Driving the rhythm for a rock band with three guitarists and three songwriters can be daunting for any drummer, especially one whose drumset once consisted of only three drums. For Brad Morgan of Drive-By Truckers, the discipline of the less-is-more approach has taught him to play more for the song and less for the ego. “In the beginning, using a small kit came about because we didn’t have much space in the music,” Morgan says. “I was also playing in four or five bands at the time and didn’t have a lot of gear.”
The Alabama-bred Drive-By Truckers took the long-haul approach to success by touring clubs for more than 250 days a year, usually in just a van. Then, in 2001, Rolling Stone magazine printed a four-star review of the band’s concept album, Southern Rock Opera, and things went into overdrive.
Until very recently, Morgan played an old Ludwig 24″ bass drum, a snare drum, and a floor tom. For cymbals he used two old Zildjian K rides, one for a crash and one for a ride, and a pair of hi-hats. (Brad has upgraded to a Pearl Masterworks kit with Bosphorus cymbals.) By striking the edge of his crash/ride and snapping away with his wrist, Morgan learned he could return to a quick ride pattern after a crash. For accented crashes he sometimes uses his left foot to pound a quick release on his hi-hat while letting both cymbals ring between the beat. “Whatever I play,” Morgan says, “it’s pretty much all about the song. And with a small kit, you learn to be creative.”