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.

 

A January Update – East of Eden, new October File record and more…

Last autumn I covered a few dates for an upcoming hard rock act from the Black Country called Audio Disease while they got their new drummer settled in – I had a great time working with the guys but completely forgot to blog about it as I had a lot of recording sessions to get through immediately afterwards and totally forgot to post!

At the very start of the New Year, the band’s manager called me with a bit of an emergency on his hands – the band’s replacement drummer who took over after the shows I did had left the group rather suddenly after a lot of bookings had been secured for the Spring. In the space of 2 days I refreshed all the old material and learned 5 new tracks and headed over to rehearsals with the band as the very first gig was less only a week away when I’d been contacted!

So for the last 2 weeks I’ve been rather busy playing with the guys (who’re now performing under the name East of Eden and can be found by searching for “EofE Official” on most social media websites) and I’ve had a great time seeing the fantastic response that the band get from their growing fanbase!

There’s a lot more East of Eden dates in the pipeline and I’m officially booked to handle them as far as April at the moment –  that includes a trip to Wales for Hard Rock Hell’s AOR Festival in March so I’ll be sure to get some good photos to post up here and on my website.

In other news, the Christmas charity single I recorded at Shane’s Recording Studio with a group of local musicians from various bands and projects managed to raise almost £300 in the Grantham area for CHICKS.

Also, starting on Monday I’ll be down in London at Orgone Studios to begin drum tracking for the new October File record – the album is slated for release via Candlelight Records at the end of May and more details will be posted on the OF Facebook page as we progress through the recording process.

There’s one other piece of really exciting news that I’m still sitting on but that will have to wait just a little longer before I can make a proper announcement.

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.

 

December Update – News and more gear

So it’s been quite some time since I last updated my WordPress but things have been rather busy.

Firstly, I’ve moved house but I am still based in the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire area.

Secondly, I’ve been working on a two track single with Sacrilegious Throne – as usual I’ve been handling the drum related side of things but this time around I’ve also been dealing with all the engineering and production – hopefully this will be complete very soon. Additionally the band have finally had their first photoshoot with the superb photographer Nicholas Dishington and make-up artist Liv Free and photos should be released shortly.

Next, October File have begun announcing live shows for January and February 2013 ahead of the album tracking sessions for our next record – links to these can be found on the October File Facebook page.

There have also been some additions to my kit/recording setup since October.

I now have a Pearl Free Floating Maple snare drum (14″x5″) added to my collection of snares and this is, of course, available for recording sessions. It offers a very articulate and crisp sound completely unrestricted by any hardware.

I’ve also added a set of Meinl 12″/14″ Benny Greb Trash Hats from their Generation-X series. These replace my Generation-X Filter China and offer a more percussive sound for timekeeping – much like a controlled but very adjustable cymbal stack.

I’ve no further news on my drum loop package, I’m still in talks with my web designer as to the best way to make them available for purchase.

I’ll be posting live dates for both bands along with some news on some of my recent sessions very soon.

October Update

So far October’s been quite a busy month, what with the London Drum Show last weekend and all!
So I’ve seen some brand new gear that’s on the market (I’d been waiting a long time to finally test the Pearl Demon Chain pedals!), some custom pieces that aren’t on the market and some downright peculiar new products that don’t really make a lot of sense.

It’s been a great opportunity to chat with some of the manufacturers whose equipment I depend on and meet some new and interesting companies too – like the chaps at Murat Diril Cymbals,  Neil at Tiki Drums and the gents at Bullet & Kitch with their rather unusual Joggle Board Pedal!
It was great to finally meet Dean at Protection Racket too – I’ve been an endorsing artist of his fantastic drum cases for years and it’s taken until now to meet him in person as we never seem to manage to run into one another.

Additionally I’ve been working on a new session all this week – one that I’ve been hinting at for quite some time and it’s been great to finally record it. It’s not been easy by any means and I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so critical of my own work but I’m rather excited to hear the finished tracks as I’m very proud of what’s come out of this session.