Minneapolis-based venture makes only custom drum sets, started as a hobby
Growing up, Risen Drums founder Keith Anderson was used to hearing this family mantra: “Passion runs the world.”
Putting that idea into motion after college, Anderson followed his passion for music by joining a band as the drummer. But more than that, he became interested in the instrument itself. “I got more involved with every aspect about drums — how they were made, why they react the way they do,” he says.
As a result, Anderson started making his own drum set as a hobby. There was no business plan to start a drum company at the time; it was simply his passion. Anderson himself played the first set of drums he crafted, in his friend’s living room. He then started to make sets for his drummer friends, who would take them on tour and play them. “Slowly, this hobby turned into people liking them and paying for them,” he says.
Now, 16 years later, Anderson runs a small but full-fledged drum set company. With a shop in northeast Minneapolis, the business employs three full-time employees (including Anderson) and last year produced about 150 custom drum sets.
Risen Drums are played by the likes of Steve Goold, the drummer for Sara Bareilles, and the band Owl City from Owatonna. Other local Minnesota bands keen on Risen Drums include Mint Condition and 4 on the Floor.
Most musicians who approach Anderson are professional drummers, as the company produces only custom drums — detailed and specific to each customer. It offers no standard drum kits; indeed, the only way to purchase a set from Risen Drums is to contact the company directly and consult with Anderson himself. Whether a drummer wants a specific style of artwork or a particular wood cut to a desired thickness, the company works to create a product that's unique to him or her. Most drum sets take about three months to build, start to finish. On average, each set costs about $3,500.
A few years ago, Risen Drums launched its GLO kit, which has become a popular feature among its customers. Instead of standard wood, the drum shell is made of a transparent, white acrylic material with lights inside. Programmed through a device like a lighting board on a stage, the drums change colors while being played.
The team at Risen Drums isn’t afraid of a new challenge. In December 2014, the company created a wheelchair-accessible drum set for a local drummer who'd been paralyzed in an accident, coming up with a way that the drummer didn’t have to use his feet to play.
Creating custom drum sets makes for interesting, ever-changing work, says Anderson: “I love that it’s always different. There’s no monotony to what we do — and there’s a lot of artistry that goes into each day.”