Justin Benner of Hawk NelsonHello, MD readers, it’s Justin Benner from Hawk Nelson. I was back home in Nashville, Tennessee for a few days before heading back out on the last leg of the Green T tour. The tour has been going great, and we’re just about to wrap it all up. We started back in late February and have been traveling all over the US in support of our latest record, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend, which hit stores April 1. This is the first time that HN has done our own headlining tour, so we weren’t sure what to expect. But the fans have been amazing and the shows have been a lot of fun.

I got a new kit for this tour, reason being, my drum teacher, Chester Thompson, gave my first nice kit to me. I had the great privilege of studying with Chester for four years at Belmont University, and he hooked me up with one of his older SonorLite kits and it sounds incredible. However, being that it’s an older kit with a lot of sentimental value (not to mention, Sonor no longer makes that line of drums), I decided that it would be wise to get a new kit for the tour that was a bit more “road worthy.”

Thus, the search began, and I ended up finding a nice Pearl Masters Custom kit. It’s got a purple sparkle wrap with black rims and lugs. I think it looks classy, but it’s also got some edge to it. It looks especially nice when the lights shine on it. You can see some of it in the picture. I’m using a 10″ rack tom, a 14″ floor tom, and a 22″ kick. I’ve got Evans clear G2s on the toms and an Aquarian Super Kick II on the kick. I’m also using the Pearl Chad Smith Signature Series snare. I just sort of happened upon it, and it’s got a great crack to it. I’ve got an Evans Power Center Reverse Dot on it.

Now let’s talk cymbals. I’m a Paiste guy myself–I use a Signature 18″ crash, a 20″ Full crash, and a 20″ Dry Ride, great-sounding cymbals if you ask me–but I’ve still got some Sabian 14″ AA Rock Hats and a 15″ AAX Studio Crash.

I’m using all DW hardware because I think it’s the best, along with a DW 5000 kick pedal. (I’ll soon be upgrading to the 9000.) I just recently started using Pure Sound’s Speedball bass drum beater with the felt head, and it sounds awesome. Plus it’s got a great feel to it. I’m a big fan of the Pro-Mark 5AB Carter Beauford Signature Series sticks, I’ve got a Roc-N-Soc Nitro Throne to sit on, and I’ve been using Ultimate Ears UE7 Pros as my in-ear monitors for many years now. They’re great because they produce a lot of low end–and you’ve just got to love that low end!

Well, I guess that about does it for my tour setup this time around. I enjoy experimenting with new gear every now and then, so my setup changes from time to time. I think that’s one of the great freedoms we have as drummers: We have a huge variety of toys to play with! By the way, the two openers on our tour are Capital Lights and Run Kid Run. If you have a moment you should check out their music, too.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see some of you at a show this year. Be sure to say hello. I always enjoy chatting with fellow drummers.

Over and out,


For more on Justin Benner and Hawk Nelson, go to www.myspace.com/hawknelson.