With one look at his résumé — he’s played with everyone from the US Air Force Band to Broadway musicals, hit TV series, and artists as varied as Dolly Parton and Dr. Dre — you can tell that Ron Krasinski (aka, “The Pocket Protector”) has spent a lot of time playing drums in his decades-long career. Equally at home on stage or in the studio, Krasinski is the classic “utility drummer,” meaning that he can lay down a solid beat and keep the energy going regardless of the musical genre or length of the gig. And through all those years of playing jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop, big band, and more, Krasinski has developed an easygoing, can-do attitude, gained a ton of experience, and acquired a treasure trove of pro tricks that still make him the go-to guy for shows and sessions in all styles.
Krasinski’s studio philosophy can best be described as ego-less and artist-friendly. “When you’re in the studio, you play the song,” he says. “You listen to the song, you see what it needs. I want to talk to the artist. I listen to the lyrics. I want to listen to his demo. I want to hear what he’s hearing. That’s going to tell me what to do — not necessarily what to play, but the attitude and the vibe of the song, and then I’ll translate that attitude into what I do. I want to hear what he programmed. It’s probably going to be a drum machine, so right off the bat, it may be the right part, but it’s not the right feel. So what I do is to put the stink in it! [laughs]. Make it sound real. Make it sound live. That’s why we’re there. The artist doesn’t want us to duplicate what he did. He wants us to bring something to the table.”
Krasinski spent the bulk of his career in L.A., but since 1995 has been based in Nashville. We caught up with Krasinski setting up his go-to Pearl birch studio kit for an indie artist EP project at Azalea Studios, just outside Nashville. Krasinski is an enthusiastic endorser of Pearl drums, from both a company and a product standpoint. “They’ve been very good to me, and I love their products. Their top-line drums are great, and I think they’ve got by far the best hardware out there, and it’s easiest to set up. I’ve used everything from their deep, deep, deep snare drums, all the way up to the piccolos. And I love Pearl’s pedals, including their double ones.”
(Left) MXL 603 condenser on hi-hat.
Krasinski is equally enthusiastic about Bosphorus cymbals. “They’re handmade in Turkey, and they’re the s__t! [laughs] I prefer to use thicker cymbals in the studio, because they have more decay. If you use thinner cymbals in the studio, it’s just ‘boom’ [the initial attack] and they’re gone.”
As reflected in his kit for the session, Krasinski prefers fully matched kits to pieced-together ones. “I like to keep my kits separate, because each kit is made from the same group of wood. It really makes a big difference. When I got an endorsement with Pearl, the first thing I noticed is how well their drums matched up from tom, to tom, to tom, to kick. What you see in stores a lot of times are mix-and-match, so they’re not as consistent as a kit made from the same batch of wood.”
Krasinski employs a variety of drumheads, depending on the application, but particularly prefers the coated Remo Powerstrokes for kick drum, “because you get more crack!; there’s not as much ring to the drum. Especially for recording, you want punch, not ‘boooom.’ Overly-ringy kick drums don’t even feel good when you hit them. When I hit my kick drum, it’s got that little pillow in there, and it’s like, ‘thump!’ You have to play it harder; you can’t finesse it. You’ve got to use your leg instead of your ankle. It’s called a kick drum for a reason — you gotta kick that son-of-a-gun!”
Rounding out his basic tools, Krasinski endorses Regal Tip sticks, which he affectionately refers to as “The Calato Sisters.”