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Chris Brady - The Beat Goes On (Nicotine-age Idol)

Chris Brady makes some of the best drums in the world. Just ask Kenny Aronoff, Tom Brechtlein, Will Calhoun, Dennis Chambers, Billy Cobham, Mick Fleetwood, Virgil Donati, Chris Frazier, Dave Grohl, Larry Mullen Jr., Carl Palmer, Neil Peart, Chad Smith, or Tico Torres. They’ll tell you. The sound of a Brady drum isn’t hard to find. If you check out recordings by Pearl Jam, Jamiroquai, David Bowie, Blink 182, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, Bjork, R.E.M., Shakira, Green Day, Santana, KORN, Frank Zappa, The London Symphony Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra... You get where I'm going with this, don't you?

In 1976, Chris Brady made some drum sticks. As a child, he had grown up in the bush, surrounded by trees and people who knew all about them. His inquisitive mind led him to ask questions, and as he grew up he wondered if anyone had actually made a detailed study of the properties of various types of wood. Taking that line of reasoning one step further, he wondered if anyone had actually thought to take the results of those studies, and apply the knowledge to the making of drums. Rather than make a whole drum, Chris turned out some sticks - perfectly balanced, acoustically sound sticks - and Colonial Drum Sticks were born.

The sticks proved popular with local drummers, and Chris, a working drummer himself, realized the potential of working with wood from a musical standpoint, rather than an economic one. So Chris made a drum. He had never been taught how to make a drum, so he relied on common sense based on his years of asking questions about wood, and just went ahead and did it. This drum was heard by one Chick Corea, one of the greatest electric jazz artists of the modern era, and a man used to playing with the best drummers (and drums) in the world. He told Chris Brady after hearing his drum, “You have to keep doing this”.

Chris needed no second bidding. With his unique style of constructing drum kits, he had happened upon a way of opening up a world of tone and musical colour for the humble drum, and the results were unbelievable. Drummers who heard the new kits were immediately besotted, and Chris himself would sit on his kit during his band’s breaks, playing along with the DJ. It just sounded that good. It was the same with making drums for Chris. “They sounded so good, I couldn’t stop”. Demand for Brady drum kits soon outstripped the capabilities of Chris’ small home shed, so the first Brady Drum Factory soon became a reality. Chris continued to experiment with different woods and construction methods, and it was not long before people like Jeff Porcaro (Toto)  and Aaron Commess (Spin Doctors) were ringing a West Australian phone number, looking to own a piece of the tonal magic they had just heard. Major drum companies sat up and took notice as well, a lot of them copying design ideas for their own kits. More and more drummers, engineers, producers and studios caught on to the new sound, and pretty soon Brady drums were being heard on the world’s airwaves, keeping time for some of the greatest hits in the popular music of the 80s and 90s. Brady drums - in particular Brady snare drums - were becoming the stuff of legend.

Today, Brady Drums use three construction methods to produce an exciting range of drum kits from West Australian hardwoods such as Jarrah, Wandoo and Sheoak. Their ply shells are made by a revolutionary method pioneered by Chris Brady in 1988, and use select plies of Jarrah, a native West Australian wood much harder than Rock Maple. Chris’ straight grain method produces the sound of a solid drum, and these drums are among the most prized by the world’s drummers. Their block drums use woods such as Wandoo, Gimlet and Goldfields Blackbutt to produce a drum that is a favourite with engineers and producers for its recordable tone, and the solid drums are exceptional instruments, having no seam and no glue, but being made out of a solid piece of tree, hollowed out and machined to precise shape. This method originates with Chris, who crafted the first solid shell drum when it was considered impossible. Apparently that word has no place in this artisan’s vocabulary.

In January of this year, there was a dinner held in the US to honour the contributions of Chris Brady and his drums to music. Chris was too busy to attend, sending his daughter to represent the family.

On the night of the dinner, Chris received a phone call from his daughter. There was a lot of background noise, so Chris asked how many people were at the table. After a pause came the reply...

“Um... which one? Oh - Hang on Dad, Simon Phillips wants to say hello...”

 Graham Greene


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