Muse's Dom Howard's drum setup
Muse are among the greatest, most successful rock bands of the last decade. Following 2009’s massive album The Resistance and a hectic schedule of equally-sizeable live shows, Rhythm magazine caught up with the man behind the band’s powerful grooves, and one third of its success, Dominic Howard.
Among the exclusive shots of Dom’s kit you’ll see in this gallery are snippets from Rhythm’s interview. Find out why the drummer switched to DW, what he plays live and in the studio, and how Muse’s group dynamic works. Plus, check out the last slide to read how Dom’s current DW kit took shape from the manufacturer’s perspective.
First up: Dom on the switch to DW
The switch to DW
The Resistance tour is the first where people will be able to see you using a rather nice new DW kit. What’s the story there and why the switch from Tama?
"Well, I’ve actually had a DW kit for a long time - I bought one about 10 years ago. And I used it in the studio this time round when we were just setting up, playing around with new ideas and so on. I had a little circle of drum kits set up in the studio, including the Perspex kit from the last tour."
"I really didn’t think that anything would top the sound of that kit, but as soon as I jumped on the DW it just sounded incredible and I remembered exactly why I got into it in the first place. It was so clear which one sounded best."
"The Perspex was amazing through a big PA on tour, brilliant, but the DW has such a vast tonal range. It’s not mid-rangey like the Perspex shells are, it’s more expressive and more sensitive."
Next: Dom Howard’s drums
DW Collector's Series (Damask finish), 22"x20" bass drum, 12"x8", 14"x14" and 16"x16" toms.
14"x6.5" Collector's Series snare.
Next: Dom Howard’s cymbals
Zildjian 14" Special Dry hats, 8" EFX 1, 12" Trash splash, 18" K Fast crash, 19" A Custom crash, 18" Oriental china, 22" K Medium ride.
Next: the studio kit
The studio kit
Is it the DW we hear exclusively on the record?
"It is. On the last album I used a sort of hybrid kit made up of random drums, I pulled out different things to make up one great sounding set-up. With this album, though, it’s all the DW, with a Ludwig 402 snare here and there."
"We had to be very decisive about what gear to use, otherwise we’d have f**ked around for weeks. So I very quickly put everything else away and went with it. As we went on I began to realise that I really wanted to take the drums on tour once the album was done."
"I’ve got a couple more kits from DW to take on tour now and I’m enjoying using them. Tama were great to me and I used them for eight years, they were amazing, but the new kits are phenomenal."
Next: the live kit
The live kit
So what’s the kit that you have on stage?
"It’s a fairly standard DW Collector's Series kit I use live - 22" kick, 12", 14" and 16" toms and I’ve also been using a maple snare, which is unusual for me because I’ve always gone for metal shell snares on stage before. Having said that, I have got an aluminium snare as well… and I have triggers on the bass drum and snare, for things like subby kick drum sounds."
Next: group dynamic
When it comes to arranging parts and playing live, how does the group dynamic work?
"I tend to lock in with Chris (Wolstenholme, bass), but it’s not always a case of the two of us playing very similar rhythmic things. An awful lot of the time we play parts that are very different, but are complementary to each other when you hear them together."
"I think that might be to do with being a three-piece - if we were to do a lot of unison parts it loses the ‘bigness’ of sound that you need on stage."
"Chris has a massive sound. He’s got three channels of different bass tones going on at any one time, so it’s a huge foundation for us to play off. And obviously Matt’s got an incredibly complex set-up that produces a massive variety of tones, so we can sound as big as we want to."
DW on Dom's DW switch
DW on Dom
"Dom’s introduction to me was via a friend, Glen Rowe. Glen and I had emailed about Dom and when I flew out to London on my way to the Frankfurt Musikmesse, Glen and I met for a few and discussed the possibility of Dom becoming part of the DW Family. After talking for a bit, I said that when I get back to DW, Dom and I should start to talk/email."
"Dom was very knowledgeable about what DW was about when it came to shell configuration and design. He was looking for drums that spoke together and held their own voice. He wanted them to speak with authority and be warm and full."
"We discussed the sizes that he was comfortable playing and how to achieve the sound he was searching for. We found it by making the 12" tom VLT (Vertical Low Timber) with 3-ply inner hoops and the 14" and 16" floors became the X-shell with 3-ply inner hoops and the kick the VLX with the 3-ply inner hoops. The matching snare is straight-up VLT, no inner hoops."
"He and I spoke and emailed at great lengths to make sure we were both on the same page. We made two kits and the finishes are ideas of his… the Gold Glass Kit with Gold Hardware. Very bling-bling and stage-friendly."
"The other kit, the Damask kit, was Dominic’s idea from the get-go. He had this vision and we went for it. I feel that the kits we built are what he had in mind. The Damask look is Solid Black Base with Silver Metallic Damask with Silver Flake over all chrome hardware."
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