Ale Mania: Facebook / Bandcamp

The Sess: Facebook / Twitter / InstagramBandcamp

Beaters: FacebookBandcamp

1. Tell me about the stuff in your photos:

In the photos are a mountain of steel: maple, birch, mahogany, acrylic, brass and aluminum snares collected over the course of 20 years or so. All based on tone and nothing but tone. Appearance is always secondary but it’s on the plus side if something sounds as good as it looks. I own many kits that get used a lot in the studio and on stage. There is never a shortage of tonal possibilities here at the studio [Pandemonium Recorders]. Aside from the snares, there are also a plethora of Remo roto-toms, Tama concert toms and miscellaneous percussion items.

The Pearl kit is from 1973 and is made of 100% fiberglass in standard sizes. This is the loudest kit I have ever played. It gives you so much sound per stroke of velocity. This is the kit I like to use in live situations especially when drum mics are not available. And they will cut through some of the meanest amps including Tommy’s [Garcia, from Mrs. Magician] extremely loud Satellite amp or Jeremy’s [Rojas] 2,400 watt bass amp. In the studio they have this natural brightness that works well with faster music such as metal or similar styled faster-paced music.

The Tama Imperial Star kit is from 1979, it’s made from 100% mahogany with an interior sealer. Its the mellowest, darkest and yields the most bass response naturally. They have a lot of low-end in recordings that help some of the lower tuning’s on slower tunes you might encounter. The hardware on this kit is well over-engineered to the point it is very heavy but also very dependable, not fun to load in and out on a constant basis unless your roadie is a bouncer on the side. Although a basic kit is displayed, an entire set of 8 concert toms, 5 standard double-headed toms and two floor toms are composed of this kit and available in all sorts of configurations depending of what is ordered.

The Ludwig Classic is from 1971 and is made of 3-ply maple and poplar with reinforcement rings. This the quietest kit with the best tone for general recordings from rock to jazz. With single-ply heads, these are the most musical sounding drums to record with, they have this distinctive tone that can only be associated with the Ludwig name. I can’t put my finger on it. The bearing edges are very irregular, untrue, uneven and hard to tune, however; I believe this accounts for that great classic tone you can not achieve with perfectly machined modern drums.

The Ludwig Vistalite is from 1972 or so. The shells are made of 100% acrylic Plexi-glass made by Cadillac, yes Cadillac – their plastics division manufactured these shells for Ludwig. The sound is very bass heavy, more bass than mahogany with similar loudness to fiberglass without the brightness. With coated single-ply heads on the tops and the bottoms, they become this very musical drum in the studio. Clear two-ply heads typically kill the musicality these drums are capable of. The bearing edges are not perfect but with a little patience, you can dial in that tuning and of course they leave nothing to hide of the drummer as their clear shells reveal every aspect of the drummer who usually likes to hide behind his kit. This is my favorite kit to play in general.

The 1984 Black Ludwig S/L kit is somewhat of a unusual American-made kit. It was manufactured during an era when Japanese markets were dominating the drum industry and killing companies like Slingerland, Camco and Rogers. They are nothing short of typical Ludwig American quality. The shells are made of maple/poplar with an interior sealer similar to that of older Tama shells. The hardware on this kit is very heavy in that it’s the same kind of solid core fittings found on their marching drums. It has that great Ludwig tone yet is very dry and dark with similarities to it’s Japanese counterparts. The bearing edges on this kit are perfect when compared to their older Ludwig siblings from the 1970s.

2. What song of yours (or any of your bands’) do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style? There is not one song that can sum all of that up for you; you have to spend some time listening to a few of records I have made over the years to really understand when and why. When you have nearly 30 years of drumming under your belt, diversity is really the only thing to keep you interested in what you do.


3. If money was no object, what’s the #1 piece of gear you’d buy and why? An API 1608 console to mix drums and music on.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise? Keith Moon, for his style and sound. As easy as that question is, its always hard to choose just the one. Although drums are my fuerte, there are plenty of other other instruments that kindle my interest in music. I have always admired good musicians who are good at their instruments and for certain talents in the many fields of musicianship and performing.

5. What is your current favorite piece of equipment? Ludwig Vistalite, because they sound and look awesome!

6. What do you and your bands have coming up that we should know about? I am currently recording a new record with a new band named “Teach Me”. It’s a power trio that is exciting and bit harder-sounding compared to some of the music I have been involved with over the years. Its very fun to play and an easy relationship within the band as the three of us exercise certain musical powers. More details on this project will be revealed as the record slowly simmers and manifests into fruition.

On May 15th, Ale Mania is playing a huge benefit concert called Hardcore Matinee at Bar Pink for the new Swami Records compilation. [INFO]

On May 21st, The Sess is playing at Soda Bar in support of the Mrs. Magician record release party of Bermuda. [INFO]



One I Red: Facebook / Twitter / InstagramSoundCloud

1. Tell me about your current rig: Why do you use what you’re using? Anything special?  From the first time I saw John Bonham playing Ludwig Vistalite drums, I knew that I had to own a kit like that someday. One of my favorite drummers of all time, Chris Robyn from Far, played a multi-colored Vistalite kit, which only furthered my interest. So when the opportunity to purchase a vintage clear Vistalite kit from the early ’70s presented itself, I jumped on it. I loved the look of the acrylic shells and also the huge sound that the drums produced. One particularly rare thing about my kit is that all the drums have matching badges and serial numbers (except the snare, which I purchased separately). The drums have all the original hardware, including the internal dampeners which I currently only use during recording sessions.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style? Out of our currently released material, I would say that the song “We Want It” is a good portrayal of our music and my drumming style. We have a video for this song that’s a compilation of our live shows.

3. If money was no object, what’s the #1 kit you’d buy?  If money wasn’t an issue, I would love to own the Ludwig Vistalite Zep kit (re-issue) in amber.

4. What was the first piece of gear you bought and what are your thoughts on it now? The first piece of musical equipment that was purchased for me was, ironically, a guitar that was a birthday present from my parents. I tried to learn how to play it but it just didn’t hold my interest. That’s when I realized that I was a drummer, not a guitarist.

5. What do you have coming up?  We are currently working on finishing our second full length album titled Sea of Stones, which will be released within the next few months. We’re excited to be playing a show at The Merrow this coming Tuesday (April 12th) presented by 91X and Halloran with Dark Water Rebellion and the Heather Nation Band. We’ll be playing a lot of new songs from our upcoming album as we prepare for our CD release.


The Palace Ballroom: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

1. Tell me about your stuff: I’m currently playing a 2014 Maple Classic Ludwig Black Oyster finish drum kit. Sizes are 24×16 kick, 14×9 tom, 18×16 floor. I use a 14×7 custom maple Vessel snare drum (awesome local company). I use Zildjian and Paiste cymbals. DW hardware and Tama Iron cobra pedals. Vater 1A sticks. Roland electronics. My favorite part, if I had to pick, is the 24-inch Giant beat Paiste ride I use. The cymbal is dark and washy. I can beat the hell out of it and also has decent ping on the bell but not too much. I don’t like my rides to be super pingy. I need to be able to crash on them.

2. Got any specific faves?  My favorite piece is a beechwood 1980’s Phonic series drumset that I bought off drummer Kellii Scott of Failure. He used the kit on their iconic Fantastic Planet album.

3. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of the particular sound/style you’re after?  I think “Descender” is a a great representation of our sound/style. Very brooding and yet catchy. I like the way it sounds kind of like a Cure or Depeche Mode song. I love the way rhythmically it just chugs along in 4/4 with the hi-hats closed tight.

4. If money was no object, what’s the “holy grail” piece of gear you’d buy?  A 1970s Bonham-style Ludwig clear Vistalite kit: 26×14 kick, 14×10 rack tom, 16×16 floor, 18×16 floor and a 14×6.5 Supraphonic snare. Also have to have a Black Beauty snare just for good measure.

5. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise and why?  I really like Kellii Scott from Failure’s sound. He has been a huge inspiration to me growing up. He plays a Gretsch kit right now and just makes that thing sing. He has great dynamics and knows how to get the best tone out of his drums. I also like Marc Trombino’s (Drive Like Jehu) sound. I love his frenetic drumming and use of odd time signatures. Not to mention the drum sound he got while engineering Inch’s album This Will Fall on Dead Ears. That has to be one of my favorite drum sounds on a record ever.

Be sure to see The Palace Ballroom, The Mondegreens and Grizzly Business at Soda Bar on Saturday, April 9th. For more info, go here.


Jake Najor: Birdy Bardot / Taurus Authority / The Midnight Pine / Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact / Cardinal MoonThe Redwoods Music / Instagram / Twitter / Website

1. Tell me about your current rig:  It’s a 1967 Ludwig classic 20”, 12” and 14”. I bought them in 2007 for $650 bucks. I love old drums and specifically Ludwig. So many classic recordings that I dig are Ludwig, from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin. I like the sound of old drums; they fit the vibe of most of the music that I play. Not a huge fan of modern-sounding drums. They just don’t do it for me. Vintage drums have a nice, warm sound – and sound great live and when recording.

2. If money were no object, what’s your “holy grail” gear?  The Ludwig Black Beauty snare. They sound great and are super versatile and have been used on so many records over the years.

3. What song of yours (or any that you’ve worked on) would you say represents you and your style the best?  “Lowdown Stank” by Breakestra. I played one-handed 16th notes on the hi-hats, with ghost notes on the snare – pretty much one of my favorite types of beats to play. I’m a huge fan of Clyde Stubblefield, the drummer from James Brown, who is most well-known for the “Funky Drummer” break. I’ve practiced the groove for years trying to get it just right.

4. What was your first kit ever? My first kit was a Pearl Export. It’s an entry-level kit; not the greatest, but it made do at the time. If I could go back, I would buy a vintage drumset (Ludwig, Gretsch, Rogers and Camco). They sound great and go up in value.

5. Do you still have it? Sold it about 20 years ago.

6. What’s coming up next for you?  The Redwood Revue is April 1st at The Music Box with Dani Bell & The Tarantist, Birdy Bardot, The Midnight Pine, and Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact [INFO]. Just laid down drums for the new Midnight Pine record a few weeks ago. Also working on a record of my own, with some friends helping out.

[Extra credit: Read Jen Van Tieghem’s (my better half) recent review of the Dani Bell & The Tarantist record, Dark West, here]


The Schizophonics: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / SoundCloud / Website

1. Tell me about your current kit:  It’s an early-’70s sparkle red Ludwig. 14″ rack, 16″ floor and 22″ kick drum. You can tell the year because it has these super pointy badges that they rounded later on ’cause they’d always get snagged on things. My floor tom’s badge is a bit crinkly from getting snagged on my clothes a lot. It’s got a bigger rack tom than most kits have that I really like. Gives it a lower tone on my fills.

On my heads, I always use vintage coated drum heads. They have a a warmer tone than any other heads I’ve ever played on. It adds a subtle mute without doing too much to it. I always cut as much ring out of the toms without getting too muffled with Moongels. I like the gel better than tape cause it’s not a permanent thing and wont get too messy if you take it off. If I’m doing a show where everything is mic’d, I’ll dampen with more gels to help cut high frequencies that cause crazy feedback. When I play venues where nothing but vocals are mic’d, I let the drum tones resonate more to carry the drums through the room.

My snare is a ’60s Ludwig that I got from Baba from The Zeros. The built in muter doesn’t stay up well so I use the coated emperors on that with ONE Moongel. If it’s naked, it has a ring I don’t like. Too many gels, you lose your tone. I always make sure to tune it up high enough as to where the snare frequency will pierce through the song when you hit it. You don’t want to have your most powerful tool getting buried in the other instruments’ frequencies. You’ll lose your drive.

2. What song of yours do you feel is the best portrayal of your particular sound/style?  “Red Planet” I think represents my style best. It has the the Lety-Stomp that a few friends have imitated when doing a Schizo-influenced song. I always strive to play something that I would want to dance to and this one has that energy that I like in other music. It’s super fun to play; really let loose on it.

3. If money was no object, what’s the ‘holy grail’ equipment you’d buy?  I am not difficult to please, but I would probably want a really high-end set of cymbals. That is always where I have to compromise and buy based on price versus quality. It’s my toughest category of drum gear where I have the hardest time picking and choosing. In the past, I’ve just played what falls into my lap. Having the financial resources to really dive into my options here would be nice.

4. Who is the musician you admire the most sound/gear-wise?  Locally, I appreciate the heck out of Jon Bonser. He’s taught me so much about the nitty gritty of drums. When we first started playing out, he very politely offered to show me about tuning and basic drum care after seeing my old mutant kit. If a head fit the drum and didn’t have any holes in it, I was good! I didn’t use bottom heads, and used to put a piñata in the kick drum just to fill the space. It’s funny now, but I really had no idea what I was doing past trying to learn to play songs. Jon’s been a good friend and really opened my eyes to the world of drums. He’s my gear guru!

5. What do you have coming up that we should know about?  Our next show is the DoSd launch party on Wednesday at The Casbah. Exciting news is we’re going to be a part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties coming up in April – the festival in north Wales that Drive Like Jehu is curating. We’ll be out there with The Schizophonics and backing El Vez as his Punk Rock Review band. We’re also a few songs shy of FINALLY finishing up a full-length album. We’ve been working at Earthling Studios with Mike Kamoo and his new 1″ 8-track tape machine that, legend has it, might’ve been the same one from Sunset Sound back in the day. Whatever it is, we’re loving it.

See The Schizophonics at the DoSD launch party on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at The Casbah with The Palace Ballroom, Mrs. Magician and Birdy Bardot. The show is free with your online RSVP here.