Want Taylor's big, open sound? Here's how courtesy of the Foos drum tech Yeti Ward.
There is no better person to explain just how a
drummer gets their original sound than their
drum tech. Even more than artists themselves,
techs know the ins and outs of kits, the set-up
quirks and the best way to tune them, simply because
it's what they do all day, every day.
Currently looking after Taylor Hawkins' requirements, Yeti is something of a tech legend among hard rockin' US drummers. He's worked for everyone from 311's Chad Sexton to Korn's David Silveria and, perhaps most famously, Limp Bizkit's John Otto. Yeti joined the Foo Fighters camp toward the tail end of the recording of the band's new acoustic output, but he has known Taylor for almost a decade...
"It's been a longtime," he recalls, "since Taylor was doing Sass Jordan in fact. He really wanted a tech that he could hang with as well as someone who could look after his gear. And I'm really happy to be here - I just did a long stint on the American Idol Tour (not unlike our own Pop Idol) and through that whole time I guess that about 50 percent of my iPod time was taken up with the Foo Fighters. I love the band and Taylor's great to work with."
So what exactly does Mr Hawkins look for from his set-up - a rig that is, you'll notice, characterised by its enormous dimensions...
"Taylor plays real big drums and cymbals for sure. And since I've come in, his floor tom is tuned a little deeper than it was before - the 18" is really low and boomy - although I actually take the 13" rack tom a little higher. Big drums can get a little flappy and hard to play, particularly with a big 24" kick, so you have to balance the low tuning with getting the head so there's still some response there.
"Taylor loves '70s rock. His influences are all about Queen and The Police and Bonham and so I try and get the drums as big and open-sounding as possible. He uses clear Emperor batters with an Emperor X for the snare and a Powerstroke 3 kick drum batter and those heads let me tune exactly how I need to get that big tone with projection.
"As far as Taylor's cymbals go, it's a pretty unusual set-up. He uses three Zildjian rides.. but he has two of them as crashes. The 20" Vintage ride and 20" K Custom Dark ride are both crashes, and he actually rides on the 21" Sweet ride. The Vintage and Dark rides sound amazing' as crashes - the Vintage in particular, which is his main. one, has a huge sound with lots of upper mid-range that really works well for Taylor."