Toasting its twentieth anniversary this year, Umphrey’s McGee is at the height of its powers, delighting fans with new music, raging shows, and an innovative approach to online outreach. That goes double for its ever-evolving drummer, who brings big beats and cool ideas whenever he sits down at the kit.
Umphrey’s McGee has so many songs—so many kinds of songs—that its shows can feel uncommonly different from night to night. Underscoring this multidirectional potential are the detailed, far-reaching improvisations that the sextet weaves into every performance. With a multitude of styles and attitudes in play, plus a range of covers from the Beastie Boys’ “Wow” to King Crimson’s “Red” to Steely Dan’s “Peg,” you’re looking at a band that can pretty much do anything.
Working on this story, I saw the group twice in New York City in a span of three months, first at Brooklyn Bowl in October 2017, then at the Beacon Theatre this past January, just as the album it’s not us was being released. Although the two shows touched on some similar ideas—both had funky pockets, real metal crunch, and instrumental fireworks—the overall feeling of each was distinct from the other. The Brooklyn performance was looser, bluesier, more open; the one cover was Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same.” At the Beacon the vibe was tighter and funkier, with more emphasis on pulsing percussion; the cover that night was Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy.” Umphrey’s didn’t sound like two different bands but rather offered two very different looks.
One of the challenges here is pulling everything off exactly right. To blend styles properly—in a progressive setting—a group can’t just flirt with accuracy but must go much deeper. Enter the versatile virtuosity of drummer Kris Myers, who says the group wanted the heaviness on it’s not us to be as hard as Deftones, the funk to be as grooving as Lettuce. It would be easy to fall short in one of those areas, yet Umphrey’s nails it all with undeniable skill, adding dance-floor thump (“The Silent Type”), Talking Heads/Adrian Belew–type exoticism (“Looks”), anthemic rock (“Piranhas”), and prog-metal chaos (“Dark Brush”). Myers brings his firm touch, fat sound, and quick mind to each track.
Meanwhile, the drummer continues to strengthen his bond with the band’s percussionist, Andy Farag. As the pair will explain, they took their partnership to a new level by overdubbing orchestral percussion for it’s not us at the Attic, engineer/coproducer Greg Magers’ studio in Nashville. On stage, Myers and Farag are locked in yet unpredictable, chatting amiably through their instruments and finishing each other’s sentences. This is the kind of musical banter that’s so fun to hear; the conversation can go anywhere, and it’s never dull.
Umphrey’s McGee, which took shape at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in 2018. (Myers came on board after original drummer Mike Mirro left in 2002.) The members, rounded out by guitarist/lead vocalist Brendan Bayliss, lead guitarist Jake Cinninger, keyboardist Joel Cummins, and bassist Ryan Stasik, have over the years spread out from Venice Beach to Charleston, which means that Myers, who recently moved to Nashville, relies on digital file sharing to keep the fires burning with his mates when they’re off the road. Beyond Umphrey’s, Kris is involved with Goodnight Nurse, a partnership with drummer/producer Brian Abraham and guitarist Dylan Jones (Gallant) that writes and licenses music for TV and film, among other media.
Still, Myers’ main gig keeps him plenty busy, with around eighty-five performances a year. Over its two decades Umphrey’s has grown to the point of booking multiple nights at popular venues around the country. This summer, for instance, the band will play three shows at Red Rocks in Colorado for the second year in a row. I first wrote an MD feature on Myers back in 2006, and in both instances I witnessed a well-run organization—band and crew alike—where people take their job, but not themselves, seriously, and have gotten the complicated act of touring down to a science.
The group’s welcoming attitude on stage and off is clearly felt by its fervent fans. Umphrey’s is in fact a trailblazer in the way it’s nurtured a close relationship with its audience, taking full advantage of social media and its multifaceted website. “We have to be creative with the engagement part,” Myers explains. “We’re willing to learn things beyond just writing that hit song.” Indeed, just as this story was hitting newsstands, the group stealth-released a surprise follow-up to it’s not us, fittingly titled it’s you, enrapturing its devotees even further.
Beyond receiving unexpected bounty like it’s you, fans get to vote on set lists, and even on which live improvs should later be developed into full songs; the wild ride “Remind Me,” from it’s not us, is an example of the latter. “We’ve taken it to the geekiest level,” Myers says, “where we have the All Things Umphrey’s website where you can get your stats algorithmically analyzing how many times we’ve played a song.” And fan buzz helped the band decide which of its live mashups to bring into the studio for the you-gotta-hear-it-to-believe-it 2016 album Zonkey, where, among other gems, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” meshes seamlessly with Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”—complete with production elements from the original versions—to form “Electric Avenue to Hell.”
“Younger people like that,” Myers says. “They’re bored with the old idiom: We have to wait for the band to give us what they want. We’ve gotten fan mail from parents of sons and daughters who say, ‘They’re crazy about your music.’ And we’re like: ‘Why are they so crazy about us—we’re in our forties! We’re, like, from the ’90s!’ But I think it’s because they know we’re out there really trying to share things and have them be a part of it.”
Part One: Kris Myers at Brooklyn Bowl, October 2017
MD: On it’s not us I’m struck by the diversity of not only the songs but the sounds.
Kris: Thanks, man. I’m glad to hear that. We were going for variety. We recorded a lot of songs and ended up with these particular ones, and it covers a lot of bases and represents what we are now.
MD: The first three tunes all sound different from one another. Were they recorded in different environments, on separate days?
Kris: Same studio—IV Labs, in Chicago—probably in consecutive days: one day one song, one day another. But in the editing process, maybe to tighten up for a drier drum tone, I would work with Greg Magers, who’s one of my favorite guys to work with, along with [engineer/mixer] Manny Sanchez, of course. I’ll tell him what I’m looking for. We’ll stick with the live drum take, but we’ll mess with the sound of some of the songs—make the mics a little tighter; less room mics on some sections, a little more open on others. And “Looks” was one where we overdubbed a lot of percussion. Andy is really featured.
MD: Were the tunes tracked live, with the whole band playing?
Kris: We did a lot of live takes, but some guys would change things or overdub later. The thing with us is we move fast. We can’t keep drawing out the recording process in addition to touring. So we just have to be quicker with recording.
MD: Is that because of your schedule, or it’s just the way inspiration works?
Kris: That’s a good question. I’d say both—but mostly because of our schedule. [laughs] We recorded in November of 2016, and that was a week-or-two process. That’s usually what we allot ourselves for any recording projects per year. A couple weeks, tops.
MD: That’s enough time to get something done, or realize you have to move on.
Kris: For the tracking process, yes. I think we’re all creative enough and experienced enough to home in on and craft these songs the way we want ’em months later, within reason. And we stay true to our live sound. We’ve figured out a way to do this and keep expenses reasonable. To me music today needs that—it needs to break away from being “perfect,” because everybody sounds kind of like a Pro Tools session. It’s nice to have some of those elements, but it’s also nice to balance it with actual human elements and playing on the spot.
MD: Like on “Whistle Kids,” there’s the unadorned, unadulterated sound of a drumset. It’s strange to say, but it’s refreshing in this day and age.
Kris: That was what we were going for, and that’s a good example of a song that started out in the big open room with tall ceilings. But I was like, Eh, that’s not the vibe I’m looking for here. So Greg figured out a way to make the drums super-dry, without having to retrack it.
MD: Did you use your live setup for the album?
Kris: Yeah. The same setup you see tonight, you hear on the recording—same kit. It’s the Reference series by Pearl. I switched up ride cymbals on this record depending on the song, but I kept things very consistent.
MD: Are you that way in general? Like when you set up at home, do you try wacky stuff?
Kris: I’ll experiment, but I generally set up the way I do live. And I have a separate setup for jazz and smaller side gigs.
You treat your drums based on the context of what you’re doing. If it’s appropriate, cool. Even if you don’t go way out in left field with your ideas, that’s fine too. Sometimes it comes down to just the playing and how you work with what you have. I live by that philosophy more than anything, because I see players surrounding themselves with so many bells and whistles, and it’s great, but it can distract you from what you’re supposed to be doing. Which is being as musical as possible with the least amount of things. Your creativity will come out more than you realize.
MD: Umphrey’s has a wide stylistic range to cover, so you have to make it all work.
Kris: When you play with a band that’s kind of like a Frank Zappa approach, where you’re switching genres from something very articulate to something kind of open, you’ve got to find the middle ground. You’ve gotta have definition on your drums. If I tried to play a big old 1970s or ’60s vintage drumset on this gig, it wouldn’t work. Because we go from playing classic rock and funky rock to playing something really syncopated and tight. So I choose the middle ground, and Pearl seems to give me all those things. And the key to my cymbal sound is clarity and articulation.
MD: Do you have a pretty different experience from room to room, in terms of sound and feel on different stages?
Kris: Yeah, I’d say so. You have the old and the new. People sometimes keep famous, classic venues going that have a larger capacity, and they sound kind of cavernous. You can feel that energy where it’s not the greatest acoustics. Then you go to a more modern place with all the right paneling and everything else. And then you play outdoor festivals. Sometimes you even play a big arena; in certain cities where your market is really high, you can play those bigger rooms. You experience a considerable difference in your in-ear mix, for sure. You’ll definitely hear it even without the in-ears.
MD: Do you have to make adjustments, or is it something where you just trust your body and your microphones?
Kris: You gotta do a little of both. You gotta trust your crew, the front-of-house engineer. I like to be proactive with him: “How does this sound? What can I do?” Any drummer shouldn’t be shy to do that, in a respectful way, of course. And the guy that we have, Chris Mitchell, is incredible. He’s really great to work with, and he loves different microphones and trying things that are a little unorthodox in the rock realm. So it’s a team effort. [Chris Mitchell suddenly enters, and introductions are made.]
MD: We were talking about making adjustments depending on what you find in a given room.
Chris Mitchell: Oh—a snare check.
Kris: Yeah, that’s literally all you have to do.
Chris Mitchell: Kris has a couple snares. He A/Bs them, I tell him which one sounds better, and that’s really about all we do. Everything else, I let him play the way he wants to play, and the rest of it’s up to me.
Kris: He’s done articles discussing how he’s taken the approach of not putting too much on the mix.
Chris Mitchell: There’s no EQ; there’s almost no compression. Just good mic placement—and [speaking to Myers] you.
Kris: Which is great, because then you really capture the truth of the dynamics of what the drummer’s playing and how he hits the cymbal, how he strikes the drum. From a ghost note and a snare roll to a big rimshot. I’ve always found that overheads pick up that enough anyway. Instead of just getting the heavy arsenal of mics on the drums individually, sometimes just overheads do a good job. [Mitchell exits.]
MD: When you A/B the snares, are they different models?
Kris: Since they don’t make the Ultracast nowadays, they’ve switched over to the Hybrid Exotic. That’s a great drum, because it’s got all the elements of the Ultra Cast. It’s my favorite. It’s Pearl’s prototype of the Black Beauty design, with lighter lugs, not the real thick and stiff kind of lugs. The drum has a little more flex to it. And then I continue to use the brass Reference, which is a very expensive drum [laughs], but it sounds that way. It sounds deep and rich and beautiful, and bright and brassy and bossy. It can fit right in the mix, though, if you do the right dampening. I like to have something that cuts through the amplification.
MD: In this band you’re being asked every night to create spontaneously, as well as redefine parts from old songs.
Kris: It’s true—there’s a good balance. With Umphrey’s we have a lot more flexibility than your average pop gig. Improv is great; it’s kind of missing in rock ’n’ roll these days. I think younger players need to understand that even though you’re building up a beautiful arrangement with your video clips on your socials and doing all this flashy stuff, when it comes down to the moment, playing the right shit with other players and creating a conversation, that’s what’s key.
MD: You need to have quick communication between your mind and body, because you’re in the moment, not just playing parts that you’ve memorized. Do you ever physically lag behind the ideas that occur to you?
Kris: Absolutely. Sometimes you can’t physically do what your mind is telling you, and that’s where the fundamentals—the physical coordination exercises—come in. You have to be tenacious in pinpointing what those mechanics are. Like, for example, reverting back to your rudiments and how to connect a phrase from one to the next, like from an unaccented drag or flam to an accented figure. And how to use it sparingly and put some space and editing between your fills, instead of just a constant run-on sentence, which drummers can do. That’s how you improve your grammar as a drummer.
MD: It’s great that you mention grammar, because I wanted to ask about the related concept of vocabulary. You know the correct idioms for the genres that you’re playing, but you’re also assembling them in real time and mixing and matching.
Kris: Yup, you’re mixing and matching—that’s a good way to describe it. Umphrey’s has an evolving progressive nature, and that nature comes from mixing and matching, with all instruments.
MD: When you’re away from the kit for some time, does it take a while to get back in shape?
Kris: When I’m off the road I do have to warm up. I revert back to certain exercise books, like I did back in my jazz studies with Joel Spencer, who was a DePaul teacher, and Bob Rummage. Those guys taught me to work with the Charley Wilcoxon snare books and the George Stone book, Stick Control. There’s an exercise that’s kind of a little secret for the jazz players, on how to apply those exercises to a whole drumset and all four limbs. You do phrases from the exercise for four or eight measures, and then they would have me improvise at the same tempo for four or eight measures and then go to the next line. So you’re not only building up your objective chart reading, you’re also improvising equally. To me it’s gotta be 50/50, improv and technique.
Sometimes, honestly, when you’re spending more time just fighting traffic and getting your rental car and trying to get to the space to do your session, you won’t have time to practice. So I’ll listen to music a lot, and internalize. One of the things I’ve been told by other players that drummers do really well—and maybe I do too—is have a photographic memory of the form of the songs, without charts. That’s why we’re quarterbacks, so to speak, and the guitar players usually rely on us: You’re the heart and soul of the whole thing. My opinion is that everyone has to know where everything is. But you know that you have that leadership role, and it’s something to embrace, for sure.
Pre-Show & After-Show Routine with Umphrey’s McGee!
MD: You guys are playing three shows in the New York area this weekend, and then three at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan in just a few months. That’s impressive. Is New York one of your strongest regions?
Kris: Yeah, it’s always been one of the larger markets for us. And they’ve always been good to us. I’m amazed by the amount of people that are totally stoked and fun to be around out here. I love the energy in terms of the fan base—I mean, I probably wouldn’t live here. [laughs] It’s a big-city energy. The fans are very loyal and very grateful. There’s no judging in our scene, which is great.
MD: What are some of your other major cities?
Kris: One that’s pretty amazing is Asheville, North Carolina. This nice little hippie town. It’s one of the few places where we play a small arena, Explore Asheville Arena. And then in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we play Wings Stadium, where they have hockey, not NHL but a smaller division. Of course Chicago’s gonna always be big. And then you’ve got Indiana and Wisconsin and Minnesota. Those places will always take care of us. We’re very grateful to have the hardcore fans from those regions continue to come out every year.
Denver is very exciting right now. The music scene is big and vibrant, and it’s growing. Bands that go out there are being supported by all kinds of fans. So the Red Rocks shows are growing, which is amazing. The best West Coast region for us I would say is San Francisco.
MD: You’ve been in the band around fifteen years now. Have you seen your audience change at all? Do they get younger as you get older?
Kris: That’s a good question. I think we’re still attracting a younger demographic. I don’t know how we are, but we are. A lot of the older fans still come around, but less of them, because they have responsibilities.
But it’s pretty consistent, with college-age and younger people being aware of who we are, and we’ve done a good job catering to them. If you’re giving out enough to people and not being afraid about record sales, the payoff is that younger people will keep following you. Someone will get their son or daughter aware of who we are, and what we give them will be exciting to them, like if we give them signed hats and shirts, or whatever. Not a lot of bands put that much time and thought into the offerings they’ve given to their fan base, in a creative sense.
Part Two: Kris Myers and Andy Farag at the Beacon Theatre, January 2018
MD: Last night was really cooking. Did it feel pretty good to you?
Andy: It did.
Kris: It felt pretty good. I honestly felt like I was overexerting myself. I was sweating profusely. It didn’t look like it on stage, which is good, but I was getting off the stage hurting. I think it might have to do with the [fact that the] energy expended here [in New York City] is almost twice as much as anywhere else. I don’t know why. Maybe because you’re thinking all day about the ADD world we’re in, and so you end up a bit fried. But that brings better playing sometimes, because you kind of play through it.
MD: I never would have guessed that. You were killing it.
Kris: I gotta say, Andy has been stepping it up a ton. I’m trying to cater more to his sound. Seriously, the drummer/percussionist roles, for so many bands, are a bit elementary, in my opinion. Working with him now, we’re talking about things a little more. We’re excited about this year—the twentieth anniversary—and we want to make it real, you know?
I’m trying to hear him out when he wants to go to a conga section, or play airy cymbals, or a big floor tom—we’re trying to work that out now.
MD: You were picking your spots and naturally staying out of each other’s way. I guess that’s just fifteen years of playing together?
Andy: Yeah. That’s what you’re always looking to do. Especially as a percussionist, you don’t want to be stepping on the drummer’s toes, muddling up fills and stuff. It takes years of being comfortable with not playing—but, when you listen back, you’re like, That sounds great. That sounds musical.
MD: Kris, when you mention Andy going to the congas, for instance, are there things that you do in response?
Kris: Yeah. Sometimes the band wants to vamp these crazy long sections in the same key. And we always do a lot of improv, so we have to stretch out that feel with some kind of intention. When I’m searching for what to do, if there’s some world-music-y idea where he’s doing a Latin rhythm, like a guaguancó feel on the congas, then I’ll play it with him. And if we’re not doing that, we’re doing something a little more like an Arabian feel; I know a couple basic ideas from a doumbek pattern that he naturally gets into. I’ll be catching that, and we’ll build on it, which helps me get away from the simple backbeat, which drummers are always searching for. So I learn from him.
And then, if he’s playing cymbals or lighter stuff, I’ve been trying to listen and not react like a fusion drummer would and just assume that’s my role all the time—to do all the bells and whistles. He has it covered sometimes, so now I need to play more streamlined, maybe accompany more.
MD: Similarly, Andy, how do you react to Kris?
Andy: Well, obviously I’m listening to him more than anybody in the band. Over the years I know certain fills that he plays a lot—his vocabulary—so I’ll jump in maybe in the last part of that fill, just to double it up. If we go into the beginning of the fill and I try to play something and he’s playing something… That does happen, but I try not to do that. Because he is the drummer, and those quintessential tom fills, you gotta let him do those. Being a percussionist, I have all this other stuff I can be doing.
And in certain instances where Kris drops a stick, or something goes wrong—something breaks—I can cover him with cymbals or certain things so everything doesn’t just drop out.
Kris: That’s recently been happening a lot. My girlfriend talked me into doing this salt scrub in the shower…I’m regretting it now. Sticks are flying out of my hand—but when I shake your hand, it feels nice. [laughs]
MD: Last night I was hearing a lot of pulse-oriented cymbal work and little embellishments from both of you. Bursts and trills, weblike between you.
Kris: I think the key with this gig is it’s fun, and it allows us to stretch and be eclectic. There doesn’t have to be a very specific origin of rhythm; it could be our own universe of ideas. When you learn things and repeat in your practice studies what has been done before, that’s how innovation comes—you assimilate that and then you create your own thing. In a deeper sense, it gives us the trust and freedom to work on each other’s role together—the layers of the rhythms. Because our music has several layers. It’s not just cookie-cutter pop. It’s pretty complex.
If I’m playing, like, a Bill Bruford–esque pattern, with some kind of metric modulation or odd time signature implied over four—it might have to do with what the soloist is doing, and I play to that for a while—Andy knows, Well, I’m not gonna come in yet, because he’s branching out from “contrived groove land” to stretching. And he’ll come around and work with an inner lining of blending patterns, his and mine. It’s not in unison now—it’s more a “role” thing.
And then we switch the role. When I’m trying to push him to solo—and I’ll point at him, so that Ryan and Jake and them are looking—I’m going to take a backseat, and [speaking to Andy] I let you express. We’re trying to do that more.
MD: Your shows include so many musical styles. Andy, have you studied traditional percussion from different countries?
Andy: I have, a little bit. When I first started out, I wanted to get into traditional Latin percussion, listening to Santana and all those people who incorporated Latin music into rock ’n’ roll. And I went to Berklee for a percussion festival that introduced me to all kinds of other styles of drumming. But within Umphrey’s McGee, it’s its own country of drumming.
I was a beginner, basically, when I joined this band. You say we play so many different styles…that’s why my rig is so big. [laughs] There’s the Latin setup, with the congas and timbales. Then I have the rack toms, and the Rocket Toms, and a floor tom—just trying to incorporate more actual drums. Whatever my setup is, it’s trying to reflect all those styles.
MD: Let’s talk about your monitor mixes.
Andy: Our monitor engineer, Bob Ston, says that my mix is probably more balanced than anybody else’s. I don’t have a lot of vocals. Definitely more drums than anything, and bass, and obviously all my stuff.
Kris: Mine is pretty much the same. Bob has told me that as well; I think we’re closest to being the most balanced mix.
Andy: Kris also has basically a PA subwoofer behind him.
Kris: Just to mix in the low-end part. The most important thing is that we’re trying to reduce the amount of noise back where we’re at. We have a plethora of microphones everywhere on the stage, facing right in the direction of the cymbals and the drums, and there are phase issues with that. We’re a little hypersensitive, because we also have a whole other business of releasing the recordings, every show, on UMLive, and it has to sound controlled for our engineers to mix it after the show and crank it out there.
MD: I want to ask about the two days of percussion overdubs for it’s not us.
Kris: Andy and I had a similar vision to do overdubs, because some of the songs lent themselves to the potential idea of having orchestral percussion—not just Latin or world-music percussion but heavy, big floor toms, big concert bass drums….
We rented a great assortment of orchestral percussion, and we decided to write things on the spot. We just had to figure out how to get more conceptual with the drummer-and-percussionist role.
Andy: We had concert toms, and we were tuning each drum to the track, to Kris’s toms. There’s one track, “Forks,” where Kris had the idea of me doubling up all his drum fills. I was like, Oh, this is gonna be real easy. [laughs] It was great, though, because it was very quick and spontaneous. Our engineer Greg would play the fill and I’d practice it once or twice, and then I’d just lay it down. It was like Simon Says: Hear it, play it. The more I was thinking about each fill, it was just making it harder. And it turned out really cool.
Kris: The idea was to get really big accents on some of the progressive songs that Jake wrote. “Looks” and “Dark Brush” were the biggest focus. “Forks,” of course, we ended up deciding to do that more Peter Gabriel/Phil Collins approach, overdubbing one-headed drums over the drumset, which brings more color.
Andy: On “Dark Brush” we were accenting kick drums with these huge drums. The most simple things, but man, it just sounds so good. We set up these huge drums in Greg’s garage.
Kris: For big, heavy, Mastodon-like guitar riffs, for those accents we’re hitting big caveman drums—18″ to 20″ floor toms and bass drums, all together. Live it’s gonna be tricky, but we’ll figure it out.
Greg is the fastest ninja editor on Pro Tools I’ve ever met. He is the best. He knows and gets what you want. And he’s not pretentious; he’s not like some engineers or producers where they’re very particular about their thing. It’s like, Great, but for us it’s more about: What can this person do to cater to us a bit?
MD: And for a lot of the other tracks you guys played live in the studio?
Andy: We were doing multiple takes of each song, first and foremost to get Kris’s take. I’m laying down real simple stuff, so maybe the first take I’ll lay down a shaker. The next one I’ll lay down something else, and the next one something else. Not that we’re going to use every one, but then we’d have a choice, just going back and listening.
MD: Would you also overdub percussion on every track?
Andy: Normally I would. This was the first time where I’ve actually recorded with the band live for the tracking part. Most of the time in the past I’ve come in at the end and laid down my stuff, even after vocals.
MD: To be clear, on some of the songs you didn’t need to add more later?
Andy: That’s true. And there’s some songs I don’t play at all.
Kris: And there’s a song I don’t play at all, “You & You Alone,” which is all Andy. I was like, Yeah, man—you go, buddy. It was perfect just the way it was, having him doing that sort of two-beat, folkier feel on hand drums, as opposed to me on brushes. I’m going to do that live, but, I mean, I would rather not even play on the song, to be honest. It’s beautiful as it is. But everyone feels like we have to play….
MD: They don’t want you to have time to get up and go to the bathroom.
Kris: [laughs] No, apparently!
Andy: You don’t get to rest at all, buddy. Sorry.
Drums: Pearl Reference series in Music City Custom Ice Blue Oyster finish
A. 6×14 Hybrid Exotic snare (or 6×14 Reference Brass)
B. 5×10 Popcorn maple snare
C. 8×10 tom
D. 10×12 tom
E. 14×14 floor tom
F. 16×16 floor tom
G. 18×22 bass drum
Sticks: Vic Firth 55A and (for jazz) AJ3 sticks, Heritage brushes, and T1 General mallets
1. 14″ A New Beat hi-hats
2. 14″ A Custom crash
3. 19″ K Custom Hybrid crash
4. 10″ S Family Mini Hats (closed, on boom stand)
5. 20″ A Custom crash with 10″ K splash (not visible) and 12″ FX Spiral Stacker on top
6. 21″ K Custom Hybrid ride
7. 20″ A Custom crash
8. 20″ A Custom EFX crash
Cases: Humes & Berg
Hardware: Pearl, including hi-hat stand, snare stands, boom stands, tom mounts, throne, and Powershifter Eliminator double bass drum pedal
Heads: Evans, including G2 Clear (live) or G2 Coated (studio) tom batters and Genera Resonant bottom heads, and EQ3 bass drum batter with EQ Pads; Remo Coated Ambassador snare batters
Electronics: Roland SPD-SX, Sensaphonics 3DAA-2 dual-driver in-ear monitors