Photos: Alex Kluft
One of rock music’s most beloved groups performs tomorrow night at Kaaboo Music Festival in San Diego. Drumhead’s resident photographer, Alex Kluft, caught up with drummer Bryan Hitt, chatting about REO’s upcoming slot at Kaaboo, engraved snare drums, and Hitt’s 30th anniversary with the legendary band.
AK: As an L.A. resident, how does it feel to be playing one biggest festivals in California?
BH: I am honored and overjoyed to be playing at Kaaboo.
AK: For a festival that includes new and legacy acts, what was your reaction when you found out REO was playing?
BH: I really like the idea of different kinds of acts playing on the same stages for the same crowds. I remember going to shows in the ‘70s where the concerts would include different types of bands and genres.
AK: Is there a band you would like to do a co-headline with that REO hasn’t toured with yet?
BH: No one in particular comes to mind at the moment. We have been so fortunate to have played with so many top acts over the years, such as ZZ Top, Pretenders, Journey, Def Leppard, Styx, Chicago and many others.
AK: What will be your set-up for Kaaboo?
BH: I will be using my A rig kit for the show. My A rig consists of 10, 12, 14, and 16-inch toms…6.5” x 14” 100th anniversary Ludwig snare engraved by my tech, John Aldridge and 20” x 22” kick all with Evans heads. Zildjian K custom cymbals, custom Gibraltar rack, Axis pedals, LP Cowbell (more cowbell) and of course my Vic Firth signature sticks.
AK: I see REO is booked almost until the end of the year, what do you like about touring the last 4 months of the year as opposed to earlier in the year or summer?
BH: For one, it is a lot cooler. And I bring a bicycle on the road and will get to enjoy the fall colors on my bike.
AK: Are there any bands you are going to try and see at Kaaboo or is it fly in/ fly out?
BH: I am definitely going to stay later after our show to see Kings of Leon, and I don’t know if I will be able to but would like to see Squeeze. I am sure there are other great bands but I am heading home for a two-day break before we hit the road again.
AK: Who are a few drummers you go to watch these days?
BH: I don’t go to a lot of shows on my time off, but I get to hang with and watch many different great drummers who are on the same bill as us for many shows. Such as Todd Suchermann, Tris Imboden, Jim Riley, Steve DiStanisao to name a few.
AK: Are there any special plans for your 30th anniversary with REO?
BH: No but I am hoping to get a gold watch. Hint hint!
AK: What’s it like having engraving master, John Aldridge as a tech?
BH: It’s been great working with John the last 13 years or so. We both grew up in the South (he in Oklahoma, me in Texas) so we kind of speak the same language.
I have many beautiful snare drums that John has engraved for me over the years. I also have a Ludwig 6.5” x 14” bronze Black Beauty that was the first engraved drum that John sold. I keep it as blackmail as it is not representative of the thousands of beautiful drums he has engraved since then! He cringes when he sees it.
AK: It’s been 12 years since REO has released an album, with the exception of the Christmas one – has the group recorded any new music since?
BH: We have a few new songs that we play live from time to time but as far as releasing a new album there doesn’t seem to be any viable avenues to release new music for many classic rock bands in general.