When I got my first drum set at 13, it was a standard four piece with one cheesy little sorta crash-ride cymbal. It was a gateway to the most amazing universe I would ever know. I had no idea how drummers were able to do the things they could do, and as my listening expanded to the heavy metal and prog drummers of the day in the 70’s, I was amazed at what guys like Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, and Bill Ward could do with their jazz chops.
Around that time, I also discovered Billy Cobham and his bombastic Fibes kit. His display of musicality and technical prowess were beyond belief, and I worked as hard as I could to figure out what he was doing. As time passed, I eventually did figure a lot of it out, and I could actually play it. At 16, this was quite a ride. I had also added pieces and parts to my small kit and expanded to a pretty big 10-piece, loving every bit of it.
Fast forward to 2015. I have a three piece be-bop kit to keep my jazz chops in tune and refined, but when it comes time to let it all out, there’s only one way to go…
Last year, I made a decision to focus on Tama, for several reasons. Mind you, I’m not an endorsed pro, not a touring or recording guy. I write a blog and hit things. But I do have plans and ambitions, which are slowly moving forward, and to accomplish them, I decided to go with something I could find anywhere in the world and that had hardware I could do handstands on.
I picked up a cool little five piece with a 20” kick from Guitar Center, Lawndale California. Chris Chiles sold it to me, a very good guy. He told me a girl sold the kit to him but really didn’t want to get rid of it. Hard times, the reality of our day. I immediately felt soul from this little kit, gave the kick a stomp, and bought it.
Mostly, I loved the color. It made me feel a certain way, which brought out certain things in my playing. I know, that sound ridiculous, but I feel colors, literally. Like touch sensations sometimes almost.
So, I bring the little kit home, and I soon wanted more. I went over to Jammin’ Jersey’s, Northridge, California, and picked up three more Rockstar drums (two rack toms, one floor tom). I brought them home, hooked them up, and I felt my childhood coming back. I bought a 22” kick and another rack tom off of eBay, and then things really started to feel familiar.
I’ve always loved cymbals, so over the next several months, I started adding to my Zidljian A’s, including a 23” Sweet Ride, a 22” A Custom Ping ride, a 22” medium thin crash, 16” medium thin crash, and a really cool sounding pair of 15” vintage New Beat hi hats. All in all, 11 cymbals, 10 drums, and a few more Tama snares, including the massive 8×14” Big Black snare.
And when I was done, My Blue Dream was born.
The logistics of setting up such a kit required a lot of boom cymbal stands, although a rack is probably what a reasonable person would use. I’m thinking about it. In the meantime, I have the size kit I want, could use another kick drum and some Octobans (of course), but for now, what I really have… is a percussion ensemble.
When I hear the expression, “Less is more,” I usually cringe. I know, I know, play for the music, and all the other classic phrases… but what if you are capable of unleashing in a way that far transcends what a four piece, single cheesy crash/ride can do? What if you are able to soar, blaze, let er’ rip like a big dog?
Why should drummers in any way feel like they have to apologize for going big?
As far as I’m concerned, More is More. By expanding your tonal palette, you can paint some pretty amazing pictures. On the other side of things, I most often use only the 23” Sweet Ride with my bop kit. I don’t need anything else for that music. But for what I hear in my head, feel in my heart, more lets me do more.
Now if I can just find that 22” Zildjian Pang somewhere…