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Electronic drums have come a long way from the days of New Romantic pop stars hitting hexagonal pieces of red Formica, producing sounds like a laser battle from an episode of Buck Rogers. These days, using electronic sounds within your set-up is less about gimmicks and more about necessity and the RT-10 acoustic drum triggers and Roland SPD-SX sampling pad epitomise this.
But nothing shows the capabilities of such a prestigious piece of kit better than a real life drummer, which is why Roland has hooked up with Ryan Jenkinson, drummer with UK indie/dance/rock band, Reverend and the Makers.
Taking it to the users
Ryan forms part of Roland’s UK drum demonstration team, which will be making appearances at shows and in dealers across the country. It’s the perfect way for end-users to see what V-Drums and Percussion can do, and not only shows Roland’s ability to lock into the musical zeitgeist, but proves just how respected the brand is within the drumming community.
Ryan is a hugely respected session drummer from Sheffield, famed for his pioneering work with technology and has kept the beat for bands such as thisGIRL and The New 1920 before joining the Reverend and his Makers.
Reverend and the Makers first came to our attention in 2007 with the single, Heavyweight Champion of the World. As debuts go, it’s as good as it gets and certainly laid the blueprint for their sound, combining the throb and hypnotism of techno with the fire and songs of punk and indie. They’ve since gone on to have three consecutive top 20 records and have toured with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Kasabian, Noel Gallagher and many others. However, it was on the release of their third album in early 2012 that Roland and Ryan joined forces.
A challenging combination
The album, cleverly named after their Twitter tag @Reverend_Makers, was produced by Youth and the engineering team behind the Gorrillaz. It saw the band return to their electronic-inspired indie roots with the dancefloor-friendly single, Bassline.
On record, the band employs a host of contemporary drum and percussion sounds usually heard on dance and grime tracks. This posed a challenge for Ryan and Roland – put together a live, hardwearing set-up that could nail these sounds while being reliable gig after gig. It’s the combination of acoustic drums alongside the RT-10 drum triggers that is key here.
“When it was time to think how we could represent this album on the live stage I knew we would need some help from technology,” says Ryan. “We were conscious we didn’t want to rely too heavily on backing tracks and instead wanted to trigger everything live where possible.
“I’ve been working closely with Roland and their desire to fulfil the needs of a working drummer/live artist is unsurpassed. I told the guys at Roland what we needed to achieve and they showed me how and what I’d need to achieve it! Every new request or problem, the SPD-SX already had the solution. The result is the shows have got bigger and bigger from the O2 Arena to Knebworth and the gear has never let me down once.”
The reason these triggers are in such demand from top-flight drummers like Ryan is because the Roland team is listening, seeing how they perform on the road, and responding to feedback from the people that matter – drummers.
“As a complete convert to the electronics world from my acoustic drumming background I’m best placed to help the modern acoustic drummer find his feet in the Roland product range,” says Ryan. “I don’t need much encouragement to talk about how Reverend and the Makers blend Roland technology with the raw band sound. I’m like a kid at Christmas and you’ll have trouble shutting me up! I’m delighted to have joined the UK V-Drums team and look forward to working even closer with Roland to help other drummers find their musical voice.”
Reverend and the Makers recently took part in the prestigious iTunes Festival at the RoundHouse in London. Ryan uses an SPD-SX sampling pad with RT-10 Acoustic Drum Triggers on stage with the band. Fans can watch live footage and download an EP of the set.