Who: Pork Pie Percussion
What: A custom drum company owned and operated by Bill Detamore, along with 5 full-time employees
Where: Based in Canoga Park
When: Founded in 1987
@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.
Unless you play drums, chances are you don’t need to know much about where they are made, how they are made and who makes them.
What music lovers should know is that one of the oldest custom drum companies in the U.S., Pork Pie Percussion, is located right here in Los Angeles, and they work with the drummers behind some of your favorite bands and musicians.
That list includes Frank Ferrer (Guns N Roses), Butch Norton (Lucinda Williams), George Recili (Bob Dylan), Robin Diaz (Daughtry), Dave Klein (Agent Orange), and Marky Ramone (The Ramones).
“I have been very lucky to work with some of my musical heroes,” said Pork Pie founder and owner, Bill Detamore. “Pork Pie started in a garage and now has three buildings making the finest and most creative custom drums on the market.”
The following interview was conducted by email. Some responses have been edited.
@LA_SMB: What was the inspiration for Pork Pie Percussion?
Bill Detamore: My inspiration started with playing drums and wanting to know how they work. I started buying old drums and customizing them for resale. I then bought a snare drum kit from a small company called The Corder Drum Company. I made that one, then bought 2, then 4 and so on.
I put a serial number on every drum I make at my shop. I am now up to 45,000 drums. I love creating things and bringing new ideas to the market. This is all driven by passion.
@LA_SMB: You still hand sign all of your drums. What are the advantages to remaining a boutique manufacturer?
B.D.: Yes I still sign all of the drums made here at my shop. I take a lot of pride in that. Being a small drum manufacturer allows me to change things on a dime and also bring new drums out with no real problems. I can also make what I want and not really be concerned with what everyone else is doing. One thing I have never actually done is be to worried about what others are doing. I make what makes me happy.
@LA_SMB: What are the limitations or advantages to making musical instruments these days?
B.D.: The only limitation to making drums these days is a struggling economy. Business has been rough since 2007.
@LA_SMB: How has the industry changed since you started Pork Pie?
B.D.: The drum industry has been bombarded with imported drum sets, but I see that trend changing. Last NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, earlier this year, many dealers said they were just tired of import crap and wanted to start focusing on quality again.
@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?
B.D.: Being in LA is great because my biggest dealer, Guitar Center, is very close to my shop. I am able to make a new drum and take it to them to get business going with no real hassles. Studios being here is also great. I have studio musicians coming buy quite often to buy drums or use them for records, and also studios that have Pie kits for the house kit.
@LA_SMB: Where will Pork Pie be in 5 years?
B.D.: I will be here in my shop. I would like to grow the business to a pre-recession level and stay there. I have no ambition of taking over the world or becoming Ludwig or DW. Happy where I am right now.
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Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.
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Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.