About The Torch: A monthly series, The Torch aims to help musicians of all ages and talent levels learn more about their respective instruments. Each issue features band members from around the world discussing their craft. They provide our readers with advice and insight towards their person experiences, as well as talking about the tool of their livelihood. Whether you’re an aspiring musician, beginner, fan, or expert, there’s something here for everyone. I truly believe it takes one generation to inspire another. With each issue, I hope we can motivate more and more readers to become the forces they admire.
Written & Produced by Meryl "LJ" DeWitt | Edited by Rachel Rosell | Photos credit to owners
From pop punk to metal, today we feature two bands from the great state of Ohio. Along with solo artist Jacob Buckner, the drummers of Life In Idle and Doxy have come to our pages! Read as the three discuss their many tales of destruction and more!
Meryl "LJ" DeWitt: How old were you when you first started playing? / What was your first drum set?
Jacob Buckner: I first started playing drums at thirteen years old - I actually learned the basics from the game RockBand! The first drum set I had was a Yamaha YD Series that my parents bought for me at an auction. I didn't even have any cymbals for, like, the first year!
Andrew Cundiff (Doxy, Ovalbumin): I guess my first real drum set was made up of a few boxes I found around the house at 4 years old. I set them up on the porch and would bang on them and play with different velocities and different dampening techniques; I was just having fun making the sounds change. I also used to flip my bike over and play on the spokes.
Alex Hall (Life In Idle): I received my first drum kit for Christmas when I was 5 years old. It was a sparkle red Thunder 5 piece acoustic set. I played on it for a few years before upgrading to an electric kit for noise/practice purposes.
LJ: Through trial & error in your career, are there any mistakes you would warn young drummers to be cautious of?
Jacob: Number one, for any musician looking to make music a career, is watch out for bad promotion companies and managers. A lot of stuff you can do on your own, i.e. music videos, album artwork, recording your album, photo shoots, etc. What I mean is you can find graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and merch presses, without a manager. Don't waste your money, time, resources, or worse, get played by some shady dude trying to make a quick buck.
For drummers though, I always give this advice - keep your playing simple. Less is more. If you can't play something right in your room a million times perfectly, then DON'T do it live.
Andrew: Taking yourself too seriously.
Alex: I would warn young drummers to take care of their bodies (wrists, hands, fingers especially), always play with a metronome or click track when you're practicing, and to never stop learning your craft!
LJ: Biggest stage nightmare you've had so far?
Jacob: Having my backtracks/click-track fall down and unplug mid-set, which has happened.
Andrew: I was playing an outdoor party on the main drag in Terre Haute. I had one Yamaha cymbal stand set up with all of the booms flipped over and a couple of other clamped booms, and 95% of my cymbals were on this rack. We were set up on a flatbed trailer - you can probably see where this is going. Whole thing fell over on me in the middle of our set in front of about 5k people. My bassist helped lift it off of me and we kept playing.
Alex: I played a local battle of the bands once around Christmas time and decided to try and play my entire set in an ugly Christmas sweater. Some combination of overheating and dehydration caused me to have a pretty sloppy set and almost pass out on stage.
LJ: What's your current stage set up?
Jacob: •2001 Maple DW Champagne Glass Collector's Series Shells (24x18) (16x16) (12x9).
•Tama SLP Maple (13x7) Snare.
•DW 9000 Pedals and Hi-Hat along with the rest of my DW stands.
•Vater Fatback 3A Sticks.
Andrew: I play a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz kit. I really like the 16" kick drum as it gives me a lot of punch. I already have a heavy foot and I leave the front head off and the sound really pleases me. My cymbals are nothing great but I love them; a 20" Zildjian Z-Mac on my ride, a cracked 14" Zildjian A Custom, a very old Zildjian 16" cymbal that has no markings, and my hi hats consist of a Zildjian Z-Custom Mastersound bottom had and a Zildjian Scimitar top hat. I used to want new cymbals a lot but now I could really just use a hi hat stand. I've been using these cymbals for so long (minus the cracked A Custom, it was just very appealing to me sound wise) that I feel like if I changed them now it would change my sound more than I would like.
Alex: I am currently playing on Gretsch Energy shells, an 18 x 22 kick drum, 7 x 10 high tom, 8 x 12 mid tom, 14 x 16 floor tom, 7 × 13 OCDP Maple Snare. I have Evans EC2S frosted heads on the toms, the Evans Genera Dry head on my snare, the EMAD Onyx Bass Batter head and EMAD Reso head on my bass drum. I use Sabian cymbals all around and Vic Firth Extreme 5A sticks.
LJ: Best piece you've ever owned? / Worst piece you've ever owned?
Jacob: Best: My DW set that I mentioned in the last answer.
Worst: This crummy stainless steel Pearl snare that just sucked.
Andrew: I do miss the 20" Sabian China I used to have, did not care for the Zildjian Trashformer. I felt like I could have got the same sound out of a twisted up disposable pie pan that you get at the dollar store.
Alex: My favorite piece that I own is my Orange County Drums and Percussion 7x13 Maple Snare. It tunes great and never fails to cut right through my band's live mix.
My worst piece that I've owned would have to be the crash cymbal from my first drum kit. I don't even know what brand it was, but it sounded like a mangled trash can lid.
LJ: Dream pieces to own one day? (Collectors, customs, etc)
Jacob: I would really like to have a snare, or really any drum, from Love Custom Drums. That dude makes some killer shells. So, Buddy if you're reading this, hook me up!
Andrew: I'd like to have another 14" floor tom on my right side, maybe switch out the A Custom when the crack finally makes it to the bell
Alex: I would love to own a Mullins custom drum set and play entirely on TRX Cymbals someday.
LJ: Some drummers think I'm crazy for asking this & others find it a perfectly normal question… Do you name your pieces? If so, what are their names?
Jacob: I actually laughed at this question, but no, I have never named my pieces. Maybe I should!
Andrew: I don't. I name my basses but I don't tell anyone. Drums are more primal for me because I feel like I don't have to think about as much like I do on other instruments. I see drums as more of a necessary tool than a personal spiritual connection, although it is the only percussion instrument that I feel that way about.
Alex: I have heard of drummers naming their kits and drums, but I don't personally have any names for mine.
LJ: Who's your personal drummer hero?
Jacob: Always have, always will love Matt Greiner.
Andrew: Nick Mason of Pink Floyd. I feel like when they were doing their thing there were a lot of musicians that were trying to play more notes but Pink Floyd made a name for themselves when they started playing the space in-between the notes. As their drummer, Nick Mason had what I feel is the biggest challenge. I don't know him personally but it seems to me after years of watching bands play and monitoring various Guitar Center drum rooms, a lot of people get on drums and lose their sense of dynamics or discretion in their communication with that particular interface. So whenever I see a drummer that plays the space and works for a pocket it gets my head bobbing. I also learned my first chops listening to Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon, as they were easy to get into and still had subtle parts to master as sticking technique got better. I recommend them for anyone starting out. It may seem kind of droll but these fundamentals are important to start on.
Alex: My favorite drummer would have to be Travis Barker of Blink 182. I think he is a great drummer because he's dynamic and can play any style of music you throw at him, he worked hard to get to where he is in his career today, and honestly I just think he is an outstanding role model.
LJ: What, for you, makes it worth it to keep playing? What's your favorite part about being a drummer?
Jacob: Being able to express myself in ways that no one else can. I can play drums a way that no other drummer can, and the next one can do the same. We have some really fantastic drummers in the Indy Scene and all of them are good in their own way. Every drummer on the face of this Earth has a different style and flavor that they can bring to the game, which makes them stand out among the rest. With that in mind, you’re then left with a bunch of one-of-a-kind drummers that can do something special with their God given talents. Every human has a natural beat and is a drummer at heart - we ALL can relate with drums. Being a drummer gives me an opportunity to relate with people and bring the community together.
Andrew: Music is just so much fun to make and it’s fun for me to speak music from different instruments. I like playing drums because it allows me to feel like I'm expressing myself physically, and in a big way as I am using my entire body. Being able to express myself makes all the difference to me.
Alex: Part of what makes drumming so worth it to me is the physicality. I love going up on stage, or even to a practice, and just being able to leave saying that I gave that performance/rehearsal my all. The musical part of it is even better, when I perform music I feel like I'm part of something so much bigger than just a song or album. Music is a universal language and it's amazing to be able to speak it with everyone.