BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE
Phil Hood’s rolodex is thicker than a Dagwood sandwich. Each week for the past year or so on drummagazine.com, Drum!’s founding publisher has combed through his contacts for an engaging interview, visited factories and workshops for the scoop on new products, or pulled from his wealth of knowledge and experience in the music business to create an entertaining and insightful column called “Behind The Scenes.” We’ve received great feedback on the column, and I personally look forward to reading it each week. So instead of asking him to pick his favorites (which, for a writer, can be like choosing a favorite child), the Drum! staff rounded up our favorite columns of 2018. Did your favorite make the list? Comment below!
1. The Scoop On Rogers’ US Rebirth
Rogers Drums has seen some ups and downs through its various ownership eras. The once lauded manufacturer lost its reputation in the 80s and beyond, when its name was sold and its products leaned toward quantity over quality. But that changed with the brand’s relaunch a couple years ago, and they’ve shifted back to a focus on quality. This article details Pork Pie’s hand in their construction in Southern California.
2. The Big List Of Drumming Podcasts
If you’re reading this, odds are you love drumming. And who doesn’t love a good podcast these days? Did you know there are over a dozen drumming-related podcasts out there? This list is a fantastic collection of the percussion-related interviews, including 17 drumming current podcasts ,along with nine that are no longer running but still enjoyable as archives. Not only does it give links, but a brief description helps you choose which ones to start with. Bookmark this article, because they’re all worth a listen.
3. Bruce Becker Remembers Freddie Gruber
The legacy of drum teacher Freddie Gruber is not all sunshine and roses, but that’s common of any great artist. Gruber’s art was not only playing music, but teaching it—he made an impact on young drummers who went on to become some of the greatest ever to wield a pair of sticks. Here, Gruber’s longest-tenured student gives an honest and candid recollection about what it was like working with him though the good times and the not-so-good-times, and shares some of his own teaching wisdom.
4. Axis’ Beginnings
Axis pedals are know in the metal drumming world as “The World’s Fastest Pedal.” They happened to come about when speed metal was shifting into high gear in the ‘90s—the pedals were both durable and incredibly fluid at a time when larger manufacturers were still trying to find the sweet spot between those two facets. Here’s how the pedal’s inventor, Darrell Johnston, went from working in a machine shop to getting his foot in the door of the drumming world. (I promise the article has fewer puns than this paragraph.)
5. Black Swamp’s Symphonic Journey Into Snare Drums
Eric Sooy started out making percussion for orchestras, and a few years ago started making snare drums for drum set players too. As a boutique (independent, handmade, artisan, etc.) drum company, he’s always looking for that unfilled niche, or some way to make his products stand out. Just when you think everything’s already been done in the drumming world, Sooy comes along with something we’ve never seen before that might just complete the instrument of our dreams. Here’s how he does it.
6. Pork Pie’s Musical Soul
How does one build soul into a musical instrument? Even more challenging, what’s the formula for building soul into hundreds of musical instruments being shipped out all over the world? Pork Pie founder Bill Detamore talks about the human element of building drums. It’s more than just “mojo,” it’s about putting hands on the product during its construction. The trick is balancing this with the business side, and balancing costs with sales numbers and everything in between.
7. Chris Hart: Remo’s Artist Relations/Psychology Dept.
His job is technically artist relations, but as we find out in this interview, Chris Hart is also a kind of therapist at times for the artists on Remo’s roster. To him, the job is all about supporting the artists, whether that’s making sure they have the right heads at a gig, or giving them someone to talk to about things going on in their life, or anything in between. He talks about it all here, and also describes a valuable lesson he learned working with company founder Remo Belli for over 20 years.
8. Sayre Berman: Drumming Photographer
We’re one of many outlets to feature work by Sayre Berman over the years, and I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in Nashville this year. It felt like she knew everyone in town, because we couldn’t walk 20 feet on the Summer NAMM expo floor without her being stopped for a hug and a chat. Suffice to say, she’s well loved within the drumming community, and has even picked up the sticks herself to learn to play. Here she talks about working alongside paparazzi in Miami before she came to Nashville, and what it was like shooting for daily newspapers. And she dishes out tips on getting live photos of a drummer without a cymbal in their face.
9. Remembering John Blackwell
John Blackwell graced the stage with several incredible groups, including Prince, in his 43 years on this planet. In addition to his incredible musicianship, he left a mark as a teacher and just an overall good human being. Here are two stories that paint a portrait of an artist who passed away far too soon.
10. SKB Factory Tour Photo Gallery
We spend a lot of time discussing the merits of drum construction, from how much glue is used to what kind of grommets resonate best. But what about cases? A drum isn’t worth much—sonically or monetarily—if it’s broken, so a good drum needs a solid case. This tour of SKB’s Southern California factory resulted in a photo gallery detailing several steps of the process. Here’s how SKB makes the things that keep your baby (or babies) safe.