AAJ: You have played and endorsed Yamaha drums since 1983. That's a long relationship. What is it about Yamaha's product that makes it work so well for you? You also have a long standing relationship with Sabian, that includes product development. What's the skinny with that?.
DW: At the time I was learning and growing as a teenager, most of the guys I was listening to played Yamaha. It was kind of like a young kid aspiring to be a race car driver, watching all the F1 stars driving Ferrari when you were driving go karts. It was a goal to shoot for, to be able to use the best equipment when you got the chance!
My 'chance' came at the Simon and Garfunkel rehearsals. Yamaha was involved with others in the band, so they came to me too. I think I may have surprised them by saying something like; "I'll join, but you have to make me power tom sizes," which were the deep tom and kick sizes. I wanted them 'square,' meaning as deep as they were round (not the kick of course!). I had just had a custom made maple kit built that year, with the square type sizes, and they were killer for what I was doing at the time, which was small diameter toms. They agreed though!
The relationship has been strong, and although the ups and downs of a multi-national corporation (Japan/USA) can be trying at times, it has always been a 'win-win' situation for us. I've had signature snares with them, and always contribute to the continuing evolution in drum and hardware design. They help me out quite a bit with helping for tour equipment, clinics, etc. Their drums and hardware are some of the best out there, and they work for me very well, to allow me to perform and create, with a great deal of comfort and freedom. To me, the care in which the drums and hardware are designed and made are second to none, even with today's 'China made' equipment.
Sabian and I had a relationship that started around the same time, during the Simon and Garfunkel period. Communication issues (or lack there of!) had me move to Zildjian for a number of years, but product deficiency and company policy where 'signature lines' were concerned forced me to look elsewhere in the year 2000 or so. Sabian gave me the opportunity, as with many other of their artists, to create a signature line of cymbals. And did we create a line! Two actually. Today these lines (HHX Evolution and Legacy) remain two of their top selling lines, and remain standouts in the entire industry. We also started the 'Hole-y cymbal' craze, that now EVERY cymbal manufacture as emulated, in one way or another, with the HHX Evolution OZONE... Killer cymbal, copied but never equaled (in my humble opinion of course!)
AAJ: I know you have a lot on your plate. What are the highlights coming up in 2019 and beyond? A little birdie maned Leni told me that, Mike, Jimmy, and Lorber were in the studio with you and her, and that you are working on a new project. Is that something you can talk about or are we keeping that under wraps for the time being?
DW: 2019 is pretty filled up. I'm busy with co-leading bands with Mike Stern though the summer. We're currently on an EU tour now (April), then we go to China for a week in May, then back to EU for some summer festivals in July.
September will have me playing a couple shows only, with Chick in Japan, with both the E and A bands. I am working towards being in China mid to late September doing clinics, camps, classes and performances there. Early November I'll be back with Oz and Jimmy, and yes, early December will be the Stern/Lorber project tour in the USA.
I plan to start up my own projects and bands again in 2020. Stay tuned!
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