Birmingham, UK rock quartet A Promise To Forget celebrated the release of their debut full-length recording, Dying To Live, with an album release show on August 12th and, while most of us couldn’t be there to join in the festivities, you’ll be happy to know the music can be purchased via the Band’s Website. Recently, we checked in with drummer John Fleetwood to chat about some of his crucial gear. Here’s what he had to say….
What one piece of gear do you use to obtain your signature sound?
John Fleetwood: It would definitely have to be my Zildjian Cymbals. At the moment I’m playing 14” K Custom Dark Hi-Hats, 20” A Custom Rezo Crash, 21” K Crash/Ride, 21” Sweet Ride and a 19” K Custom Hybrid China. Sometime I might switch out the Crash/Ride for a 19” K Custom Hybrid Crash and then swap it on my setup with the repo depending on how I’m feeling. Sometime I turn the China into a stack too by putting a 10” K splash upside down on it.
What about it makes it so important to you?
Fleetwood: All of my favourite drummers played Zildjian, from Dave Grohl, Steve Forrest, Abe Cunningham, Mike Fuentes, George Daniel and Ilan Rubin. Also my all-time favourite, Aaron Gillespie, has just switched to Zildjian, so it’s a no-brainer for me. The sound of them, their sonic character, is the sound in my head. When I think of a cymbal, it sounds like a Zildjian. They always hold up super-well on the road and in my 10 years I’ve only broken one Zildjian cymbal and it was after 3 years of beating the hell out of it day after day!
How was this gear used during the recording of your latest album?
Fleetwood: The original recording of the album was intended to be live drums that were reinforced by samples, however, during the mixing process we lost almost the entire album, so to save time trying to get us back on track we had to do mainly drum sampling on the album otherwise the album couldn’t would never have been able to be made possible. However, all the cymbals on the record are sampled Zildjians, and they are there in spirit as the record originally had them organically. It’s not how I ideally would have wanted the tracking to go, however, I had to put the band’s needs in front of my in this particular situation.
How do you recreate your album (guitar/vocal/bass) tones in your live set?
Fleetwood: I use slightly dryer and darker cymbals playing live at the moment. I’ve just got my hands on a 20” K Custom Dark Crash which should replace my Rezo Crash as the rezo is a tad bright. Depending on how I’m falling or the room, I sometimes swap the Sweet Ride with The K Crash Ride. Although the K Crash Ride is my all-time favourite cymbal so I almost always end up with it. Also, it depends on the space I have to set up! Some rooms I’ll play, and I’m wedged in a tiny gap because a monitor and a bass rig so I’ll have to change and adapt my setup on the fly to be able to play the set I intend while still being comfortable.
What are the major pros and cons?
Fleetwood: Major pros are definitely the sound. They sound absolutely incredible, are very durable, and on the off chance that they do crack, they still sound incredible! The only cons I can think of are that because of a little thing called “Brexit“, cymbals have become a lot more expensive in the UK and they fall a little higher up the price margin as a result. But they’re still worth every penny, in my opinion.
Do you have a backup for this gear, if so, what?
Fleetwood: As mentioned prior, I usually have a double of most cymbals in my setup in case something out of my control goes horribly wrong or something gets stolen. The only things I do not have doubles of are the things I can do my set without. Because I can’t lug round double of absolutely everything on the road.
How long have you had them, how do you use it, would you ever change it?
Fleetwood: I’ve been playing this ‘sort of’ setup for almost two years at this point. I’m a big fan of larger cymbals are play them in a setup very familiar to those who are a fan of Aaron Gillespie and Ilan Rubin. I make a deliberate effort to make sure my playing technique is as good as it can be, so that I’m allowing m cymbals to last as long as they can. I’m really not a fan of drummers who have their cymbals high and start hacking into them with the side of their stick into the edge of the cymbal. That’s how the cymbals break and how you get a horrible live sound! I don’t think I can ever see myself changing from Zildjian, I’ve had the opportunity to, but I can’t see myself playing anything else.
Give us your best “gear goes wrong” story.
Fleetwood: When we were last on tour we hit up London and it was one of those “not enough space to fit the drum kit” situations at the back of the stage. So, I had to make a weird concoction of adjusting boom stands to be able to get the stuff where I want it where I eventually had to be minimal and play a smaller setup to make sure nothing went wrong. Sadly, due to space constraints, a lot of the cymbal stand legs were crossed along with one of the others along with the bass drum legs and the floor tom legs. At the end of the set I stood up, caught my leg on the floor tom which pulled it up, and in turn brought two cymbal stands and the best drum with it, where they all fell over, into other members of the band, into amps and the cymbals hitting the floor at a painful angle. It wasn’t a highlight.
A funny moment, though, is a set we played at our hometown recently. I wear a Fitbit to keep track of my activity, and it must have been measuring my heart rate or something similar because halfway through a song it started to viciously vibrate, and I looked at it on the off-beat and it had the message “Are you enjoying your jog?” On it. It thought because of my heart rate while drumming that I was having a jog, and I just found this immensely funny and burst out laughing, one other guys caught this and started laughing too. By the end of the song we were all laughing.
Any final thoughts or comments on the gear?
Fleetwood: They are my favourite piece of gear, that I would be very saddened if they were taken or I had to play without. I play Zildjian Cymbals, and play All DW9000 Hardware.
Check out the group’s music video for the song “Sylvia”