Brooks Wackerman

Introduces the new DW Design Series Kit

His father, Chuck, is a well-known and highly respected drummer and music educator. His older brothers, John, Chad and Bob, are all professional musicians at the top of their craft. From birth, Brooks Wackerman had all the right knowledge and tools at his disposal.

“My entire family is responsible for getting me into music,” says Wackerman. “As soon as I started walking, they put drum sticks in my hands. My dad was my jazz band teacher in junior high and high school, and he’s the reason that I do what I do. It always felt normal to play music because that’s what we did every day.”

To follow in his family’s footsteps, Wackerman says it needed to be his choice to make, and he needed to figure some things out on his own, starting with the kit he wanted to play, and eventually, the style of music he’d focus on.

“We had multiple drum kits in the house, and I remember tying a balloon to one of the cymbal stands. I think I did that just to pee on my territory. Then, when I found the style of music I wanted to pursue, I took it personally. I felt like I owned it. I think it’s important for parents to not force anything too hard on kids. It’s a matter of discovery for them,” Wackerman says.

As the youngest of four boys, Wackerman is separated from the oldest by two decades. By the time Wackerman turned five, he saw his older brother Chad, 17 years his senior, earn a spot playing with Frank Zappa. For Brooks, born in Orange County, Calif., in the late 1970s, and having already subscribed to the spirit of finding his own way, it was only natural that he gravitated toward punk.

“I study all different styles: jazz, reggae, rock. But when I heard The Vandals for the first time, that’s when I knew I wanted to go more into the punk direction. Then seeing The Vandals with Josh Freese, I remember just being blown away by how he is as a player. So he actually was one of the reasons I started practicing a lot,” Wackerman says.

“Then, as far as more advanced music, Chad playing with Zappa made me want to improve in that department. So it was kind of a dichotomy of punk and Zappa. So those were my focuses early on. Then I think I always just wanted to be comfortable enough in any session where, whatever they throw at me, I would be able to play.”

Wackerman’s session successes include The Vandals, Korn, Infectious Grooves, The Innocent, and, since 2001, Bad Religion. Some of his latest work also includes recording with experimental industrial rock band Fear and the Nervous System, a tour with Avril Lavigne, two with Tenacious D, plus an Australian tour with Blink-182.

To cover the vast array of sounds he needs to keep moving forward with his career, Wackerman says DW offers him the ability to find the right sound for every musical setting.

“DW is not afraid to try things. If I have an idea for a sound, they’re not afraid to expand on it or make a weird drum size. They really go the whole nine yards. Bad Religion requires a lot of pop and articulation because the songs are so fast. When I do a drum fill it needs to break through the three guitars that are battling me. The versatility and innovation of DW–after meeting John Goode you realize why they’re brilliant at what they do. His dedication to the drums is unparalleled.”

One of Wackerman’s favorite kits is the newly introduced Design Series which features 100% American maple, 8-ply HVLT shells that don’t have reinforcement hoops, which opens up their sound. HVLT is DW’s way of noting the direction of the grain of the wood for the drum’s plies: horizontal on the outside, and vertical on the inside.

“I’m the happiest I’ve been in years in terms of both my drums and cymbals. With HVLT shells, you have the best of both worlds with a big low end and some nice highs. The kit that I was playing today is a cherry, and I have a white pearl Design Series kit at home. They all have turret lugs, which are smaller than the classic DW lug, so the finish comes out more. And the snare has a MAG throw-off which is really easy to use. It’s a great-sounding kit. I wish I had this option growing up. I think a lot of kids and bigger kids will enjoy it,” Wackerman says.

“When I first played the Design Series, I fell in love with the projection of the snare. The toms have a nice punch to them and nice articulation. You can hear a lot of the tip of the stick when you play tom fills. They have great resonance to them. The kick also has a nice punch. I put a little bit more padding in my kick since I play double bass.”

To complement his DW Design Series kit, Wackerman employs a range of Zildjian cymbals, including the K Series cymbals and a unique hi-hat setup.

“My hi-hats are 18” and they’re not actually hi-hats. The top is a Constantinople 18” crash and the bottom is an 18” Breakbeat ride,” says Wackerman. “They look very masculine but they have a sweet spot. They always have a sweet spot. To my left is an 18” FX A Custom, then a 19” FX A Custom, and a 23” A Custom ride. In between are all K’s: an 18” session crash, and a 22” light ride.

“Once I heard the K Series I was pretty much married to Zildjian. I like how dark the K’s are, and yet they project very nicely without feeling obtrusive in the mix. I record and play live with the K’s. The 23” A Custom ride is great for bashing and bell work. Zildjian is another company that’s not afraid to stretch out. Every year there’s something new to take in. They’re always sending out prototypes of what they’re working on.”

Following a grueling summer touring season, Wackerman says his biggest gig for the next couple months will be hanging out with his twin boys.

“Just from their surroundings, I think it’s inevitable that they’ll be doing something in the arts. They love painting, and they even love jumping up on the kit. My dad’s teaching them. I was gone this whole summer, but my dad has been teaching them once a week, so they’re doing ‘mama-dada-mama-dada-mama-dada’ on the snare,” Wackerman says.

“It’s important to me as a father to introduce many things to them. I play guitar, too, so whenever I play guitar around the house they come over and I have them strum the strings. And they sing, and they’re just wild dudes. I think they’re bound to make a statement somewhere.”

This fall, Wackerman will be playing three one-off shows with Bad Religion in Chicago, Denver and at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine, Calif.

“It’s still Irvine Meadows to me,” Wackerman says. “I’ll also be playing with Tenacious D. In October, Jack [Black] is putting on a comedy festival called Festival Supreme in Santa Monica.

“In addition to that, I think we might be doing some more jazz shows with Tenacious D. We put out a jazz record last year of one song that’s 15 minutes long, so we just extend that song into an hour where we don’t stop playing the entire set. So if anyone has a tolerance for that I recommend coming out,” Wackerman laughs.

For more info on Brooks Wackerman visit:

Written by Brad Porter / Photography by Stevie Verroca

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