Conrad Tracey is the owner of Revolver Drums. He's been a studio and recording drummer for over 15 years and played with plenty of Australian artists and also international artists. He's toured extensively through Europe, Australia and Asia. He's also played with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Big Bands, Theatre Shows and Studio Sessions for singers. With Revolver Drums he's trying to impart the knowledge he's attained through his experience on to drummers in the local community. We spoke with Conrad about his vision for Revolver Drums, his vision for Australian music and the importance of supporting local drummers.
What motivated you to get into the drum retail world?
For me, my motivation when I started and my reality is very different. I was always really passionate about drums. I would spend hours pulling them apart, tuning them, you know, figuring out how they worked. I would spend my whole weekend in a drum shop trying different sticks or different heads. I was also playing a lot. I’ve always had an interest in business and I wanted to apply some of those principles to something I loved. The opportunity came up to purchase the store. So I did that, and I threw my heart and soul into it.
From your perspective, what have you tried to create with Revolver Drums, and what do you see as the strengths of the store?
I think that the strength of Revolver Drums is that someone can walk in, and they’ll either see me, or a guy like Phil Schinbein – who does all our service and repairs – who are three guys who are passionate and experts on drums. I’ve tried to instil an attitude and a level of expertise in my staff that offers people insight rather than information. You can get onto the internet, or get into a review or talk to someone that can repeat information, but that’s just words. We try and really offer people insight into what we sell. So we’ve taken it out, we’ve road tested it, we know it back to front, we know how it works in different rooms with different heads and different tunings. That wealth of knowledge and that experience is how we engage and interact with our customers. We’re also very passionate about helping people achieve their sound. The first thing you’ll see when you walk into revolver drums is our work bench, and it gets a serious work out, because someone’s bought a snare drum and they say to us that they want it to sound like a particular recording, or they have some session time on the weekend, or a show on the weekend. They say "how do I tune it? How do I set it up? What’s the best heads? What’s the best tunings?" And we know, because we’ve sat there tinkering with that drum, we’ve owned it and we’ve played it in all the rooms. So that expertise that insight and that time for our customers is what we pride ourselves on.
You mentioned that you have a focus on building a community around the store. What are some of the things you’re doing to foster that community?
We’ve been running a drummers club every month for about six months now, it's been a great success, but we still do it. I think that’s the key. We are really trying to get people to realise that coming to the drum shop is like coming to the band room. It’s a hang, it’s an education and it’s a lot of fun. I know that in a lot of other industries, including ones that I’ve worked in, the tribe and the community is integral. So we put on these events, and we sometimes do it for free when we can, to say "hey, we’re passionate about drums, we’re passionate about the Australian music industry and we want you to come and be a part of that." We want you to come and learn, we want you to be collaborative; we want everyone to come and share their knowledge inside a space which is not a bedroom or the internet. We want to get people back into the shop. It’s a place where people can find some friendship, get some information and have a hang.
What are some of the lines that you stock that you consider to be cornerstones of Revolver Drums?
We’re really proud to be one of Australia’s largest Gretsch dealers. We believe that Gretsch is the drum kit that you can play in any musical style. We love that the quality in Gretsch is there from the word go. So from the very start of their range to the very end of their range, they sound like a Gretsch. They’ve maintained that, where a lot of drum manufacturers have lost that, especially in their low end.
We’re also very proud to be an Alesis dealer. We think they offer a great product at a great price that allows people to explore electronic music and production. We also sell some beautiful cymbals that you can’t necessarily get in other stores. These include lines like Istanbul, Phosphorus, Soultone and Murat Diril. We’re also very proud to support Australian drum makers. Right now we’re celebrating a month of Australian drum manufacturers. We have snare drums from Moody, Schinbein Custom Drums, Gas Drums and Red Rock Drums Australia. The celebration has included two events, one of which is a meet the makers day. Australian drums are some of the best drums in the world. We’re excited that the Asian and American markets are recognising that and we’d like to be at the forefront of sharing those amazing drums and that craftsmanship with the local community.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about Revolver Drums?
I just want people to use it as a base. I want drummers who need great advice and great support to come to the shop and ask us questions. We’ve all worked in varying aspects of the music industry. We know what it’s like. We’ve all been on record labels, we’ve all been on tours and we’ve all done the struggle. If you need to talk to us about that and you need some insight in how to get that part of your career together or how to get your gear together, we can help. We want people to realize that when you come to our store our primary focus is not to sell you things, it’s to help you.
Name: Revolver Drums and Modern Music
Phone: 03 9521 4644
Location: 4a Izett St Prahran Victoria 3181
Hours Of Operation: Mon – Thurs 10–5pm, Friday 10–7pm, Saturdays 10–5pm