Drummer Boy | Freshman builds and progams unique drumset for cabaret

Peet freshman Sean Radke rehearses his set for his cabaret performance taking place on March 7-8. Modeling the design afer the only other drumset of it’s kind, Radke built his set and programmed the sounds himself.

Peet freshman Sean Radke takes the meaning of “musically inclined” to a whole nother level. He’s a part of percussion, he plays the piano and he even plays the violin. What makes him unique though is his ability to play the electric drums.

Radke said his electric drums have been three years in the making, only being able to fully play and master them in the last four weeks. “These electric drums I call ‘The Hurricane’ are the second set of drums in the world with these capabilities, only bested by the producer AFISHAL,” Radke said. “The whole reason why I got interested in making this whole contraption was because I saw something called the Tremor by the producer AFISHAL. This started a long process of making my own version of this.”

After providing a very “technical” description of how his drums work, Radke broke it down into layman’s terms. “In the end, whenever I hit a drum pad, it plays an audio file. When I hit it again, it plays a new audio file that is next in line,” Radke said. “The audio runs into multiple mixers to form into one big music output with individually controllable sound levels for each soundboard.”

To break it down even further, Radke said playing the rhythms is kind of like a hypothesis in science. “There are electric drum pads that feel a vibration, send a signal, and then the microcontroller plays the file running an if-then statement so, if a pad vibration level is __, then play __, and then it plays a file, and you hear it,” Radke said.

This process hasn’t always been a walk in the park. It’s taken many years and many trials, Radke said. “About three years ago I started this process with emailing AFISHAL and his team. I had to spend about six months making sure that I wasn’t replicating their design and violating any patents. I worked closely with them for that time,” Radke said. 

Now that his work is in a good place, Radke said he plans on debuting ‘The Hurricane’ at Peet’s Cabaret on Friday and Saturday, March 7-8. “I am playing the song ‘Never Count On Me’ by the artist Haywyre. This song is comprised of 485 separate drum pad notes that have been memorized and is about 3:17 long,” Radke said.

Much like the process that went into the drums’ original setup, Radke said actually formulating the song was it’s own grueling task as well. “It took around 25-30 hours of work to get the song in its raw format split out all the way into all the different drum pads because of the way it has to be done. Taking a single song track and then splitting these tracks up exactly on beat first and then choosing which parts go together or which parts shouldn’t and then choosing where each and every part should go,” Radke said. “It’s a daunting task at first, but slowly working away at it got me here.”

Radke said although he is extremely proud of the work he’s put in to get the drums where they are now, there’s still more work he’s looking to do down the road. “This is ready to play, but not in its final finishing setup. It will be altered in the future to become something way cooler,” Radke said.

What keeps Radke going on his path to improve his drum set is his love of music. “I am a musician because I have really loved music straight from the beginning,” Radke said. 

Radke said his sister, Mary, had been one of his biggest inspirations as she’s played the piano for most of her life. “She really inspired me to play music and continue on. Music has always been a way to have fun, express emotions and just be in a whole different world where nothing else matters,” Radke said. “What I love most about music is the way that it can change so much and change your whole environment around you.” 

To see Radke and “The Hurricane” in action, visit his YouTube page “thewighttiger” and get a sneak peek of what’s to come in his cabaret performance at this link: https://youtu.be/j9zJT29pyUg. To see the act live, mark your calendars for March 7-8 where Radke will perform during Peet’s Cabaret.

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