I met Coby Addison a couple months ago through a mutual friend. Our shared buddy was wearing a shirt with a killer Abide Drum Co. logo on it, and I commented on the shirt’s awesomeoness and my own desire to procure one. He pointed me towards Coby, who happened to live just minutes away and – as luck would have it – shared with me a passion for both drums and road cycling. We have spent many an hour on the road together in recent weeks, and the custom drum company he founded last year with long time friend Andrew Sergent has been one of the many things we have discussed.
Addison and Sergent are the driving forces behind Abide Drum Co., based in Bristol, Tennessee. The two have delved into the world of building custom snare drums and have the soon to be realized goal of crafting complete drum kits.
Theirs is a unique endeavor here in the hills of Southwest Virginia, where mountain music and bluegrass is king. Luthiers abound, but Addison and Sergent, through Abide Drum Co., stand to carve out a particular niche within the regional community of instrumental artisans. There is a distinct lack of local drum makers, particularly any that are crafting drums of the quality made by this partnership of drum enthusiasts, so theirs is the shop to visit if you are looking for a high quality, handmade drum in Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia.
I recently caught up with both Coby and Andrew to chat about drums and their new company.
BRO – You guys are both from Southwest Virginia. Why custom drums instead of, say, custom banjos?
CA – It’s funny that you mention banjos, because my uncle actually builds them. And there’s no doubt that a plethora of really talented banjo players are in the area. If we were avid banjo pickers, we would definitely be making banjos. But our passion for music is in the beat. The drums. Andrew and I grew up playing music in church, and that progressed to playing in bands together and hours and hours of jam sessions. When Andrew moved to Kingsport to pursue his dreams with music, I had a hard time finding a drummer to take his place in our band. None of the drummers we tried out really meshed, so I bought a cheap kit and learned to play myself. It’s been my passion ever since, just as it had been Andrew’s for years before that. Drums provide the heartbeat of the song, and we love playing so much that we decided to create an instrument that someone else would love playing as much as we do.
BRO – What can you tell me about the drum in the picture featured with this blog post?
AS – The drum you see there is a fourteen by seven inch red grandis snare with an ambrosia maple badge. We wanted to do something rare that hasn’t been done before. There are very few red grandis snares made. The timbre of this snare is completely unique and very hard to come by.
BRO – How do you go about seeking out and picking the woods for your drums?
CA – When we first sat down to really start hashing out the ideas that would become our drums, the one thing we talked about was experimenting with some woods that you typically don’t see in a share. We wanted materials that you can’t just find anywhere. We’re really drawn to some of the more exotic woods. The look and color, coupled with the anomalies in the grain, are things that really catch the eye, and the beauty of the wood just speaks for itself. It’s a beauty that has been growing for years and years. And we also have to look at the density of the wood. A denser wood is going to make a better snare, as the shell is going to vibrate more evenly and give a tighter sound. Block stave shells allow us to make our snares out of a denser wood, and that sound it creates, along with the look and feel of our snares, is something we are really proud of.
BRO – The badges on your drums are pretty kick ass. How did that idea evolve and how are they made?
AS – We knew that branding out drums would be a vital part of building our company. We wanted to have a killer name and an even better badge. Our name comes from the Scottish clan Gordon, to which both Coby and I have family ties. On the clan badge, there is the word bydand, which means “to abide” or “abiding.” That really resonated with us and became the perfect name for what we are and stand for. Also on the clan badge is a beautiful stag, which we included in our logo and the badges you see on all of our drums. The badges are cut out of wood that we hand pick to coordinate with each snare and then applied in such a way – without drilling holes – so as to not impact the tone of the drum.
BRO – Both of you are drummers. If you could get one of your snares into the hands of your favorite drummer, who would it be?
CA – It’s really hard to pin down just one drummer. I’d like for all of the players who have influenced me to have an Abide drum! But one drummer I have really been digging lately is Dani Washington. He plays for a band out of the United Kingdom called Neck Deep. He’s really fluid and just a solid drummer.
AS – That’s a tough question, because many drummers have inspired me over the years and brought me to where I am today as a professional drummer. I would like to get one to Orri Pall Dyrason, the drummer for Sigur Ros. He was the one drummer that taught me the full range of dynamics within every drum and cymbal in a kit. His passion and the dynamic between every beat in every song is unbelievable.
CA – One thing we wanted to focus on when we started this company was to work with anyone interested in getting an Abide drum. If our drum is what they really want, I would love to work with them and make sure they have one.
If you happen to be around the Bristol area, give Coby and Andrew a shout. You might happen to catch them at their shop on the Tennessee side of State Street. My guess is that they’d be happy to chat drums and let you take a peek at the snares they have completed so far. Check out their work and get information on their shop at the Abide Drum Co. website.
Also, be sure to take a listen to “Nothing Beyond This Northern Town,” by Luke Whittemore, which is featured on this month’s Trail Mix. Whittemore is an artist featured on Gold Ship Records, another project of Sergent’s that is based in Bristol.
And, finally, a big shout out to the good folks at L.C. King Manufacturing for opening their doors to us to snap some photos for this blog post.