setup lets him record with artists all over the world.  His versatility as a drummer is evident in his sample recordings on the popular Yurt Rock platform. Ben is currently touring the UK and Europe with his band Larkin Poe.

Magesh, MusicNgear: I noticed that on your website you teach but can also provide drum tracks to other artists. Can you talk about the technology you use to do remote recording sessions?

Man, I tell you what my home studio is a longtime dream of mine come true.

A client can hit me up online if they want me to play their record. They send me a fleshed-out track that’s just missing the drums OR they might send me a “scratch track” that might only be an acoustic guitar and a vocalist.

I’ll pull from my studio gear the equipment that’ll best fit the track. Then I’ll play along to the track or sometimes just lay down a groove to a click. I’ll do a light mix on my end to make it sound fresh.

Then I’ll send them the idea I had via an mp3. Once they approve of the track I did, they pay me and then I send them the wav files. Boom!

You released some drum samples through Yurt Rock. How did you decide what size drums and cymbals to use for this recording?

Working with Ryan Gruss was a lot of fun. He’s a great freakin guy.

For that pack, I wanted to give the buyers some solid sounds. To give them options for the various songs or records they may be working on.

For example, one of the kits I used was trying to nail the vibe of the Steve Jordan drum sound on “Gravity” by John Mayer. So I used a smaller 18” kick with a popcorn snare and played various grooves in 6/8.

Another was more of a 90s pop vibe, so I tuned my toms a bit higher and used slightly brighter cymbals than what’s hip today.

I really should do another one…

You have to be hustling and constantly asking yourself if you’re doing enough to further your goals

You moved from Oklahoma to Nashville. Are there a lot of touring and recording opportunities in Nashville currently?

The move from Oklahoma to Nashville(for me) was a long time coming. Not to sound arrogant but the ceiling was kinda low back in Oklahoma. Not many touring opportunities or session work. You gotta HUSTLE to make any kind of bread.

Nashville has an insane amount of talented players both live and in the studio. These days, it’s not just country music but rock and pop based here as well.

When I first moved here, I knew like 3-4 guys who had a home studio. Nowadays, I maybe know 3-4 who don’t.

Pursue your passion and be true to yourself in the process. Remember that we GET to do this and we as musicians are here to inspire and bring joy.

What drum/cymbal/stick companies do you endorse?

GEAR! I love talking gear.

Ok, so I play Dream Cymbals and I freakin love them! They have a beautiful raw quality that sounds amazing both live and ESPECIALLY in the studio. Plus they’re relatively inexpensive compared to the larger brands and sound incredible.

I play Wincent Sticks from Sweden and they’re the best sticks I’ve ever played. They last probably 4x as long as any other stick I’ve ever used and are just stupidly consistent. I use the Wincent 5BXL Hickory which is a 5b with an extra 1/2 inch in length.

I play PDP drums which are kinda rare. Most folks view them as DW's little brother but I genuinely love the drums and get a kick out of folks bugging out when they realize how a drum that’s a fraction of the cost of the “higher end” kits can still sound so good. I use them exclusively live when it’s my gear. All of my kits are PDP.

Your band Larkin Poe is about to tour the UK and Europe. Can you talk about what equipment you will be using for this tour?

Yeah, man! We leave tomorrow for Europe and it’s my first time over there. I just got a list of the backline kit for the run. It’s a DW maple kit with a 13” rack, 16” floor, and a 22” kick with a Supraphonic snare and another Ludwig wood snare as a backup.

I’m only traveling over there with my Dream cymbals and Wincent sticks. The Dream models I’m using are the 15” Eclipse hats, 19” Eclipse crash, 20” Ignition ride, and the 21” Eclipse ride. I might only use one crash at a time but we'll see. Sometimes I get bored with my setup.

Oh, I’m using a Stack Ring Percussion 16” Versa stack for a clap sound. Then I’ll use an LP tambourine and shaker as well.

You have made a career from playing live, recording sessions, and teaching. Do you have any advice for up-and-coming musicians who want to make a living playing music?

I tell you what, this industry ain’t no joke. I meet folks all the time who ask me this question. I believe you have to REALLY wanna do this and be willing to sacrifice. It’s easier if you aren’t married or have kids because budgets get TIGHT from time to time.

I’ve been fortunate that even during all the lockdown crap, I was still putting my hands to something and believing that the world will open up again. You have to be hustling and constantly asking yourself if you’re doing enough to further your goals. That might mean moving to a bigger city or selling extra gear to help pay bills during a downtime.

Pursue your passion and be true to yourself in the process. Remember that we GET to do this and we as musicians are here to inspire and bring joy.

Connect With Ben Satterlee
Facebook // Instagram // Website

About Magesh Magesh

Magesh is a musician and producer who has worked with Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Nelly Furtado, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He released an instructional drumming DVD called "Unique Beats" where he mixed the drum kit with electronics and Indian hand percussion. He recently moved from Australia to the UK to explore new musical opportunities.

Contact Magesh Magesh at

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