311 recently released its twelfth studio album, Mosaic. True to form, drummer Chad Sexton demonstrates his signature style and versatility throughout. “Even though we combine genres, 311 is first and foremost a rock band,” he says. “I’m a rock drummer at heart, but my style reflects a combination of genres that I try to weave together seamlessly.”

When Sexton is working on new material with the band, he considers how the songs will translate to a live audience. But he’s not one to overthink the parts. “I’m a drum corps guy who’s been trained to get things perfect,” he says. “But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to let it flow. I want to be natural…intuitive.”

In regard to the gear he used on the record versus what he’s taking on the road, Sexton explains, “On Mosaic, I used a Pearl Sensitone snare, but live I’m using the drum that came with this Masterwork kit. All of my snares sound great, but this one has extra crack and body. Crunchy is the word that comes to mind.”

Part of Sexton’s snare sound can be attributed to the choice of drumhead, which is a Remo model that’s currently only available in Japan. “This drum came with something called a Smooth White Coated head,” he says. “I had Remo send me a stack of them because it definitely contributes to that low-end crunch that I hadn’t heard before.”

One challenge of being a touring drummer is dealing with how drastically different the kit can sound depending on the room. “I’ve come to realize that sometimes the drums might just sound okay to me,” says Sexton. “But once they’re miked up, they’re perfect. It isn’t always about what sounds best to your ears. You have to hear it after it goes through the mics and [mixing] board.”

Sexton adds gear to his kit on an as-needed basis. “I added a 3″ timbale this year because our first new single, ‘It’s Too Much to Think,’ has a break where I come back in with a timbale fill,” he says. “I didn’t want to [play] the fill on the snare. I tried it on one of my Rocket toms, but that didn’t sound quite right, so up went a timbale! We found a place for it all the way to my left.”

Drums: Pearl Masters MCX in Natural Tamo Ash finish with blue stripes
A. 5.5×14 snare
B. 5.5×6 tom
C. 7×8 tom
D. 7.5×10 tom
E. 7.5×12 tom
F. 9×13 tom
G. 14×14 floor tom
H. 16×16 floor tom
I. 14×18 gong drum
J. 3×13 Primero steel timbale
K. 12×6, 15×6, 18×6, and 21×6 aluminum Rocket toms
L. 16″ Remo Rototom with Rapid Tuning pedal
M. 16×22 bass drum

Drumheads: Remo Smooth White Coated snare batter, Black Suede Ambassador tom batters, Ambassador Starfire Chrome on Rototom, Coated Powerstroke P4 on gong drum, Coated Powerstroke P4 kick batter, and Powerstroke P3 Fiberskyn on front of bass drum

Cymbals: Sabian
1. 15″ Artisan hi-hats
2. 18″ HHX Evolution O-Zone crash
3. 12″ Chopper
4. 20″ HHX X-Treme crash
5. 7″ Vault Radia Nano Hats
6. 8″ Evolution splash
7. 12″ Evolution splash
8. 20″ HHX Evolution O-Zone crash
9. 10″ AAX splash
10. 20″ HHX Evolution O-Zone crash
11. 22″ Raw-Bell ride
12. 20″ prototype crash with rivets
13. 18″ HHX Evolution crash
14. 19″ HH Medium-Thin crash

Electronics: Korg Wavedrum and Roland SPD::ONE WAV pad

Hardware: Pearl, including an ICON rack, Eliminator bass drum pedal, and D2000BR throne

Drumsticks: Vater Chad Sexton 3A