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Rian Dawson of All Time Low

  • Age: 21
  • Hometown: Baltimore, MD
  • Drums: SJC Custom Drums
  • Cymbals: Zildjian
  • Hardware: DW
  • Sticks: Pro-Mark
  • Drumheads: Remo

All Time Low has emerged as one of the most popular new bands in recent memory, beloved by an increasingly fervent fan following for their fast-paced and fizzy brand of pop-punk. Now, with the hugely anticipated sophomore release, Nothing Personal, the Maryland-based band pushed the envelope by collaborating with a veritable who’s-who of producers -- Matt Squire, Butch Walker, Tricky and the Dream, David Bendeth, and Sam and Sluggo -- each with their own unique sonic stamp. The tactic clearly worked since the album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, selling a career high 62,992 records in its first week.

What was it like working with five different producers?
It turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. Instead of being cooped up in the same studio for months, which I am sure some people like, I got to skip around the country and work in different areas. This also helped because I would drum for a week or so, then have a week off and start again.

How prepared were you before going into the studio?
Luckily for me, I was out on tour pretty much up until the week I started recording. This definitely aided in the recording process because I was already loose and warmed up, so to speak.

Did you record to a click track?
Absolutely, I do 100 percent of my drumming to a click track. I have been playing to a click for about four years now, and for the type of music I focus on, I wouldn’t drum without one.

Do you play to a click or samples on stage?
I play to both click and samples on tour. The samples are generally auxiliary percussion or bass drops that we cannot replicate live.

How do you like to hear yourself on stage? Do you wear earplugs, in-ears, or monitors with no earplugs?
For the past couple of years I have played live with in-ears. More recently, we added crowd mikes to our monitor options, which has helped reproduce the feeling of playing with no in-ear monitoring system.

Do you warm up before going on stage?
I have a pretty consistent warm-up routine that I run through before every show. In high school, I was in the marching band and I still use many of the same warm ups that I learned then. I also find it helpful to get blood flowing throughout the whole body, so I often do jumping jacks, pushups, and toe-ups.

Do you mute your drums or tune them wide open?
I use a very minimal amount of "drum-gum," on my toms and my snare. In my kick, I use a dampening pad. Because a lot of our songs are faster tempos – 180 bpm and faster -- it helps to have as little ring/overtone as possible without sacrificing sound.

Do you use the same setup on stage and in the studio?
I generally lose a crash and my China when I head into the studio. I place my cymbal setup high, which has helped producers in the studio because it helps with bleed into the rack tom mike.

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