Endorsement Announcement: Aquarian Drumheads

It’s with great excitement that I can finally reveal that I am now an endorsing artist for Aquarian Drumheads! I couldn’t be happier to be involved with the company and the fantastic products they make and I’m so very proud to be able to say that they support my work.

Over the years I’d settled on one brand of drumhead but often found myself peeking at the Aquarian website and being rather blown away by the sheer scale of the product range – some models come in up to 4 different variations (with muffling rings, coating options, reinforcement dots and so on) and many heads that Aquarian manufactures have  no comparable model with any other drumhead company (they even make a snare head with a fully integrated triggering system). I always talked myself out of trying them as they can be harder to find in the UK but eventually gave in and tested out a Focus X Power Dot snare head – I couldn’t have been more blown away by the ease of tuning, the great tone and the incredible durability: this head has taken a level of abuse that would’ve left my previous choice of 2-ply snare heads “dishing out” in the centre and needing retuning or replacing and yet, after 6 weeks, it sounds as great as the day I fitted it and shows no signs of wearing out anytime soon!

But why does the brand matter? As a session player I place somewhat higher demands on the tools that I use then most drummers might. I change drumheads more frequently to ensure that the kit sounds clear and fresh for every session, I tune more often, I need a new set of heads to sound the way I expect them to based on the last set that were in use, I need them to tune quickly as time is often of the essence on a studio session and I always need them to be long lasting so that they can survive a session or series of live shows without breaking and without any degradation in sound.

With Aquarian I am able to have all of that quite easily – the head design allows each drumhead to sit flat on the bearing edge before I even place the hoop back on with allows for solid and extremely responsive tuning that is stable and the heads are not only incredibly consistent but they are exceptionally resilient to even the hardest of hitters! The drumhead collar also contributes to tuning stability by locking the drumhead film firmly in place.

A common misconception that’s easily found in online reviews is that Aquarian heads don’t sound as good as the other well known brands and this is not true in my experience at all.  The use of a slightly different mylar film creates a sound that is often a fraction deeper or darker than many players are used to and I can fully see why this may make them suspicious on their first try – on changing my tom heads I’ve found that I now have more low-end punch than I ever had before but I still have a focused sound with plenty of attack and even the resonant heads have made a big difference in the overall sound.

So why’ve I moved from a brand that I’ve used for around 8 years? Because in the last year or so my personal tastes in sound have changed due to my increasing session and studio experience – I’ve come to find that certain things that I felt sounded great no longer met my needs or could simply be improved upon to create an overall better sound / voice for my setup. In short, the voice I wanted had changed but my equipment wasn’t capable of letting me achieve it. My cymbal sound is now darker and fuller and less abrasive in the mix and allows me to offer a wealth of sounds to my clients, my choice of sticks gives me incredible flexibility to use just one model for all styles and now my drumheads allow me to offer a full and defined drum sound that can adapt to any situation and still be my sound at heart.

Setup.

I’ve chosen the following heads for my setup but Aquarian offer many models that I’d love to experiment at some stage:

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Snare Drum – at the moment I’m using either the Focus X Power Dot (for a full and defined snare sound) or the Hi Velocity (for even more articulation and durability). The Hi Velocity may well become my go-to head for touring due to it’s increased thickness and extra large Power Dot. The resonant head is the standard Classic Clear Snare Side.

Toms – I’ve started off with the clear Response 2 and have found that they bring out incredible low-end in my drums while still providing plenty of attack to cut through the mix. They’re also very consistent from one size to the next so I’m able to tune each in exactly the same way and be sure of how each will respond. In time I’d like to test out the coated version, the extra punchy Performance II and perhaps even the Response 2’s beefier brother the Force Ten. The resonant heads are the Classic Clear Gloss Black model purely for their visual impact on my white kit.

Bass Drum – I’ve always sought a very dry and defined bass drum tone to allow every stroke to be heard and have chosen the clear Force I as it delivers amazing punch while still having a really full tone that will lend itself very well to dual-mic situations both on stage and in the studio. So far I’m finding that this head, when used with the double kick pad and felt beaters, rivals the punch of my old bass drum head when using plastic beaters and I look forward to letting the plastic beaters loose at it very soon for even more definition. The resonant head is it’s companion model, the ported Force II in Gloss Black.

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I’ve already said it but it’s worth saying it again – I’m honoured to join Aquarian and integrate their fine products into what I’m proud to call MY sound!

The fine people of The Music Shipping Company deserve huge thanks for making the introduction to Aquarian, bringing all of this together and for the fantastic level of support they’ve shown me since I joined the Shaw roster last year.

 

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EnkElination “Tears of Lust” Album Release

So today EnkElination release their debut album “Tears of Lust” on all digital platforms (with some physical copies too).

The band are a London based operatic metal band headed by vocalist Elina Siirala.

I was approached by the band last year to record drum parts and spent quite some time making sure all of the parts were exactly what they needed – it was a challenge because it called for much more laid-back playing in places than many of the sessions I’d worked on up until that point but I’m very happy with the final results!

The session was booked into Fractured Sound in Scunthorpe with Chris Johnson behind the desk – Chris did a great job in helping me get all the tracks recorded quickly and efficiently and brought out the best in my playing for the record too.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of “Tears of Lust” you can do so on Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby or Bandcamp or check out the EnkElination website.

The band have also been announced for this years Bloodstock Open Air festival.

 

Christmas Charity Single Session

Last week I took some time out from my existing sessions to head on over to Shane’s Recording Studio in Grantham to lay down some drum parts for a project that’s very different to those I usually work on.

Recently I was contacted by Shane and asked if I’d be interested in working on a cover of The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York”, which is a song that’s very hard to not hear at some stage over the Christmas period each year! This particular version will feature a number of local musicians who’re lending their talents to the project and a full list of those involved will no doubt be available soon.

Personally, I think Shane captured a fantastic sound from my setup and I’m really pleased with how even the working versions are sounding as more musicians are adding their performances.

The single will be released on December 1st and will be available digitally and also as a physical release around the Grantham / Lincolnshire area.

For further details, and for information on where this single can be purchased, please head on over to the studio Facebook page.

 

New Endorsements & The London Drum Show 2013

I’m back from this year’s London Drum Show with some fantastic news.

The London Drum Show is a great opportunity to meet some of the people behind the more well known brands in the drumming industry as well as a fantastic chance to see new products and brands that might only just be entering the market (and potentially pick them up at a discounted rate!).

From my perspective it’s a chance to catch up with some of the companies I already work closely with, to meet some for the very first time even if I’ve been in touch with them for awhile and to make entirely new acquaintances.

Only a day before heading down to London I received an email from Ian at Tuner Fish Lug Locks informing me that I was formally invited to join the artist roster before the new website launched.

My first proper stop was to find the Tuner Fish booth and finally meet Ian and the rest of the team – I was met with a very friendly welcome from Ian, Mike Bigwood (who’s responsible for the engineering and also runs his own drum manufacturing company – Bigwood Drums) and, of course, Mark Richardson himself (who’s brutally tough playing with Skunk Anansie led to the creation of Tuner Fish).

Having finally met the team in person I can honestly say it’s a real pleasure to be associated with not only an invention that I believe in but with a group of people who are truly dedicated to bringing their amazing product to everyone and I can confidently say that the new 3rd generation Tuner Fish are even better than the ones I reviewed several months ago!

You can finally purchase Tuner Fish Lug Locks directly using their online store or through my good friends at The Music Shipping Company. All new 3rd generation Tuner Fish will also be making their way to local dealers very soon in a variety of pack sizes (as little as 4 right up to 50) and an exciting new range of colours.

Speaking of partnerships – one particular meeting at the London Drum Show has led to what will hopefully be a very exciting development…more details to follow once I’m able to make them public!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interesting Email…

So this morning I discovered a rather interesting message in my inbox from a company I recently purchased some Shaw Stix from – as an endorsing artist I always go directly through The Music Shipping Company but at the time I was in dire need of more sticks in the run up to my recent session for EnkElination and MSC were closed for their end of summer holiday.

Now I don’t use Shaw sticks for any reason other than the fact that they’re absolutely perfect for me personally – they’re extremely durable, balance well and feel like a far better compliment to my playing than any other size or brand I’ve used previously. I’m not a convert through bribery, I’m a convert through experience.

This might all sound rather silly but I’ve used the exact same size sticks from other manufacturers and the overall feeling of a pair of Shaw 5B’s is much better and more comfortable for me. As far as I’m concerned I feel better and play better with a pair of their sticks than the others out there on the market.

So essentially, while I’m fortunate to purchase my sticks direct from the manufacturer at a discounted price, I’m still going to buy them at full price if I find I’m running low and can’t get them any other way.

I searched online and eventually found an alternative supplier (www.mydrumsticks.com) who carried the Shaw model I favour and had them in stock – delivery was nice and fast and the sticks arrived within a few days.

So I was quite surprised to find an email from them this morning informing me that they’d checked out some of my work and also inquiring as to whether I’d be ok with having both my name and Shaw Endorsee photo added to the listing for the 5B sticks.

I could hardly say no – all publicity is good publicity and I’m always keen to do my part to promote the companies I’m fortunate to be endorsed by.

So here it is: www.mydrumsticks.com/shawstix-hickory-model-5b-drumsticks—wood-tip-159-p.asp

A Special Live Announcement

Around 2 weeks ago I received word that some close friends were going to have to pull their biggest booking of the year, I was already booked for another show and had been hoping I’d at least have the opportunity to see them play with their new drummer – needless to say it was rather sad to hear that they weren’t going to be ready in time and were having to cancel on the event.

By sheer chance, my own booking was cancelled the following day which has allowed me to step in and cover the show.

So, on Saturday the 24th of August, I’ll be handling drums one last time for Sacrilegious Throne at Beermageddon. There’ll be a mix of known and new material for fans across what should be a pretty hefty set. The guys and I have already given it a test-run last night and will be refining it tomorrow evening.

Sacrilegious Throne’s set will start at 6:05.

 

 

July Update – EnkElination Album Session and More…

It’s been awhile since I last wrote a straight “update” post and quite a bit has happened in that time.

Firstly, I’m proud to announce that next month I’ll be tracking drums for EnkElination’s debut album over at Fractured Sound Studios in Scunthorpe. This will be my first operatic metal session and I’m most looking forward to it – I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos and try to capture some of the session on video if I can.

Secondly, I’ve got another album session in the works for an old client along with an EP for a duo looking to get their material out there for the first time. So it’s all rather busy at the moment.

Also, I’ll be performing at Candlelight Record’s annual Candlefest with October File on Saturday the 25th of August – tickets are available online for anyone interested.

Additionally, I’ve got space to take on a few more drum students but I’ll write a separate post about that soon.

On top of that, my Demon Drive finally came home from The Netherlands after a trip to Pearl Europe for some maintenance and and replacement heel hinges – everything feels far more solid now and I’m finding them far easier to work with than before.

Oh, and many thanks to those who took the time to read my Tuner Fish Lug Locks review at the start of this month – this blog’s traffic was up nearly 1000% on the day of publishing.