I met the gentlemen collectively known as The Burning Mules at the atmospheric Broad Ripple Brewpub. The foursome is Jimmie Boros, Rob Meyer, Patrick McDaniel and Paul Weller. We kept the beers flowing
, including the Das Luger, Mosaic, 80 Shilling, Red Bird Mild. I was a big fan of the Lucky Lad.
The band is busy getting ready for the Indy Metro FOOLs Brotherhood Bash on April 22, but took time to sit down with me and discuss the gear they use to crank out rockabilly cow-punk rock.
NUVO: Let’s start with the bass. Paul, what are you playing?
Weller: I play upright bass. It’s actually a student model for my son to use in orchestra. It’s a half-size. The normal upright is ¾. I’m on my fourth set of strings. Strings are a big deal – huge deal. There’s a lot of experimentation. I’m using Blast Cult Low Lifes. I’ve tried weed whacker line, orchestral and jazz strings. This is right on. I’m a converted guitar player. [Patrick] said, “Hey try it on the upright.”
McDaniel: That really broke open the dam.
Weller: I describe it as our, “Hey Hammer, why don’t you put on the big pants,” moment.
Meyer: It’s a really big part of our sound.
NUVO: Do you mic your bass or is there a pickup?
Weller: It’s a Hurley piezo pickup, which really works. I use an Ibanez Promethean. It’s a 1x10” and it takes an extension cab. I use an Ampeg Portoflex 1x15”. That’s pointed away from me. The preamp is a lifesaver, too. There’s a tiny switch that says phase and if you hit that the feedback goes away. [The uke bass] is an Eddy Finn and it is the main backup. I also converted a Strat [electric guitar] into a bass, as a secondary backup.It’s a blank Strat neck that I shaped. I took the Strat bridge off and put a bass bridge at the very end of the body.
NUVO: I’m really interested in your cocktail kit, Patrick.
McDaniel: There’s kind of a fun history behind all that. In college I played in a band, using a kind of mish-mash of parts. I never had a throne to sit on, so I would find lawn chairs and folding chairs. Finally, I decided to stand up and play. I realized that I love standing up to play. Part of it’s ego, I mean, I want to be seen. But, I love to dance to the music.
Meyer: You can’t jump around if you’re sitting down.
McDaniel: I tried.
Boros: No one will see your face.
McDaniel: Our first show was just a snare drum, then a snare and a hi-hat. Okay, I want to keep this going, so I did some investigating and got my cocktail kit, and I love it. The snare really pops.
Boros: It’s a tiny snare.
NUVO: Is it a ten-inch snare?
McDaniel: Eight-inch snare. I switched out to Remo coated heads.
NUVO: Single ply or double ply?
McDaniel: Single. It’s hard to tune. You have such a long bass drum/tom and those heads have to be tuned differently. I’m not always successful. I used standard rock Zildjian Z cymbals. The downside of playing standing up is that I can’t open and close my hi-hat. I keep it just loose enough that if I strike it on the side it’s got the right sound. I use a 16” crash that I play as a ride too.
NUVO: Are the cymbals stacked on one mechanism?
McDaniel: It is, the problem with that is since I switched to the drum set cymbals, it’s too much pressure, and was starting to warp. I’ve switched to stands. It’s not quite as compact anymore.
NUVO: That’s still a small setup.
Boros: His setup is quicker than anybody. That’s flip-flopped from every other drummer.
McDaniel: The amount of drummers that look at my setup and salivate…