Q: How about a complete break down of all of your Dream Theater touring drum kits?
A: I’m using either a Pearl Reference Pure kit or a Pearl Masterworks kit. The two 22″ center bass drums are identical in size in order to play typical double bass patterns and to be able to play single kick patterns with either foot. And sometimes I want to free my right foot to play my right hi-hat. The 26″ bass drum on my left is played by a slave pedal and used for big, airy, heavy rock sections. The 18″ bass drum to the right is for dynamic purposes. My four acoustic bass drums are designed to create low-end dynamics within a single drumkit. I also have two Pearl e-Pro electronic kick drum triggers on the far left and far right. This allows me to trigger percussion sounds or any other sound I choose.
So I have a choice of six kick pedals at all times. I have to credit Mike Farriss at Pearl Drums for helping me design and create this incredible setup. He’s hand-making me a set of Pearl e-Pro electronic drums to include in this kit. My other two pedals are my cable hi-hats, which are wired to crisscross the kit so that each pedal controls the hats of the opposite hand. The toms are set up in an apex shape so that I can perform patterns as a classically trained musician.
When guitarist John Petrucci plays a minor scale from high to low, descending one note at a time, I can also descend one note at a time on my toms, in the exact sequence. The gong drum acts as a bridge between my hands and feet, when I need a bass drum sound but my feet are already busy on other pedals.
My Pearl signature snare in the middle of my kit acts in the same way, as a bridge up to the suspended cannon drums in the front of my kit. Or it acts as a secondary snare drum for dynamic purposes. I will play sticking patterns between my mini snare and my main snare because that allows me better dynamics that I can’t achieve on my main snare alone. In the same way, I can use my 18″ bass drum and my 26″ bass drum together in a pattern to create more extreme dynamics within a groove.
My cymbal setup is designed to complement the specific dynamic frequency in the same way. I use a smaller cymbal for high notes in the music and larger cymbals to accentuate the lower notes. I need quite a few of them to cover the gamut of the heavily composed music of Dream Theater.
I also split my cymbal setup symmetrically, from the middle out to each side. My cannon drums are set up from left to right.
Mike Portnoy used Octobans a lot in Dream Theater’s music, but I need to set my cannon drums up properly within my setup so I’m not killing myself to reach for them. I suspended them high in front of me, mainly because there was nowhere else to put them. I also have a set of Pearl e-Pro pads suspended up high for triggering timpani and percussion tuned to exact pitches. Everything has a very specific purpose in this kit.
Thank you MD!