10 Cool Facts About Drums


Last month we gave you 10 Cool Facts About Bass. There was only one way this could go…

As with all things rhythm, timing is everything. Today it’s National Hug A Drummer Day so we’re celebrating with 10 really cool drum facts.

If you know any drummers, be sure to give them a hug today. We reckon drum machines should be acknowledged, too. So if you have access to an 808 or 909, give that a squeeze and all.

Enjoy… And watch out. We found so many cool drum facts that this will be a sequel.

4AM’s kitchen can be thanked for his breakthrough single If

The drums and percussion on the introduction to 4AM’s If are made completely out of found sounds recorded in the kitchen. Pots, pans and cutlery were used to create the clicky two-step rhythm and were inspired by a trip 4AM took to fellow Bristolian Asa’s studio.

Hybris has made drums out of pretty much everything

Why stop at the kitchen utensils when there’s a perfectly good tap to play with? In a recent interview on this very site, Hybris explains how he’s constantly making drums out of things that shouldn’t be drums, including water samples. On Crystalline – his collaboration with Noisia – his drums are made of intricately sliced robot samples.

The loudest ever recorded drums were dangerous to your health

As far as drum-related world records go, there are heaps. Here’s our favourite: the loudest drumming ever recorded was by Australian sticksman Col Hatchman. He hit a peak of 137.2 decibels during a show with his band Dirty Skanks in August 2006. That’s 2.8 decibels under the recognised pain threshold where protection is essential!

140? 170? Nah mate… 15,000 BPM

Another drum-related world record, according to legend, is that Moby’s 1000 is the fastest ever BPM of any released single and purportedly reaches – at points – 1000 BPM. However there is no record of this on the Guiness World Records website. What is more likely to be a record, or certainly a precedent, is that the single reached 38 in the UK national charts, making it the fastest record to ever reach the commercial charts. One thing is for sure, Moby certainly isn’t the only person to reach quadruple BPM figures, there’s a whole genre dedicated to it called extratone. A splitter-genre to speedcore, there are examples of tracks hitting 15,000BPM. Here’s Nyan Cat (classic meme alert!) on an extratone flex. Spoiler: it’s ridiculous!

808s can provide sexual healing!

According to respected selector/renowned beat documentarian Tom Middleton, the earliest recorded release that incorporated the legendary Roland TR-808 was Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1000 Knives in 1981. Swiftly followed by Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing in 1982.

Phil Collins was one of the first artists to effectively utilise a 909

While we’re chatting essential Roland toys, it would appear Phil Collins Sussudio was one of the very tracks to ever utilise the Roland TR-909. Released in 1985, it came out months after the 909’s manufacture. For bonus Roland points, the 909 was also the first MIDI-equipped drum machine.

The most expensive drum machine will cost you over $7000

For all their ubiquity, however, Roland drum machines can’t take the crown for most expensive. According to a feature in Attack Magazine last year, the most sought after drum machine is the EKO ComputeRhythm. Made in 1972, allegedly less than 20 units were ever sold. Unfortunately two of them were sold to two of electronic music’s earliest and most influential pioneers Jean Michel Jarre and Manuel Göttsching. This has made these rare units highly desirable to nerdy collectivists the world over and has led to sales of as much as $7000. Here’s a short snippet of it in action.

Don’t mess with Destroid drummer KJ Sawka

When it comes to actual drummers, one of the most prolific tub-thumbers in electronic music has to be KJ Sawka. Erstwhile rhythm king for Pendulum’s live operation, current box-smasher for Destroid, his work as a drummer has been hugely influential on bass music. But did you know he’s also a black belt in mixed martial arts, is a trained carpenter and has appeared on American Idol? We didn’t until we interviewed him a while back.

The Prodigy’s drummer sold himself to the band

Another cool drummer fact is the story of how The Prodigy’s drummer ended up becoming a member of the band. In this interview Leo Crabtree explains how before becoming a world touring artist, he worked as an artist relation manager for drum manufacturers TAMA. Crucially a salesman, it was his job to get famous bands using TAMA drums. His first outbound sales call? Kieron Pepper, the previous drummer for the legendary rave act. When Kieron left he recommended Leo who was trailed for one NYE show in Poland. He smashed it (literally) and has been a member since 2007. Ding ding ding: sale of century!


A Spice Girl has sampled the Amen break

No discussion on drum facts should go without an honourable mention of The Winston’s Amen Brother. Sample reference library/bible WhoSampled reckon the famous Amen break has been sampled 1263 times. Every producer has used it at one point in their career including Skrillex (I Know Who You Are), Aphex Twin (Girl/Boy Song), Zomboy (Nuclear) and of course The Prodigy on the still-awesome 20-year-old track Poison, among others. More unlikely/surprising uses of the Amen break include Primal Scream’s Slip Inside This House, Slipknot’s Pulse Of The Maggots and Spice Girl Melanie C who utilised the famous break on her 1999 track Ga Ga. Old school.