A few days ago, the music videos “Boneyard” and “All I Need” off the new Devil City Angels’ album hit the streets and fanboys and girls everywhere heard the news that Tracii Guns, Rudy Sarzo, Rikki Rockett and Brandon Gibbs had combined into a new supergroup. Their debut album will be released shortly, but here at RUST Magazine we’ve been hearing about this for a while now from our friends at KOPF Percussion. They make Cajones, the slap-box percussion instruments which are emerging in all sorts of music styles.
Originally a Latin music instrument, these “boxes with a hole cut in them” are now showing up all over the place, and the folks at KOPF Percussion have been blogging about the individualization they’d done for Rikki while the Devil City Angels were working on their new material. We first encountered a Cajon when Tylan and Ingrid Elizabeth from Mouths of Babes performed for our cameras, and since then we reached out Steve Head from KOPF to get both a Cajon and a ToeKicker for our videos.
As practical as they are simple, you can get a Cajon in a variety of sounds and styles. Trevor Hall’s percussionist Chris Steele uses a bass Cajon as the cornerstone of his kit, and you can get them with snares and external pedals for foot stomping. In our videos we use a KOPF S-Series Snare Cajon, and more and more of these are showing up on stage and in the studio. Something we’re starting to see a lot of are where drummers replace their old-style seats with Cajones, and because most KOPF Cajones have padded seats, this provides comfort along with an extra instrument for full set-up drum kits.
We were curious about how the drummer from Poison came to use one of these instruments so we reached out to ask a few questions.
RUST: Rikki, thanks for talking to us here. Have you always used Cajones or is this something new? What was it that got you on one?
RR: Actually it was my wife. She plays acoustic guitar and she asked me to join her for some shows. At first I was thinking “Man, what do I do? I’m a big rock and roll drummer” but I wanted to find something that worked for both of us and the Cajon was it. Now we play together all the time and it’s great. The guitar and the Cajon are a perfect pairing, they really compliment each others’ sound. The Cajon is perfect for acoustic environments and it’s something we can do together. I really enjoy playing it and it’s cool that I can have fun times with her.
RUST: How did it work out for you going from a big kit to a Cajon? Was it hard to adjust to the new instrument?
RR: Yes, actually, it was a pretty big change from what I had been doing. I really had to teach myself to play the Cajon and I had to learn the instrument from scratch. It took a lot of work. There are so many different sounds the Cajon makes and so much subtlety to it that it took quite a bit of work to get my style right for it. I was surprised at the range of sounds are that Cajones make, and what it takes to get the most out of the instrument. It’s totally rewarding and worth it, and once you “get it” there’s just so much you can do with it.
RUST: How do Cajones fit into your life now? What are some of the other times you use them?
RR: Oh, I love ’em! I’ve got several and I play them all the time, both at home just for fun and also when I play with Brandon Gibbs, my bandmate in Devil City Angels. He tours and play acoustic and I just love playing a Cajon when I’m with him. The sounds the instrument makes have so many variations and flavors… I’d say that the thing that makes sound they make special is the “bouquet” to them that’s really sweet. They just have a sound that compliments acoustic music especially, and they’re powerful enough to fill a whole room, and fill it with a lot of different flavors and personality.”
RUST: What was it like working with Steve at KOPF? What it is about their instruments that you like so much?
RR: Oh, wow, well, Steve is just a master craftsman and a perfectionist. They really put old school hard work into everything they do there. He authentically cares about each instrument and everything is built by hand here in the USA. He could probably send out some of the work and make a little more money but that’s not what he’s about. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I appreciate what he’s doing there.
RUST: Thanks Rikki, last question, where do you see Cajones in the future of music?
RR: Man, I love mine, I play them all the time and I see more and more people catching on. They’re great instruments for anybody and I think we’ll see more and more of them all over the place. They’re really good for a percussionist just starting out, and there’s enough there to make it interesting for a guy like me so no matter where you’re at with your music, I’d definitely give them a try.
Get more info here: http://www.devilcityangels.com/