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The time has come for me to part with the amazing amber acrylic kit. I lovelovelove these drums, but we hatched a plan for an incredible new RD kit for my arsenal, and I don’t want to be a drum hog.

This kit began as a custom drumset specifically for the Bill Mike Band.  I also used them for all the video lessons, in quite a few sessions, and live with BMB for a few years now.  Last year I added some additional toms to the kit, and the sizes are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  14×24 kick, 11×15 rack, 16×18 floor, and 16×20 floor.  The 9×14 snare will be sold separately.

Seriously, this kit is crazy awesome.  I hate to part with it, but such is life.

Contact keith@risendrums.com for info on grabbing these drums…

This dude was John Bonham’s drum tech during the major stage of Zeppelin’s career.  He’s *maybe* a little bit of a dork, but the video is cool.  I came across it earlier this week while geeking-out about my recently-expanded Bill Mike kit.  The amber Vistalites sitting in the background on this vid is the kit that inspired the one I have now.  I believe Bonham used those drums during Zep’s 1977 tour following the release of The Song Remains The Same.

Quick story about Ochletree’s dork factor and Bonham’s original amber Vistalites:  Joel Hanson, a singer/songwriter that I play with, was in a Grammy-winning band in the 90’s called PFR.  For one of their records, producer Jimmie Lee Sloas called Ochletree and had him fly out to Minneapolis with Bonham’s actual amber Vistas so the band could use the drums on the album.  Ochletree set the kit up, which apparently included two hours of sitting on the ground cross-legged, methodically shredding a stack of newspapers into small strips, and filling the kick drum with them.  This, according to Ochletree, was how Bonham got his famous kick sound.

Here’s some footage from soundcheck at a Jeremy Sanoski Band gig the other night in Wisconsin. This was the live debut of the newly-expanded amber acrylic kit…

img_5195I’ve got a great RD acrylic kit that I use specifically for the Bill Mike Band (you can see footage of this kit in the RD video lessons). The dimensions are pretty extreme, but I like that.  I actually just ordered some additional toms to go with the kit (15″ rack and 18″ floor) so I can use it for studio stuff beyond just BMB music.

Anyway, last week I found a great article on acrylic drums.  It’s a good read for anyone who’s interested in the history of drum building and why certain shells sound the way they do.

We finished up the drum tracking for the Sanoski record on Friday. The stuff turned out great. I’m excited for this record to be done so people can hear it. I think March-ish is realistic for the album’s release, hopefully.

Like most rock sessions, I was camping out on my 60’s Ludwig Supraphonic for most of the tracks. There’s just something magical about that drum. I’ve got a handful of great snare drums, but when it comes to a great classic rock snare sound, the Supraphonic always wins the shoot-out. Actually, I think I read somewhere that the Ludwig Supraphonic is the most recorded model of snare drum in history.

While the Supraphonic’s tone is the go-to, “typical rock” snare tone, there are quite a few other rock sounds that aren’t in the Supraphonic’s wheelhouse. For the Sanoski record, we ended up using a couple of my Risen snares, and they just killed it…

img_3569The 6.5×14 black brass was the pick on some faster, punk-ish tracks. This drum is normally tuned down for a Supraphonic-ish tone for my gigging. I’ve been using a Remo Control-Sound on the black brass lately, but for the tracks on Friday I slapped on an Evans G2 and really cranked it, and the drum found a sweet spot I’ve never heard from it before. Holy cow… this thing was NASTY. I’ve literally never heard a louder drum. It really breathed a new life into the track, and the engineer told me that it was the coolest raw snare tone that he’d ever had in his studio.

img_51861Toward the close of the day we tackled a track that had a very interesting “BonJovi-meets-DeathCab” feel to it, and we turned to the huge Bill Mike acrylic snare. 9×14 of orange acrylic with a Aquarian TC reverse dot. It sounded amazing. Again, I cranked this drum a little higher than a normally have it for Bill Mike gigs, and the drum took on a new attitude. I’ve always liked the way this drum can exist at the flappy tuning I’ve been using it for, but I might jsut keep it cranked like this for a while.

It was great to get these drums happening on new fronts from where I normally have them. They’ve already been indespensable components in my snare arsenal, but I’ve got big plans for them now that I’ve seen their versatility.

Jeremy Sanoski is a dude I’ve been playing with for a few years now. He’s a super cool guy with a GREAT voice, and the band is what you would call a typical power trio (me, Jeremy, and my friend Phil Hicks on bass). Jeremy has a very “classic rock” sound, and the music we play ends up feeling like a cool combination of AC/DC, Foo Fighters, and Green Day.

Anyway, we’re tracking a full-length album this week at Hewitt Studios, which is where we recorded the episodes for the Risen Drums Video Lesson Series. The very boss Matt Berry is producing/engineering. I’ve got the big kick drum from the orange Bill Mike kit in the saddle for these sessions, with some other acrylic toms in standard sizes.

Man, the acrylic sound has really been growing on me… especially in the studio. You can crank them WAY down to get some serious depth and spank, but you don’t lose any tone. I guess that’s because their more dense, right? I don’t really know. Somebody help me out if I’m wrong here, but I think the SOUND of the drum comes from the drum head, and the shell just causes that sound to bounce around a little more or less depending on the density. Well, acrylic seems to get the sound moving quite a bit, even at a low tuning.

More from the studio tomorrow…

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