Arguably most famed for his work with The Style Council and subsequently as Paul Weller’s long-time drummer, Steve White has since collaborated with many different artists. One of his biggest commitments is to education, a significant part of which is playing clinics across the UK on behalf of drum manufacturer Mapex. He recently completed a 10-date tour, playing at specialist retailers from Colchester to Cardiff and Coleraine, with a K-Array KR200 system providing sound reinforcement.
Using a PA system for an acoustic drum clinic may sound unnecessary, but it’s not just about the drums themselves. Attendees need to hear Steve as he shares the secrets of his trade, while he also uses a Roland SPD-S for triggering samples.
“At the clinics I use samples from records that I’ve played on and more quirky elements like old school hip hop loops and beats, which say a lot about the music I grew up with and what my influences are,” he says.
“In the past I’d spend hours editing, putting the loops in and practicing, because if you hit the wrong one it all goes pear-shaped – it’s seat of the pants stuff. But then, in terms of delivering the sound to the audience, the attitude was like ‘Oh, we’ll just put some gates on the drums’. It felt like I was wasting my time, no-one seemed to understand what I was trying to achieve.”
Steve’s answer was to take control of all aspects of his performance at the clinics, including the PA.
“I wanted to deliver the sound that I thought the audience deserved, so I looked around for a PA system that I could mix onstage, but also have the portability to load in myself. That’s when I came across K-Array,” he continues.
“A demo was arranged via UK distributor Sennheiser, with the system set up next to a conventional PA system. When they switched the K-Array system on, I had to go and prove to myself that the conventional PA – which was a big rig – wasn’t on, because I couldn’t believe the sound that was coming from such a compact system!”
Acoustic drum kits are, of course, bulky things. So the sheer compactness of the KR200 is a big plus point for Steve
“I’ve got the entire rig – all my drums, mixing desk and the K-Array system in a standard estate van, it’s not even a Transit,” he says. “The bass bins are barely heavier than an average guitar amp; the towers fold down into what looks like a couple of big shotgun cases… It’s so portable, yet the quality of sound it delivers is amazing. It gives you the sound of an absolutely pro-end gig, but with the advantage of only having to carry four extra pieces of kit.
“It’s also extremely rugged, so I have the peace-of-mind that I can turn up, plug in and it’ll work perfectly every time. For what I’m doing – trying to keep it uncomplicated, but deliver a show that’s going to knock people’s socks off – the KR200 is incredible.”
As well as clinics, Steve spends a lot of time working with up-and-coming artists and he will be more than happy to recommend using the KR200 on those dates and well recognises its suitability for many tours on a tight budget.
“People are having to tour on ever-smaller budgets and I would recommend that anyone seriously looks at the economic advantages of using one,” he says. “It can cope with any kind of music – it’s got the bass end for metal, the top end for acoustic sets, it has a really responsive sound. It would make sense economically for bands to be completely self-sufficient and take the system with them.
“From that point of view, it really is a state-of-the-art piece of kit for the modern musician and I’d like to say a big thank you to Dave Wooster and Phil Cummings from Sennheiser UK for hooking me up with it.”