Touring with an act that’s a household name comes with its perks, not the least of which is playing your own kit every night. Brad Wilk’s needs on the road with Prophets of Rage—the supergroup composed of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill—are decidedly simple, though the exact gear he’ll use each night depends upon his mood.
“On the road,” Wilk tells MD during Prophets’ late-2017 run, “I use Gretsch drums, but I switch drums out. I use 22″ and 24″ kicks with both shorter and longer depths. I actually switch stuff out between three different kits, including a yellow Broadkaster kit with this super-low 24″ kick that I like a lot. I used to do the same thing when Rage Against the Machine got back together. It’s just about how I’m feeling. I’ll usually have a kit to warm up with, and sometimes I’ll switch out between them. I just like to mix it up. My rack toms vary between a 12″ and a 13″. My floor tom is a 16″, and I’ve been using a Tama Bell Brass snare since around 2000—it’s my go-to drum live.”
Wilk’s cymbals need to stand up to considerable abuse. “I’m using Paiste cymbals,” Brad says, “and I’m working with them right now on a new ride and a couple of crash prototypes. I’ve been using those for about a year now. I was using 2002s, but since I play so hard live—I come down really hard on my crashes, especially the one that’s on my left—I was constantly breaking cymbals. We were trying to find something that was closer to the Paiste Signature series, which they discontinued.”
When asked which pieces of touring gear he finds absolutely essential, Wilk answers simply, “A drum throne—I need a place to sit! I kind of vary my throne height, because if you don’t, your back starts hurting. I used to sit super-low, then I went up kind of high, and now I’m back to the middle. I think it’s good to keep movement in your setup. If you think of your body as a machine and you’re making a groove in only one area for a long time, you’re going to wear that out. If you move around a bit, it might give your body a little more longevity.”
To help battle the unfortunate realities of drumming professionally for nearly thirty years, Wilk says, “There’s nothing punk about this, but I really love having a yoga mat. If I can get a mat and do some serious stretching before a show, that can be life changing for me. It can make you really enjoy a show and not have to worry about aches and pains. I also have to have my James Brown CDs. I play along to James Brown before every show, ever since the Rage days. It’s just something that I always have to have.”
On the health front, Wilk contends with more than stiff joints and sore muscles. “I’m a type 1 diabetic,” he shares, “so another thing that’s essential to me is always having juice around. I just try to take care of myself [in general]. It can be really challenging being on the road and being diabetic.”
In addition to his Gretsch drums and Paiste cymbals, Wilk uses DW pedals and hardware, Vic Firth sticks, and Remo heads.