Tom Doublier's setup for Fun Home for the Melbourne Theatre Company, at the Art’s Centre, in Melbourne, Australia.
Tom's write-up and gear list below photos.
Below: Custom Made 3D Printed Crotale Mount.
Below: Boss FS-5U Pedals to turn music on iPad.
Below: Custom Made 3D Printed Glockenspiel Mallet Holder.
Below: Custom Made 3D Printed LP One-Shot Shaker Hi-Hat Mount.
Below: Custom Made 3D Printed Ring of Keys.
"The nature of this Tony Award winning musical is almost more of a play set to music. The show is single act based on Alison Bechdel's bestselling graphic novel about growing up and coming out.
I was originally booked two years ago but the show got postponed, of course. We were very lucky however, that the producers were already far enough into the process that the show was always going to resume when things had settled down.
This for me meant that I had plenty of time to have a look at the book and figure out the best setup in terms of ergonomics and ease of play.
If I’m not mistaken, I believe John Hadfield was the original drummer on Broadway. I’m not sure how much influence he had on the drum book or if it was all John Clancy (The Orchestrator) but whoever it was, picked some orchestration for the kit book. There are things in the score like ‘hi-hat mounted One-Shot Shakers’, or ‘ring of keys’, and other unconventional percussion items.
The show also calls for a lot of cajon and djembe but to avoid sitting on a cajon for eight shows a week, I decided to mount it face up in a snare basket. This is a trick I now use for any show that calls for a cajon. I am very big on ergonomics and comfort and do my best to set up in such a way that’s going to let me focus on the music, not on having a sore back!
One example of this is using an iPad and a Bluetooth turning pedal next to my hi-hat. I use the larger iPad which is almost the size of an A4 sheet of paper, along with the AirTurn pedal. This means that I can place the music stand almost anywhere and not have to be within arms reach to turn the pages. Of course, I still keep a backup of the paper score in the pit with me just in case the technology fails but, in all of the shows that I have used the iPad and pedal combo it has yet to fail me.
Speaking of backups, I once had a bottom snare head blow out on me in the final number before interval (intermission) when I was playing Rent and at the time, I didn’t have a backup snare. I knew that I had a friend in the audience that night (shoutout to Cam Phillips) who runs a Drumline. I quickly pulled him from the crowd hoping that he might have something in his car. Luckily, he had just come from a kids marching concert so he had a bunch of junior sized marching snares in his car. We ran to his car and made it back just before the start of Act 2 and I finished out the show on a 12” marching snare. Believe me I only want to make that mistake once! Now, however short the run, I always bring plenty of sticks, some spare heads, and a backup snare that I can swap out at a moment’s notice.
There are three big kit numbers on this show and the rest are really hand percussion numbers. The percussion in the show is really designed to compliment the story telling with the actors weaving in and out of our band hits and vice versa. As such, some of the stuff that I found the most challenging to learn in the score was the coordination in numbers like ‘maps’ where I have a shaker in my right hand, left hand is playing djembe, cajon, and bongos, right foot plays kick, and left foot plays hi-hat. My background is in drum set playing so funnily enough the thing that I had to practice the most was playing crisp shaker tones whilst juggling all of those other instruments.
Another big challenge is towards the back end of the show where there are some numbers with many quick stick changes. In ‘Edges of the World’, I am playing glockenspiel then a bar later finger cymbals followed by quick mallet change to timpani mallets to toms etc. The Miller Machines that I use on the show were essential in getting these quick changes, and it seems more and more that Broadway shows are being written with the Miller Machine specifically in mind where these stick changes were once not possible.
Speaking of challenges, it is always fun trying to interpret which new instruments are being called on for specific applications. On this show there were two of these that stand out. The hi-hat mounted 'LP One-Shot Shaker', and the ‘ring of keys’. I did my research into what other players had used in the past to achieve these sounds and it is always fun seeing different people’s 'percussion MacGyvering'. For me, what made the most sense was to design some mounts and instruments and 3D print them. Melbourne, taking the title for the “world’s most locked down city” I have had some time over the last few years to teach myself a bit of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and experiment with some 3D printing which ultimately resulted in me designing those two instruments. Another problem that I needed to solve was how to mount three Crotales in a confined space which again had me turn to 3D printing to solve that problem.
The hardest thing on a longer running show once you get past the music is always to keep focused and to keep your mind active. I did some pit sits with a drummer in town (Dave Hatch) who kept things fun by running a quiz every show over his shout mic (which only goes to the musicians). For this show I asked our Musical Director (Mathew Frank) if I could keep the tradition alive during some longer band breaks and he graciously accepted. Because this show is one act all the way through with no breaks, it means that by the end of the show you feel like you need a break so the quiz is a good way to break it up in between."
- Gretsch Purewood Renown Mahogany 13", 16", 24"
- George Way Prestige Model 14" X 6.5" Snare
- Evans G2 Top, G1 Bottom - Toms
- Evans Genera Top, Orchestral 300 Bottom - Snare
- Medium Thick Goat Skin - Djembe
- Meinl Buffalo Skin Heads - Bongos
- Meinl 17” Byzance Jazz Thin Crash
- Meinl 14" Byzance Foundry Reserve Hihats
- Meinl 22" Byzance Jazz Medium Thin Ride
- Meinl 18" Byzance Traditional China
- Meinl 18" Byzance Foundry Reserve Crash
- Meinl Marathon Bongos
- Meinl Artisan Cajon Cantina Line Limba
- Grover Pro Miller Machine with Alan Abel 6” Symphonic Triangle
- Grover Pro Miller Machine with Tibetan Cast Bronze Medium Finger Cymbal
- Meinl Live Shaker
- Meinl Studio Shaker Meinl Stadium Shaker Meinl Stand Alone Bell Tree
- Meinl Luis Conte 60 Bar Double Row Chimes Mackdrums Djembe-Mali
- Mackdrums Djembe-Mali
- Premier Glockenspiel
- Meinl Ching Ring
- Meinl Headliner Single Row Steel Hi-Hat Tambourine
- Meinl Traditional ABS Tambourine Steel Jingles
- LP One-Shot Shakers
- Custom Made Ring of Keys
- AirTurn DUO 200 Bluetooth Wireless Foot Switch (with upgraded Boss FS-5U pedals)
- Apple iPad
- Promark Carter McLean Lacquered Hickory
- Promark SD2 Maple Drumstick
- Promark Firegrain 5A Drumstick
- Promark Hot Rods
- Promark Heavy Brush
- Mike Balter Unwound Series Rattan 10AR Hard Phenolic
- Malletech Bob Becker BB34 Medium Rattan Xylo/Bell Mallets "Becker Blues"
- No Brand Very Soft Rubber Mallets
- Meinl 18" x 12" Percussion Table With Clamp
- Meinl 11" x 7" Percussion Table With Clamp
- Snareweight M80
- Big Fat Snare Drum 14" Steve’s Donut
- Custom Made 3D Printed Crotale Mount
- Custom Made 3D Printed Glockenspiel Mallet Holder
- Custom Made 3D Printed LP One-Shot Shaker Hi-Hat Mount
- Custom Made 3D Printed Ring of Keys