Sean Waugaman says that after playing acrylic drums for years, he was ready to switch to wood when his band, Walk the Moon, joined Muse for its latest tour. The drummer wanted a darker sound that would work well both in larger and smaller settings. “I’ve got rosewood, gum, and some mahogany, and each drum is pretty much a different blend except the 16×18 and the kick,” Waugaman says. “It ends up sounding incredible together, and there’s a really nice balance between the drums. It’s also nice to have drums that have a good amount of tuning range. For smaller venues, I like to tune a little higher, and for the arenas I like to go as big and low as possible to power through the mix.” The kit’s custom purple fade finish complements the desert-sunset cover art from Walk the Moon’s 2017 album, What If Nothing.

Waugaman plays a Trash Talk aluminum snare with six lugs, and he appreciates its open tone, sensitivity, and wide tuning range. “If it’s a dryer venue, I can tune it a little lower,” he says. “And if it’s a real ‘verb-y’ venue, I can tune it up for more attack and crack. I’ve usually played ten- and twelve-lug snares, and it’s amazing how much having six lugs opens up the sound.”

Sean also uses a second Trash Talk with five lugs, and he employs triggers on both drums for more sound options. “As we’ve gotten more in depth with production, a lot of the snare sounds on the record will be four or five drums combined together, so it’s hard to reproduce that sound live,” he says. “We put a trigger on the acoustic kick drum and the two snare drums and use apTrigga, which is tied into Ableton Live. We blend the triggered samples with the live snare so it sounds more like the record.”

Waugaman says that Zildjian’s 15″ K Sweet hi-hats off er a neutral but expressive sound that fits well within his cymbal setup. He uses a 19″ K Sweet or 20″ K Custom Dark crash (not pictured) depending on the venue, and he’s played a 21″ Sweet Brilliant ride for the past ten years. “It’s a nice ride that works with the crash,” he says. “It has a good blend of control and definition.” He notes that the 18″ K Custom Hybrid Trash Smash is different enough from his left crash to create a nice balance, and the 22″ Kerope is ideal for lower dynamics. “In smaller venues, I have to be conscious of cymbal bleed,” he says. “We have a relatively quiet stage, and the cymbals are by far the loudest thing going. So playing softer is sometimes something I have to consider.”

Drums: Masters of Maple Neo-Classic with a custom purple fade over quilted maple finish

A. 6.5×14 Trash Talk aluminum snare
B. 5×14 Trash Talk aluminum snare
C. 9×12 gum/rosewood tom
D. 16×18 gum/mahogany fl oor tom
E. 14×14 gum/maple fl oor tom
F. 14×24 gum/mahogany bass drum
G. Remo Rototoms

Cymbals: Zildjian
1. 15″ K Sweet hi-hats
2. 19″ K Sweet crash
3. 21″ A Sweet Brilliant ride
4. 18″ K Custom Hybrid Trash Smash
5. 22″ Kerope ride with rivets

Microphones: Heil and Sennheiser

Heads: Remo Emperor Coated tom batters, Controlled Sound Coated on snare batters and Ambassador Hazy snare side, Powerstroke P3 Clear bass drum batter and Ambassador Clear front

Hardware: Pearl, including an Icon rack and Demon and Redline pedals

Sticks: Vater 55AA

Electronics: Roland SPD-SX multipad and PD-8, RT-30H, and KT-10 triggers
Accessories/Percussion: Meinl hi-hat tambourine