Carl Gavins of Animal Custom Drums – Exclusive InterviewMartin Osborne
First off, on behalf of the members and frequent visitors from around the world to onlinedrummer.com, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed!
It’s a pleasure! Thanks for having me!
What made you want to be a custom drum builder? Did you wake up one day and decide, “I’m going to build a drum?”
Actually, yes. I am very impulsive, and I did literally wake up one day and had that thought. It’s not quite that simple, though. I had previously made one at high school, so I knew the very basics. I then had to study the techniques, learn new skills, and prepare. From waking up one morning wanting to do it, to actually doing it, took about 7 years. During that time I was making drums for myself / friends and fine-tuning all the techniques.
What materials go into a custom drum?
The list is pretty much endless for materials. There is your typical Birch and Maple, but then you have exotic veneers, Acrylics, Metals. If a material can bend into a mold and sound musical, then we can make a shell out of it. Then, there are the components. There are so many choices these days, plus we know a great little company that can machine totally unique lugs for that little extra custom choice.
Take me through the process of creating a drum.
Pretty much every activity is done by hand. For a ply drum, the sheets are first selected. These have previously been stored in the batches that they have been cut in, so the grain and patterning is uniform. We then mark out and cut each ply sheet to a particular size, depending, obviously, on the size shell we are making. The sheets are then inserted into the mold. (I’m being suitably vague about that process, as we all have to have some secrets!) So the shell’s built. It’s then down to the finish. Again, being a custom setup this can be practically anything, from traditional wraps to full artwork, gold leaf, anything. I personally do stenciling, fades, bursts, etc., and then for the real arty designs we use a fantastic artist who really knows his stuff when it comes to artwork.
The shell is then masked and set out for hardware and drilled, again all by hand. Finally the bearing edges are done, and then the shell is ready to be built….. I tried to keep that quite brief. I could really lose myself talking about the process of actually finishing the shell, but I don’t want to bore everyone!
Do you play one of your own kits in your band?
Of course. Although I have never had time to build myself the perfect kit, I always use our old demo kits and left overs from trade shows. I’m so jealous of the some of the kits we’ve made. I wish I could have one!
What wood do you prefer for your drums? Or, do you use a variety?
I personally prefer Birch. I love the overall characteristics of the material, and I believe it’s much more versatile than people give it credit for.
What’s the deal with your Artemis drum series?
The Artemis Series (great name, by the way!) was developed specifically for sale in the retail stores. These are kits of the same custom quality, with a whole host of shell sizes and finishes. It’s basically an off-the-shelf custom kit for those not wanting to wait the couple of months’ lead-time. They are also competitively priced to compete with other, larger manufacturers’ high-level kits. Getting the stores involved has been pretty tough, and it’s still a work in progress.
You’ve been complimented with your birch drums sounding like maple drums. Is that a coincidence, or something you planned to do?
I have often said Birch drums are very versatile, and with the right drum head selection you can create the perfect characteristics you’re looking for, whether that’s Birch or Maple.
What does the future hold for ACD?
That’s a tough one. There are lots of plans ahead, some closer to fruition than others. 2009 should be a good year. We have some great hardware in development. I’m not sure when it will surface, as it all needs testing, but when it comes it will be great and different. In the short term, we have a new website being developed. It’s looking fantastic, lots of fun features, including our video diary of the drummer live show, so watch this space on that one.
Do you enjoy experimenting with drum manufacture?
I love to tinker. Sometimes it ends well, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s all part of developing new ideas, or putting to bed ideas you thought could be great, but in reality aren’t that good.
How could a customer place an order with ACD?
Pick up the phone, or email (best to email, I never hear the phone ring!).
Now some very straight forward quick questions…
1. What is the most played album on your iPod?
At the minute, Rage Against The Machine
2.What is your proudest achievement in music?
I’ve been in the same band for well over 10 years, and played with the same guitarist since I was 11. That’s pretty good going these days.
3. Who would you most like to have a one-on-one drum-off with?
If I could go back in time, then Keith Moon.
4.Which other drummers do you chill out with?
Chillout…. chance would be a fine thing!
5. If you were stuck in a lift for one hour with the person of your choice,alive or dead, who would that person be?
6. Have you ever had a customer that’s freaked you out by asking you to build something“special”?
I have only refused one order. The artwork wanted would have reflected badly on us by association, so we had to say no.
7.What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
8.What type of car do you drive?
9. When you’re not drumming or building drums, what else do you get up to?
At the minute, life is pretty much one big drum build, plus the band at weekends and the wife the rest of the time! I also love watching Castlford Tigers. I love my rugby league.
10.What would you best like to be remembered for?
I’d rather vanish without a trace.
Carl, many thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Have you any final words of wisdom to say to the onlinedrummer community?
Keep drumming; it’s the greatest thing in the world.
To contact Carl please visit www.animalcustomdrums.co.uk