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by Sam Kelly on March 1st, 2012

With a lengthy legacy in the UK and international music scenes, London-based drummer Sam Kelly is highly respected for his musical savvy and ability to slip and slide between rock, reggae, r&b, soul, jazz and, well, just about any style you’ll hear on a live music stage. Currently leading his own groove-oriented group, Sam Kelly’s Station House, he has been kicking out rock ‘n’ blues with former Mott the Hoople and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs, delivers a fat backbeat for the Soul Britannia All Stars and was inducted into the Blues in Britain ‘Gallery of Greats’ by voters who know their stuff. Despite years of roughing ‘n’ toughing it as a pro musician, Sam Kelly is a man with a gentle manner and a big smile.
FFAR Cotton Promotions: How did you meet Dave Carrera?
Sam Kelly: I was introduced to him by Jerome Marcus, marketing adviser and coordinator for the Carrera team. Jerome is the percussionist in my bands.

FCP:What first attracted you to the Carrera Drums company?
SK: It is nice to be part of a British company that provides great customer care and quality manufacturing that is as good as the best in the world. The important attraction is the relationship we share and the fact that I can give constructive feedback with a quick phone call or casual meeting. Their hands-on approach and ‘Best of British’ attitude will be of huge benefit to all drummers looking for drums that are something special in terms of build and sound, but also surprisingly affordable.

FCP: You used a Carrera snare first and now own a full kit ?
SK: Yes, it was a Terrier model, which has a birch shell. I liked its response; the tones were warm and I could control the level of attack. I don’t normally like shallow snares (the Terrier is 13″ x 3.85″) because I find them too restrictive sound-wise, but this one I liked and played on jazz, blues and rock gigs. For a smaller drum, the Terrier has a lot of bite.

FCP: Did Carrera Drums customize your kit?
SK: No. I requested an exact copy of the one I had used on a trial basis. The only difference is the number of drums and the dimensions of the smallest tom.

FCP: So anyone could buy the exact same kit as yours?
SK: Yes. It would take about forty years to play like me, but you could have the very same kit in a few weeks from Carrera Drums. (laughs)

FCP: Of all the quality drums you have owned, where do you view your Carrera kit?
SK: After playing the Carrera snare I was intrigued to see if a full kit would be of the same quality. Having played a variety of good kits over so many years, this was the first time I found one that could cope with all the different styles of music I am involved in, as well as the variety of environments I play studio, stage, small and large venues, open air festivals the lot! Their ability to project is really quite amazing; they cut through exceptionally well, but not with a hard and singular sound. No, these drums do it with a robust attack and some very punchy tone! When sound engineers say my Carreras need little to no EQ and that the robustness of the sound — not just the volume — makes life easier for them, then I know the acoustic quality of those drums is serving it purpose. That’s also a huge testament to the lads at Carrera.

FCP: What makes you chose a birch over, say, maple?
SK: I’m not really interested in which type of wood has been used. My initial instinct is, What does the kit sound like? If I like the sound, then I check the shell wood. Manufacturers use many different woods, but how the drum shell is constructed also makes a huge difference. Whereas some manufacturers cross-ply their shells, Carrera ensures all the wood grain in theirs runs in the same direction. For me and how I play, that produces the full, cutting sound I like — my kind of sound!

FCP: Do you have any thoughts about playing a relatively unknown brand of drum kit?
SK: I love it! When I play the Carrera kit, people ask me what drums I’m using. Everyone who sees and hears this kit, players and non-players, enthuses over the sound and the look. The feedback is always really positive.

FCP: Any last words on the matter?
SK: Hmmmm Hold on, I’ll just ring Dave Carrera for an instant answer. (laughs)

Interview by: FFAR Cotton Promotions

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