I learned that if you put energy forth and work hard, you can have a good outcome. There were many musical things I learned from drum core, but it's the non musical things I learned that have helped me with other aspects of my life."
He adds, "It's not a well-known fact that being in a marching band or drum core, or having music in general in one's life, can teach a kid or person other lessons besides music. I don't think everyone sees it quite like that. That is absolutely what takes place. It doesn't happen for everyone though. People who are not into music and don't practice won't learn those extra lessons that can be learned through playing an instrument. Those are the things I'm most happy about. Everyone grows up differently.
"In my household it was different. With my mother raising me in a single parent household, the concept of hard work came from her AND playing music. Normal school didn't do that for me. Math and English didn't do that for me, for whatever reason. Maybe it was my brain structure. Maybe because my parents were divorced - I don't know. Everyone has a different brain structure. I was interested in music, and I had the tools to exercise my creative side of the brain. It really saved me from a life that could have been a lot worse. Everything probably wouldn't have worked. You know, we didn't win every contest, and I wasn't the best drummer I could have been all the time, so what I've gained, 20 years later, are the lessons I use today. I'm 33 and most of those lessons aren't entirely musical.
"Music is so important to humans. If you take it out - that foundation - then there will be a large percentage of kids out there that are going to be left in the dust. And it goes for painting and art in general, they are in the same category. Usually mathematics and English won't allow that kind of creativity. A noun is a noun and a verb is a verb and some kids can't be creative within that. With music and arts it allows them creativity, learning lessons and getting ready for performances - allowing children to express their creativity and giving them an outlet. In that environment, any child can bloom, or get out of his or her shell. It teaches responsibility. I'm talking about those who may come from a place where they are not learning those lessons.
"Now at 33, thinking back, the responsibility of learning was not my mom's fault - she had three jobs to support two kids. There weren't two of her. I'm lucky music was there. Though it's a hard concept to teach people - whether it's in a school is not usually up to parents anyway, it's up to the people budgeting money out to the school. What they don't realize is some people have brains that are structured for math, some are structured in a musical way, but music classes and what is learned there can come back to English and math courses. It is true that for people who have had trouble in English, once they start to take music classes, whatever tangible thing they are having trouble learning in English class, they have a better grasp on after music class. They can put more work there (in music or art), and if they play clarinet for a week and eventually get first chair, that kind of confidence can be applied anywhere in their life and they improve their performance in other subjects as well."
Indeed, Chad is incredibly passionate as are his bandmates for the music they make and the legacy they leave. Chad understands the importance of school music because he was fortunate enough to have a music program in school when he was growing up. Many today aren't so fortunate, and it's with this knowledge that Chad speaks so charismatically.
311 as a whole also understands the power of music and how it connects people in ways that other avenues of communication can't. Recently, on March 11, 311 had their special "311 Day" in New Orleans, Louisiana, where they played for over five hours straight (311 minutes to be exact). Chad said it was a "spiritual musical event - no- [one] out of 9,000 people left and no one sat down. I'm very excited for the next one."
311 built their grassroots following on the strength of their live shows, and to hear Chad speak of the indescribable phenomenon was inspiring to say the least. When it comes to playing live, he says, "We give out energy, positive energy, and try and teach people things, and how to think positive. We're not religious about it - we're for human beings only. In essence, it's an undefined spirituality. At least that's how I've been feeling lately. Music can help people. And this band will go as long as it can go."
It's music for the people by the people and hopefully 311 will continue making it!
By Shane Roeschlein
Chad Sexton 311's Drummer Tells How to Snare the Perfect Sound.
When you get to arena-filling status, it must be nice to basically get your pick of instrument endorsements. Besides the adulation and the riches, for any serious musician, success brings those two magic little words -- free gear (or at least one hell of a discount).
Take 311's funky powerhouse drummer, Chad Sexton, for example. Sure, he did the drum corps gig and he can rip off the cleanest 11-stroke roll you've ever heard in your life. But more notably, with the success of their 1995 "Blue Album" and subsequent tours, Chad finds himself with the luxury of playing basically any kind of drums he wants to. And he doesn't mess around. Like many of his peers, including No Doubt's Adrian Young, and both Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, Chad is driving an Orange County drumkit.
Still, while Orange County surely makes some high quality, and esoteric, instruments, Chad still longs to have his first kit back. We caught up with Chad during the recording of 311's as-yet-untitled upcoming album to talk about hole-ridden snares and sentimentality.
Describe the first drum set you had.
It was before second grade, a long time ago. I was at a hotel with my parents -- I can't even remember what state it was in. And they had a friend that was at that hotel that had an old red sparkle Gretsch kit, and he just thought he should give it to me for some reason. So that was my first drum set, even though I never really had it all set up correctly. I wasn't behind it rocking, I would just bang on it. But finally we got rid of that set, which is funny... I know the girl who has that set today, in Omaha. And she won't sell it back to me. She just will not relinquish that drum set. It's just weird. I've offered much compensation for it. I told her I'd buy her a whole new kit, anything she wanted. She just won't let it go.
How did you get involved with Orange County drums? What's their story?
The guys that started that had a drum shop called Orange County Drum and Percussion. They started making drums, and I think they started out with just snare drums, but I'm not 100 percent sure. But it so happened that the demand for the drums increased to the point to where they had to shut down the drum shop side of it and just strictly make drums. I met Dan Jansen, who is one of the owners there, in about 1994. He gave me a snare drum and I really, really enjoyed it, it had a great tone. From there we developed a relationship, and it just worked out better for me. I absolutely love those drums.
What kind of snares were you using on Transistor ?
It depends on what song you're listening to. For the most part I generally tried to stay with a 5.5 inch x 14 inch or 6.5 inch x 14 inch. Sometimes I was using a free floating cage. I don't know if you've seen the snares they're making with the holes in them, but lately I've been using this one snare that's a 5.5-inch x 14-inch free floater that has these holes in the shell. The holes are about 1.5-inch in diameter, all around the shell. There's about five of them, in between each lug casing. It just cracks.
What is the difference between a drum with holes in it, like that one, and a regular solid-shell drum?
Really, when you hear that snare compared to another snare, the difference is that there's more snare sound, more responsiveness. You can't necessarily tell that while you're playing it. If you're hitting it and you're above the drum, you can't really tell. You have to have someone else hit it and you be standing like five to 10 feet away from the drum, and then you can really tell the difference.
by Don Zulaica