Hoik’s gear


after some fun gear talks i’ve had with members of various bands that we’ve shared the stage with lately, i decided to do a gear post about my current rig.

the kit is a red stained yamaha birch custom absolute, 20″ bass drum, 8″ rack tom, 10″ rack tom and 18″ floor tom. it was a gift from my dad in 2000. i’ve used vintage ludwig snares for the longest time, but i have fallen in love with mapex’s black panther snares and currently play a 13×7 blaster black panther. all the drums and cymbals are suspended from a custom black gibralter rack, with the exception of the floor tom which is on legs and snare drum, which sits on a yamaha stand. instead of a conventional hihat stand, i use a DW remote hihat which allows me to set the hihat up directly in front of me over the rack toms, mounted to the rack.

i like the smaller drum sizes, tuned very low. i have always been able to get the birch shells to sound good in all the tuning ranges; low, mid and high, but for my ears i like the low, tight wood-y tone of the heads tightened just a little more than finger-tight. i use evans ec2s on the toms and the evans emad on the bass drum. these heads sing at a surprisingly loose tuning and add to the ‘punch’ frequency inherent in birch shells.

the blaster snare has amazing depth to it’s tone and the crazy snare sensitivity that seems to be a signature of the black panther line. tone stays consistent from the quietest qhost note to the loudest rim shot. the snare is a recent addition and still has the original remo ambassador head it came with. i tend to leave drum heads on as long as possible, especially snare drum heads.

with nature by numbers, i play 80% of the time with the snares disengaged. the blaster mixes particularly well with the yamaha tom and bass drum tones with the snares off. that combo of maple and walnut in the snare shell cuts through the birch of the toms but has a warmth similar to the birch so the kit as a whole sounds like one instrument.

as long as i’ve played i’ve almost exclusively used zildjian cymbals, with the exception of a stack by hammerax which is part of my current set up. from left to right (drummers perspective); 15″ a custom medium crash, 14″ a custom efx stacked on top of a 12″ oriental trash china, 10″ zxt trashformer stacked on top of a 10″ a custom splash, 13″ hats k top hat and quick beat bottom hat, 18″ a custom efx stacked on top of a 18″ oriental trash china, 20″ a custom ping ride, 17″ custom hybrid, 15″ custom dark crash and finally a 12″ hammerax crash corse stack.

my cymbal set up has been the same for most of the past 3 years, but the cymbals themselves are in a constant state of change as i try different sizes, stacks, models, etc. though i’m quite happy with the color palette of my current cymbal set, it will undoubtedly change and soon as i continue to experiment with different sounds. in general, i like one larger crash (17″-19″) to the right that is used for large crash punctuations but also as a ride for heavier song sections. i like 2 smaller crashes, one to the left of me and one to the right for crash accents and as a ride option in heavier sections. one large stack used as a trashy ride, 2 smaller stacks to the left used for quick trashy accents, usually struck with my left hand on off/up beats. the ride is used more as a crash ride. the hammerax stack is used as a trashy substitute to the high hats. the hats themselves i wear out on the town, they go great with my slacks;)

Skeleton Closet video

We recently posted an old video to our song Skeleton Closet.  This is the 3rd song we wrote and we filmed this video a couple years ago.  Granted, that’s a bit of a long time to release the video, but we’re proud to finally have it available for the world to see.  So, without further ado, I present to you:

Our aim with this video was to capture a sort of live feel with the video.  The audio tracks were all recorded by Alex Amaya during the video recording.  We used the best take from the evening, leaving the mistakes made in the take to help give it an even more authentic sound.  The video was all filmed and edited by the talented Barret Amato and the audio was mixed by Jeff Kessler.

Riding on a high after completion of our classic, An Uncertain Grace, we were all pumped to write an upbeat song.  Skeleton Closet is, to date, the fastest song we’ve written.  It came together in about a month, as I recall, starting in late June of 2010.  We initially called this song “Breathe” while we were still fleshing out the ideas.  We started off with the main rhythmic riff that starts the song and by July 1st had the verse somewhat figured out.  Listening back through our old recordings of this song as we wrote it, by about mid-July, we had most of the song laid out.

At the end of the song, I remember distinctly making it a point to use the “organ” sound on my HOG for this song, largely because I had recently gotten it and loved that organ-y sound.  I still want to get a rotary pedal of some sort to give the “organ” a more Leslie vibe.

This song also appears on our limited run EP (listen on our Facebook page) and will be re-recorded with new updates for our upcoming LP.

Joel’s Gear

At long last, a post about gear!  This is just an overview of my gear, starting, of course, with my VanDewart custom.  This guitar has a flamed maple top, mahogany back, 3 piece neck (maple/purpleheart/maple) and undyed ebony fingerboard, all with an oiled finish.  The guitar is neck-through and string-through, resulting in better sustain, tone and rigidity.  I use Bareknuckle Nailbombs (Alnico 5 in the neck, ceramic in the bridge), with coil-taps so I can get that great single-coil sound for songs like An Uncertain Grace, Understanding the Feeling, and our new song, set to debut soon.



AmpI use a Laney VH100R amplifier.  This is my 2nd favorite amp of all time and is the perfect amp for my role in this band.  It wonderfully compliments Garret’s Orange Rockerverb 100.  The VH100R is a 2-channel amp with an individual boost on each channel, reverb, and fx loops (which I have yet to integrate).  I often switch between all 4 settings (channels + boosts).  I don’t believe there is a single song where I use all 4, but several of our songs, I do use 3 (Thoughts Like Rust, An Uncertain Grace, Rest in Pieces, etc).  This amp is extremely versatile, breathes very naturally and just all around sounds incredible!



PedalboardLastly, my beast of a pedalboard.  My pedalboard is constantly growing and evolving.  Even now, despite having a great setup, I have some pedals that I want to add to the board for even more great sounds, and other pedals to upgrade.  Unfortunately, this means that I will soon have to purchase a new, larger pedalboard and power supply, but that is the cost of wanting the exact perfect sound for each section of our music.  Anyhow, here is the list of my current pedalboard setup:

What does your rig look like?  What are you favorite pedals and amps that you use?  Have any recommendations for additional pedals that should be on my board?

Icarus Landing Music Video

L.A. rockers, Icarus Landing, recently put out a music video for their new song, Call To You.  You can check this vid out at http://youtu.be/WURcodKLNyg (nsfw).  This band epitomizes “Man Rock” and is guaranteed to put hair on your chest.  Also, the video has titties, and who doesn’t like titties?

IL has hard-hitting rhythms, brutal guitars and a very in-your-face raw sound.  This is definitely a wysiwyg band with quality music to stand behind.  Additionally, their live show is a blast to watch and they perform their tunes impressively, well worthy of studio precision.  I recommend keeping your eye on their Facebook page for any upcoming shows and definitely check them out if you get a chance.

Despite his beardly mediocrity, I have been friends with Nicholas Emilio, lead singer/guitarist/songwriter for IL, for the past 3 years and have come to quite admire his resolve.  He has been steadily working on this band for several years, moving from Ohio to LA to pursue his musical ventures.  While n8n definitely works very hard at what we do, Nick hustles far better than all of us put together.  He has been working diligently at this new album for over a year and I am very excited for it to come out, not only as a friend who has witnessed the struggles of putting out this album, but also as an IL fan.

Writing process

We often get comments from other musicians about how arranged our various parts are and people are usually wondering who does the writing in our band.  This is the first band I’ve ever personally been in that has a completely collaborative writing process.  We check our egos at the door and enter our rehearsal space with completely free and open minds. Continue reading