MD checked in with pop/R&B drummer Chris Coleman while he was on tour with Beck.

“Beck is very meticulous about every sound that comes off that stage,” says Coleman, “but I couldn’t be more different from his drummer of the past fifteen years, Joey Waronker. So it took us a little bit of time to get synced up and feel comfortable about the sound of the drums. As an example, we had several different cymbal shoot-outs. We went through everything that I own, plus around fifty cymbals from the Meinl factory, to come up with what I use onstage. Also, there are points in the show where I use different snares to make it more like the record. His catalog is so deep and diverse, and he wants each song to sound like the record. This gig definitely keeps me on my toes.”

The kit that was set up at Chris’s audition, a huge Ludwig setup with concert toms, gave the drummer a heads-up on what kind of sound Beck wanted. “I’ve taken a few ideas from that kit and changed my rig to get the right mix where I could be comfortable while delivering the songs as Beck likes them,” Coleman says.

A major change for Beck during this past tour was the stage setup. “He’s always had a vintage stage look,” says Coleman, “but his new record is very pop-oriented, so they changed up the stage vibe to match. I’m up on a six-foot riser, which keeps me above Beck’s head, making the sound more tolerable to him. Another cool feature of this new stage is that I have an LCD panel in front of and behind me, so it appears like I’m floating.”

On the subject of incorporating electronics into his acoustic kit, Coleman says, “Beck’s albums have so many different sounds on them that the whole band has to use electronics to recreate them live. I’m excited about Roland’s products, as they’ve drastically changed my way of approaching a gig. For instance, there’s no automation in this show; we play the sounds and loops in real time. That gives the music life. This took me a minute to get used to, because if someone misses a cue, it messes up the rest of us. But it makes us more of a band and not just folks on stage playing their parts.”

Chris Coleman

Drums: Sonor SQ2 X-Ray Acrylic
A. 6×14 steel snare
B. 7×14 Beech Tigerwood snare
C. 5.5×12 acrylic snare
D. 7×8 tom
E. 7×10 tom
F. 7×12 tom
G. 13×14 floor tom
H. 15×16 floor tom
I. 18×22 bass drum
J. 17×20 bass drum

Cymbals: Meinl
1. 16″ Byzance Brilliant China
2. 18″ Byzance Dark crash
3. 14″ Byzance Jazz Thin hi-hats
4. 22″ Byzance Sand crash
5. 24″ R&D ride
6. 28″ R&D ride
7. 20″ custom effects crash

Hardware: Sonor 6000 Series stands and Giant Step pedals, DW 900 hi-hats

Heads: Evans Onyx tom batters; EC Reverse Dot batter on main snare, EC batter on 12″ snare, ST Dry batter on Beech snare, and 300 Snare Side resonants on all snares; EQ4 Clear bass drum batters

Sticks: Vic Firth Chris Coleman model

Electronics: Roland SPD-SX sampling pad, TD-50 module, RT-30HR triggers, BT-1 trigger pad, and KT-10 kick trigger pedals