Pork Pie’s Bill Detamore: Embedding the Soul in a Musical Instrument

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BY PHIL HOOD

When Daft Punk went to record the Random Access Memories album in 2012, the duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo decided to go in a completely different direction than the previous recordings: they used live musicians. in the recording studio. Not just any musicians but the best: John “JR” Robinson, Omar Hakim, bassist Nathan East, guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers. Their goal was to bring the “soul” that live musicians can create to dance music recordings. To get that feeling, they also felt the need to record things like the big ’70s and’ 80s albums they loved. As Bangalter told NPR, “There is a certain skill in recording music in studios that is gradually wiping out and we thought maybe it was a sad thing that that skill was wiping out. . “

It is one thing to discover the soul of your product. It is quite another to see it manifest through a user’s experience. The best part is when the soul is embodied in the experience of your users
– Damien Madray

I recently thought about this intertwined question of soul and craftsmanship while discussing drum making with Bill Detamore of Pork Pie Percussion. How do you keep the soul of a product as you expand the enterprise scale? when you try to increase the production cycle, or the speed at which it is produced? It’s a dilemma for people who make anything from cars to spaghetti sauce, to recordings, to musical instruments like drums, guitars, and violins.

For many builders, craftsmanship is part of the answer. It is part of the process of transmitting the soul. Crafting means doing things right and paying attention to how something is built even when no one is looking. It means taking care of every aspect of the construction. But generally, it comes at a price. If craftsmanship costs money, then the less money and time you spend on production, the less soul there is in the product, right? I don’t think that’s always the case.

Yes, we have all had the experience of buying something that was complete waste that collapsed shortly after receiving it. Or go to a restaurant chain that seems to no longer care about the cleanliness of the joint or the quality of the food. These products are orphans on which no one has invested soul in their manufacture. At the same time, I have owned a lot of mass-produced or machine-made products with a soul, from a certain 1974 Toyota that I will never forget, to teak chairs made in an Indonesian factory ago. a century, every Led The Zeppelin album I have ever bought. My brother owns a ’62 Telecaster with such smooth sustain that you would have to buy a $ 10,000 handcrafted guitar to find something close to it.

Detamore straddles these dilemmas of custom battery making just as well as anyone. He built his business in part on the basis of his unique sensibility, starting with the name Pork Pie and his custom paint jobs. But he built unique drums and overseas-made snare drums for clients like Guitar Center. He has built battery lines for other companies, most recently working with Rogers. He built drums from scratch in the United States and imported shells and foreign parts in order to finish drums in the United States and sell them at a price that would have been impossible to do with fully domestic construction.

But Detamore deeply believes in soul and craftsmanship, no matter what product they make. He and his small team of experienced craftsmen, including Tony, Gus, Jose and lately his son Zac, along with others, have put a lot of manual labor into the drums (and thrones) they sell, no matter what. the origin of the materials.

“I want my guys and I to touch each drum as much as humanly possible,” says Detamore. I would call it trying to put soul into the product.

At Pork Pie, they make their own jigs and tools, drill holes by hand, and cut load-bearing edges in the same way. Each drum is different, emphasizes Detamore, because each builder in his workshop has a unique personality. “I show them how I do it,” he says, but he knows they are giving something of their own in every drum that the company ships.

Professional quality musical instruments require handmade attention and intention, whether they come from the largest or the smallest. And they differ from most products in that they also work like art. A violin or snare is an artistic artifact like digital cameras and tennis balls never will be.

I would be interested to hear from the builders out there what they think about soul and craftsmanship. What puts the “soul” in your product? What elements such as skills, tools, materials, attitude and a respectful attitude towards music and musicians motivate you to invest in each product? What do you value? Tell me about it, and we’ll share it in a future post.

Winners, yes I have winners

The four winners of the Headhunters Sticks and Creations contest are Bruce Brand, Gene Waddy, Steve Douglas and a participant I only know by the nickname “Lightning Strikes”. Next week we will be announcing personalized tambourine giveaways and other prizes. You’re automatically signed up if you comment below or drop me a line here. See you later.


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