"The Bart Factor" episode 2 Playing a back line kit

by Jul 6, 2017


Hello! And welcome to this edition of my podcast, “The Bart Factor.” I am your host, Bart Robley. And I want to thank you guys for checking out my podcast and tuning in. I’m on YouTube, so I don’t exactly know how much tuning is involved. We just kind of turn on the computer and hit play. Not a lot of dialing-in of frequencies. Anyway, I want to thank you guys. I also want to thank everybody who sent me messages or texts or phone calls after my first podcast and said that they liked it. I really appreciate it. So, this is #2…#2. And the sponsor for this podcast is my website www.DrummerSwag.com. That is my sponsor — my website. Talk about shameless self-promotion, right? Check out my website www.DrummerSwag.com. I have all kinds of cool stuff on there for drummers; t-shirts, educational material, all sorts of stuff. So check that out. So, yeah, that’s what this podcast is about. It’s going to be geared towards drummers mostly, but also I think that other musicians can gain insight and gain some knowledge, any maybe have a few questions answered for them from this podcast. And, hopefully, I can help some younger musicians or people that are new to touring or recording or whatever the subject matter may be, avoid some of the pitfalls that maybe I fell into or I’ve seen other musicians make mistakes or, again, myself. So today what I want to talk about is something that I’ve written a few articles on, and I’ve done some video blogging on, and stuff like that; and that is, playing a backline drum set. This week the group that I play for, The Sam Morrison Band, is going to be flying to Green Bay, Wisconsin to play a show out there. And it’s kind of a big festival that’s going on with three other bands. And we’re going to be playing all backline gear. Now if you’re new to touring and you haven’t been on the road a lot, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to have to come and play…come into town, if you fly into a gig, and you’re going to play a backline kit or a kit that is provided for you. You’re not going to take your own drum set on the road. So I think it’s really important that you are able to sit down and play a drum set that’s not your comfy, cozy drum set that’s in your private practice place at home or in your band’s practice place. And sometimes that can be a little bit taxing. So what I want to do is, in this podcast, give you guys some hints and some suggestions that will help you play a drum set that is provided for you. First of all, I think that it’s really important to, you know, I’ll kind of start with the most obvious one. I think it’s important to be able to play on drum sets other than yours. A drum set is an incredibly personal instrument because everybody’s built differently, you know, different heights, different arm lengths, different leg lengths and…I’m tall so, you know, I’m 6 foot 5. So when one my friends comes in and sits in with the band, and they’re a little bit shorter than me, they have a little bit of a hard time reaching, you know, reaching out and getting the bass drum pedal or reaching the cymbal sometimes, just because I’m a tall guy. And then sometimes the exact opposite happens. I go over and see one of my friend’s bands play, and they ask me to sit in, and they might be shorter than me. So I feel like a giant playing on this little drum set. But that’s a good thing because you get yourself use to playing on other people’s gear. You don’t want to get up there and start moving stuff around. You just fwant to sit down and play. And being able to do that will help you in a situation where you are provided with a backline kit. You’ll just be use to playing on a kit that’s a little bit different than yours, right? So, if you have some friends that are in bands or you have an open mic night or a jam night or something that’s close to your home, I really suggest that you go and do that. And not only is it going to make you a better player but, again, in a situation where you have to play a backline kit you’ll be use to playing on different kits. It will be set up differently. It will be tuned differently. It will feel different. And just be kind of use to it. The same thing can go for taking drum lessons. When you show up to drum lesson, I always tell my students the first thing to do, you know, when you get into the lesson is kind of get the kit ready for yourself, you know, raise the snare drum, raise the throne. But you’re not going to…for a drum lesson you’re not going to completely re-setup the drum set, you know. You’re going to kind of play what’s there and just get the snare drum and the high hat and the throne or the ride cymbal in place for you so that you can play it. And then, you know, you sit down and you play. Again, that will carry into playing backline kits. So, that’s really the most obvious. Now the gear itself…sometimes when you show up to play a backline kit, you know, you kind of get drums de jour. Sometimes…I’ve heard Frankie Banali say…actually I said that years ago and then I heard Frankie Banali…I’ve seen him post that on Facebook a lot, drums de jour. So, I love that. Anyway, drums de jour. You show up and sometimes it will be great, you know, sometimes you get there and there’s a good backline company. Usually a backline company provides everything, not just the drums. They provide the amps and the instruments, and everything. But, anyway, they will be a good company, they’ll have a good drum set, and you’re good to go, you know. Maybe it doesn’t have your exact heads that you use, but if you have a little bit of time and you’re the only person playing the kit, you can get up there and tweak it in to your specifications; and tune it up to where it feels right and sounds right for you; and get it set up like your comfy, cozy kit at home or in your practice place and you’re good to go. But sometimes not, like in the situation that I find myself in this weekend. I’m going to be playing the…I’m going to have share the kit with three other…two other drummers. There’s going to be three of us playing this kit. So, when I get up there I’m going to make sure that I have a few things ready for myself to go. I’m going to make sure that, you know, the throne is at the correct height and the snare drum is at the correct height. I will make sure…I’ll give myself enough time to get in there before the gig and move a few things around that I need to. But for the most part, I’m just going to set up and play the drum set however it is set up to play. I’m going to take a few things with me to make the drum set a little more like home. So what I suggest to anybody when they find themselves in this situation — whether it’s their first fly-in gig or their 20th fly-in gig. I have a little flight case. It’s a little approved flight case that I’ll put underneath the plane. And I’ll get a TSA lock. They have these really great TSA locks that are a cable lock. You can buy them at Walmart. And I like the cable lock because, on the flight case, they have what’s called butterfly clips. And the cable lock will go through that butterfly clip and they can…it locks it secure. And then if the TSA wants to get in and inspect it, they unlock it and they inspect it and they just put the lock right back on. In that case, I take my bass drum pedal and I take my in-ear monitoring system. I make sure that it’s packed really well. I put the in-ear monitoring system inside of a smaller box. It’s actually a little ammo case that I bought at Walmart for ammunition. It’s made out of steel. It’s really good and heavy duty. I’ll stick the in-ear monitoring system in there with a couple pieces of foam; and then I will put that in the case along with my bass drum pedal; and I’ll lock it up and throw it underneath the plane; and I’m good to go. And so then that way when I get to the gig, I have my bass drum pedal. I have my in-ear monitoring system. All I have to do is really plug it in. And then they gave me my XLR to plug into it and I’m, you know, again, I’m in control of it and I’m good to go. The bass drum pedal allows me to have the feel that I’m use to on my drum set and, you know, it really kind of helps for the playability of the drum set, if you will — if that’s even a word. But, you know, having your own bass drum pedal is kind of nice. It’s…you’re just kind of use to the way that it reacts underneath your foot. Now that’s pretty much what I take. But some of the things that I would suggest to you…maybe in your arsenal you like to have a few more cymbals. Maybe you have a couple of splash cymbals or you have a couple of certain bells that you like to use for certain sounds. Well, what I use is…I like those multi-claps. You can get then where they will hold one or two extra little boom arms or something like that. And all this stuff…I’m endorsed by Gibraltar…so I have a couple of different styles of Gibraltar clamps. And then I like those little short Gibraltar telescoping boom arms. I can stick those on an existing cymbal stand and, you know, get a splash cymbal in there that I want or a bell in there. I use to carry my own cymbals on the plane with me, but…I’m endorsed by Sabian…so I would always take my own cymbals. But I’ve kind of found over the years that a lot of times, especially if you’re just flying in for one night and it’s in and out, that’s just more of a hassle than it’s worth. Usually the backline companies are going to provide you with good cymbals. And it may not be the brand of your choice but, you know, again it comes back to what I was saying at the beginning of the podcast…be use to playing different gear, be use to being able to adapt to those different sounds. So that when, you know, when you start playing you’re not all weirded out because it doesn’t sound like your comfy, cozy kit at home. So, anyway, that’s kind of, you know, what I try to do. And some guys do. They want to take their cymbals with them. And I get that. I’ve just kind of…as time has gone on I make sure that, you know, I just kind of don’t like to carry as much stuff around the airport. And then, this seems like it would be something that would go without, you know, I wouldn’t even need to say this, but I’ve seen it happen. Bring drum sticks! I’ve seen guys show up to gigs…fly gigs…and they were being provided with backline, and they were really surprised because there was no drumsticks there. Make sure you bring some drum sticks with you. So, again, you know, it seems like they would…you would think to bring sticks. But, you know, it’s one of those things that I’ve, again, I’ve seen people show up to a backline gig and not have drumsticks with them. And then they either have to rush around, find a music store and buy a few pairs of sticks or bum some sticks off of somebody else or if the backline company has some drumsticks, you know, in their truck or in their gear they may not be the size you use, you know. If you’re use to using, you know, 2Bs and they’ve got, you know, three or four pairs of 7As laying around, that’s going to be like going from playing with, you know, tree branches to playing with toothpicks. So you want to make sure you have the size of drum stick that you use. So just bring a few pairs of drumsticks. Again, you know, a lot of people…I’ve seen people not do that. And then the last little piece of gear that I bring with me and, again, my sticks have a little, you know, I have a smaller stick bag that I take on fly-in dates. I usually only take like, you know, three or four pair with me. And then, of course, I have a tuning key in the stick bag. But I always bring…I have this little Gibraltar net thing that holds a few extra pair of drumsticks. I always take that with me, too, because I like to have drumsticks on both sides. I like to have drumsticks on my right side over by my floor tom, and then I like to have drumsticks on my left side as well, you know, because if one breaks or you drop one you’ve got them on both sides. So I always take that along, you know, as well. My little, you know, stick holder. Again, you probably…if you guys been playing for a while you probably seen them in catalogs or seen the in, you know, at your favorite music store. It’s just a…it looks like a net and, you know, clamps onto a hi-hat stand or a cymbal stand. Throw a few pair of sticks in there. Works great. So anyway, that’s kind of…and oh, you know what else? I almost forgot to mention this. Bring some extra cymbal felts with you, you know. Because let’s say you get to the gig and they don’t have cymbal felts and you didn’t…you don’t have extra boom arms or multi-clamps with you, but you have a special splash cymbal or a special bell for an effect that you like to use. You know, you don’t necessarily want to piggyback a splash cymbal on top of a crash without a felt in-between them. So bring, you know, have a little bag with a few extra cymbal felts in there. And that will help, you know, alleviate you from, you know, having any damage to your cymbals if you want to piggyback something or just put a cymbal upside down on top of another cymbal. And actually that’s kind of one of the things I’ve been doing more often than not, rather than taking a boom arm and a clamp. Because, again, if you take a boom arm and a clamp it’s not a lot of weight but, you know, every time you throw something into that…into your luggage it adds weight to it. And a lot of the airlines nowadays are cutting back, so much, that they charge you for an oversize bag. They charge you for bags that are, you know, they’re going to put underneath the plane. And if you’re trying to carry everything on the plane with you and, you know, you’ve got, you know, three things that weigh 4 lbs. inside your backpack that you’re carrying on the plane, it kind of gets heavy after a while. So anyway, hopefully that was kind of helpful to some of you younger guys and to some of the players out there that, you know, haven’t done a lot of fly-in gigs and you’re going to play a show for the 1st or the 2nd or the 3rd time flying-in and, you know, you kind of learn as you go. But those are kind of some things that I do. And hey, if I forgot something…if you’re a drummer out there and you’re listening to this and you do a lot of fly-in gigs and there’s something that you can’t live without and you like to take it with you, please leave it in the comments below or send me a message or something like that. I mean that’s what this is all about. I’d love to hear your guys’ feedback. So, anyway, that is my next edition of “The Bart Factor.” Doing fly-in gigs and playing a backline kit. Again, I help it was helpful. Please look for me. If you like this, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and please look for me on the net. My website…my main website is www.BartRobley.com. That’s B-a-r-t R-o-b-l-e-y.com. Also, again, check out my other website www.DrummerSwag.com. Find me on Facebook and Instagram. And thanks again for listening. I will see you guys in the next episode of “The Bart Factor.” Have a great day!