We are stoked to feature today's Drum Brigade Drummer of the Day... San Diego's own Chad Lee.
"My name is Chad Lee. I’am a San Diego native. "
When did you start playing drums?
I had my first close encounter with an acoustic drum set when I was around 10-11. I witnessed a friends band rehearsal from their driveway. That very evening I snuck away into their garage and started to bash away. From then on I was pounding on anything that made a cool noise…. Lets just say my teachers didn’t like my admiration for beats and unique sounds on the school desks.
Who do you play with?
Currently I’am playing with The Silent Comedy, Creature And The Woods, The Chadly Three, and Gregg Griffin And The Midnight Clergy. I have taken it upon my self to try and be the “ yes dude” and take on projects as they are presented to me. Because of that I’m pretty busy these days.
What are some artists/ bands you've played/ toured/ recorded with?
I’ve had the pleasure of backing Marc Ford and Elijah Ford in 2015. Toured with bands ranging from Ryan Bingham, The Heavy, Switchfoot, Saint Motel to name a few. I have recorded and performed with artists like Boyd Tinsely, Captain Kirk, Kris Kristopherson, and producers Michael Einziger, Chris “frenchie” Smith and Brian Malouf.
Biggest and/or best gig you ever played?
The biggest gig I think was the time i played in San Diego at the Sports Arena. Sold out crowd. Check this bill out... Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, Cage The Elephant, Arctic Monkeys, Alt-J, The Silent Comedy, and J Roddy & The Business. The other biggest gig was probably opening for Brian Setzer at the Gibson Amphitheater. So many pomps and leather jackets haha.
What is your favorite thing to do besides play drums?
I have two faves off the top of my head. I love being in the ocean which can range from surfing, body surfing, or just having a recharge moment on the sand. The other is having great philosophical conversations with friends about life, our purpose and what we can continue to do as humans to excel, learn and be the best we can be as individuals on this planet. Im a hippie at heart.
Favorite drummer(s)/ influences?
This is a tough one because there is so much to to admire and be influenced by these days. In the beginning I was into and playing metal, hardcore and those weird hybrids of the two. I was all about blast beats, 16th note triplets with the double pedal, and half time break down patterns. So bands like Falling Cycle, Sinai Beach, Converge, Between the Buried and Me, Figure Four, Arsis… those dudes were all in the early years which paved the way to learn how to beat the hell out of kit ha. As I got into my later teens I got into Reggae and was attempting to make music in that genre. It ended just being your typical sublime style surf reggae but was still a blast to play with my budds. Got into Carlton Barrett from The Wailers a ton. As things kept growing i got into the rock roots of the John Bonhams and the Mitch Mitchells. I then really fell in love with the 'beauty in the space' players like Nick Mason, Levon Helm, Charlie Watts, Brad Wilk. Phil Selway, Questlove are up there too. Really love Jon Theodore and Ricky Mozatta from MeWithOutYou. Both those dudes not only bash but come up with great grooves. Gotta give love to the obvious greats like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Art Blakey and all those early cats that paved the way for us. This list can go on and on so I’m going to stop.
Pad Kee Mao, Burritos, Home grown tomatoes.
Water, Whiskey, Beer, Yerba Mate, Kombucha.
Three things that people may or may not know about you?
Once upon a time I worked a regular 40 hour a week job, lived in a beach cottage, owned my own truck and motorcycle. Long story short I basically woke up one day and said to myself all of this is unnecessary and is holding me back from moving forward. I got rid of everything and lived in a tent for about a 1 year, saved all my money from work, bought my drum kit with all touring cases needed to hit the road with added savings to pay bills and eat. At the time I wasn’t a full time member of anything yet but I knew thats what I wanted. After that commitment for change everything has and continued to present itself as opportunity and a challenge. I learned that sometimes difficult life decisions will yield a ton of opportunity. You just have to really want it.
I also snuck into the Led Zeppelin show in 2007 at the 02 Arena… But thats a different story.
What's your set up (drums, cymbals, heads, sticks, etc)?
I play on a 2006 DW Classic Series yellow marine wrap. 24x16, 13x9, 16x16. My Snare Drums are either a 6.5x14 Vessel 1/4 Aluminum, a 1940s StarDrum that is 5.5x14 ( this thing has a head on it probably 20+ years old… but its got that sound that you just don’t want to mess with). Then I play a Brady Jarrah stave style snare that is 6.5x14.
My cymbals are Paiste 20’ Giant Beat crash, 20’ Paiste 2002 crash, 20’ Paiste twenty custom series ride and my hats use to be Paiste Alpha Rock hats but lately I’ve been experimenting with thinner hats to try and get more of a softer sound. noting has stuck yet.. so we shall see.
My sticks are Vic Firth 5b Extremes and lately for quieter gigs been rocking the good ole 5a’s. I find that the lighter the stick the more control you can have over the dynamics if your having to keep your volume low. Also use the Steve Gadd edition brushes with the angled 3/4’ ends. Super nice.
Heads are typically Remo Ambassadors for rack and floor. Snare can vary between Remo AmbassadorX with that extra dot underneath (usually will take that on the road for longevity) or regular Remo Ambassador.
My hardware is usually Pearl. It was what came with a kit i purchased years ago and i just kept with them ever since. I do enjoy DWs hardware though.
Who is your dream gig with?
Not sure i have a “dream gig”. I think the answer would extend to reach a state of being where my skills as a drummer and persona reflect a state into which i can survive financially, have a home space for making records and bringing people together, be creating and collaborating with amazing souls, all whilst traveling this beautiful planet. Thats probably my dream gig.
I was reminded of this one the other day by C.S. Lewis “ Make your choice, adventurous stranger, Strike the Bell and bide the danger, Or wonder, till it drives you mad, What would have followed if you had.”
The other i always remind my self is “ Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
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