Luke Johnson's Lostprophets drum setup in pictures
The path to rock drumming superstardom is littered with sticksmen whose careers have succumbed to setbacks, dashed hopes and near-misses.
But then there are those who by sheer bloody-minded determination are fated to achieve their goals. Such a drummer is Luke Johnson, aka ‘Jocko’, the man now powering Welsh nu-metallers and anthemic pop-punks Lostprophets.
When Ilan Rubin, the talented US sticksman who had joined the ’Prophets for a stint following the departure of original drummer Mike Chiplin, announced he was joining Nine Inch Nails, Luke was determined he would take his throne. Having already proved himself with Californian punks Amen and his own band Beat Union, the West Midlands drummer literally went and camped on the ’Prophets LA doorstep until they let him in. That’s tenacity.
Now, with the release of the band’s excellent fifth album Weapons and the first tracked by Luke, he has now well and truly made Lostprophets’ drumstool his own.
“It’s nice to be sat here doing this interview three years down the line,” Luke told Rhythm when they caught up with him at Cardiff’s Music Box rehearsal space ahead of the new album’s release.
“Writing on the new record and having a band of brothers again. It’s nice to belong, even though I’m a Brummie in a Welsh band!”
Here we bring you pictures of the drum setup Luke is using with the ‘Prophets, plus snippets from that interview, which you can read in full in Rhythm issue 203. Alternatively, you can subscribe to Rhythm Magazine to read interviews with the world’s top drummers each month.
Next: The kit...
Tama Starclassic in Black Diamond Dust Crush: 22x18-inch bass drum; 14x10-inch tom; 16x14-inch & 18x16-inch floor toms; 14x6-inch Starclassic Bubinga snare; 12x3-inch ‘Piccolo’ snare
Luke explains his setup...
“I reckon Dave Grohl could sit at that drumkit and say, ‘Yeah, this is my drum kit.’ I've stolen a lot from that guy!
“The only thing the band said to me [when I joined] is don't get a stupid f**king drumkit. Not in the sense of too big - Ilan likes the 26-inch and I’d love one. But colour-wise.
"I joined ’Prophets in the super-customised drumkit ‘let’s have bright fluorescent hardware with pink shells and orange kick drum heads’ era and I don’t think they wanted anything like that, or lights inside it.
“I don’t know anyone else on the Tama roster that’s using the Black Diamond Dust Crush so I’m trying to keep on that. I do want to lose some cymbals. And I tried, recording. I only had a ride, two crashes and hi-hats but as soon as we went on tour muscle memory took over and I found myself reaching for them.”
Zildjian A Series: 19-inch Medium crash; 20-inch crash; 21-inch Sweet Ride; 20-inch Rezo crash; 20-inch Projection crash; 15-inch Mastersound hi-hats
On being a single pedal player...
“I’ve always had my own thing going on,” Luke explains, “so I didn’t record any of this record [Weapons] with a double pedal. Every other Lostprophets record has double pedal, but the reason I wanted single pedal was that a lot of the drummers I respect - Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Jorma from The Bronx - they’re all single-pedal guys and that’s how I’ve been most of my life. And I was like, ‘I’m gonna do me on this record, I don’t need a double,’ so I put the single out and we got the kit that the Foo Fighters used on Wasting Light, a Ludwig, and we just mixed it up.
“We used a vintage 1969 Ludwig, and we had Tama send down a Starclassic same as mine, and between the two kicks we managed to get this awesome sound making a mish-mash of drums. I’m not a roll-fill drummer, I’m single-stroke, so it’s more about attack, velocity, single-stroke fills - the Bonham/Grohl school of thinking.”
Tama hardware; Iron Cobra pedal; Pro-Mark All Natural Series 2B sticks; Buttkicker (Luke has his stool backwards so the Buttkicker “gets right up in the mix”); heads: Remo–Weatherking Emperor X on snare; Coated Emperors on toms
On being a visual drummer...
“Going back to when I was playing drums when I was younger, my dad was a manager and he said, ‘A drummer is the guy that sits at the back and stares at the arse of the guy that’s going to sack him. So make yourself unsackable!’
“And I was like, 'How the f**k am I going to make myself unsackable?' And he was like, ’Be awesome and just be different from every other drummer.’ And back then, I can’t remember any real showmen other than Keith Moon. And I love Keith Moon. His beats and idea of being behind the drums was nuts, and I loved Bonham.
“Jimmy Chamberlin’s my favourite drummer of all time. I used to play to every Smashing Pumpkins album, but he’s not really a showman - he’s like Mr Rudiments where I feel I’m more a visual drummer. And that comes from my dad saying be unsackable.
“So when I was younger I used to stand up and kick my drums over and be a little more wild. Then it kind of calmed down a bit. When I joined Amen, Casey [Chaos, Amen frontman] said, ‘Watch videos of [Godsmack’s] Shannon Larkin - play like him.’ And because I was young and just wanted to be in this Californian punk band I watched a lot of Shannon’s videos.
“Shannon is an absolutely fantastic drummer, and he’s got this weird robotic style. So I kind of pilfered a few things from him, y’know? And I feel it’s all incorporated into my thing.”
Now check out Rhythm’s new Issue 204 for an exclusive interview with the legendary Vinnie Colaiuta. Or subscribe to Rhythm here for a monthly dose of new gear reviews, kit buying guides, pro drum lessons and all-star interviews.
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