Ludwig Drums

Fred Eltringham

Ludwig Drums
Sheryl Crow/Courtyard Hounds

Ludwig Drums
Sheryl Crow/Courtyard Hounds

Ludwig Drums
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Biography


BIOGRAPHY

Coming soon!

Artist Spotlight


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

1. What is your typical schedule on the road (or in the studio) like?


My typical schedule on the road depends on who I am playing with, but most artists that i have toured with will do 2-3 week runs at a time for about a year. If we are promoting a new record we will start with about a month of promotion first; tv and radio shows. A typical day on tour will be rolling into town on the bus at sometime way too early in the morning, get in the hotel (if they are provided,) try to get some good rest, food, and maybe exercise until it's time for soundcheck. Between soundcheck and the show we eat dinner and get ready to play.  After the show, it's back on the bus to the next gig. Drive over night and do the same thing the next day. I did about 9 years of van touring also and that's a whole different situation. I'm glad I did the van touring when I was young. I don't think my body could handle that kind of touring anymore. It's a lot more exhausting. You get way less sleep. A typical day in the studio also depends on the project. In Nashville, they do 3 hour sessions for most projects. They will do 10am-1pm, 2pm -5pm and/or 6pm-9pm. Demo sessions, depending on who you are working with, you will usually try to get 5 or 6 songs in a 3 hour session. When you are doing a master session (songs that will go on a record) you will usually just try to get what you can, maybe one song per 3 hour session.  Then there are projects where you get paid a lump sum for the time that you are there, or a day rate. And those sessions can last long hours and you just take your time and get what you get. Those kinds of sessions are usually the most fun cause you can really dive into the songs and take your time to develop the songs and make a great record, hopefully. 


2. What are some of the things you love about your job?


The thing I love most about my job is the actual playing. There is nothing I love more than playing a great show or spending the day playing in the studio making music. It's the best job in the world, no doubt about it. I love going to different cities and different parts of the world.


3. What are some of the drawbacks?


The only drawback to it at this point in my life is the amount of time away from my family when I am touring. Other than that, it's the perfect job.


4. What made you want to play drums, and how did you get started?


I started playing drums when I was 7. I am the youngest of 5 kids and one day my mother asked us if we wanted to take any music lessons. We all started taking lessons at Beam's Music in Frazer, PA. Best decision of my life. Thanks Mom!!


5. Whom did you study with and how did that affect you?


My teacher at Beam's was named Bob Quigley. He built a foundation for me that is completely invaluable. I did only snare drum studies for a year before he started me on the drum set. I studied with him for about 8 years I think. We never stopped doing snare drum studies during that whole time either. I played in a rock'n'roll band with my brothers, and sometimes my sister, during all those years too which was also invaluable training. I went to Berklee College of Music after high school. My private instructors were Rick Considine and Ian Froman. They were incredible players and teachers and just all around good guys. Rick has a real Steve Gadd/Tony Williams kind of feel and style. Ian has a Jack DeJohnette/Elvin Jones kind of style and feel. I learned so much at Berklee and my 9 years in Boston. I got turned onto so much music that I had never heard. I really cut my teeth there. I started getting a lot of studio experience there too because the sound man for a band I was in at the time ran the Studio/Recording department at Berklee and he would give us free time to record at night. It was incredible. 


6. What was your most difficult -or challenging- gig, and how did you handle that?


Every gig has their challenges, whether it's certain songs or people's personalities or whatever. You just have to be open-minded and open to criticism and direction when something is giving you a problem, and be openly honest about it. That way things get dealt with sooner than later.  Communication will get you through every time. 


7. How did you get your current gig?


I got the Sheryl Crow gig through Peter Stroud. He's been playing guitar with Sheryl for years. We've been friends for a few years now. He and I and 2 of the other guys in Sheryl's band have a band of our own called Big Hat. When Sheryl asked Peter to start putting a band together he didn't have to look far. 


8. Are there certain shows that stick out in your mind above others?


Headlining places like Madison Square Garden or the Ryman Auditiorium or The Beacon Theater is pretty amazing. Playing big shows like that in towns where I lived or grew up in like Philadelphia, Boston, LA, New York and Nashville is always a huge thrill. And playing gigs in small clubs with my friends can give me just as much of a thrill. Most shows that stand out in my own mind usually stand out because of a mistake I make or something stupid like that.  I think I can remember every mistake I ever made on stage, even going back to childhood. But I think that helps you become a better player. Or it just drives you insane. Ha.


9. What was the strangest thing that has happened (or that you have seen,) during a tour?


Nothing surprised me anymore really. There are insane people everywhere. I've seen a lot of freaks and freaky things. And I love it. I think one of my favorite things the happened, and it's not that strange really, and probably happens every day, but it was just last year when I was in NYC with k.d. lang doing some tv show or something, I went on a walk from my hotel to get a new charger for my cell phone. I'm walking down the sidewalk and some older, kind of normally dressed guy across the street just starts yelling, "LOOK AT US WANDERING THE STREETS LIKE MORONS... IMBECILES!!" And then he paused and screamed "....WE'RE ALL ASSHOLES!!!!"  That one really stuck with me because this guy is obviously mentally ill, but he's also 100% right. It was a nice moment.


10. What do you do to maintain your versatility as a drummer?


Well, the range of stuff that I do is not all that vast, stylistically. But there have been moments where just having heard a certain artist, or knowing a certain song or record has helped me through situations where people say, "i want it to feel like THIS," or "i want to use the sort of groove from THIS song." So I listen to all different kinds of music and try to soak it all in. And I stay on top of what new bands and records are out. I think it's important to always know what is going on. Otherwise you lose touch. 


11. What’s your current set-up, and what are you digging about it?


My current set up with Sheryl is my Ludwig Standard Kit in Avocado Strata. 13" tom, 16" floor tom, 22" bass drum. And I've been using Supraphonic snares with her. To me, they have a nice, warm, phat sound that suits her music. I use a bunch of different snares in the studio. I typically use those size drums in the studio. I also like the sound of 12" tom, 14" floor tom and 20" bass drum together, with more of an open tuning. But it all depends on the song. 


12. How important to you are the drums you play and how do you feel it affects your playing?


It's super important. I mean, at this point, after playing drums since I was 7, and I'm 41 now. I can pretty much tune any drum to sound good. Or at least sound interesting, even if the head is totally destroyed or something. But for my personal taste, having a nice Ludwig kit is always the most comfortable, fun and inspiring to play. They just sound right to me. 


13. What drew you to Ludwig?


Well of course there was Ringo and John Bonham. That was where I first saw Ludwigs as a kid. But my story is, I was living in Boston, it was the early 90s and I had a couple friends who had some Ludwigs that I thought sounded incredible. And their recordings with these kits always sounded killer. But I was broke and couldn't afford a new kit. I still had the TAMA Imperialstar kit I had bought as a teenager. But I loved the sound of the Ludwig drums and one night I saw that Standard Avocado Strata kit sitting in the window, and I went and bought it the next day even though I couldn't afford it. And that was like 15 or 16 years ago now. This is not a good lesson for kids to hear. Don't buy things you can't afford! :) 


14. Can you describe how you tweak your drums to get your personal sound?


It's hard to describe I think. Tuning wise, I tend to tune the bottom heads higher than the tops. Live, I try to tune the toms up a little higher just so they cut through a little more. Larger, lower tuned drums sound too mushy to me sometimes. Especially in big rooms. You can't hear any tone out of them. In the studio it varies. Sometimes you go for a real open sound, sometimes it all muted and tight. It all depends on what the song calls for, or doesn't call for. 


15. Are there any upcoming projects that you are particularly excited about?


I'm totally loving this Sheryl Crow band right now. We'll be touring all next year on her new record. I've been playing on some cool records in Nashville. I'm doing a record with a band called Wild Feathers right now, with Jay Joyce producing. I did a record with a great singer/songwriter named Allen Thompson which should be out soon. The Bruce Robison, Kelly Willis record I did should be out soon. They are incredible, and it's the first record they have done together. The new Court Yard Hounds record is being finished. That will be out next year probably, hopefully. Jim Scott produced that and we got some INCREDIBLE drum sounds. I made a record with a new country artist named Kacey Musgraves and that should be out in the fall or early next year. So, there are a bunch of great things happening. It's a good time. 


16. Who are you major drumming influences?


John Bonham, Ringo, Keith Moon, Charlie Watts, Mitch Mitchell, Phil Rudd, Alex Van Halen, Pete Thomas, Neil Peart, Levon Helm, Steve Gadd, Jim Keltner,Tony Williams, Max Roach, and on and on...there are so many. 


17. What are your four favorite albums (drumming or otherwise)?


My typical schedule on the road depends on who I am playing with, but most artists that i have toured with will do 2-3 week runs at a time for about a year. If we are promoting a new record we will start with about a month of promotion first; tv and radio shows. A typical day on tour will be rolling into town on the bus at sometime way too early in the morning, get in the hotel (if they are provided,) try to get some good rest, food, and maybe exercise until it's time for soundcheck. Between soundcheck and the show we eat dinner and get ready to play.  After the show, it's back on the bus to the next gig. Drive over night and do the same thing the next day. I did about 9 years of van touring also and that's a whole different situation. I'm glad I did the van touring when I was young. I don't think my body could handle that kind of touring anymore. It's a lot more exhausting. You get way less sleep. A typical day in the studio also depends on the project. In Nashville, they do 3 hour sessions for most projects. They will do 10am-1pm, 2pm -5pm and/or 6pm-9pm. Demo sessions, depending on who you are working with, you will usually try to get 5 or 6 songs in a 3 hour session. When you are doing a master session (songs that will go on a record) you will usually just try to get what you can, maybe one song per 3 hour session.  Then there are projects where you get paid a lump sum for the time that you are there, or a day rate. And those sessions can last long hours and you just take your time and get what you get. Those kinds of sessions are usually the most fun cause you can really dive into the songs and take your time to develop the songs and make a great record, hopefully. 







Ludwig Drums and Percussion