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On March 14 I received an invitation to play in Ben Rector‘s band for his slot on leg one of NeedtoBreathe’s Tour De Compadres, which ran from April 16 – May 16. I had never heard Ben’s music or even met any of the guys in his band or the other bands (NTB, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Colony House), but the experience proved again why the music world is so rad: I really loved playing music with Ben and his band (Cody Fry on guitar, Kevin MacIntire on bass). They are all great players/vocalists, and Ben is a masterful songwriter and front man. On top of that, the hang was incredible… not just with Ben but with all 4 of the bands. I got home from the tour a week ago and I’m bummed it’s over!
But this post is about gear, because I love giving credit where it’s due. Risen Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Remo drumheads… theses companies all make fantastic stuff that makes playing music so gratifying. I remember when I had to always fight my gear in order to get it to sound good, and those days are over now.
For Ben’s music I decided to use the same physical setup that I’ve had on recent Sara B tours: kick/snare/rack/floor, SPD in a second rack tom position, and hats/crash/ride. My laptop provided Ableton goodness but only for click purposes, and I kept a swap option snare off to the right.
The drums were the Risen “vintage mahogany” shells with triple flange hoops (8×12, 14×16, and 14×22). The finish is a paint (not a wrap) and has been dubbed “Steve Gold Sparkle.”
I used my workhorse 6.5×14 black brass tube lug snare (tuned mid-low-ish) on most of the set, supplemented by my 5.5×15 Canopus Ash snare as the tight and high alternative. The BFSD muffles (Donut and Original) showed up as well a few times throughout the set.
I brought two cymbal rigs on the tour, one for large outdoor spaces and one for theaters or enclosed bandshells. The outdoor rig is pictured above, L to R (all Paiste): 602 Modern Essential 16″ crash hats, 20″ Masters Dark crash, 22″ 602 Modern Essential 22″ ride. They’re full and rich, with some brightness and presence, but not overbearing.
The indoor rig had the same 20″ Masters Dark crash, but the 16″ crash hats and 22″ ride were Masters Dark as well. That series is somewhat new to the Paiste world, and I got a set back in February. Wow. I love them. The tone is dark and the pitch is deep, but there’s no trashy or flimsy presence. The ride really surprised me – unique, full of character, and different than I expected – but I love it. I’ve used it on jazz gigs, in sessions, and now out on tour with Ben.
Below is a drumcam video I made at one of our Florida gigs, and it features the Masters Dark rig. It also features the always-boss stage moves of Kevin MacIntire, who I played disc golf with literally every day of the entire tour. #winning
As always, comment here or message me if you have any questions!
I was having a coffee discussion today with my friend (and fantastic bassist) Kevin MacIntire about what drives musical/artistic progress in individuals. We spoke and thought about the various forms of work ethic in young musicians, and also our own journeys as instrumentalists.
As a somewhat regular private lesson instructor, I can speak from experience in saying that there is a noticeable difference between students who desire accomplishment/status in the music industry vs a skillful relationship to their drum kit. It’s like the love of money vs the love of the game. Which makes someone work harder? We all know that “hard work” is necessary in achieving any form of progress, but what is the end goal of the work? Where does the desire to work hard at something originate? Does financial gain produce the same work ethic as inspiration?
I have my own thoughts and life experiences that relate to these questions, but I’m writing this post because just now I came across a Kierkegaard quote which seems to intersect the topic nicely:
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!” – Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
*Soren drops mic and walks offstage*