My “Wrong” Drum Set Up
I am technically a right-handed, left-footed drummer. I have the high hat on my right, so that my left foot operates the bass drum. This seems wrong to almost every other drummer on the planet. I don’t think so. With my set up, the left limbs operate the bass and snare drum, the fundamental drums in rock/jazz type of music, while the right limbs operate the high hat or ride cymbal. This seems much more natural than the norm of right foot/left hand operation of the bass/snare, and left foot/right hand operation of the high hat. In my particular application of this set up, I end up straddling the floor tom, rather than the snare drum. I can easily use the floor tom to simulate a “double bass drum” effect, like the speed metal drummers. With both the high hat and ride cymbal on my right side, I can switch off between the two instantly, and sometimes do so with every eighth or sixteenth note. I also prefer to have the playing surface of my drums/cymbals close to a continuous, albeit curved plane. This is to make transition from one drum/cymbal to the next as easy as possible, and minimize the risk of losing my sweat-soaked drumsticks to the dreaded drum rim monster. I also like to sit up relatively high compared to my drums so that my arms do not have to be raised too much, which might otherwise strain my shoulder and upper arm muscles before too long. It’s all very ergonomic, but it looks funny to other onlooking drummers, and even to me when I see myself drumming on video.
Other Gear Crap
I currently play a Pearl Masters Custom drum set (22” bass drum, 16” floor tom, 13” rack tom, 14” snare drum), with a single Remo 10” roto-tom as my highest tom-tom, with two crash cymbals (Zildjian 14” “Re-Mix” and Paiste 16” “Fast Crash”), one ride cymbal (Zlidjian 18” “Scimitar”), and a Camber II 14” high hat. These last two items are pretty cheap, dating back to the 80’s when I began drumming. I also play with a cowbell, sometimes two, and two Latin Percussion “Jam Blocks”, all differently pitched. These are collectively known as my “doo-dads”. I have added these doo-dads to my set up since playing with Magpu. I don’t really care to add any more to this set up, as Magpu has no roadies, and we often play shows where set-up and tear-down time is extremely minimal. I’ll wait until we are playing stadiums when I spring for the set of tympani drums, the rack of gongs, the electronic drums, etc. I have recently been in the habit of playing with TrueLine “Original TG” size 5A drumsticks. These have a slightly bulbous handle end that make them resistant to slipping out of your hand (my worst drumming nightmare, the drumming equivalent of a fumble in football). I refer to these as “bloat-sticks”, as they look like they need to go on a diet. Before playing with Magpu, I generally used thinner, lighter size 7A sticks. However, three or four amps in a spare bedroom gets loud real quick, and I like to hear myself every now and again, so I’ve gradually escalated my drumstick size. For a while in 1998, I played with purple timbale drumsticks. These sticks have no tapered “tip” end like normal drumsticks, they have the same kind of thick “handle” end on each side. They were good and loud, but left too many annoying purple stains on my drums heads and cymbals.
What the hell is up with the Walkman headphones, dude?
I don’t like earplugs, but I do like having some remnant of my hearing left after a show or practice, so I wear Walkman headphones with the wires cut off to protect my hearing. They are not a fancy wireless monitor system, they are just to take some edge off the amplified sound that would otherwise bombard my poor, defenseless eardrums. I also like to keep sweat out of my eyes, so I often wear a sweatband or bandana as well. This has the added benefit of stabilizing the headphones, which would otherwise slip off of my sweaty head before long. I have tried earplugs in the past (pre-Magpu, actually), and they caused more problems than they solved, by pushing ear wax into the ear canal, giving me a couple of severe cases of tinitus, requiring a “vacuum-cleaning” of my ears. If you would like more gross, appetite-killing details about this sort of thing, consult your local otologist (ear doctor).
Other Music Crap
I also play keyboards, bass and guitar in that order of competency (keyboards and bass are about tied). I recently played drums with “Chopped Liver”, who gigged around Dallas, and keyboards/vocals in “Green Machine” while in college during the early 90’s in East Lansing, MI. I’ve also played drums, bass, and keyboards in some other relatively short-lived or ad hoc bands, which include “Sam and Ed’s Discount Plumbing”, “Iguanas Anonymous”, and “The Suckerfish Behemoth”. These bands never got past the open-mic/friend’s house party stage. Of course, the infamous “Terry-oke” act must not go unmentioned. This was me playing/singing along with my own pre-recorded accompaniment. I played all of one real show of this at an Ann Arbor coffee shop. I learned to play my various instruments as part of a long-time addiction to music composing and home recording that dates back to 1986. Playing with other musicians had been the exception rather than the norm until playing with Magpu. I have since dedicated all of my musical energy/time to the bands I play in.
Even More Music Crap
The music I like the most usually combines rock, jazz and/or funk to some degree, and emphasizes instruments over vocals. In a word, “fusion”. Examples include The Mahavishnu Orchestra; King Crimson; Medeski, Martin and Wood; Frank Zappa; Doctor Nerve; Bela Fleck. Other artists I like that aren’t exactly in the “fusion” vein include Tortoise and Forever Einstein (“progressive” rock), The Who (classic rock), Brian Eno (ambient), and Claude Debussey (dead white guy music). I’m pretty slow to discover living/active artists and bands that I like, as I virtually never listen to the radio, and kind of enjoy mining the past for musical treasures. But I’m always open to suggestions, so send them to me at the e-mail address on this screen.
Other Life Crap
I was born in 1971 in Lansing, Michigan. I lived in nearby Okemos, MI until 1989 (high school graduation), East Lansing, MI until 1993 (college graduation), the Ann Arbor, MI area until 1997, when I came to the Dallas area, where I remain. I never felt much urge towards “regionalism” while in Michigan, but since moving to Texas, I never miss an opportunity to flaunt my Yankeedom. I now ask for Detroit sports team paraphernalia for Christmas from my family still there so I can annoy people down here. Don’t ever complain about how cold it is around me, or I will spawn off fictional stories about being trapped in 50 feet of snow in only my underwear for hours on end. I’m a software engineer by day. When I come home from work, about the last thing I want to do is touch my home computer, so any e-mail you send may go unresponded to for a while.