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Pearl News

03 Jun

A Tale of Pearl Artists during the Nashville Floods

The stories below feature the firsthand account of 2 Pearl artists in the aftermath of the devastating floods that rocked Nashville, Tennessee less than a month ago….

By Michael Cartellone, drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Rewind to a year ago... after waiting about six months, I received word from my good friend at Pearl, Mike Farriss, that my custom ordered White Reference Series kit (with white powder coated hardware) was on its way to Nashville from Japan. I could not have been more excited. So, it was an incredibly fun day, when Mike, Garryn Rollins (also of Pearl), my drum tech Kyle Davis and I opened up all the boxes and spent the day building the new configuration (in the warehouse at Pearl in Nashville). That kit really turned some heads on that 2009 Summer Tour- and sounded like a million bucks too!

Like many bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd stored gear at the Soundcheck facility in Nashville. As you've all seen, Soundcheck was directly affected by the flood- and consequently, that beautiful white kit sat in four feet of toxic, contaminated water for a week- before anyone could get to it. When our crew (and specifically Kyle Davis) entered Soundcheck, they discovered quite the disaster zone. I was home in New York City- and was receiving status phone calls throughout that day- as various flight cases were being opened and sewage would spill out. My drums were being described as "Aquariums." Picture if you will, a floor tom, with top and bottom heads in place- and the drum is filled inside with horribly smelling water. Not good.

Needless to say, I was very disheartened- as I loved this kit- and it was less than a year old. Very much unlike me, I was intending to play that kit on the 2010 tour without changing anything. My normal routine is to abruptly change things each year (not necessarily new drums- but extreme configuration changes- just to keep myself from getting complacent). So, I thought "well that's the end of that kit."

Enter Mike Farriss. Mike gave me specific instructions to pass along to Kyle: remove all the hardware from the shells- saturate the hardware with W-D40 and put into ziplock bags- then clean the shells with soapy water, etc. Kyle did all the above- while enduring what I can only imagine were horrible conditions. Kyle then brought the shells/hardware into Pearl- where after another "hazmat" bath; they spent the next two weeks air drying. During this time, I tried not to call Mike every five minutes- so I would wait for ten minutes to pass instead. Mike kept saying he thought the kit might survive- which astounded me. After what I understand to be a process of steel wool sanding- and tongue oil applications to the inside of the shells- and continuous measurements to see if the shells stayed round- I received word from Mike that the kit was good to go. Unbelievable, I thought. That is until Mike sent a photo of the drums, looking shiny and brand new!

I then spent a few days in Nashville (with the band and crew- as we were all working with new/replacement gear) rebuilding the kit. In case you're wondering: the chrome hardware (cymbal stands, pedals, etc.) and my Zildjian cymbals all had a coating/combination of rust and that white powdery crap you see on an old car battery. So that was all destroyed and replaced with new gear. Now comes the best part: the drums themselves, having survived the flood, offered an unexpected surprise. Kyle and I set them up- I took a stick and hit one of floor toms- and it sounded better than it did before the flood! What? How is that possible? Well, the only thing I can figure is, the water soaking the shells- then drying out- somehow seasoned the kit- if that makes any sense? I can assure you- having played that kit for over 100 dates in 2009- my ears can hear the difference. Crazy, right?

In closing, I have to Thank Mike and Kyle for all the amazing, hard work they did, bringing my kit back to life. I went from thinking I had lost a great new drum kit- to ending up with an even better/seemingly aged/warmer sounding one. Instant Vintage!

Michael Cartellone, Lynyrd Skynyrd

Story by Chris Knight, drummer for LeAnn Rimes

I went down to Soundcheck this past Friday (May 7th). I was in the first group of people being allowed back into the storage/rehearsal facility. When I pulled into the parking lot I didn't know what to expect. There was a lot of security and the parking lot looked like a desert from all the dirt deposited from the Cumberland River. When I walked through the front door there were signs saying "Beware of snakes". Not very comforting. I got inside the warehouse and saw all the mess. There were cases, amps, guitars, and drums just slung everywhere in the muddy and water soaked floors. More than that, there were many sad faces. Again, not very comforting. I went on to my locker where my gear was stored and had it unlocked by an employee there. When the door opened it looked like an earthquake had taken place. Nicely stacked gear was now scattered everywhere. I immediately noticed the water mark that was left on the wooden wall; it was about 4 ft high, which means all of my gear was completely submerged. SoundCheck flooded to the level it was at on Sunday, May 2nd. So at this point, my drums and cases were full of contaminated water for about 3 or 4 days. The power was out there as well, which meant there was no air conditioning. It was very warm, sticky, and had a very nasty smell. There was no telling what was in that water.

Without waiting I began to pull out every case I had. The first case I went to held my 16" and 18" floor toms. I went to pick up one of the drums and it slipped out of my hands. It seemed to weigh 80 pounds. Well, that was because it was full of the contaminated water. I quickly turned it on its side and let it drain out of the vent hole. I then move onto my kick drum, and other cases. The drums just looked terrible, but, amazingly enough, they were still intact. I had seen some drums that weren't. It was hard to go through all of that stuff. My cases were toast. My hardware was definitely toast as every joint had already began to rust. I then proceeded to take the gear I couldn't keep to the dumpster they had outside of the warehouse. That moment was one of the tougher ones that day. I was side by side with guys who had 30 year old acoustic guitars completely mangled and throwing them in this massive dump. Luckily, I was throwing away things that could be replaced. But nevertheless, it was very difficult to watch part of the fiber of "Music City" being thrown away in a regular old dumpster. It was a sad day... a sad day indeed.

I immediately took the drums over to Pearl here in town. Again, I didn't know what to expect. I dropped them off and hoped for the best but was definitely prepared for the worst. The timing of the flood couldn't have been worse (not that there's a good time for a flood, of course). I had just gotten the call to be LeAnn Rimes new drummer, and the flood came. It looked like I had lost my touring kit along with hardware, custom cases I had built, and stacks of extra heads. But more than anything, I wanted the kit to be saved.

A couple of weeks went by and I got an email from Mike Farriss saying, "Your kit is ready to be picked up..... It looks great and no sound problems..... call me." Needless to say, I didn't know what to think. The last time I saw those drums they were covered and filled with muddy and toxic water. So, the next day I went over to Pearl to pick them up. When I got to the back, they opened the dock door and my eyes lit up! It looked like a brand new kit! Mike handed me each drum with a smile on his face. He knew that he and Pearl had done something very special. I inspected each drum and just couldn't believe how good they looked. No damage whatsoever! I felt like I had a brand new kit all over again!

Over the next week I began to re-head the drums and tune them up. Each drum tuned up like they did when I got them out of the box for the first time. The kit sounded as good as it did on day one. Truly unreal. The guys at Pearl definitely did something special. They did save the kit. However, Pearl did something even more special than that; they designed and built the BEST drum shells in the world... That's how they were able to save them. The shells are second to none. Bottom line.

And, as a pretty decent "ending" to the story, the drums first appearance since the flood will be on national television for the CMT Awards. I will be playing them with LeAnn while she debuts her new single, "Swingin" (barring any production changes). I am deeply grateful for Mike Farriss and everyone at Pearl who has helped me and others during this time of getting Music City back on its feet.