Returning to Sydney for its second installment this month is the Vintage & Custom Drum Expo. Noticing a hole in the market, drum-enthusiast Andrew Habgood created the expo as an opportunity for local and custom drum builders to showcase their creations on the big stage. This year, the expo is set to explode with a massive line-up of local and international drum manufacturers exhibiting their custom gems. We have already seen what local manufacturers Red Rock Drums and Gas Custom Drums have to offer, and joining them at the expo includes Moody Drums, Sleishman, Evetts Drums, Roulette Custom and JPP (plus heaps more). It doesn’t just end there though; a plethora of international heavyweights will also be on show, with brands like Craviotto, DW, Promark, Gretsch, Sakae, Ludwig and Murtat Diril. Mixdown chats with the man behind the expo to gain insight on the proceedings of the expo and learn a little more about the custom drum market in Australia.
When did you first develop your love affair with drums?
Well, my father is a drummer; he always gigged and had kits around the place from when I was young. I used to go along to his rehearsals and sit side-stage at his gigs. By the time I was 15 or so I started heading out to the rehearsal room and started to play on his 1970’s Rogers kit until I saved enough money to buy my first kit, a Tama Granstar. These days when I get the time I love building and restoring drums but so far just as a hobby, and occasionally I get to play too.
What are you trying to achieve with the custom show? What’s the mission or ethos of the brand?
I saw a gap between the information that I enjoyed online and in magazines and the full experience of seeing and hearing the amazing instruments first-hand. Although a number of these amazing drums are making their way into stores, a majority of custom drums are shipped direct to the buyer. I felt that an expo would be a great opportunity for both builders and distributors to showcase their products directly to the drumming community and also have a unique opportunity for meet their potential market first-hand. Now that event is established, my mission is to keep building contacts in the drum building community and to bring more amazing builders to the fore.
How is it different from what’s out there?
I believe the Vintage & Custom Drum Expo is unique in its approach to other events I have attended. My initial vision for the show was influenced more by Hot Rod shows than standard trade style events. The purpose of the expo is to showcase these stunning new instruments and the people who create them right alongside the wonderful vintage drums that have influenced and shaped some recent drum building trends.
Tell us about the format?
This event has four main sectors; we have two auditoriums (Factory Theatre/ Fusebox), which feature dozens of local and international drum brands, showcasing bespoke drums that are not readily seen or heard in stores. Throughout the day each exhibitor has a designated short demo session where they have the opportunity to showcase the features of their product, most of these sessions will feature a guest performer to demonstrate the sound and playability.
Also we have a display of special vintage drums that have been curated for the event. Downstairs we have a dedicated performance stage (Factory Floor), which will feature live performances presented in a clinic format, then we have an outdoor courtyard which has a series of market stalls open bar and food truck.
What do you think Australian Drum manufacturers have to offer the international market?
In Australia we are blessed to have some unique native timbers in both appearance and sound. In the past, we have had a first wave Australian drum-building pioneers that brought Australian-made drums to the world stage. Now, there are a growing number of bespoke builders using predominantly Australian hardwoods that are making a name for themselves. In this next wave, there is a passion to show the world what local builders can do and what’s very exciting is that Australian drummers are embracing local product and taking it out on the road.
When are you taking the show national?
I would love to see the expo expand to new markets, but in order to succeed the show needs to stay true to its roots. With this years event I wanted to host a return show in Sydney to ne-tune the format. Hopefully once we have hosted the coming event I would be open to taking the show intestate.
What’s unique about drummers as individuals?
We are all on a journey to find our own voice. Drummers have a unique opportunity in that each player has an almost limitless amount of options to create their own voice; some have just the basic kit requirements, some have hundreds of instruments in their collections.
The Vintage & Custom Drum Expo will be held on August 14 at Sydney's Factory Theatre. For more details and tickets, head to vintageandcustomdrumexpo.com.