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I’m in the middle of another tour with Owl City right now, and this time we’re opening for Maroon 5 on their North American leg. Let me first say… those guys are great musicians. Good pockets and cool parts and clean players. But their PRODUCTION is off the charts. LED walls everywhere. Lasers, confetti canons, additional staging that lowers into place… all the bells and whistles.
One very cool element is LED screen walls under the drum risers, but also even on the drums themselves. This means that the video content scrolling across the backdrop LED screens can be on the stage area as well in a very 3-dimensional way. The result is basically a Glo Kit, but brighter and with moving video content when desired.
One possible downside to this would be the weight. The wraps certainly appear to be heavy, and they attach externally, so the weight of the LED’s would be on the drum itself. I’d think this would produce some choking, but I didn’t hear any during the show.
I’m looking forward to seeing these guys play every night for the next two months.
So I traded in my prototype Glo Kit for an expanded and upgraded one, which is being assembled this week. I’m taking it out on the Blenders upcoming Holiday Tour, so look for videos and pics of that coming soon.
In other Glo Kit news, all the custom drum manufacturers are starting to churn out glowing drums of their own, and I came across some of the videos online last night. Shine Drums made a kit that Katy Perry’s drummer has been using, and Phattie Drums also has one. Then there’s the SJC version. But my favorite is this dude from Spaun Drums. I think it’s his comfortable demeanor on camera that really sells me.
I was also told that Toby Mac’s drummer is touring with one, in addition to Mercy Me and then Katy Perry. So the idea is getting out there!
PS… I noticed a debate in the comment sections of one of the videos, and interestingly enough, it appears that SJC had some internally-lit acrylic drums at their NAMM booth back in mid January. I’m not sure if the lights are programmable LEDs or just bulbs, but regardless, those things are definitely glowing. RD first purchased the parts and mapped out the kit idea in late November, but we didn’t complete the assembly until February 1st, so it looks like SJC wins the “first with a glow kit” prize! The fact that someone else assembled a kit like that before RD did is news to me. I was tossing the idea around the RD shop way back in the spring of ’09, but I guess I should have acted on it sooner. Oh well.
I’ve been using Evans Coated G2 heads lately on my toms and most snares. I have a few snares that feel best with other heads, but the Evans have been dominating the scene for sure. In a nice and unexpected reciprocation, Evans posted the glow kit video on their Facebook page and Twitter page!
PS. I promise I will soon start thinking about trying to prioritze making an effort to work on developing a strategy for someday resuming somewhat regular blog posting…
Okay. This is the last post on my new glowing drums. I promise.
I’ve gotten a few consistent questions about these drums, so I’ll try to answer them here…
1. Size of the kit
I opted for some sizes on these drums that are a little different than other kits that I have, and it’s basically just to enhance the “glowability factor” (a great Keith quote from the promo video). The kick drum, for instance, is 18″ deep, and those of you that have read my past posts on that issue will know that I favor shallower bass drums (14 or 16). The truth is that shallower kick drums sound better, but an 18″ depth doesn’t exactly sound bad. Much deeper than that would be a problem, but 18″ is about as deep as you can go and still sound decent. I figured as long as the kit was glowing I should have as much surface area as possible. That’s also why I chose to have 3 floor toms. I’ve played with an extra floor tom off to the left of the hats for years, and I also often play with an extra one to the right of the main floor tom, but never at the same time. Again, as long as the drums are glowing, I might as well have lots of drums to glow, and then I also have a handful of various configurations if I want to go with a standard 4-pc set-up.
2. Impact-sensitive triggers for each drum
I had these drums wired specifically to be “one light,” instead of 6 separate lights, which means the lighting engineering is controlling the drums as one unit. This keeps the instrument as one instrument, which is what it should be. I think things would get out of hand very quickly if each drum were a separate color, not to mention it would cost us a lot more money and time. The things-getting-out-of-hand issue is also why I will probably never pursue triggers so the drums light up when I hit them. While the idea seems logical, I think the reality would be too over-the-top and fatiguing to look at for more than 20 seconds. I’m just trying to be aware of the potential for the gimmick to be too gimmicky. As it is the drums can change color, strobe, and work in tandem with the rest of the stage lights. That seems good enough, especially since nobody else has glowing drums to begin with. Ha.
3. Why bother with the gimmick
Most of you know that 99% of my concern with a drum set is how it sounds and how I play it. This remains true with the Glow Kit, although I understand why owning glowing drums would call my fundamental goal into question. The whole deal with this kit hinges on the fact that the appearance of drums is lopsidedly more important than the appearance of any other instrument on stage. For example, Mick Sterling once told me, when I showed up for a gig with my blue sparkle kit, “man, those drums look like they sound incredible.” Think about how ridiculous that statement is (and Mick is not a ridiculous guy)… but most if not all people in the music business think this way. People look at drums and instantly determine an expectation for how they will sound, and that really doesn’t happen with guitars/basses/keyboards or anything else at all. Then couple this with the fact that “good sounding drums” have much more to do with how I tune them and how I hit them, and also how the engineer mixes them. What you’re left with is a situation where finding a great-looking kit is the most important factor in selecting drums for live performing. So I just embraced that reality and went all out.
Hopefully this kit will land some press in the drum world, and I can just ride the whole “any press is good press” thing. In the meantime I’m going to continue working on getting better at playing the instrument, which is ultimately what really matters to me.
Here’s the official video for my new drums, dubbed “The Glow Kit.”
Also… I have a favor to ask… I really appreciate everybody posting the other Glow Kit videos on their FB pages and what not, but this official one is the best one for that. We’re trying to get the word out on these drums, so if you don’t mind tweeting/linking/whatever to the above video, that would be stellar.
Again, the live debut for this kit is TONIGHT (2/4) at the album release show for the new Jeremy Sanoski Band record. The show is at Eaglebrook Church in White Bear Lake, starts at 7:30pm, and is FREE.
2/8/10 UPDATE: Huge thanks to everybody who came out to the Sanoski Band show this past Friday. There was a way bigger crowd than we expected, which made the evening very special. Thanks also to all of you for your kind words about the drums. I’m working on an official video for them and I’ll get that posted as soon as I can.
My new RD drums are officially in the game as of late last night. There will be more footage soon, but for now here’s a sneak peak…
I’ll be using the kit at this Friday’s Jeremy Sanoski Band album release show. I put some of the tracks from the new record on my myspace page, so go check those out, and then come to the show to see everything this kit can do.