In the busy world of manufacturing, you can take one of several different paths to success. One is to mass produce an item – find cheap materials, cheap labor to keep costs low; thereby keeping the retail price low and hope that you sell a ton of products to make it all worth while. Another way is much harder to do, typically takes longer to achieve success, and can be more frustrating for not only you, your co-workers, but also your family. But, in the true spirit of craftsmanship, personalization, creating something so important to you as an artist, you must dig deep inside your soul to make the commitment to go that other way. This is the spirit and passion I derived from meeting Brad Powell Cottman of Powell Custom Drums.
I invited Brad from Powell Custom Drums to sit down and give me some insight on his custom drum kits. I was blown away by his industry knowledge as well as his attention to detail. Brad is a drummer, a woodworker, a man who does custom carpentry and helps build custom homes. All of his professional experience is then poured into the manufacturing of his custom drums and drum kits. As a drummer, he recognizes the types of sounds that other drummers want and desire from their instrument. Punk rockers want a different sound that say a jazz musician. Brad knows this and makes it his personal goal to craft a personal reflection of what his musician client wants. Here is an excerpt from my conversation with Brad Cottman from Powell Custom Drums.
Hi Brad, thanks for coming in? So, are you’re a drummer?
Yes, a self taught drummer. I started when I was like 16. I just listened to albums and played. Maybe a little unconventional but I got how music worked pretty quickly by listening and just playing a lot.
Cool, so what influences have you had in the music industry?
Local, punk, hard core bands were always playing on my tape deck and in my room. When I was in a band, we did some covers with a mix of our our material. That was awesome.
How about in manufacturing, what is your background there?
Well, in addition to Powell Custom Drums work, I’m building homes, custom homes. I’m very much and have always been into woodworking, so those two aspects of my life tie in nicely with the custom drums I build.
Ok, so you are a drummer and you have a mechanical background in woodworking. It seems like a great fit for building custom drums. So, what was your inspiration for Powell?
Well, Powell is actually my middle name. As far as the concept, I’m not the first to build custom drums. I was at URI and I saw this incredible band with what appeared to be custom drums. I looked up the company, C + C Drums, and I did a little research on the company. I was sold on the idea and set out to make custom drums with my personal touches added to them. I’ve been making them since 2009.
How does the process work? Do you have a stock catalog that customers can choose from?
First of all, I get to know the musician. I do a series of interviews – phone, text, email – to find out what they ultimately want. There are a ton of customizations from lugs to colors to finishes to rim flange styles to wrap designs to shells and of course, size. Sure you can walk into a major music store and pick up a snare or tom anytime you want. And those will work for most. But, to custom build a kit, to put time and effort into designing it just right, to see the finished product and take pride in your work, that’s what Powell Custom Drums has to offer you. I get a lot of pride seeing my kits on music videos. I’ll call my wife and say “see, look, that’s one of my pieces.” Great feeling and I don’t cut corners for the sake of the work.
So who are some of your clients that use Powell Custom Drum kits?
Well, a few come to mind that I can mention here. Corey Good of Modern Day Escape, who then referred me to Sandra Alva of Open Your Eyes and Black Veil Brides. And Mike Martinez of Above The Empty. Also, Grant Gulla of A Faylene Sky. These are his drums I brought in today. He’s been touring with them and as you can see, they can take a licking and keep on ticking.
Great, now what is the lead time for ordering one of your custom drums?
It depends on the level of customization but I’d ballpark it at around 2 to 3 weeks. Sometimes I can get them done a bit sooner and sometimes the artist wants something added and the piece takes longer. In the end, I have the passion of a drummer so I understand there will be tweaking here and there to make it their own. I don’t rush my work, I wouldn’t think of doing that.
What is your advice to young drummers about what it takes to be a good drummer?
Timing. Enough said. Timing is everything. Get a metronome and use it. They even have them built into headsets these days.
What’s happening with Powell lately?
We are completing the design of the new and updated website – http://www.powellcustomdrums.com. We have a ton of new features and video and I think its going to be awesome. Just like my work on drums, I don’t want to rush and put out a crappy website. It’s going to be a resource for my clients and future clients, so I want to do it right.
One small note to conclude. My oldest son, Spencer, is a drummer and Brad was nice enough to bring him into the world he has seen. Brad spoke to him about the industry and about being a good drummer and musician. That was a real cool experience for my son and I wanted to take a minute to thank Brad for doing that. Plus, we got some cool Powell Custom Drums t-shirts. Passion for what you do and love cannot be downloaded and installed in your soul. You have a passion for something, live it and share it with others.
Powell Custom Drums
website – http://www.powellcustomdrums.com
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Noel P. Roby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org