Aaron Steele of Aabaraki
Hey, all, it is a pleasure and honor to be writing a blog for Modern Drummer.
I grew up in the church tradition, playing gospel. Around age eleven I got really into break-dancing and I kind of got away from the drums for a few years. But when I was fifteen I joined a band called Single Effect Theory. We did a bunch of national touring, signed to a major label in 2006, and broke up while recording our first record. Shortly thereafter I decided to go to the New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where I had a very short-lived and unpleasant experience. Since then I’ve worked with some pretty awesome people, including Kyle Patrick from the Click 5, Jesse Reuben, Matt White, Chris Velan, Reed Waddle, Sam Barsh, Casey Shea, Vanessa Bley, Teddy Kumpel, and producer Lestyn Polson (David Gray).
Some of my influences are Steve Jordan, Riley Breckenridge from Thrice, Jim Black, and John Theodore. Besides playing for a number of artists, I am also a member of a band called Aabaraki, who, in my opinion, blurs the boundaries between soul, indie rock, and funk. We released our self-titled record in June, and it’s been gaining some buzz. It’s nice to be a part of a project that’s my own, creating new things as opposed to interpreting them.
Now for the juicy stuff—gear, what everyone has been waiting for (or at least the drummers as geeky as me). For most of my gigs I use different setups in order to get the best sounds for the song, including 1960s Sonor beechwoods (13″, 16″, 20″), 1971 Ludwig three-ply maples (13″, 16″, 22″), 1970s Camco maples (14″, 20″, 24″), and 1970s Gretsches (13″, 16″, 22″). I’m getting a C&C luan mahogany kit so I can keep my Vintage kits at home or in the studio (12″, 15″, 18″ toms, 20″ and 24″ kicks). By the way, if you haven’t checked out C&C Drums www.candccustomdrums.com, please do, because they are amazing. My main snares are a 10×14 1964 Leedy wood, a 5×14 Black Beauty copy by Precision Drums, a 5×14 Ludwig Acrolite, and my favorite, a 4×14 C&C MPM. I have a few more but I use these the most. Thanks to the great people at Istanbul www.istanbulcymbals.com I have a couple of awesome setups for cymbals as well. On the East Coast I use 15″ Special Edition hats, a 22″ Mel Lewis Ride as a crash, and a 22″ Traditional Dark ride. On the West Coast I use 15″ Xsist Brilliant hats, a 22″ Xsist Brilliant crash, and a 24″ Xsist Natural ride. To bang all that I use Silverfox www.silverfoxpercussion.com drumsticks because they last an extremely long time.
Advice for other drummers: Practice as much as you can. Use a metronome but don’t be a slave to it. Play other instruments because it helps with understanding the relation between them and the drums. And befriend other drummers because you can learn from anyone.
Thanks for reading!
For more on Aabaraki, go to www.aabaraki.com.