Monday, September 28, 2015

Evans Hydraulic drum heads on concert toms review

I've been playing a concert tom drum kit for the past several years (since 2009 or so) It's a cheap kit originally. A made in Taiwan Pearl knock off with Luan shells that I literally sawed the bottoms of the far too deep rack toms and refinished the whole kit in a rich walnut oil stain. I then had the shells bearing edges re-cut by none other than Bill Detamore of Pork Pie Percussion.

It has been my main kit for several years, it survived being submerged in water, not once, but twice. Once during hurricane Sandy when my rehearsal space was flooded, and another time when I was in a service elevator in Bushwick that malfunctioned and plunged into a watery basement (this is another story entirely)!

Anyway, since I've been using concert toms, I've tried many different heads on the toms to see which ones I thought worked the best. I've used everything from remo black dots, to attack single ply coated, pinstripes, coated emperors and ambassadors, and finally just yesterday, Evans Hydraulics. It now is obvious to me why this particular head was so damn popular in the 1970s. Since the 70s were the age of the concert tom, it makes sense that a head that works so wonderfully on them would be widely used.

I had tried Hydraulics years ago but it was in an inappropriate setting, on regular drums poorly tuned that weren't mine at a party. My impression of them then was pretty horrible and I just always written them off as being too dead and thick. But concert toms are a totally different animal. When I first started using them, I tried black dots (CS heads) they sounded nice, but after touring in a band again, I didn't want to spend so much money on heads, so I started using the Attack single ply coated, which sounded nice but wasn't very durable. I then tried coated pinstripes which sounded absolutely horrible. They were a weird, boingy sounding head that just didn't work at all on my drums. It's odd that a pinstripe is another oil filled head similar to a hydraulic, but the sound was drastically different. The Pinstripes actually had more high overtones than the single ply Attack heads, which was pretty crazy.

I wanted to re-head my toms and I was almost going to buy some black dots again, because up until now they were the best I'd tried on this kit. But I thought I'd try something different and remembered reading several places that the Hydraulics were good on concert toms, so I thought I'd give them one more chance. Plus they seemed to be a bit cheaper than black dots and more readily in stock.

It turns out that all the things that make Evans Hydraulics a horrible choice for toms with resonant heads are the exact things that make them great for concert toms. Like, being insanely thick, having a ludicrous amount of oil sandwiched between the two layers, and a complete lack of high overtones, all work amazingly well as soon as you take the bottom head out of the picture.

I first put them on and noticed how quickly they seemed to set and tune, much quicker than any Remo I've used. The thick blue oil filled layers gave a nice medium sustain, but much warmer than any other head I've put on a concert tom. High dissonant overtones are just gone. The floor tom especially was troublesome with other heads, but with the hydraulic it sounds nearly perfect with a warm sustain, clear note projection, and the sharp attack of a concert tom. There is also a much needed added bass presence to these heads, which is something that can seem lacking in concert toms.

I think the Evans blue hydraulic may be the perfect head for concert tom drums and will be what I use from this point forward on the toms. Its got me a bit curious about trying one on the kick too!

Friday, September 25, 2015

We did it! You guys are amazing! The new Manasota album will be coming to 180g Vinyl!

I am super thrilled to announce that my new project, Manasota's self titled LP will officially be coming to vinyl! My Kickstarter campaign for the album to be pressed to 180g vinyl has reached it's goal!

I am actually quite amazed. I didn't really expect so much support for this project, but I am so happy that it happened!

So what is next? Well, the campaign still has a few more days, and once it finishes Kickstarter will take their cut and give me the rest. After that I'll send the masters, artwork and deposit to the record plant to start the process, then we just wait. Vinyl can be a bit of a lengthy process, so it will take 12 to 16 weeks to complete.

If you want to make sure you'll get one of the albums, there's still time to pre-order, just go to the kickstarter page here and select a reward. Backers also have exclusive access to one more song that has only been made public for them.

Also be sure to subscribe to the Manasota soundcloud which is embedded below!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


If you were channel surfing in the late 80s you may have stumbled across this band that sounded almost exactly like Frame

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fireant, 10 years later

It has now been 10 years since I completed my first solo CD "fireant". There's still very limited copies left of the original pressing (under 20) so if you want to get your hands on a great CD, with beautiful artwork by Nathaniel Price, now is the time. 

Will ship anywhere in the world and includes a free digital version of flac/mp3/aac. Follow this link to check it out

Monday, August 10, 2015

Moai is now Manasota

I've decided to rename my Moai project to Manasota. If you have followed my work you will recall an album I made under the Justin Robert name in 2006 called Manasota. This new project isn't exactly like that album, but I think thematically I am in a similar state of mind. Ocean, islands, remote beaches, sandy places, ocean breezes are all things that come to mind to me when I'm working on this project.

The name Manasota is the name of a small Key off the west coast of Florida where I spent a lot of time in 2005-2007. I found it to be very peaceful and healing place and I made a personal connection with it. Since I do have a personal connection with Manasota Key and I've never actually been to Easter Island, it just feels more appropriate. I've also started to notice several other artists named Moai, so that just added to the positive reasons to change it.

I'm also already on my 5th song in this project using real drums, real bass, real acoustic guitars and mostly limiting myself to two soft synths, the Digital Synsations UVI and now very hard to find Mellosound (mellotron emulator). I've still only shared two tracks though and am going to keep all the new ones private until I finish the release.

Anyway, if you haven't checked it out yet you can do so here

You can check out the Justin Robert LP "Manasota" here

Wednesday, August 5, 2015