Larry Mullen Jr's drum setup in pictures
Named after the 360-degree rotating stage and its massive four-legged centrepiece, The Claw, U2’s 360° Tour has been an immense experience for those who’ve witnessed it over the past two years.
We’ve already been privileged enough to receive a guided tour through The Edge’s monstrous guitar rig by his own tech, Dallas Schoo, and now - courtesy of Rhythm magazine - we’ve been treated to the same exclusive look at Larry Mullen’ Jr’s drum setup.
Sam O’Sullivan has been teching for U2 full-time since the Joshua Tree album. Here, in Sam’s own words, is U2’s Larry Mullen Jr’s drum setup in pictures. First up: a closer look at Larry’s custom Yamaha PHX Phoenix kit…
"Larry’s kit is called the PHX, the Phoenix. It’s an amazing Yamaha kit which is a hybrid of different woods - maple, ash, kapur, jatoba - from different countries, and the sound is absolutely phenomenal.
"Yamaha have been very good to us. Larry doesn’t endorse anything - he uses Yamaha but he is not the sort of guy who stands in front of the drum kit and goes, ‘Hey, check this out.’ He never has been, you can check any music magazines for the last 25 years.
"I’m saying this purely because the kit is phenomenal. They designed it specially for Larry. We were looking for something extra special in a heavier wood. We wanted big, heavy shells and they came up with this hybrid."
The 'unusual' setup
"Larry’s set-up is unusual. There’s a 14" rack, a 16" floor on the right and a 16" mounted floor tom on the left [not pictured].
"He uses that on certain songs, like With Or Without You and Pride. He turns to the left and uses that almost as a second kick drum."
"Over the years, we’ve brought everything down. In the old rock days all the cymbals were a mile high. We spent some time working on cymbals.
"Larry and I became good friends with Eric Paiste and for years we’ve been using the Signature series. They are beautiful in the studio and live."
"We’ve been using a variety of snares in the studio and the snare of the day is a Ludwig Black Beauty. It’s off the shelf. We brought it in and absolutely loved it. The drum sound has been getting great reviews.
"I hate to be biased but that’s all I think about! As long as he is happy and he’s hearing the right things about his sound."
"Every day is a challenge when it comes to making sure his sound is right because some of these buildings, they build them for football or basketball, they don’t build them for music - so it’s always a fight. Because we don’t use any gates on the drums, everything is singing so things can take off.
"You have to be so careful about levels because we don’t use gates. I think gates just stifle a drum, they cramp it."
The 'Larry Bonham' kick drum
"The kick drum is a 24", so it’s a big baby, 14" rack and two 16" floor toms and the Ludwig Black Beauty which is 14"x6.5". That hasn’t changed in years as regards the size of the shells. He loves the big bass drum. I call it the ‘Larry Bonham’ sound. He loves that big push."
"Larry looks like a heavy player but we go through maybe two pairs of sticks in a show. Very rarely do they break, only if there is a hairline split in them which is very, very rare. He doesn’t break sticks.
"Even though he rims on the snare and hits it hard, we use 5As and they worked out wonderfully. Two pairs in a show without breaking, it’s just to make sure."
The 360° drum riser
"Because we are doing a 360° tour the drum riser is right in the centre and it is part of the set. It rotates. I’m in control of rotating it because I sit right next to Larry, just behind the bass rig. I rotate the riser for a couple of songs then take it back again.
"The audience know me. I’m the last guy to walk out from the side of the stage when the band comes on. I’m part of the props by this point, just a guy up there behind the bass rig. They don’t come to see me, they come to see the four boys so it’s okay."
Hardware and heads
The Claw: U2's 360° Tour stage explained
- The stage’s massive overhead steel structure, known as ‘The Claw’, is 164 feet tall and can hold up to 200 tons beneath it.
- The cylindrical video screen is made up of 500,000 pixels, 320,000 fasteners, 30,000 cables and 150,000 machined pieces, weighs around 54 tons and has the same square footage as two doubles tennis courts.
- Overheads per day, U2’s tour manager Paul McGuinness told Billboard magazine, are around $750,000 to keep the crew on payroll and rent the 200 trucks required to transport the stages, merchandise, catering etc.
- Each of the Claw’s four huge insect-like legs contains its own full-size sound system, each one powerful enough for an entire arena, plus there are 72 separate subwoofers.
- Show director Willie Williams got the inspiration for the Claw from the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, and it can only be used in tiered football stadiums.
- The Claw is twice as high as the previous largest stadium set, from The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour. “Theirs would fit underneath this one,” says Williams.
Liked this? Now read: U2 Exclusive: The Edge's stage setup revealed
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