How I use e-drums: Xavier Rudd

Australian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd recently toured Europe and Australia, performing songs from his latest album Jan Juc Moon.

The album came out of the COVID silence, but he had planned to take a year off anyway.

“I had a chance to reset and change a few things around, to reassess where I was at, musically and practically. I’ve been able to experiment with some new ideas and new sounds,” he says.

While Rudd appears solo on stage in the show and could simply bang out songs on acoustic guitar, he wanted to deliver a full performance – and that means guitar, keyboard, harmonica, digeridoo and, of course, percussion, according to stage tech Aaron Griffin.

“We’ve been using a Roland SPD and triggers for many years, but the current rig takes full advantage of electronics,” Griffin adds.

Putting together the latest show involved extensive work on sounds. What started out as an idea to trigger some album sounds and ambient loops evolved into an extensive collection of sounds unique for every song.

The current touring set-up consists of a Roland TD-50 module, an SPD-SX sampling pad, several Roland drum and cymbal pads and a bunch of external triggers, including BT-1 trigger bars.

“The sounds are a combination of built-in sounds and Rudd’s samples. We’ve maxed out all the inputs on both the TD-50 and the SPD-SX!

“It’s not just his hands that are busy in this show. Much of the show is controlled on the stage floor from Rudd’s feet. Pedals and controllers of all sorts, including kick triggers, expression pedals, effects and switches, each play their part in keeping the show rolling and evolving night after night. Even the stomp box he uses for some solo guitar numbers is triggered as well as micced, so we have total control of the sound.”

Griffin says Rudd loves acoustic drums and cymbals and incorporate those in the kit in an arrangement which “strikes an ideal balance between the two worlds”.

“He tries to give audiences the full experience of the latest album, so we’ve got lots of the studio sounds loaded into the Roland gear – including bird and whale songs. He also wanted to ensure that the show has that ‘live’ feel, so rather than full backing tracks, we have opted for sections of audio, individual sounds and short loops which Xavier can trigger directly from the kit. This approach really gives him free reign over the flow of the show from night to night.”
Rudd takes the same approach with the Fantom-08 keyboard, where foot switches on the floor together with the front panel pads on the keyboard allow him to trigger sounds to control the flow and mood of the show for a unique and truly live experience for the audience every night.

Griffin concedes that the rig looks complicated, but it’s evolved to what it is now.

“I think that we are pushing the boundaries of music and technology for what I hope is an unforgettable and moving experience at every performance,” he says.