Handmade drum kits fashioned by a team of County Durham craftsmen will take centre stage on Coldplay’s UK and European Tour this summer – the latest showcase for a brand proving a hit with musicians worldwide.
Coldplay support act the Grammy nominated Lianne La Havas will feature Liberty Drums personally fitted for her drummer Kwake as they tour top venues across the continent – including four nights at Wembley and a show in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium.
Kwake is just one of a growing band of Liberty Drums devotees, using the instruments hand crafted in a factory on Shildon’s Dabble Duck Industrial Estate as their drums of choice at gigs worldwide.
Bespoke Liberty Drums kits made by Andrew Street and his team are also the centrepiece of stage sets for drummers backing best selling artists such as Nicki Minaj and supporting James Bay.
Andrew, 46, is signing up a string of artists as the reputation of the sonic quality and meticulous build of his award-winning drums gathers pace across social media.
Liberty’s order book has swollen by 60% in three years fuelled by industry buzz and Andrew is aiming to double his workforce in the next year to cater for demand.
Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, worked hard with Liberty chief executive Andrew to find him new commercial premises after the company outgrew its previous base in Newton Aycliffe.
Since moving to the Business Durham-managed Dabble Duck Industrial Estate near his Shildon home, business is booming with an award as the world’s best wooden snare drum maker from Rhythm magazine capping a rapid rise to global prominence in the music industry.
Four employees – including Andrew’s son Zack, 20 – make 50 drum kits and 300 snare drums per year from their workshop. A kit can take up to 40 hours to make and retail for up to £3,000 with a snare drum costing £300.
Leading drummers Darryl Howell – who has worked with Nicki Minaj – David Bitan, who drums for Rukhsana Merrise supporting James Bay and Kwake who plays for Lianne la Havas supporting Coldplay, are just some of the industry names signed to exclusively play Liberty Drums.
Andrew, an accomplished drummer, said: “We make drums like a tailor makes suits. About 90% of the world’s drum making companies might call themselves custom drums companies but they buy pre-made shells.
“We manufacture our drums in Shildon. We have veneers off the log, raw, bundled up and sent to the factory where we press them and make our own veneer combinations for whatever sound or genre it is the artist requires.
“We literally start from a blank piece of paper. I will ask the drummer what sort of style they play and we look at the type of music they play in the different venues that they play in.
“We come to an agreement where we will make the shells to reflect their environment. We build the shell depending on whether it is going to be for jazz, rock, folk or pop which puts longevity into our business.”
Andrew and his craftsmen manufacture drum shells from Finnish birch, maple or mahoganies, to meet acoustic requirement – the thicker the shell, the louder and more projected the sound.
Max Griffiths, drummer with UK band The Silence, uses a bespoke Liberty Drums kit. “To start out with I took a Liberty snare out to America with me and I recorded out there using the snare – it was gorgeous, brilliant and came out as a fantastic recording,” he said.
Andrew left a job in IT to pursue his passion for building drums full-time. He was introduced to drumming at 12 by his dad and began making his first instruments from his garage at home.
Liberty’s strongest presence is in the US marketplace, but the firm is making a concerted push into the lucrative UK market and in Pakistan following their signing of Farhad Humayun, one of the country’s top musicians with a string of corporate endorsements.
Simon Goon, Business Durham managing director, said: “We were delighted to be able to support Andrew in his search for a new premises to allow him to scale up production.
“We are on stand-by again to help him find another premises from our stock of commercial properties to allow him to service his growing client base and look forward to playing our part in helping his wonderful business thrive.”
Andrew added: “We are looking to gain more distribution channels, talking to a few distribution companies to get the brand out more in the UK.
“The turnover is exceeding what we thought. We would like a veneering machine and probably will need another three staff to get ready for the next move which is a very real possibility.”
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