SETTING UP A DRUMKIT
By johanne James
Hi there good folks and how have you been this week?
Yes, yet another column from the enigmatic Johanne James. That’ll be me, by the way.
Anyway, this week I’m going to be really boring and discuss with you, setting up a drum kit.
Now, most well-known drummers will have their own tech, so to speak, as they have paid their dues and can now relax and have someone do it for them.. Tell you what, I was once asked if I would be a drum tech as I was taking such good care when setting up and tearing down the gear. It seemed that the stage manager was impressed so asked, why not, to which my answer was a direct “hell no”! Have you seen the size of some of the kits that drummers are using today? It’ll take me a day just to set it up! Then you have to make sure all is well before the person you’re doing it for is happy and you have to get to know them and blah blah blah! You have to be at their back and call at the drop of a hat. No thank you. No thank you. NO THANK YOU!! Was that a no thank you? Can you imagine being the drum tech for Mike Portnoy? Hell no! Or even worse, Terry Bozzio? AGHHHHHHHH!!!!! It takes him 6 hours to set it all up. Poor guy! By the time he’s finished it’s time to take it all down again, it hardly seems worth it! Lol.
Me. Well, to be honest I would rather set up my own kit as I know just where things go.
And being kack, sorry left handed, makes for more confusion for engineers who can sometimes sneer at me! Bloody left handed drummers, they should all be shot, or at least crawl back under that rock from which they came! Ha ha. That may well please some folk, but that’s another column. Seeing as I don’t have much to set up it doesn’t take much time at all, in fact, 4 drums, 3 cymbals and 2 hi hats. It takes more time getting the stuff out of the cases as I only use 2 cymbal stands which to my left is an X hat with 13″ cymbals, an 18″ crash and a 20” ride on various clamps in a triangular formation, which makes life so easy as once it’s in position it stays where it is. It’s also quite heavy which means it’s stable. To my right is another straight cymbal stand, which accommodates a 12″ rack tom on a clamp, so I have room to manoeuvre what ever and where ever I need to. I may use a snare drum stand to house the 12″ tom, depending on my mood. In fact it can be better for the engineer as most rack toms have an isolation mount system, which can interfere with the clamping of mics as the rims get in the way! “Bloomin’ things” I heard one disgruntled tech say, “they should just take ‘em off”! Oh well. To be honest, I like setting up my own kit as it keeps my mind from wandering where it will go and plus any little imperfections that may need fixing, well, I know what to look for. I did once have someone tech for me, never again! No matter how big or small or whatever band I may or may not play in, I’ll always set up my own kit. Besides, what else am I going to do? It just didn’t feel right having someone assemble my kit. My ego, wherever it may be, doesn’t need feeding as I would rather have it starve to death. Plus I’m so fussy that I don’t think anybody would want to tech for me anyway! Hence, I do it myself. I do try different set ups sometimes just to keep myself amused, but at the end of the day for me simplicity is my reality, plus it keeps our sound engineer happy. He may well be reading this, hi David. See you next month. We are also dictated to the amount of space we have on stage at some venues, so it’s to my advantage that I keep it small and simple, and also, just in case I need to make a quick getaway!!!! Lol. It’s all well and good to walk away from the instrument you love and have worked at for many years after a show, but I can’t. People will ask for all sorts of stuff whilst I’m focused on getting the gear safely back in their allocated spaces that we can load it up and get out of Dodge to do it all again the next day! Everything is now flight cased which means I am now looking for only 3 cases and the end of the night which is wonderful, but not for the poor souls that have to load it into the trailer! Big or small, if one is happy with what they have then by all means please use it, but it may be to your disadvantage, especially if you’re on a support tour that you spend most of your allocated soundcheck time, setting up. There is only one way to learn and that’s the hard way as pain has always been the best teacher. Good luck.
Oh, I forgot to mention in my last column.
The Threshold Weekend in Italy and Hungary, that on the journey back to our rather naughty hotel after the show, there we were reflecting on the gig and I heard this buzzing sound coming from my hoody? Yeah, that’s right, a buzzing sound. BZZZZZZZ! I thought, hang on, so I shook and shook and nothing fell out and the buzzing stopped, or so I thought. It began again, BZZZZZZ, and I said to myself “This ain’t right” and began violently shaking my top and the buzzing increased in its volume, so I ripped my clothing off and as I did so I felt this pain in my neck! So there I was topless and shouted “Oi! I’ve just been stung by something”! To which Steve pipes up and says, “Take no notice, he’s just attention seeking”! Thanks. After violently shaking my hoody, out came a blooming hornet or a very big wasp, and I had discovered that I had been stung multiple times by this enraged animal. It landed on Steve’s lap to which I shouted, “Attention seeking, then what’s that”? By this time all were in fits of laughter at my predicament and he then brushed the animal off his lap onto the floor at the feet of a young lady who was seeing us back to our naughty hotel. “Are you okay?” she asked and it’s just as well I wasn’t allergic as this could have been a very different column indeed. She then proceeded to tread on it and put it out of its misery, “It hurt you, so I hurt it” she politely said. “Thanks but you didn’t have to kill it, just throw it out the window” as it was already stunned. My neck hurt for the next week. How it got in there I have no idea, but it did and I suppose it thought, “Hmm, this is nice, I’ll stay here a while and call my mum later”? Not! “You’re outta here, sucker”. I don’t recommend being stung by anything as it ain’t nice! Anaphylactic shock is very unpleasant.
Thank for listening.