Something that's come up a few times recently at gigs have been comments along the lines of “really enjoy working with you guys”, “always nice to work with musicians who know what to do on a gig” and “great to work with musicians who know how to use their equipment” - all from professional sound engineers.
Also comments from a few dep gigs “your kit/playing always sounds great” and “how do you seem to set up so much faster than our drummer?”
All of these comments, I think, are prompted by the same skills - preparedness and musicality.
In this blog I’ll be outlining some ideas on being well prepared for gigs.
I’ll leave musicality for the next one!
Now, I don’t use the smallest of kits - a few of my band mates even have a running joke about how many cymbals I take to a gig - but they all get used!
1. Get your gear sorted!
To get everything into the gig I spend probably more time than most getting my hardware in order. I always aim to take the least possible amount of hardware on any gig for the most return.
Well, the less hardware you take the less time it takes to setup, (and the less you have to carry), but does this mean you should only use a tiny 4 piece kit?
Well, only if you want to!
The main thing I aim for is efficiency - all the stands I take do more than one job. For example, if I’m using my SPD-30 pad on a gig, I’ll mount a cymbal or an aux snare off the base. My hi hat stand nearly always also mounts a tambourine and a splash. Cymbal stands always have at least two mounting points on them.
This just means setup times are reduced, whilst still allowing for maximum fun!
Another important point I think a lot of people forget, I play drums because I flipping love it - don’t let anybody tell you you shouldn't enjoy playing a large kit just because it’s trendy to play with less.
2. Stay flexible!
However this brings up another important point - flexibility.
All of the hardware I gig with has been designed to still retain a degree of flexibility - even when I use a rack and have chopped tubes to cut down on weight, I still leave enough tube to allow cymbals to be raised, important when being fully mic’d on festival gigs.
It’s great to have your setup all locked down - not so good if the engineer is using a Sennheiser MD421 and can’t get the mic in the right place.
With this in mind, even though I use a lot of multi stands, I tend to avoid fixed point addition mounts like cymbal stackers. They are very quick and easy to use, but not flexible.
3. Mat Marking
I nearly always use my trusty Protection Racket drum mat (unless the venue is really tiny and the drum web mini mat comes out), and I have the mat fully marked up with both stand and rack positions.
The amount of time you save from not having to fiddle around changing stand positions is immense, plus the kit feels instantly comfy to play as it's how you left it.
4. Know your venue...
The last factor in preparedness is knowing, where possible, what you are going to be faced with at every gig.
What size is the performance area/venue?
Smaller gig = smaller kit. Not only physical amount of kit, but also size of cymbals. This also comes under musicality, a topic that I’ll cover more in the next blog.
At an event with a sound crew, do they know in advance what you are going to be using? Have they got enough channels on the desk? Are there other things you need to take into account?
For example, my kit has Yamaha wood hoop. I love 'em, but a lot of mic clips don’t, so just in case I always take a set of Sennheiser clip-ons, so I have them available as a backup.
So there are my top tips on preparing.
Drummer, drum geek, reluctant blogger and eater of cheese!