1. Tell me about your current rig: These drums are Astros made in Japan in the late ’60s early ’70s. They sound old, beautiful, and perfect, both live and in the studio. I’ve been in the studio and at venues with other drums that I used to have, and it became standard to hit the drums and then wait while the engineer would trim out all the unwanted frequencies. These drums it’s like, “Check the kick”: BOOM. “Check the high tom”: BOOM. “Check the floor tom”: BOOM. “Check the snare”: CRACK. “OK, we’re done.” Afterward, the sound engineer always comes up and asks about them.
2. What is your favorite piece of gear and why? I got them in kind of an interesting way. I bought an 8-track reel-to-reel and a bunch of tapes off of Craigslist for I think $50, and then I brought it home and realized I wasn’t really going to use it. I put it back up on Craigslist and I mentioned that I would trade for something drum-related. My friend Gary Hankins from Scarlet Symphony/a billion other bands wrote me and said, “Hey I want to buy your reel-to-reel.” I saw it was him in the email and I was like, “Gary come over and grab this thing.” We hung out for a little while, I gave him the reel-to-reel, smacked him on the butt and he went on his way. Then I went upstairs and checked my email, and I had an email from an old man in all caps that read like it was the first time he had ever written an email. It was like, “HI I HAVE A SET OF ASTRO DRUMS I GOT NEW WHEN I WAS 13 THEIRR IN MY GAROGE I WANT YOUR TAPE MACHIN I CAN MEET TOMORROW LET ME KNOW MY NAME IS HAROLD GOD BLESS.” I was like “HOLY SHIT HAROLD GIVE ME THOSE DRUMS!!!!” So I wrote him and I was like “Hey Harold, I just sold the tape machine, is there anything else you need?” He said “WELL I COULD RELY USE A MIXER.” I had an old Mackie mixer and I dug it up. So we arrange for him to meet me at my old band’s practice space. Giving him directions there on the phone was a complete nightmare, and he pulls up in a PT Cruiser that seriously looked like he had driven over his own fence 1,000 times. Then he opened the lift gate, and they were in there glowing like when John Travolta opens that steel briefcase in Pulp Fiction. They had the original heads on them from the factory; they had almost never been played. Then Harold was like, “So do we have a deal?” I was like “Yeah, man!” The drums aren’t worth very much, maybe like $300 bucks, but I’d rather play them than pretty much any other set. I put on new heads and that was that – loves of my life.
3. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular style? We recorded our EP ourselves with these drums. We had some really good and pro stuff, and I really like it. I’ve been in big studios with a ton of mics on the drums, but I realized recording with these Astros that the more you like the sound of the actual drums, the less you have to search for tones in the studio. I really like how the song “Sucker” came out. My drumming used to be busier, but in Ditches I like playing more simple.
4. What’s the one “holy grail” piece of equipment (or kit) you’d buy if money was no object? I pretty much have everything I want. Maybe a set of ‘60s Round Badge Gretsch drums, but then if they’re too nice or valuable then you worry about them and can’t play them out and enjoy them. Actually, one day I would really like a set of Camco drums. When you play a set of Camco drums, it’s like putting on a pair of pants that used to belong to David Bowie. It’s definitely something special.
5. What do you have coming up that we should know about? We’re going to play with one of my favorite bands, Chastity Belt on 3/1 at the Continental Room in OC, and have some good prospects coming up. We’re in the midst of recording our follow-up EP right now. Super pumped for it to come out!