Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss: The Gear and Tech That Keep Her Going


Jw-drums3In this interview we hear from Janet, drummer, backup singer, co-songwriter, and setlist maker for a variety of different bands, most notably Sleater-Kinney and Quasi about her preferences for hardware, software, and setup.

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Janet Weiss from CASH Music‘s WATT

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Janet – drummer, backup singer, songwriting collaborator, setlist maker for lots of bands but mostly Sleater-Kinney and Quasi.

What hardware do you use?

Funny to ask a drummer about hardware because to us that is a literal question. My hardware is all made by DW – I prefer the lighter stuff – not sure why drum hardware is so heavy and cumbersome! I keep thinking I’ll work with a bike designer to come up with a completely new approach but haven’t yet. It all needs to fit into a small soft case and I must be able to lift it into the car myself – that is my one rule. In regards to drums, the sound in my head is a 1967 Ludwig maple kit so that’s what I play give or take a few years. I’ve had almost all the finishes at one time or another, but currently own a faded green sparkle and black oyster tiger stripe. My only sponsorship is for my snare – a 14 x 6.5” Craviotto maple drum (RIP Johnny Craviotto!) Heads are strictly Remo – coated ambassadors on the snare and toms and Powerstroke 3 on the batter side of the kick. Evans sent me every head they make and I just couldn’t find the right mix of crack and body. But thanks Evans. Cymbals are Zildjian A Custom and I guess the crashes are on the big side (two 20”) because the dude salesman at Guitar Center once asked me why I wanted a ride cymbal as a crash. My ride is 22” (although I have loved an old 1960’s 24” that I played on Dig Me Out) and the hats are standard size Quick Beats. I know it’s nitpicky but I absolutely prefer a round throne – those saddle kind make me feel funny.

And what software?

My basement writing rig is a goofy set of Roland e-drums that I run through a dock into my iPad Garageband. For demoing into the real computer I recently was gifted Addictive Drumsoftware that makes the electronic pads sound pretty incredible. I choose from a number of Ludwig sounding kits recorded under much better conditions than what I’m accustomed to. For practice I play my iPod with headphones and also use the Drummer’s Metronome app on my phone quite a bit.

What would be your dream setup?

I pretty much have my dream setup as far as playing goes. My kit is a monster. A real area of improvement however would be recording works in progress in my practice space. I’ve never quite figured out a simple and easy solution that doesn’t sound like a caveman beating the shit out of sheet metal.