Thomas Lang’s aspiration in life is to be able to “play the unplayed”. This has been his life long goal ever since he was young. As he progressed through his musical career, this aspiration became more and more achievable. Some of the reasons for this are his grueling practice schedule. Lang practices a set routine every day (or at least tries to). These practice exercises eventually became the basis to the aforementioned 1995 video called “Ultimatives Schlagzeug I & II”. This sold so many copies, that it was eventually re-released in 2004 by Hudson music.
Lang endorses Drums Workshop drums and Meinl cymbals. He has designed a number of cymbals with Meinl: the 16" Synthetik Crash, 17" Kompressor Crash, 18" Kinetik Crash, 18" Signal Crash/Klub Ride, and Filter Chinas. Lang stated on Creative Control that when he designed his cymbals, he wanted to recreate electronic cymbal sounds in acoustic cymbals. One of Lang's goals was to create a pitch-matched range of contemporary crash cymbals that provide acoustic and electronic drummers with modern sounds that resemble artificially engineered cymbal samples - “Tom’s Becken” launched in 2002. In 2004 Thomas Lang worked with Meinl again to design the “Fast Hats” , and a series of “Filter Chinas”.
Thomas Lang has a long and close association with MEINL, a leading manufacturer of cymbals and other percussion instruments, based in Germany. In 2002 they collaboratively produced a range of crash cymbals--“Tom’s Becken”, otherwise called “Thomas Lang Practice Kit”. This kit is unique for its easy portability and its uniquely engineered cymbal samples and contemporary sounds. After its production, Lang asserted that since he is a hard traveler, he fears disturbing people in his hotel room or backstage while practicing; but with this kit, he can
easily play inaudibly and fold it after he is done.
Lang at present endorses Sonor drums and Meinl Cymbals. He has also designed a number of signature kits and equipment like Sonor Desinger X-Ray kit, the 16” “Synthetik Crash”, 17” “Kompressor Crash”, 18” “Kinetic Crash”, 18” “Signal Crash/Klub Ride”, “Filter Chinas”, all of which were designed in corroboration with Meinl. He has also designed the Vic Firth sticks, which are aimed at producing a thunderous projectile sounds on drums. A part from these, Lang also uses Sonor and Gibraltar Hardware, Roland Electronics, Hardcase Road Cases, AKG Microphones, Remo drum heads, powerstroke 3 bass head, with pillow among other kits. While performing live, Lang often uses a series of Sonor Delite kits.
Lang’s hard work has paid off in many ways. He has climbed the ladder of success as a drummer, a producer and a teacher with undaunted strides. In 2006, Lang was voted “The best drummer of 2006” by Rhythm Magazine Readers’ Poll. As a teacher, Lang taught at London Music School in Wapping, London (formerly the Musician's Institute) in 1998/99. During his stint at the school,
he invited Robert Trujillo to perform a session there. Lang has also produced two educational books and is geared to release Muso Gear, which is clothing line inspired by music.
In 2002, the Remo Corporation approached Thomas to produce the “Thomas Lang Practice Kit".
Other Thomas Lang products are Vic Firth’s “Thomas Lang signature model” stick and the “Thomas Lang signature Bigfoot bassdrum beaters” .
Currently, Thomas Lang is signed with Sonar and Meinl. For his drum set, he plays a Sonar X-ray acrylic kit, with Remo drum heads. His drum set is very large, with 2 - 22 inch bass drums, 2 snares and a wide array of toms. In his recent DVD, he uses multiple pedals for snares, bells, and other toms for different effects. He uses Vic Firth drum sticks, and Gibralter hardware. He has a wide array of Meinl cymbals, including his own cymbals he has created. He also uses the Roland TD-20 electronic drum set. He uses this in a variety of live performances, as well as his latest DVD – Foot Control.
He recently released a video with Hudson music called “Total Foot Control”, and practices regularly in his home studio. He is currently working on a solo album that is due to be released early this year called “Along These Lines”. So as you can see, Thomas Lang is much more than a drummer, he is a musician, complete with his own albums, hardware, and cymbal line.
Awards include: 1999, 2001: Best studio drummer (Rhythm magazine) 2002: Best pop drummer, Best all-around drummer (Rhythm magazine) 2002: Best drummer (Drums and Percussion magazine) 2003: Best clinician (Modern Drummer magazine) 2004: Best DVD, Best clinician runner up, Best drummer runner-up (Modern Drummer magazine) 2004: Best DVD, Best new signature product, Best drummer (Drummer magazine). Best studio drummer (Rhythm magazine). Best recorded drum performance (Sticks magazine) 2005: Best pop drummer, Best Clinician, Best Solo Drum performance (Rhythm magazine). Best DVD, Best all around drummer, Best drum event (Drummer magazine) 2006: Best drum clinician (DRUM! Magazine) Best drumming video/DVD (Drum! Magazine) 2006: Best DVD, Best drummer (Rhythm magazine) 2007: Best DVD, Best drummer (Rhythm magazine, Modern drummer magazine) 2007: Best Clinician (Modern Drummer magazine) 2008: Best Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine) 2008: Best Clinician(Drum! Magazine) Aurora Gold Award 2007 (Best Video Production)
Years of dedication to his instrument and to his career have seen the Austrian-born drummer reach the top of his chosen tree to become one of the UK’s most popular players, clinicians and educators. This success is hardly surprising, given his fearsome technique with the drum sticks and deft way with a groove. Yet Thomas isn’t about to rest on his laurels. On the contrary, at the end of 2005 he decided it was time to step things up – and a move to the sunny climes and vibrant musical scene of Los Angeles was the way to do it. So the UK’s adopted son upped sticks with his young family and is currently settling into life West Coast-style. It might be early days, but the relocation seems to be suiting Mr Lang down to a T. When PowerOn catches up with him at the Winter NAMM show in California (where Thomas is conducting V-Drums performances for Roland), he’s full of enthusiasm for his new home and for the musical opportunities and creative inspiration that it offers him. Oh, and the weather’s not bad either!
From the Roland interview with Thomas on his appreciation of "V-Drums":
You’re very involved with Roland in terms of solo drum performances, using V-Drums of course. What is it that you like so much about the kits?
"The instrument has a major influence on the way I think and it’s very inspiring. It forces me to play differently, use different sounds and so on. The TD-20K is very compact and it means I can set up lots of pedals in a small space and use them all comfortably. For the performances I’m doing here at the NAMM show, I’m using 12 pedals, which opens up all sorts of possibilities. My approach to polyrhythmic and polymetric patterns is altered completely when I’m playing the TD-20, because there’s so much it can do in terms of providing a palette of sounds to work with. It’s a hugely creative instrument because you can play the same configuration of pads and, with one press of a button, the whole kit can take on a new character by introducing new tones. It allows you to really push yourself because the boundaries are so wide. And it can help you become a much better player because you can use the kit in such a way that it forces you to concentrate hard as you change sounds. The way I use the TD-20, I constantly move sounds to different pads so I can play different patterns; so from tune to tune, or even section to section, I have to be aware of where the tabla sound is assigned to, or the fact that half my pedals are triggering hi-hat sounds. It’s a fun, challenging way to improve co-ordination and independence."
Do you plan your solo V-Drums performances to the last degree, or do you prefer to improvise?
"I always allow myself space to improvise, but I have to have a structure to the performance pieces at events like this. If I don’t, the whole thing can become a hideous mess because I miss the fact that in four bars I need to hit a new pad to use the gong drum sound that was on another pad a minute ago! So there are markers that I use to ensure that it sounds good, but I don’t like to play everything the same every time so there are always opportunities to be spontaneous. That’s what music is all about, after all."
And how do you incorporate V-Drums into your daily working life?
"I play V-Drums because they are absolutely valid, important and credible instruments and they are essential for me as a contemporary drummer. I use them for programming in the studio, on the road, for writing, practising, everything... I’ve worked with electronics for at least the last ten or 15 years and, when I play VDrums, I simply see myself as a drummer and musician performing percussive art on a new instrument. It’s all about rhythm and dynamics, feel and groove – it’s not a case of electronic drums being synths that people hit with sticks any more. About 80% of sessions that I did in the UK in the past year or two were with V-Drums. I wasn’t even asked to bring acoustic drums to those gigs. It’s so convenient because I just walk in with a small bag of bits – a couple of pads, a hi-hat stand, a pedal and a module. I don’t have to tune, soundcheck or anything and so we can be going in five minutes. That’s one of the reasons why producers like working with V-Drums so much."
Lang has mesmerized his audiences and fans all over the world with his signature and innovative techniques of playing drums and other music instruments. Nevertheless, he affirmed that technique has nothing to do with music - it’s just like any other tool which can be used to build anything. No matter how much he has achieved, Thomas Lang is not done yet, he still has more left in him, to ‘play the unplayed’.
Lang will be appearing with Johnny Rabb and Blue Man Group at the Las Vegas Sam Ash of the Roland "Top Drummer" contest on November 4th 2010 - Drum Dungeon will be there for full coverage and interviews.
Thomas Lang (born August 5, 1967 in Vienna), is an Austrian drummer who is currently working with the Los Angeles based progressive instrumental trio StOrk.
Thomas took up drumming at the age of 5. Thomas Lang was the youngest student to be enrolled at the Vienna Conservatory of Music. Here he learned all different styles of music; Jazz, Classical, Fusion, and big band. Upon graduation in 1988, Thomas immediately began working with a variety of top artists and bands throughout Europe. He engulfed himself in work, sometimes doing up to 15 projects at a time. Eventually, Thomas grew a name for himself.
7 years he worked his way through the European Pop, Rock and Jazz scenes - in addition to his work as a session musician playing with John Wetton, Robert Fripp, Glenn Hughes, Robbie Williams, Kelly Clarkson, Sugababes, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, Victoria Beckham, Ronan Keating, Steve Hackett, Boyzone, Falco, Nina Hagen, Steve Jones and Mick Jones, among others, Lang’s 1995 solo release, “Mediator” topped the charts in Europe and garnered positive reviews