Ed Francis on The Importance of “Spiking” Your Drum Kit Set-Up

The Drum Coach from Round Rock Drums, Ed Francis (AKA: The Drummer on the Round Rock), combines his love of life, music and people with a HUGE and generous heart. At no cost to the recipients, Francis tours Round Rock and surrounding areas to share his passion for the arts and drumming. He donates countless hours to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, juvenile detention facilities, music stores, drum studios, community centers, YMCA’s, daycare centers, and other outlets. He does this with one thing in mind – to spread his passion for music and drumming. I have had the privilege to become his friend over the past year and recently had a chance catch up and ask him to share a drum tip with the readers here at Makedrums.

MD: I know your a busy man, so I’ll make this quick. Can you share just one drum tidbit with our readers that has been helpful to you during your 33 years of playing?

Francis: (laughs) Just one?

MD: My fingers can only handle so much typing…

Francis: Ha! Well, if I had to pick “just one” thing I guess I’d like to talk about the benefits of spiking your drums on  your carpet.

MD: What do you mean?

Francis: One of my pet peeves is to set up my drums only to discover that some of the angles – like the position of my pedals or floor toms relative to the rest of the kit, for example – don’t feel right. And when setting up for a live performance – weather it be for a regular band gig, drum clinic or a special presentation – we drummers have time restraints and getting things “correct” isn‘t always easy.

MD: Are you saying drummers aren’t given enough time?

Francis: If you’re referring to the amount of solo time, then…

MD: I see where you’re going with this.

Francis: Da da, da …ting! But really, We have all this equipment and it usually needs to be set up quickly. In my history of needing to set up quickly has sometimes created a placement problem and left me in the uncomfortable position of needing to make adjustments to how I approach my playing. And thinking too much about the adjustment can take away from your performance.

MD: How did you remedy this “placement problem”?

Francis: I began to pre-mark the placement of my drums with tape on my carpet. I learned this technique while doing a drum-tech gig for John Blackwell (drummer for Prince, Justin Timberlake), Chris Coleman (“Chaka Kahn”, Rachelle Ferrell), and other Gospel drummers, where I was tasked with using the same carpet piece for multiple sets of drums with different drummers. Once each drummer finished their performance we removed the previous kit then placed another on top of areas taped in differing locations. We also used various colors of tape to help us know who’s kit went where.

MD: How did all of that go?

Francis: It went really well. The most challenging part became knowing where to place everything relationally to one another – and these cats depended on us to get it right, and quickly. Once it was set up, the drummers got on the stage, and Bam! Showtime. No excuses.

MD: And how has this experience influenced your personal setting up procedure?

Francis: I’ve got a really goofy-looking carpet! It has several colors and each color has a specific meaning for me. It makes my set up time not only quicker, but also much more accurate and enjoyable, too.

MD: Does all of this preparation aid with your performance?

Francis: Absolutely. When I have all the time in the world to set up my drums it becomes a Zen-like process. Making little adjustments to my kit makes all the difference in my playing and teaching. It helps me to feel more relaxed, and I’m more able to bring something special as I attempt to make more musical moments.

MD: And these “musical moments” can be affected by proper percussion placement?

Francis: I would say that knowing that my drums have a place pre-marked on the carpeting helps to create the same Zen-like feel, even when I’m up against the clock which requires me to execute a quick set up.

MD: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Francis: Have fun with what you do and don’t take yourself too seriously.

You may find more information on Drum Coach Ed Francis on the Round Rock Drums website: www.roundrockdrums.com

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