A couple years ago I penned an article (Read Here) for Drumhead magazine on Steve Goold (Sara Bareilles, Owl City, Go Fish). Steve had become one of my favorite drummers after seeing a 15-part drum clinic that was posted on YouTube. (Watch it here). As a Christian I gravitate towards people who have found a way to incorporate their faith with their work. Steve is a master at this and works as both a session and performing drummer. His originality shines through in performances such as his version of “I Chose You” on Drumeo’s channel.
Another distinctive aspect of Steve Goold’s style is the unique drum sets that he routinely uses. The most renowned of these is the ‘GLO-Kit,’ (See here) which was created by the incredibly innovative folks at Risen Drums in Minneapolis. Keith Anderson, founder and master craftsman at Risen started the company 14-years ago as a hobby, first building and playing the first eight Risen kits himself. In an email interview with me, Keith explained the story behind the ‘GLO-Kit’ and the customer-service philosophy that has enabled his company to thrive.
“Most of what we do here today is based on trial and error,” he said, “and lots of study of sound waves and wood types. My dad always said, ‘passion runs the world,’ and we say that often here at Risen. Our mantra is a simple one: We love drums and that’s exactly why we do this. We also believe firmly in establishing personal relationships with all of our customers. For that reason we are a true 100% custom-drum shop.” He added, “We don’t build anything until it’s ordered and everything is designed and built one at a time. There is no way to buy a Risen kit other than right here in the shop in Minneapolis. So everyone who buys a kit from Risen talks to me. We are not interested in an assembly line or mass production. We are dedicated craftsmen, and every drum that comes out of our shop is a part of us.
Over the years we have been blessed to know and work closely with a lot of great musicians.” Risen artists include: Lester Estelle Jr. (Kelly Clarkson / Big ‘N Rich), Randall Harris (Need to Breathe), Brandon Commodore (Mint Condition), Adam Silverman (Lauren Alaina) and “the Bwack” (David Crowder Band).
The original concept for the ‘GLO-Kit’ was inspired by Goold’s daughter’s nightlight, which he and Anderson discussed one evening over a family dinner. “What I love most about the ‘GLO-Kit’ is how it came about,” Anderson recalls. “This was a ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ kind of dream in Steve’s head, and we just had to try it. I love the relationship of that and the grass-roots idea that anything is possible. It pushes us to be more creative as drum manufacturers instead of mass producing clones.”
He added, “The drum shells on the ‘GLO-Kits’ are acrylic white, not clear, so they allow the colored light to pass through, but still remain relatively solid in their appearance. We lined them with LED strips to an XLR jack on the side of the shell, so there are no unsightly cords or anything hanging off the side. We installed coated heads on top and on bottom so the entire appearance is like that of a lampshade. These drums truly glow.” Anderson continued, “For Steve’s kit we added a specially designed brain-box that controls the lighting system in each drum. There are 34 presets for colors that the drummer can switch as he is playing. These lights can also be controlled by the front-house lighting techs. For other ‘GLO-Kits,’ there is a total flexibility and the lighting interface is unique to each drummer’s needs. Therefore every ‘GLO-Kit’ we do is always a bit different from the last one because every player wants to control the lights a little bit differently based on his setup.
The biggest difference with a Risen Drums ‘GLO-Kit’ can be defined by three main things: “First, we cut our own edges into the shell. This is a very tricky process because you do not want to melt the acrylic. You must cut the bearing edge differently than you would on a wood shell. We also want to maintain our own unique Risen sound, which always presents a challenge. Second, we use our own Risen lug system, which utilizes aluminum. This allows the shell to resonate more because aluminum is so light. Third, the venting system on acrylic shells is different than on wood. This is what I believe really sets Risen Drums apart.
We have studied sound waves enough to see a variance in different sized shells and different types of materials. We recognize that each drum needs to breathe differently. Acrylic doesn’t have pores like wood, so sound waves react inside an acrylic shell much differently than inside a wood shell. The shell needs to breathe differently, and we need to let more air escape out of an acrylic shell than any other material. This requires our unique Risen venting system and some innovative master craftsmanship.”
The result of Risen’s efforts is a spectacular drum set that stands out in any performance. For more information on Risen Drums or to order your own ‘GLO-Kit,’ visit www.risendrums.com.
* Steve recently put the ‘GLO-Kit’ up for sale for one lucky drummer to carry on the name.