Zappa Drum Legend Terry Bozzio on Touring the World’s Largest Tuned Kit
The Missing Persons/Fantômas/Korn pounder hitting 40 American dates playing giant, melodic kit
You can see the footage of you 40 years ago with Zappa, and the kits are big, but they’re not enormous. When did you fall in love with the idea of building this giant sculpture?
When I started to develop that electronic kit that I got the patents for in the Eighties and played on the second Missing Persons tour, I had 36 or 32 sounds in this one little three-foot bar in front of me. I got used to having all those things. And when I went back to playing acoustic, I started to add bells and some hi-hats and different things, but I was missing from the electronic kit.
Then someone called me and said, “Do you want to do clinics?” Ashamedly, I said yeah, OK ’cause I need the money and I kind of failed as a singer/pop artist and trying to be like Phil Collins. And during the time, I was depressed and started practicing. It was like a meditation, like a therapy for me. I kept thinking, “Why am I practicing? I’m already a good enough drummer that I’m almost alienating others in the music business by it. If I start practicing and getting better, nobody’s going to hire me.” So I began this thing of doing the clinics and working with the different companies, you find that, “Oh, Remo’s rototom castings, if you take them apart, you can use them as this really weird-sounding hi-hat” and I still use those. I had DW build me a take-off on the double pedal and I had them reverse the machinery so that the pedals was near me and the beater would be hitting a remote bass drum. And that stretched into using some big China hi-hats to kind of get a grancassa e piatti marching sound, you know? So I had remote hi-hats. Then when I went to the rack, you get rid of all these tripods and you put the drums on a rack and you go, “Man, I’ve got room for this and this and this under here.” And so before you know it, you just start adding whatever you can when you hear a sound in your head that you think would be a cool addition to some music that you’re trying to play. So it was really an evolution…