PLAYERS: DUSTIN RAGLAND

577135_3834665419748_1184920594_nOne of the great gifts of leading worship is the opportunity to make music with great people. Since I just released a new worship album a few weeks ago, the impact of good musicianship is fresh on my mind.

I’ve met some great musicians in my life and this is one of way of celebrating (and learning from) them. It’s a simple design – 5 questions, 5 answers.

Dustin Ragland did all of the drums on my latest record. While he was initially introduced as “the drummer in the Charlie Hall band,” I quickly found that he was known as much for his proficiency and musical ethic.

Working as a producer, engineer, touring drummer and educator, Dustin is a hard guy to track down. He did, in fact, make time for this interview and I’m grateful for it. I also think his answers are pretty awesome. Feel free to contact Dustin on twitter @walrusmuse. (It’s a Beatles thing.)

TODD: The music of Charlie Hall Band has moments of complexity, however, you do a fantastic job of adapting your playing to the style of the project in front of you. Is it difficult to create parts that are different than the type of stuff you do with CHB?

Thanks man! In terms of adapting, I suppose it developed from coming to a place years ago in playing drums, where I asked myself “do I want to be a player, or just a minion of a certain style?” I grew up playing heavy music and punk type stuff, and there were rules in the genre that I began to break (I actually had a band ask me to play more sloppy at one point…not joking). I still LOVE and play those styles, but I also try very hard to be a player in the sense that I work to adapt (within reason) to the style or project set before me. This is a normal expectation in session communities, and though I am not a full time session drummer (at times I really want to be!), I keep busy enough with them to have to keep my “language” fresh for a number of approaches. If left to my own devices I love making things complicated, but more than that I love serving the songwriters’/bands’ needs. In the end that’s what lasts, and when I listen to music, I might gravitate towards some heady playing on the drums, but I usually head towards the songs that move me. 

TODD: From the looks of your twitter feed, you’re pretty open about the struggle of using technology in music creation. What’s one piece of equipment in your production setup that you can’t live without?

Hahahahaha! Yes I try to keep things honest, without being too offensive if possible, nor betraying thoughts I should keep to my close community here and not folks online! 
 
In production, it’s likely the combo of my Lauten Clarion mic and Chandler Germanium preamp. They’re just the stars of my collection (which has very few stars right now…it’s an expensive career!). In music/playing in general, it’s my C&C Custom snare. 14×6, Gladstone Maple Poplar Maple shell, pink oyster pearl finish, rounded edges. Love it. A million voices in one drum. 

TODD: Tell all our gearheads about your drum setup. What’s your kit like for live shows?

I use a C&C Custom kit for both live and studio (maple Keller shells, rounded edges, walnut gloss finish with 2 think turquoise glass inlay rings under the top lugs). 24×16 kick, 12×8 tom, 16×16 tom. Heartbeat Traditional Cymbals-14″ hats, 20″ crash, 22″ ride. I use Evans G2 coated heads and an EQ3 kick head. Trying to keep it simple, but very intentional in terms of tones. 

 I also use my laptop running Live 8, with an Akai MiniMPK as controller. It runs into a volume pedal I can use to fade or kill loops hands free. 

TODD: Drums play a huge part in what we (worship leaders) do each week. What do our drummers need to hear from us in the way of encouragement and support?

Honest appraisal of trust-the time keeping portion of our playing is important to the whole band. Do you all trust us to keep it, or is it something to work on? Because we will until we can be a good bedrock for the group. Also the freedom to be ourselves with respect to mimicking the tracks we are given to learn, so long as we are not distracting, nor ego-boosting to show off our latest technique. We carry more notes than anyone in a band, and want to use them wisely. Often the drums can set the tone for moments of prayer, moments of celebration, and moments of musical interlude-and plenty of communication on how to do that well for each leader, and WHEN we do that well is always welcome. Likewise, if there are drummer you leaders love-or records that do well with the percussion that you want to learn from-let us know!

TODD: Just exactly how much do you love OKC Thunder? It seems like you may have a problem.

It’s a lot. My wife recently met Kevin Durant, so we are so close to being best friends. I played basketball (which is of course the first question anyone asks me after saying “you’re tall!” which is the worst thing to say to someone because it isn’t a quesiton but people treat it like it is and….anyways) growing up, and always had a competitive streak. I’m very mild mannered and quiet usually, except when playing basketball. I translate that into the Thunder perhaps a little too much…or a lot! 
 
In all seriousness, I was there when they lost to the Lakers in the first round a few years ago. Right as the game finished, the entire arena stood and cheered the team for a good 5 minutes-and they players were visibly moved on the court. From that moment, the silly NBA team has been quite vital to our city, to the downtown core that I love, and to kids and adults alike. It’s fun to be a (tiny!) part of. 
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