Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bozzio's Roto-Tom set

Remo Roto-toms, Tama Fibrestar bass drums,
Tama snare drum, Paiste cymbals, Camco pedals,
surely a Synare in there somewhere
The calm before the storm, here— there are some big, cool, things coming starting Monday, as I pester you for $ to keep this boat afloat. Something I'm working on made me think of this picture of Terry Bozzio in Modern Drummer magazine, from 1981. I think this is the first copy of the magazine I ever actually looked at, and I thought this picture was really cool. The discussion of his drum set in the interview is sort of funny, and of-its-period— not only for the seriousness accorded to the Roto-toms (and elsewhere in the interview, to Syndrums)...

Zappa wanted me to use a full set of Roto-toms so I could be seen more. After the first tour with him he said, "Hey, check these new things out." And I said "Yeah, these are great." But at the time I didn't have the mentality or the people to build me some sort of tom-tom holder where I could get them set up in a way that was comfortable for me to play. They were very flimsy, and I had no idea how to really engineer the whole thing. But by the time I got with U.K., and after hearing how good they sounded with Bruford on the first U.K. album, I said, "Yeah, definitely I want to get into this."

I had an excellent roadie by the name of Graham Davies, and he is sort of a race car mechanic and what not. So I would give him these ideas, and he would realize them for me with different knick-knacks and what-nots. Mainly, he used that Roto-tom adaptor and little pieces of steel rod. We got a 360-degree flexible type of Roto-tom holder. And I used all Rotos and I continue to do that. I'm now using Tama drums though; fiberglass bass drums and their chrome snare drum. I use Paiste cymbals, and I continue  to use the Camco pedals. I use all Remo black-dot heads, and the Pro Mark drum sticks. I use the 808s or the 707s, whatever is available 

MD: The Camco bass drum pedal. Is that the chain pedal?

TB: No, I had the chain for awhile, around the time of the "Black Page" with Zappa. I did that while I was on the  road in New York. I had them all converted because I thought they would be great, but to me they weren't right. I have a way of playing where I'll sort of hit once and the bass drum will rebound twice, and that's how I get a double stroke. It isn't actually my foot going "boom boom" two times. I couldn't make the chain drive do that. I had to do it with my foot two times, and it was very uncomfortable for me. So I switched back to the nylon straps. And I use those Rogers black nylon beater balls. I use those because I like the attack they have. You know how the fiberglass and wood beater balls are really destructive to heads. I couldn't use one for one song without ruining the head. What I do is, I cut out a piece of a broken drum head, about four inches square, and tape that onto the spot where the beater ball hits. You can get a little more mileage, and also it adds a little more to that clicky attack sound which is good for live. 

The Rotos are great for live too, because the microphone just can't hear the depth of a tomtom. What really gives the depth to a tom-tom is a room, and unfortunately you're in too big of a room for it to be effective. The only thing that really cuts through in a live concert situation in a big arena is the attack. You can sort of EQ in the bottom and the depth to a Rota, on the board, whereas you can't really get the same attack out of a two-headed tomtom to compensate for the presence that you need. So that's my main reason for using the Rotos—they have a ton of attack.

MD: Do you feel that the stick response is as good on the Rotos?

TB: Not as good as a double-headed tom. But I also have kind of gotten away from the little notes, you know what I  mean? I use mainly single strokes for everything, and a lot of flams and stuff. I never use a lot of fast sort of hand to hand combinations, or anything that could be lost with the use of a Roto-tom. And they usually don't come through when you do that kind of thing on a tomtom anyway. But in most electronically boosted situations, the Rotos are much better, I think, than the regular toms

No comments: