For those that follow my blog postings, you know that they are essentially dispatches from a regular guy who loves the drums and got involved with Noble & Cooley to help the restore the company to its past prominence, primarily because I am a fan of the brand. As such, I get to have experiences I would never have otherwise. That’s typically what I write about. Recently, however, I heard about another drummer who is a fan of Noble and Cooley who has his own fascinating story and unique experiences because of his love of the brand.
This all came about because our brand manager, James Wyrick had been in communication with him about a recent drum set purchase he made at Bentley’s Drum Shop. Being a smaller manufacturer, we believe that one of the things we can offer to drummers is a personalized experience and a direct connection with us here at the company. It was during one of these conversations between James and Ryan Culberson where Ryan was discussing his long time desire to own a set of “Noble and Cooleys”, as people often describe us. Ryan told James he had a pretty cool story behind his recent acquisition and offered to share it with us. What follows is an email from Ryan about the circumstances which led to his purchase of a Horizon series kit at Bentley’s.
Ryan, thanks for sharing your story with us. We hope you enjoy your kit for a long, long time and we hope your granddad is around for a long, long time as well, listening to you make them sing. Or, as Cinderella would say, “You took a walk down the road, it’s the road you were meant to stay”.
Here’s Ryan's email to James:
Alright, my man, here is the back story behind my N&C Horizon set purchase. I was born in 1971, so I'm a musical product of the '70s and '80s. Back in 1988, I was a 17 y/o kid listening to all the hair rock bands of the time like everybody else... GnR, Cinderella, BulletBoys, etc... This was after having grown up on a strict diet of Led Zep, The Police, Van Halen and also at the same time worshipping all the old soul, funk and R&B players from the '60s, '70s and '80s. There's the background of where my mind frame was at the time.
Getting back to 1988-1989, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians "Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars" came out and really blew my mind, particularly the drumming of Chris Whitten. Literally for the next year or so, I was obsessed with that album and Chris' playing on it. Of course, Chris went on to play on an album and tour with Sir Paul, as well as on the lengthy Dire Straits tour. So, for a few years, he was a high profile guy in all the drum magazines. He was playing the N&C Star Series at the time, and that was my first exposure to the company. As you know, back in those days boutique drum makers were pretty much relegated to the particular region where they were located, but here was this English guy playing with the biggest artists in the world, using drums made by this tiny little company in Massachusetts.
Being a newly minted Whitten fanboy, and being that this was pre-internet, I actually wrote to Noble & Cooley and they were kind enough to send me all the product info they had. I decided at that time that I wanted a Horizon set, because I didn't like that the Star Series could only be made in the short depths. Being a broke ass kid, though, the Horizon series drums were a pipe dream at best. A few years later, I heard that N&C had discontinued the Horizon series and the drums and company kinda fell off my radar for the next 15+ years.
Fast forward to 2005-2006. I'm a regular member on several drum forums, one of which is Drummer Cafe. I don't get on there much anymore since Bart changed the format a bit and restricted registration. During that time period, though, I was very active on Drummer Cafe, as was a certain Chris Whitten. I feel very lucky to have had several months of private message correspondence with Chris, and I learned a great deal from him. He was very generous with his storytelling and very free with sharing his knowledge and experiences. In 2006, I think, he was going to go out on a tour with World Party, whom he had previously worked with back in the 1980's. For that tour, he had Noble & Cooley make him a Horizon set with concert toms. Horizon set? Wait, what was that again? Yep, it was a Horizon series set, made I guess with old shells that N&C had left over from back in the day. Chris posted pictures of the set and immediately I fell back in love with them, although at the time I don't think N&C had any plans to reintroduce the series.
Fast forward to a few years ago. N&C is back making Horizon series drums as a regular thing. Due to my financial situation at the time, I knew it wasn't the right time for me to be thinking about these drums. So again, the Horizon series got put on a high shelf in the back of my mind.
Now fast forward to last year... This may sound morbid, and I don't want it to, but the only remaining member of my family besides my daughter is my granddad. He is 95 and is obviously getting close to his great reward. I'm in charge of his estate and he has given me directions on what to do when the time comes. Part of that is leaving me a modest sum of money. One of the things he specifies is that he wants me to buy a new vehicle with the money he leaves me, because he hates mine (a Honda Element) LOL! However, another thing I'd been thinking about with some of that money is a Horizon set, ordered to my exact specifications, blah, blah, blah... Ok, cool, I say to myself. No hurry, I'd rather have gramps around as long as possible and judging by their staying power so far, Noble & Cooley isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Fast forward again, this time to last Thursday. A couple of drum buddies and I traveled north from Bakersfield (where I had traveled to from Palmdale) and made the journey north to Bentley's in Fresno. I've been friends with Dana for 25 years now and he's just an amazing friend and a great guy. We get to the store and I start b**> > tin' with him, catching up because it's been a couple of months since I've been up there. He recently had a really cool old round badge Gretsch set come in so we were talking about that. While that was happening, one of my traveling buddies says, "Hey look, a Noble & Cooley set!" So I walk over and take a look at the set...
James, I don't know if Dana is a freakin' voodoo mind reader or some sort of demi-god, but the Horizon set he had N&C make for him to put in the shop checked off every single box in the custom order set of my dreams. The set I posted is the exact set (and I mean EXACT) I would have ordered given free reign. When I was first looking at it, I couldn't see inside any of the drums, but when he said, "Yeah, they're Horizons" I just threw up my hands and said, "Let's get it done!" The EXACT set I had been dreaming of.
So yeah, it was an impulse buy in the strictest sense of the term, as I walked into the shop, saw some drums I can't afford at all, and walked out with them that day, but as my story bears out, they have been a long time coming. Sorry for the novella and I hope you enjoy my story! I just got done putting my beloved coated Ambassadors top and bottom on the toms and a PS3 on the bass drum batter. They exceed my dreams I've had about them for nearly 30 years. Happier than a pig in s> *> to own the world's best drums.