Gearing Up

David Gilmour’s

Steve DiStanislao

Interview and photos by Sayre Berman

Steve DiStanislao is the drummer of choice for legendary artists such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Kenny Loggins, Don Felder, and his current employer, David Gilmour. “I tour with many different artists, and I play varying genres,” says Steve. “I have all of these tools in my toolbox. The choices depend on what the artist and the engineer want. If it’s a little darker sound, I’ll put coated heads on the toms and muffle them down a bit. But if they want a live sound, I leave the drums wide open.

“The first thing I think about is the music, in both stylistic and dynamic terms,” DiStanislao says. “David Gilmour’s music runs the gamut; it can be very soft and then very loud. That requires a palette that can accommodate a very wide dynamic range. I went with coated heads for a little less attack and warmer sounds. And I added some toms.

“Snares are the centerpiece of the drumset,” DiStanislao continues. “With David Gilmour, I use a solid-cherry 6.5×14, which gives me the dynamic range that I require. For his music I like to have a big, open, warm sound with a crack that cuts though. This drum speaks at all dynamic levels.

“The dynamic range of the music dictates the cymbal choices as well. David and Pink Floyd’s music is very ride cymbal–oriented, and I only use the ’80s Paiste Sound Creation 20″ ride on his gig. My crash choices are pretty much the same for all gigs; they cover the entire dynamic range.”

Regarding bass drum pedals, Steve says, “I use Axis models all the time. They feel comfortable, and they’re very consistent. Depending on the gig, I’ll use a felt beater or a hard-plastic beater. With Gilmour, I’ll sometimes add a bit of moleskin to soften the attack a little.”

Also specific to Steve’s setup with Gilmour is a quartet of Rototoms and a big church-type bell. “The Rototoms are tuned for the Pink Floyd song ‘Time.’ And on ‘High Hopes’ and ‘Fat Old Son,’ I hit the bell, which is pitched to C, with a specially crafted mallet.”

Drums: DW Jazz Series in “Superman’s hair” blue finish
A. 6.5×14 Craviotto solid-cherry snare
B. 9×10 tom
C. 10×12 tom
D. 12×14 floor tom
E. 16×18 floor tom
F. Remo Rototoms (8″, 8″, 10″, and 12″)
G. 16×22 bass drum

Cymbals: Paiste
1. 14″ Twenty Series hi-hats
2. 18″ Signature Fast crash
3. 20″ Sound Formula ride
4. 18″ Signature Full crash
5. 20″ Traditional ride with rivets
6. 20″ Alpha flat ride
7. 22″ 602 Modern Essential China

Heads: Aquarian Texture Coated snare and tom batters, Classic Clear bottoms, clear Force 1 bass drum batter, and Modern Vintage front

Hardware: DW 6000 series boom stand and 9000 series hi-hat, snare, boom, and double tom stands, Axis A21 bass drum pedal

Sticks: Vic Firth 5B wood-tip and Peter Erskine sticks, Split brushes, and T1 General mallets

Electronics: Aviom sixteen-channel mixer, Sensaphonics dual-driver in-ear monitors, and Porter and Davies BC Gigster tactile monitor drum throne

Miscellaneous: cast bell and Stick Hammock stick tray