Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee and others)

S

Stu_Strib

Guest
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

Is there any particular challenging when mic'ing up that 26 kick? I always see that in his promo stuff and wonder if it is a nightmare to mic for live performances. Any tricks, or does the thing just mic up naturally?
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

ElvinBaRkerDennis13 said:
hey steve, im in a drumline as well as being a regular drummer, but i was wondering if tommy ever worked any of the stuff that he learned when he went back and did the stuff for that line, if he ever throws like random triplet accent taps, in when hes doing sound checks or anythying, because i know that travis barker used to march and couldave gone straight to dci, so i didnt know if tommy was into that stuff still or what?? thanks
tj
Tommy does still work on his chops, even after the whole drumline thing for his reality show. As far as throwing in any particular rudiments during soundcheck, it's not something he is doing consicously, but I can pick some stuff out here and there. T did march in high school and he probably could have gone dci as well on multi-tenor, but he was signed and playing with Motley 4 months before he graduated...The rest, they say, is history. Hope that answered your question.

Stu_Strib said:
Is there any particular challenging when mic'ing up that 26 kick? I always see that in his promo stuff and wonder if it is a nightmare to mic for live performances. Any tricks, or does the thing just mic up naturally?

Miking the 26" kick is not as bad as you might expect. The heads I use(powerstoke 3 coated for batter & ebony ambassador resonant), combined with a small pillow that barely touches both heads, focuses the sound considerably well. We're using a common miking technique live: a Beyer-Dynamic MD-88 at the 5" hole in the front head; combined with a Shure SM-91 laying on the pillow inside. Then we combine the acoustic signals with a killer kick drum sample triggered from the ddrum3 module to round out the top end. It sounds pretty huge, in my opinion. :) BTW, I enjoy reading your posts on the site Stu. You know your s***. Thanks for the questions.
 

Bernhard

Founder Drummerworld
Staff member
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

A nice Picture - actual????

Bernhard
 

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ElvinBaRkerDennis13

Senior Member
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

tleetech said:
Tommy does still work on his chops, even after the whole drumline thing for his reality show. As far as throwing in any particular rudiments during soundcheck, it's not something he is doing consicously, but I can pick some stuff out here and there. T did march in high school and he probably could have gone dci as well on multi-tenor, but he was signed and playing with Motley 4 months before he graduated...The rest, they say, is history. Hope that answered your question.

so since Tommy and Travis both are amazing drummers, do you think that that has something to do with the fact that they both played in lines and were brought up with their set playing aroud the marching band style music, do you think that affected their playing, is that the secret formula??
tj
 

ECVail

Senior Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

Welcome again! Always good to have a professional around here for advice.

Couple of quick questions for you:

1) How much time does setup and tear-down take with a monster kit like that and what's the process?
2) How often does Tommy go through heads and sticks?
3) What are the special requirements of the "flying kit" - how do you secure everything?

Thanks!
 
S

Stu_Strib

Guest
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

Oh yeah, I had another question about his drums. I was a huge fan of the early Crue stuff (shout at the devil). As Crue got bigger they got more radio friendly and refined, and I disliked the drum sound. But now he's on that killer DW kit and it sounds really really good. How long has he been with DW?
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

Bernhard said:
A nice Picture - actual????
Bernhard
Yup, that picture was taken by Alex Solca(of MD fame) for the 2006 Meinl Percussion catalog/website. It was taken approx. August/September 2005.

ElvinBaRkerDennis13 said:
so since Tommy and Travis both are amazing drummers, do you think that that has something to do with the fact that they both played in lines and were brought up with their set playing aroud the marching band style music, do you think that affected their playing, is that the secret formula??
In my opinion, TJ, that has ALOT to do with why both Travis and Tommy are technically proficient. I am, myself, a product of years of intense marching/corp style training. This type of drumming seems to have balanced the handicap between my left and my right hand. Additionally, as in Tommy's case; playing multi-tenors can help facilitate better movement around the kit. I don't know if it's a "secret" formula, but alot of today's top drummers come from this sort of background. Check out Chad Sexton from 311 as well if you haven't already... talk about chops.

ECVail said:
Welcome again! Always good to have a professional around here for advice.
Couple of quick questions for you:
1) How much time does setup and tear-down take with a monster kit like that and what's the process?
2) How often does Tommy go through heads and sticks?
3) What are the special requirements of the "flying kit" - how do you secure everything?
Thanks for your interest! In response to your questions:
1)Basic setup for me usually lasts about 2 1/2 hours; not including tuning, linecheck, etc. I start setting up T's main rig as soon as the carpenters finish building the drum riser. Kicks go up first, followed by all the hardware, rack etc. The rack sits in custom clamps that have been permanently attached to the riser, so Tommy can stand on the kit if he wants to(and he does quite often). Then cymbals and toms are put up; followed by all my triggers and my drum loom(of trigger cables). Lastly, I set up my electronics world; powering up, loading all the programs and samples I use throughout the show. By that time the flying kits have been forklifted onto the stage and I go over them as well. I usually have a couple of local stagehands assigned to me by my stage manager, so thing usually run pretty smoothly. After all that I tune the drums, which usually takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on my ears that day. Then we line check the kits for my FOH engineer and monitor guy. The strike and load out at the end of the night is similar; just the order is reversed.

2)As far as sticks go, the AHEAD Tommy Lee model he's currently playing lasts a while; considering how hard he hits. We go through probably 3-5 pairs a show, depending on how many he decides to throw into the house... I change heads usually every other show, but most of the time I try to change the toms every gig. The snare batter head usually lasts about 2-3 shows, the bottom head isn't so lucky. He hits with such force that I change the bottom head at least once a day. Kick batter heads are changed every 10 shows or so; the resonant head usually twice a leg(once/every 2months).

3)The flying kits are the easiest part of my job; they stay fully assembled throughout the tour. Both of the kits were designed by Walter Gemeinhardt of Demon Drums. Walter and I spent about a week colaborating on the design and ergonomics during our preproduction rehearsals last January in L.A. The kits are built upon rack system components called Speed-Rail. Speed-Rail is super strong scaffolding that NASA uses on the launchpad around the Space Shuttle. It is incredibly strong. All the Speed-Rail is secured to the 8'x8' grill deck with galv. steel bolts, nuts, and lock washers. All the flying equipment for the gear (and Tommy) is operated and maintained by specialized riggers from Branam Enterprises Custom Rigging(the same company that does all the Fear Factor stunts).
Hope I covered everything. :)

Stu_Strib said:
I was a huge fan of the early Crue stuff (shout at the devil). As Crue got bigger they got more radio friendly and refined, and I disliked the drum sound. But now he's on that killer DW kit and it sounds really really good. How long has he been with DW?
I agree with you completely about his sound! :) In response to your question; I'm not quite sure what year Tommy switched to DW. I just sent him an email to see if he knows the exact date. I'll post it and PM you directly as soon as he tells me. And I appreciate the compliment on the sound of the kit.

***Stu,
...as I was proofreading this post, Tommy replied to my email with:
"I have no idea bro!!!!"
That's funny stuff, but my best guess would be early 90's or so. I'll call DW on Monday and find out for you!***

OK, I think I got to everybody's questions... Keep 'em coming, I love talkin' shop.
 
Re: steve morrison - pro drum tech

***Stu,
...as I was proofreading this post, Tommy replied to my email with:
"I have no idea bro!!!!"
That's funny stuff, but my best guess would be early 90's or so. I'll call DW on Monday and find out for you!***

I can tell you.... He switch in 1989 and the first show he played with DW was in Moscow and the Music/Peace Fest. This is also the year that he started with the 26" kick... 1 rack tom and 2 floors....

Steevo can back me up here.... I know a bit about Tommy's Gear over the years.... I have been an avid fan of Tommy's since 1983
 
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

At the risk of dating myself I'll lay out Tommy’s gear of the years.... and Steve can tell me if I'm incorrect anywhere.....

Too Fast For Love Years 1981-1983

Drums- (unknown) Looks to be a Tama Model Imperial Star. If you notice one tom is so old... it doesn’t have a lower head or lugs!

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- some "local" music store model

Hardware- various brands...

Heads- Remo

Notes-- This was just about the time Tommy got signed, so he didn’t have any endorsements.... YET

Shout at the Devil Years 1983-1984

Drums- Started off with the kit from Too Fast for Love
Then used Tama for a short period.
Finally switched to Sonor drums

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Some "local" music store model

Hardware- various and Sonor.

Heads- Remo

Notes- This was the first time the Paiste "RUDE" series of cymbal was used by Tommy. It also was the time when Tommy began his relationship with the German drum maker Sonor. I don’t think Sonor did any advertising with Tommy's name... At the time, some bigger metal acts were using Sonor... like Iron Maiden.

Theatre of Pain Years 1985-1986

Drums- Started off Sonar Drums
About ½ way through the tour he switched to Pearl

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Vic Firth “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- Sonor, Pearl and DW pedals.

Heads- Remo

Notes- This was the first time the Paiste Color Sound 5 series of cymbal was used by Tommy. It also was the time when Tommy began his relationship with Vic Firth Drumsticks. Tommy also began using Simmons electronic pads with this kit. The sounds used were a Gong, orchestra hit, and a gunshot. LP also made a spot for Tommy in the 1986 catalog… for the “Snake Bell” cowbell. At this time, DW was making the pedals that Tommy used. They introduced the DW5000. This would be Tommy staple pedal for many years.

Girls, Girls, Girls Years 1987-1988

Drums- Pearl

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Vic Firth “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- Pearl and a custom Rack (the spinning one).

Heads- Remo

Notes- Tommy began to use D-Drum pads to trigger the sounds. Pearl also began to market their products using Tommy’s name.

Dr Feelgood /Decade of Decadence Years 1989-1992

Drums- DW

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Vic Firth “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- DW

Heads- Remo

Notes- At this time, Vic Firth started selling the “Tommy” Stick into the market place. It featured red print and a red nylon tip. They still sell this stick under the name “Metal N (CMN)”.


The Motley Crue Years (when Vince was out)- 1994-1996

Drums- DW

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Ahead “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- DW

Heads- Remo

Notes- Tommy was one of the first people to start using the new AHEAD stick. They even did marketing with Tommy seen in a pile of broken wooden sticks.


The Generation Swine/ Greatest Hits Years 1997-1999

Drums- DW

Cymbals- Paiste

Sticks- Ahead “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- DW

Heads- Aquarian

Notes- This tour feature a very cool drum set. Made to look like the mirror balls you would see at a disco-tec. This was also the time Tommy began endorsing the Aquarian line of drum heads. These heads were also sold to the public using Tommy’s name. This relationship was short lived.


The Red, White, and Crue Years 2004-???

Drums- DW

Cymbals- Zildjian

Sticks- Ahead “Tommy Lee” Model

Hardware- DW

Heads- Remo

Notes- Steve has filled us in on this kit. One highlight is that Tommy ended a VERY long history with Paiste Cymbals. It was one of the only items Tommy has been using since the begining.

Well that’s the basics of the history of Tommy’s Drums…. Sorry if I bored ya!
 

TitanSound

Pioneer Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

I know its not "shop" as such but a question for a pro anyways...

How do you find touring? I have always imagined myself as loving being on tour but obviously I have no idea what its like!
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

CJH2112 said:
Hey tleetech how's it going,

Why did Tommy switch from PAISTE to ZILDJIAN ??

CHUCK
Hey Chuck, it's goin' good; thanks for asking. Tommy made the switch to Zildjian due to various factors involved that I can't get into too deeply. The main reason was the tour support Zildjian provided. Those guys are the nicest bunch in the industry as far as I'm concerned. They reintroduced platinum for T(as well as Travis Barker), plus the sonic qualities of the cymbals were more of what Tommy was looking for when he started rehearsing for the Motley tour. I'll post a segment in depth on his cymbal choices in the near future. Thanks for your interest.
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

TitanSound said:
I know its not "shop" as such but a question for a pro anyways...

How do you find touring? I have always imagined myself as loving being on tour but obviously I have no idea what its like!
I kind of fell into touring after a brief stint at Sabian, then Guitar Center(US chain music store) in Hollywood. A previous post gives the rundown on how I started touring. I'll hit you up directly to answer your question at length. Touring is a fun time, make no mistake, but it's very tiring as well.
 

DruManiac19

Junior Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

Hey Steve.
i know its ure job and u HAVE TO get the job done. but i always wondered how tech's get all the angles on all the drums ,cymbals, hardware etc perfect . how long did it take you to get everything perfect night after night.?
Did Tommy want anything specific when you started teching for him.?
And do you tune the drums using a drum- dial or just by Ear?
Thanks.
 

MotleyKid43

Junior Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

Yo SteveO! Its Mike from Madison Square Garden. I dunno how well you remember man but I was the guy helping you set up last March when you guys were there. I can't believe I ran into you in Boston a few days later. Thanks a bunch to you and Tommy for being so cool with me. Me and a buddy of mine are coming to the Providence, RI show on March 8th. It'd be cool if we could hang out dude. lemme know. peace!
mike fox
MFmaestro1@aol.com
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

DruManiac19 said:
Hey Steve.
i know its your job and you HAVE TO get the job done. but i always wondered
1)how techs get all the angles on all the drums ,cymbals, hardware, etc., perfect. How long did it take you to get everything perfect night after night.?
2)Did Tommy want anything specific when you started teching for him.?
3)And do you tune the drums using a drum- dial or just by Ear?
Thanks.
Hey bro, those are some good questions... I had to rack my brain a bit to remember back to when I started with T. In answer to your questions:
1) I orginally got all the right angles by having Tommy sit down at the kit(we were on a rental kit for all the publicity dates[12/04-1/05]) and get everything in a comfortable place. I measured the height of all the cymbals, toms, etc. from the ground to the titler or rim. All the settings were secured with memory locks at every adjustment. When we were getting ready to start the tour(1/05), I designed the "Red, White & Chrome" kit based around these measurements. I used the same method building the "Dog In A Blender" kit. As far as getting everything completely dialed in every show- it took at least a good two weeks worth of shows to get everything the way he liked it without any incidents... It was pretty stressful early on.
2) Tommy is very specific when it comes to placement of everything on the kit as well as all the electronics settings. He is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the latest samples and was very involved when we were creating the ddrum sounds for the main kit as well as the flying techno kit.
3) I tune his kit by ear in the arena that they'll be played in to hear the ambient sound of the drum before it's sent through the mics. In the early days of my career, before working with Motley, I did use a Drum Dial/Tension Watch... It was an invaluable tool for me to aid in learning all the different frequencies produced by each drum. It also helps in getting the head "true" provided that it's been seated properly on the bearing edge. I'm sure there's a thread on this site discussing various tuning methods, so I'll just say it's a great learning tool, but should not become a crutch... your ears will tell you... Thanks for the questions...

As side note: Tommy and the rest of Mötley Crüe were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week in Los Angeles. You can see pics at Tommy's site-http://www.tommylee.tv
 
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NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

tleetech= invaluable member.

last post was lovely. even if i go completely pro i don't know if i''l be able to hand the set up all to my tech. basic set up and everything as close as possible but then i would want to sit down and tweak it here and there....although, that said, i guess if i find that during these tweaking sessions i find that i don't ever have to adjust anything i would eventually get some faith in my guy.

j
 

DruManiac19

Junior Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

hey steve,
thanks , you put it together really well.
i really appreciate you replying back and i think youre doing a great job .
i loved the pics u posted earlier.
Would be great if u can post some more. (the kit and your rig) :)
thanks.
Jai
 

ElvinBaRkerDennis13

Senior Member
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

NUTHA JASON said:
tleetech= invaluable member.

j
yea....that is so true, i mean i never thought that i would begin to understand any of the stuff that you guys have to go through, frum running the monitors and stuff like that...so you have to tune tommy's set, how bad is it, does he go through heads real fast? do you ever get tired of doing what youre doing?? i mean youre ALWAYS on the road! is there a training thing you did...i mean...i feel like the definite best thing next to BEING a pro drummer is being a drum tech...i mean could you tell me? thanks man...you freakin rock!!!
 

El Steevo

PRO Drum Tech
Re: Steve Morrison - pro drum tech (Tommy Lee)

ElvinBaRkerDennis13 said:
yea....that is so true, i mean i never thought that i would begin to understand any of the stuff that you guys have to go through, frum running the monitors and stuff like that...so you have to tune tommy's set, how bad is it, does he go through heads real fast? do you ever get tired of doing what youre doing?? i mean youre ALWAYS on the road! is there a training thing you did...i mean...i feel like the definite best thing next to BEING a pro drummer is being a drum tech...i mean could you tell me? thanks man...you freakin rock!!!
Thank you bro!!! All you cats on this site are cool as hell! He goes through heads quite a bit. They stay in tune for the whole show though, which is nice. I'm using DW Tunerz on all the drums. Check those things out; Bozzio helped design them. They're great! There's some previous posts I wrote about the head situation in more detail. I don't mind being on the road too much; I've gotten pretty used to living out of a couple of suitcases... I've never gotten tired of my job really- it's not that bad, you know? :) The only sort of training was being a drummer for about 12 years before I started teching. I studied classical percussion(marimba mostly), & jazz percussion(vibes & kit) for 4 years during college, so that of course didn't hurt either. In addition, I read up on all the gear that comes out every year. Building a good rapport with the various equipment manufacturers is extremely important. Without their support, I'd be pretty screwed. I hope that answers your questions...

I'll be posting some new pics in the near future as requested... One more week until the tour starts up again... it's starting to get busy!!!! Keep stickin' it!
 
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