Interview: Rian Dawson, Drummer of All Time Low

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Rian Dawson is the drummer and percussionist of All Time Low, an American pop punk band. He’s also a coffee addict, watch collector, gadget enthusiast and avid EDCer. He set some time aside from touring to share his daily essentials with us and talk about interesting hobbies and the gear that goes with them.

What’s in your everyday carry?

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View Rian Dawson’s Full Everyday Carry
  • Moleskine Notebook – I use this when using Pro Tools to make notes to myself. I love being able to listen to a song all the way through without stopping, and having a notepad nearby is great so I can jot down ideas without losing my place in the song.
  • Tom Ford Oud Wood — I am a fan of smelling good, but also don’t like to smell like every other guy on the street.
  • CRKT Folding Tactical Knife – I always like to have this nearby, not even for personal safety but just because I always find it to be handy to have.
  • Panerai Luminor Marina watch – I have loved wearing watches ever since I was a kid. As I’ve grown up, I’ve started collecting them. The Panerai is one I wear every day as it seems to fit whatever attire I’m wearing that day. Shorts and a T-shirt all the way to a suit, I’m a fan.
  • Carbon Fiber Bottle Opener – I keep this in my wallet just in case another bottle opener isn’t handy. I had a steel one but it weighed down my wallet too much, so I made the swap to carbon fiber.
  • Coffee Beans – No matter where in the world I am, I try to get a sampling of the coffee.
  • JH16 Custom Molded In-Ear Monitors – When mixing audio, it’s very important to have a clear, well represented sound no matter what the environment.
  • WD My Passport Wireless – This hard drive is great for backing up because as soon as it recognizes a wireless network, it seamlessly backs up all your data in the background. I also use the WD hard drives for all of my Pro Tools sessions for easy access.
  • AAA Future Hearts Laminate – Tough to get around on tour without one of these. This allows access backstage, on stage, out front, out back, in the pit… you get the point!

For our readers who might not be familiar, could you introduce yourself and what you’ve been up to?

I am a drummer in the band All Time Low. We’re currently on tour around Europe for the summer and just finished up a nationwide headlining tour in the U.S. called the Future Hearts tour.

What is your approach to creating your work and staying focused?

I am very passionate about everything audio related. About five years ago, I started becoming obsessed with how records were made. How each record has its own unique sound, and what goes into making each record sound different. So I started learning how to engineer in the studio, and that branched into mixing audio. When I am not touring, I spend a fair amount of my free time in my home studio trying to learn more and more about mixing and engineering. I think it’s important to have other interests when in a touring band, as you often find yourself with a good amount of down time.

You mention having other interests. Besides audio, what other hobbies do you enjoy? Does your EDC play into them at all?

I have an obsession (read: addiction) to caffeine. I love finding good coffee, which is great because I am in a different city every day, so I can always find the best local spots and buy some beans. I keep a coffee grinder, kettle, and french press on the bus at all times so I am never far from a fresh cup of coffee.

As I stated before, I am also always looking for new music to mix, which explains the JH Audio In-Ears and Western Digital hard drive. I keep all my Pro Tools (Editor’s Note: Pro Tools is industry-standard music production software) sessions on an external drive, and back them up again to the cloud. I have the in-ears so I always have the same audio reference, as a pair of speakers can sound different depending on what room you’re in. It’s great to be able to go to any studio in the world and have my sessions on me at all times through monitors that I am familiar with.

Why do you EDC?

I have always liked feeling very self-sufficient. I’ve been touring now for seven years and have learned the best way to have fun on the road is to learn how to best spend your free time. I love being able to advance other hobbies and interests in my life no matter where in the world I may be. It’s nice to start a day mixing a song in the bus, go to a watch shop in the afternoon, and play drums on stage at night. It sure as hell beats sitting in the dressing room all day.

Clearly you put in a lot of thought into your carry — which item is your most essential?

This is a tough one as I truly consider all of the items in my EDC absolutely essential. But if I had to pick one, it would be the WD Hard Drive. Within that hard drive are hundreds of gigs and countless hours worth of Pro Tools sessions that I have mixed and I would be absolutely devastated if I lost it. Of course I also have a redundancy back up, but still… the thought of losing it is horrible. The cologne really does smell good though…

Do you and the band have any recent accomplishments or releases we should know about?

A very proud accomplishment is our newest album Future Hearts reaching the top ten charts worldwide and in some countries reaching number one. This is a true testament to our fans and their loyalty so I am most proud of accomplishing that and truly grateful to our fans.

It sounds like you’ve got a great balance of doing fulfilling work and using your free time productively. Could you share some advice on that?

I think people overlook the idea of having a hobby. As busy as you may be, it’s very important to be able to do something that you truly enjoy (even if you enjoy your work, I don’t consider that a hobby). This doesn’t need to be anything expensive or terribly time consuming, I find a huge amount of joy in a very good cup of coffee in the morning, something as small as this can change the outlook of your day. I can lose myself for a few hours looking at watches, or dissecting a mix of a great sounding song. Having everyday interests can make the boring or bad days turn around quite quickly. Find something to enjoy in the little things!

You can keep up with Rian on Twitter and check out his music with All Time Low at their website.

Photos courtesy of Rian Dawson.

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