John Jenkins' Example drum setup in pictures
The number of talented drummers desperate to break into the session world is astonishing, but sadly the number of consistent, well-paid gigs is limited and drummers are having to offer a lot more to get noticed.
Being a great drummer isn’t necessarily enough these days but there are plenty of opportunities, on top of playing, for a drummer with wider horizons.
John Jenkins is a prime case of a musician who has grafted hard and branched out from the traditional ‘session drummer’ role to maximise his many talents.
A gifted and schooled drummer, his first major break was with The Streets’ Mike Skinner where he experienced his first taste of not only performing to an extremely high level but also wearing the Musical Director’s hat. He was responsible for Mike’s pounding garage beats but his role also involved him in hiring and rehearsing the band, formulating and programming the set amongst many other non drum-related responsibilities.
Johnny’s skills caught the attention of Lily Allen and he spent some time as MD of her live show too.
Most recently Johnny has been manning the helm of Elliot ‘Example’ Gleave’s dubstep/grime/hip-hop crossover that has been destroying the charts, and working on an exceptionally involved live show that includes a blinding light display, mind-bogglingly intricate electronics and a killer live band.
Johnny has also taken up the role as Director of Chequerplate Drums & Percussion (formerly Chequerplate Stuff). The newest fruits from this innovative British company is the glowing LED kit and rack set-up you see in these photos.
Here we bring you pictures of that visual spectacle of a kit, along with snippets of the interview, which you can read in full in Rhythm 205.
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Next: The kit...
Chequerplate Drums & Percussion LED custom kit in Ultra blue: 10x7-inch & 12x8-inch rack toms; 16x16-inch floor toms (x2); 22x18-inch bass drum; 10x5-inch, 12x6-inch and 14x7-inch snare drums; 10-inch Jobeky e-drums with custom acrylic design (x4)
Tell us about that new kit, it looks great!
“All drums are 6mm seamless cast acrylic except for the bass drum which is 8mm, black nickel hoops, Chequerplate stainless steel C-Thru lugs.
“The lug is a unique design. The power is distributed to each lug through the hoops.
“It requires very low power and can be powered off a 9V battery. We run 12V so the LEDs are slightly brighter. We’re working on a system now to have different colours and colour-changing schemes.
“We give this kit to our lighting guy and via DMX he can fade it and control it. It’s opening up a whole new bunch of possibilities. We’ve done a similar concept with the rack and cymbal accent lights too.
“We’ve launched a website, where you can find out more.”
Sabian: 9-inch Vault Radia Nano hi-hats; 13-inch Vault Fierce hi-hats; 14-inch HHX Groove hi-hats; 16-inch HHX O-Zone, 18-inch HHX Evolution, 18-inch HHX X-Treme & 18-inch AAX Omni crashes; 21-inch Vault Crossover ride
This is quite a different set-up to what you’ve used before with plenty of new cymbals. How conscious are you of cymbal choice?
“For this gig I’m using the Vault stuff. I touched on it a bit with Lily. I like the look of it first of all. I saw it on a Jojo Mayer video. Obviously he does a lot of electronic stuff so I thought I’d try it out and it just fitted perfectly.
“On this gig we want to bring the real drums out as much as possible, but they’ve got to fit. I have two sets of hats, some Bozzio signature ones and the other auxiliary hats on the right-hand side. The ride stays out the way. It’s very dry. It cuts through when you need it but there’s no wash. It’s the same with the O-zone crashes, very short.”
Remo Clear Emperor heads; Black Cymbal Nutz from Pimpco, Vic Firth sticks; Custom Chequerplate LED rack; ddrum triggers
As MD, when piecing the show together how closely do you work with Elliot?
“We’ll sit down and literally brainstorm the set in five minutes. I’ll take it home, have a look at it, maybe make a few changes, then he might make some changes and we literally develop the set on paper together.
“We both have a lot of experience so we know how it’s going to flow, then I’ll mock it up on Ableton, just with mp3s, make the mixes and send it to him.
“If it’s good I’ll then go and program the whole thing on the MPC. Then we take it to the rehearsal room. Sometimes even then things will change.
“When we came out the first day on this tour we dropped a song after the first show because it wasn’t quite flowing. It’s an organic, dynamic process. It takes a while, but because Elliot’s very organised it’s very clear-cut and efficient.”
Now check out Rhythm’s new Issue 206 for an interview with iconic Pearl Jam sticksman Matt Cameron. Or subscribe to Rhythm for a monthly dose of new gear reviews, kit buying guides, pro drum lessons and all-star interviews.
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