Our Interview with Rikki Rockett about his Dream of the Perfect Drum
Rikki Rockett is legendary, as one of Rock & Roll’s most well-known and beloved drummers. Rikki Rockett has taken his passion for drums to his fans through his music, his performances and now, to the next level with his company Rockett Drum Works.
Rockett Drum Works creates custom boutique drum kits of every size and configuration for the discriminating musician that values quality and durability, as well as the need for visual speed. Rockett Drum Works offer color combinations, wraps and custom artwork creations that defy the imagination and define the drummers personality, etching their soul into the shells and making the drums one with the drummer.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rikki Rockett at the 2013 NAMM convention last January and I got to meet and know the man behind the kick, as intelligent and dedicated as talented, Rikki explained in brief his concept and his craft, his drums are visually stunning and designed with the musician in mind.
I reached out to Rockett to do a follow-up interview, touch base and get a deeper insight into Rockett Drum Works, and where he sees his company’s path taking his vision of a musical instrument with his personal touch.
I had this Q&A Interview when Rikki was doing what he does, everything under the sun and more, so it is brief – Short and Sweet, I hope this give you some insight into the business life of one of the hardest working drummers in the world.
JT: Since we last spoke; I have seen some great things mentioned about you in the press, from your Facebook page and your website. You have created a great drum company and you are a living brand, your name is synonymous with the LA Music Scene. In Rockett Drum Works, you created a company that values quality over gimmick, what was it like for you to see your vision become a reality?
RR: “I'm actually still creating it! My brand is about ideals as much as it is about the actual product. In actuality, drummers are very slow to change and will hold firm to ideas that are outdated or were never really true in the first place. For example, the idea of a drum key and the drum head tension rod being a specific thing to drums is ridiculous. It's a holdover from the past that has no merit whatsoever. An Allen Head makes 10 times more sense. They strip less easily, are easier to get and it's easier to find an Allen wrench! Plus, it's easy to find them made in the USA! Come on drummers, let's move forward!”
JT: I had the chance to meet some of your crew at NAMM last year when we did our first interview, how difficult was it to find others as dedicated as yourself to make this work?
JT: Would you tell us about your Facility, how difficult was it to find just the right location to manufacture your kits?
RR: “It's pretty small. It was a 20 x 40 building that we expanded. We are about to move soon. We don't know where, but we are moving for a larger place. We have a clean room, a dusty room and some storage. Most of our jigs are handmade.”
JT: In the present economy you have a product that is “Made in America” which is becoming a rare thing, do you feel that has helped you in your business model and how does your clientele value this fact?
RR: “We won't have it any other way. Sure, we could make our stuff in China or India or wherever, but it would lack quality and personal touch. I love the idea of drummers making drums and that is what we are about. Doesn't mean a non-drummer can't be a good drum maker, but it helps.”
RR: “Our present endorsed artists are Athena, Ken Bass, Phil Varone, Tig Moore, Troy Patrick Farell, Harley Dewinter, Danny Elliot and Andrew Sgambati-A.K.A-"Mr. Speed" just to name a few”
JT: Tell us about your Artists that do the artwork for your custom kits? The artwork on the kits I have seen is “jaw dropping” especially the Betty Page model on display last year; can you tell us what we can look forward to?
RR: “We use several, but as far as paint work Craig Fraser has been a staple. Mark Remling did quite a bit of work for us until he moved to Vegas. I pinstripe and the rest of our gang do wraps and stains. My crew is amazing with simple stains. We are always pushing the envelope with our finishes. As long as the finish doesn't override the quality and sound of the drum, we go for it!”
JT: With construction and design in mind, how do you handle quality control? Have you had any major obstacles to overcome?
RR: “We use very little automation, we use a hand built system in the shop, everything is custom. Our lugs are “CNCed”, but the drums are hand drilled and hand built.
JT: Where do you see your vision heading, what is next for Rockett Drum Works, will you branch into Hardware, Sticks or even Skins?
RR: “I want to over haul and re-boot the way drums are looked at. I want US Made to mean something and I moreover want people to know that it not just what we are selling, it's why we are selling it. The reason for that is simple. I have spent years on the road both in clubs and on major tours and there are flaws in drums and hardware that are not addressed. I plan to change that for the better. There are ideals that drummers are stuck in because they are lied to about what works and what they should be playing. There is so much false info out there about what works to make a drum sound better that I almost wanna scream! Example: I love guys who insist on thin plus, razor sharp bearing edges and suspension systems then muffle the crap out of their drums! Ludicrous! I can make people like this a drum that they simply head and tune and they are ready!”
JT: Who is in Charge when you are out on the road and performing, or do you check in at the office constantly, I would assume you are a very “hands on” businessman?
RR: “Brendan, Flat out my right hand. John is second in command. Candi makes the ship keep rolling”
JT: Rikki, the original intention for this interview was to be about Rockett Drum Works, but I have spent most of the time just about the Company. I know we’re running out of time, but, what is going on for Rikki Rockett, what’s next for the backbone of the band and the man behind the brand?
RR: “I am seriously focused on Rockett Drum Works; I really feel that I have a great product that adds to music making. Poison is always my first priority and I am always ready to work on the road or in the studio. Performing and Great Music has been and always will be my life's work, and Rockett Drum Works my baby. My other side, my personal life, is all about my family; I love them and everything I do- 'Nuff said!”
At this time we had to conclude the interview, but suffice to say that Rockett Drum Works, like Rikki Rockett himself, is taking the stages of the music world by storm and tearing them up, hot and heavy.
This coming January I will be covering the NAMM convention in Anaheim again and I look forward to meeting up with Rikki and bringing you more news from Rikki Rockett and Rockett Drum Works