“I am dangerously close to buying a new drum kit, and I’m still not quite sure why.” – Me, on Facebook. And it wasn’t the first time I had said it either. I’ve said it many, many times, hoping that someone will reply with just enough justification for me to take the plunge, beyond variants of “just fucking do it!”. It’s a habit. In fact, just earlier today, I lamented about how hesitant I have been to buy a ticket to Download Festival 2017, in hope that someone will give me the last shove into buying one, and I can subsequently blame that person when I notice that I shouldn’t have spent so much money. Once that is out of the way, I’ll use the same technique to get everyone nagging me to buy some new cymbals, to replace the old ones that I have accumulated over the years.
Then I got impatient, and I went to Graham Russell Drums in Fareham, and I bought myself a drum kit and new bass drum pedal. Alright, it was a little more drawn out than that, but in essence, not by much. During my Masters Degree, I admittedly got quite upset about how I felt completely disconnected from making and performing music myself. Even during my degree, I had very few opportunities to get involved. On a few occasions, I was called upon to help Music Performance students who required a drummer, but besides that, I rarely touched my drum kit.
The most involved I felt when I was at uni, was my trip to Abbey Road Studios. However again, it was my job to lurk in the corner with a dictaphone and notepad, rather than contribute directly. Here I am tinkering on the piano, but I wasn’t the man recorded.
A week before buying the kit itself, I had visited the store with the intention to look at a couple of kits in particular. This happened after I visited the local Professional Music Technology store, and I took the opportunity to muck around on a £6000 Roland electronic drum kit. I then had a bit of an epiphany. Now was time to get off of my backside… only to put it down again, behind a drum kit. I had almost forgotten that I could even do it. When I got home, I went straight to my drum kit, and played the same thing. I found it far less comfortable, and I realised that I would much prefer to have much shallower drums than my Mapex Venus Series kit had, and make everything closer together. I’ve always preferred intricacy, then to make a chest-punching, booming racket. For this reason, I looked at the Mapex Armory and Tama Hyper-drive kits.
I subsequently bought the Mapex Armory. Interestingly, my mother dropped me to the store, and much to my surprise, she seemed a bit disheartened. Not because I was dishing out hundreds of pounds, but because I wasn’t paying more for the more expensive option. This made me kind of happy though. It felt great to know that she was behind me in this venture. I managed to convince her that I hadn’t chosen a six-piece Mapex Armory because it was cheaper than the five-piece Tama kit, but because I preferred it!
Admittedly, I spent more time pondering over what colour I would choose. Nosing around the catalogue beforehand, I wanted the ‘Photon Blue’ kit, which was fun and glittery.
However, upon realising that this was going to be in constant view in my own beige home, this kit which seems coloured more for the stage, was sadly inappropriate. I subsequently went for the more practical walnut colour. Besides, the store’s titular Graham Russell explained the matter well – wood colours are “timeless”.
It felt great to get it home, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun to set it up. In spite of beginning to learn how to play drums sixteen years beforehand, I had never assembled and tuned a drum kit in its entirety. It took me a couple of days to put it together. Normally I wouldn’t have the patience, but I was excited enough for it to hold my attention, and to know I was excited was a good cue that this might not have been a waste of time or money. Still, it was a shame that it was finished at 1AM so I couldn’t have a good go on it! Wish me luck. This should be good fun.