David The Artman solves art installation issues by day and becomes a globe-trotting rock/pop/country drummer by night. In other words, he’s living the dream. Then there is his third dimension – Drumkit Collector. We love our passionate Collector psychology, so what’s his all about?
MOLAM: Hi Dave. How long have you been collecting drums?
DK: Not long really. 3 – 4 years…
When did you notice the change from ‘buying’ a set of drums to ‘collecting’ them?
having gone from the family’s kit , then my brothers and eventually my own kit through my teens to the big rack mounted Pearl drumkit endorsement deal in my 20’s then with my musical influences changing I thought I’d like to scale right back to a little sixties kit ….with my eye on of course a prized Ludwig Ringo Starr Beatle kit…. Dream on….I’d settled for an early 70’s Premier jazz kit in Grey Shimmer. Still not satisfied after a few years I found a 1968 Ludwig (not a Ringo) but a Psychedelic Oyster.. Satisfied with the psychedelic oyster for about 7 years… Then I thought I should sell the Premier.. I took some photos to post and was looking at them and I thought why am I selling this.. I didnt need the money.. I have the room.. Why can’t I have 2 drum kits and so on and so on…. Down the slippery slope I went…
Do you have a collecting criteria (brand, era, aesthetic, sound…)?
Not a strict criteria, I’m not really fussed about the brand. some are really cheap Japanese kits from the sixties that were competing against the better USA brands of the time so they look awesome in appearance with their funky colourful wraps (exterior finish) but the wooden drum shells underneath are of a much thinner 3ply lesser quality wood and are constructed a little differently.
Era – mostly 60’s and 70’s not by choice but just because I love the wraps they were producing back then..mine are mostly smaller sized bass drum or jazz kits too… I like the smaller kits as I’m short and I like to sit high behind the kit so the kit is lower down and flat then a rock kit that would have larger diameters and depths meaning all a bit higher..
Sound – with the older kits they do have a unique tone compared to kits of today… Kits today can weigh a ton… 10ply shells and I find them very loud.. I like the older high quality kits like the ludwigs and yamaha for their thinner shells and distinct tone. Kits can vary so much with the type of skin and also just by the player…. A great player can make the cheapest nastiest kit sound awesome…
And also some are just unique or odd fashionable kits too… I have a clear acrylic ‘fibes’ USA kit from the 70’s and a ‘Simmons’ hexagon electronic kit…. Just waiting for Duran Duran reform…?
(Oh, dearest Dave, that is so sweet and funny, as if Duran Duran ever split up. They were here performing 3 years ago. Timeless.) So, do you play all of your kits ?
They do all get played from time to time.. I have favourites… I’ll be into a particular kit for awhile then for whatever reason choose another kit and then back again… .
Do they all have a turn going out to gigs with you?
Yep, absolutely. I like to mix it up. keep my drummer friends jealous and also depending on the band ie: pop, rock, country the sound of the kit or venue, stage size etc..
How egalitarian of you, like trying not to favour a particular child or something. And showing off to boot! How many kits do you have now?
mmmm 10 if you count the cheapy I found at a garage sale which our cat Monkee uses the bass drum for a bed entering through the microphone hole.
Any musicians of note played / owned them?
The only one I’m aware of is the Premier kit I was told belonged to Jim Elliott From the Cruel Sea.. A few years back I was drumming on Jim Moginie’s (midnight oil) solo record Atlas Folkloric with the brief NOT to play like legendary powerhouse oils drummer Rob Hirst, However one song required Robs special touch.. So Jim got him in.. My kit had been re-skinned for the session with my sticks leaving hit and scuffs marks in the centre of all the drums from about 2weeks of recording … Rob comes in, played one song, two takes and the skins were beaten and scuffed over the entire surface of the skin… Id never witnessed Robs manic playing up close before, totally mind blowing! He definitely gave my kit his special touch. And a lovely guy to boot. (Rob also owns several vintage Ludwig drumkits).
How fantastic! Where are your drums, are they all set up or do you have to put them in storage?
I have large rumpus room down stairs in my house where I have them semi set up with one being set up in the middle of the room with all the cymbals etc. then when I feel like a change its really simple to swap over just the drums…. The set up configuration for all my kits is the same so the cymbals and stands just remain where they are and the drums switch in and out.. Same as my live set up, I have a second set of stands and cymbals which stay in the road cases… Then when it’s gig time I grab the two road case and play eany meany miney mo with what ever kit I want to use a for the gig… I also have a kit setup in the lounge room upstairs, so when I get the urge at any given time day or night or a song comes on the radio or at 2 in the morning after a few wines I can have a bash… and its great whenever anyone visits young or old they always sit behind it and have a little tap tap saying ‘I always wanted to play drums’ or ‘I wish I could play drums’ … ‘can you show me something’ …. It’s a fun thing to have…
It is wonderful to have your collection available to visitors – interactive. People seem to reveal parts of themselves when they are around a collection – it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s art, jewellery, drums, smurfs. It’s fascinating. What is the rarest kit in your collection and why?
I guess it’s the 1968 Ludwig Psychedelic Oyster, from what I’ve researched not to many of these were made.. And only a few made it to our shores… The colour is no longer available from Ludwig … I was at a drum store once chatting to the sales guy and he asked what I was playing – psyc oyster etc and he goes wow not to many of them around. Turns to his filing cabinet pulls out a photo of one…. Thats it! that’s mine… The photo was of a really old fella behind it… I knew it was mine as the legs that hold the bass drum and the tom mount had unfortunately been updated.. Sales guy said the old guy would hobble in to his store like arthritic death but sit behind a kit and just come alive… I’m glad his kit lives on, And I hope the old fella is too.
I feel the same way with pieces in my collection. It is the history, and sense of playing a caretaker role, that makes one keenly aware of the people who have cared for the piece before you. Indirect relationships.
Have you had to restore any of them?
I haven’t had to do much actual repair work..Generally I just remove all the chrome give it a good polish and give the shells a good clean. the skins are generally pretty tired so at times I buy new skins for my favourite kits and hand there skins down to the other kits.. Re-skinning a whole kit top and bottom is quite costly so I usually wait until I’m doing some recording or touring and do it then. The Yamaha ‘yellow dragon’ had the wrap unfortunately ripped on the top so I flipped it to the bottom and drilled new holes for the legs and Tom mounts… So the damage is not seen now..
We all love a bargain story. Which one was your best buy?
The one Monkee sleeps in.. $30 at a garage sale.. It’s a smallish kit and will be for my littlest nephews to annoy their parents with.. .. They love coming around and playing on all the drums..one is showing some signs he has what it takes… I have hooked my older nephews up with kits too but they haven’t really taken to it… Funnily enough its one of my nieces who I think has the gift… And if she sticks at it she will always have a gig… What band doesn’t want a cool chick up the back on the tubs?
Cool chicks are the best. How old were you when you started playing?
….Started when I was around 10yrs old encouraged by my parents providing a family of six kids a little japanses Star drumkit … Were they out of their minds?my older brother then got his own kit when he was 14 which was a significant upgrade from the Star kit with a few more cymbals and Tomtoms, he being able to teach his little brother (me) a few things until I surpassed him pushing him to the front of the microphone in our first band.. (Forgotten the name ) but I believe my mum knows Led Zepplin 4 as well as I do ?
And now finally what is your dream drumkit to own?
A Ringo of course… and im very fortunate to own the dream.. A ‘Ludwig 1966 ‘black oyster’ There were obviously hundreds if not thousands of these kits made but rare to find one that’s been so well looked after and in Australia …. I’m only the second owner…its a beautiful kit, records nice and always gets comments at gigs by other drummers, sound guys, punters and if they can stop talking about themselves for just a minute even some guitarists..although this is a very rare occasion (Insert drummer joke here). I know there will be a day when I possibly have to move all the kits along but it will never be the Ringo.. I just love it. For years i would look at beatles pictures, video clips etc and think “man I’d love one of those”… Its a huge part of pop music history, the most famous looking drumkit on the planet and now I have one!! I’d like to think mine was sitting on those same shelves in the ludwig factory right next to the same kit Ringo ended up with…..?
I found it online from a guy in country Victoria who had had it for 40 years.. Also a collector, he had many kits, this was his studio kit and it never saw daylight or gigs hence the pristine condition… Some drummer friends saw it posted too but it was right at Xmas time when they didn’t have the money to spend on themselves.. A quick bit of googling and serial number checks etc and I was the proud new owner … For a $K less then i was prepared to pay….. A bargain really… Haven’t seen one as good since!
Thanks Dave. Keep on drumming!