It’s safe to say- Neil Peart’s Time Machine Drum Kit is the world’s most recognizable hybrid drum kit. This kit is not only an instrument – it’s a work of art.
How The Time Machine Hybrid Kit Works
As the drummer for Canadian iconic rock band RUSH, Neil Peart’s drum kit has always been larger than a typical standard-size set. Over the years, it has grown to include many traditional orchestral percussion and acoustic sound effect instruments that became a trademark for both Neil and the band. But during the 80’s – out of adventure, necessity, or both – the kit grew to include electronics percussion. The kit became a “Hybrid Kit’ featuring a combination of acoustics and electronics.
In 2001, a phone call initiated the now almost 14 year relationship between Roland and the world’s most prolific drum team – Neil Peart and Lorne Wheaton (known by many as Bubba Gump). At that time, the kit included the first generation of V-Drums, the TD-10 module and V-Pads, which was incorporated into the kit created for the Vapor Trails tour in 2002. The V-Drums became the new edition to the “dark side” (as Neil calls it) of Neil’s massive rotating kit, supplying him with a new sound palette and performance interface to some of the classic and original sounds from past records. Not only were they used for triggering those sounds for the songs in the set list, but they also became a feature for the concert’s infamous drum solo.
Neil’s words at the time were these … “After checking out the current generation of electronic drums, I settled on the Roland V-Drums. The pads are sensitive, resilient, and satisfying to play, and the sounds are high-quality, nicely varied, and versatile. The complete rig is useful, easy to use, and most of all – fun”.
Soon after, the next chapter in V-Drums was written with the introduction of the TD-20 V-Pro Series V-Drums, and so the upgrade for the kit began in preparation for the RUSH R30 tour. The evolution continued with focus on the electronics performance and triggering for the live show and solo. Lorne’s role was to oversee the kit, with an “office” just behind and stage left of the kit, tucked secretly behind Geddy’s backline. Lorne’s office included the rack with the two V-Drums modules, TD-20s, the Roland A-110 Rack Mount MIDI Display Units, Roland XV-5080 Sampler/Sound Modules, mixer, and more. Neil’s V-Drums connect directly to the V-Drums modules, then to the rest of the rack gear via MIDI, and all audio output to the house and monitors.
Complex and sophisticated? …Maybe a little. Rugged and roadworthy? … Absolutely.
Lorne comments “…the gear in the rack has stood the test of time and the road for over 10 years, with no failures … solid and professional gear!”
After a few more tours – it was time for a new kit. Created for the Time Machine and Clockwork Angels tours, was the over-the-top steampunk-themed Time Machine hybrid drum kit. Under the hood this time was Roland’s 3rd generation of V-Drums, the TD-30 SuperNATURAL powered V-Drums technology, which introduced even faster, more accurate, and more dynamic triggering.
More from Neil on this … “I first introduced Roland V-Drums into my setup in 2001, during the writing and recording of our Vapor Trails album. On the subsequent tour, they became a fixture in my drum solos, as well as to trigger samples throughout our live show. I also played the V-Drums on our 30th Anniversary tour in 2004, on the Snakes and Arrows album and tours in 2006, ’07, and ’08 (thus they appear on the Rush in Rio, R30, and Snakes and Arrows Live DVDs and CDs), and now on our 2010 Time Machine tour. Over the years, the V-Drums have continued to improve in touch sensitivity, and in sound quality and variety, and I still find them not only fun to play, but a great creative addition to my percussion world.”
In a recent video segment with the CBC called ‘Neil Pearts’ Guide to Neil Peart’s Drums’, Neil described his kit to the viewers in great detail and ended by saying … “so it’s the combination of them (acoustic and electronic drums) that gives me the dynamism of acoustic drums and then a virtual orchestra of sounds that the electronic drums can offer so, each of them is a tool as part of the sound palette to be applied to do the job necessary”.
And that defines what a Hybrid Drum Set is all about.
Want More Hybrid Drums?
Interested in creating your own custom hybrid drum kit? Read the Beginners Guide to Creating Your Own Hybrid Kit!
Check out photos from the Neil Peart Time Machine Drum Event held at Just Drums!
Want this in your living room? Ask us how!
Darren Schoepp is the Percussion Product Marketing Manager for Roland Canada. Follow Darren on Twitter – @canadavdrumsguy.