To translate the heavy, hard-hitting drum sounds on modern-rock band Seether’s seventh studio album, Poison the Parish, to the stage, longtime drummer John Humphrey has returned to the brand that he started with as a child. “My first drumset was a 1966 silver sparkle Ludwig kit with mahogany shells,” he says. “I loved that kit, and I wish I still had it. My new kit is the Keystone X series. The shells are composed of maple and American red oak. That combination produces a wonderful mix of warmth without sacrificing attack. Our engineer is blown away with the kit. It mikes up easily and sounds great coming through the PA.”

Poison the Parish was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. “Paul Simmons, the Blackbird drum tech, tuned the kit,” says Humphrey. “There’s an art to tuning, particularly when everything is under a microscope in the studio. We always have a special tech come in to tune and pick out snares and other gear. We were in the studio prior to my reconnecting with Ludwig, so on most of the album I’m using an old Tama 6.5×14 Bell Brass snare that I borrowed from a friend. It really adapted to each song’s sonic texture. It could sound like a gunshot, or it could be sensitive and pick up every ghost stroke.”

“In the live setting,” Humphrey continues, “my tech, Mike Buchholtz, tunes the kit. We tune the top heads slightly higher than the bottoms. All toms have a sweet spot. I tune to that and then go slightly lower. My drums aren’t tuned jazz-tight, they’re looser with a bit more body to them. We tune high to low, starting with the rack toms.”

The centerpiece of Humphrey’s live setup is a 22″ Sabian AAX Metal ride. “That’s a killer cymbal,” he says. “The bell is heavily featured on our single “Let You Down.” I also love my 19″ AAX X-Plosion crash for its bright sound and great sustain. Another wonderful addition I made several years ago is the Chad Smith Holy China. It doesn’t have that brash overtone that some Chinas have.

“One thing I can’t live without is my cup holder,” the drummer continues. “It holds a concoction that’s a mix of Gatorade G2 and Pedialyte. I’m pretty physical when I play, and I sweat a lot, so this is a great way to replenish those liquids. The cup holder is welded to a stand, so it’s a permanent fixture on the kit and has been around the world with me several times.”

Drums: Ludwig Keystone X in Red Swirl finish
A. 6.5×14 Supraphonic snare
B. 9×13 tom
C. 16×16 floor tom
D. 16×18 floor tom
E. 16×24 bass drum

Cymbals: Sabian
1. 15″ Paragon hi-hats
2. 8″ AA splash
3. 18″ Saturation crash
4. 20″ AAX X-Plosion crash
5. 10″ AA splash
6. 21″ AAX Metal ride
7. 22″ AA Medium crash
8. 19″ AA Holy China
9. 19″ AAX X-Plosion Fast crash

Hardware: Ludwig Atlas Pro series cymbal stands, DW 9000 double pedal and hi-hat, Carmichael drum throne

Sticks: Vic Firth 3A

Heads: Aquarian Hi-Energy snare batter and Evans Hazy 300 Snare Side; Evans EC2 Clear tom batters and EC Resonants; Evans EMAD2 Clear kick batter and Inked by Evans custom logo front head

Mics: Sennheiser e901 and e902 on bass drum, e609 on bottom of snare, e904 on toms, e614 on hi-hat and ride, and MK4 overheads; Audix i5 on top of snare