Inside a Baltimore self-storage unit sits one of the largest drum kits in the world. Bill Allen, 60, rents a 15-by-20-foot unit filled with percussive tools that took years to assemble. Five or six days a week, Allen bicycles four miles from his home in Dundalk, Md., to play long, winding drum solos that no one besides those within earshot will hear, according to a feature by “The Washington Post.”
The kit includes two bass drums, six sets of chimes, one cowbell, 13 cymbals, two floor toms, 12 gongs, one hi-hat, one snare, three timpani drums, 24 toms and three triangles. “It’s not the biggest, but I would certainly agree that it’s among the largest ones we’ve seen come through here,” Michael Parillo, associate editor for “Modern Drummer” magazine told the source. The magazine featured Allen in in a “Kit of the Month” column in 2006.
Allen, who suffers from schizophrenia, has survived working odd jobs and living on government disabilities, but treats Unit 41 as his office and sanctuary, the source reported. The drummer goes by the stage name Bill Thunder, and is committed to playing Christian rock. Although he’s played in a steady stream of bands, none has landed a recording contract or played much outside of Maryland.
But fame isn’t really what Allen is after, according to the article. He simply gets joy from playing drum solos, alone, for hours at a time inside the self-storage unit. “[Playing is] like therapy,” he told the source. “I feel like I’m riding through the universe.”
- The Washington Post: Complicated Rhythms