High off the Glass: Lou Rider #8

Lou Dog, drummer of the Kottonmouth Kings (KMK), got together with Chameleon Glass to create the eighth iteration of Lou’s famed award-winning series of drum-kit tricycle hybrids called Lou Riders. This one, however, was going to have something else special involved…

Describing his original idea for the Lou Riders, Lou says back in 1997 he “saw the concept of attaching drums and percussion to the handlebars of my 1964 Schwinn trike, and this vision became the prototype and original drum-trike, Lou Rider One. Since then I’ve been ridin’ high around the country with my drum-trikes while touring with the Kottonmouth Kings – and winning awards for them too.” When the KMK are not performing on the road, Lou takes his beloved trikes to Low Rider car conventions and shows, where they have won multiple awards including several coveted “Best In Show” designations. A new Lou Rider was made for each KMK tour, so now there are a total of eight Lou Riders made over the last ten years.

Lou Rider 8, named High off the Glass, recently came into being at a two-day KMK gig in Phoenix, Arizona. Lou was feeling a little bummed after watching bandmates D-Loc, Richter and Pakelika share vaporizer hits on stage during the previous night’s show – it’s harder for the drummer to stop in the middle of a set, walk over, enjoy a rip and then get back to drumming. The next day, before an in-store autograph session at Blaze Tobacco & Gift, Lou began to envision a three-way functionality for his drum-trikes instead of just two. He decided that his next Lou Rider would be not just a drum set and street-legal trike, but also a one-of-a-kind, drum-encased hookah and vaporizer system!

Lou shared his wild vision with Chameleon Glass, knowing that each and every part of the drum unit – snare, kick, tom, cymbal and electric – would need to be functional as an instrument of smoke, sound and sight. Chameleon took Lou’s vision, creating smoke and sound-specific pieces that fit each individual part of the drum trike and pay homage to the task of each drum while showcasing the cutting-edge glassblowing techniques involved. Dichro – specifically, the Turbo Cobalt backed Nebula series – is a theme in all the parts, because the intensity of on-stage lighting creates a “bling” effect with dichro’s sparkly reflections. The drum frames were made with special transparent acrylic from Orange County Drums, so all the internal glass vaporizer art could be seen from every angle.

Lou chose a bit of a departure from the classic low rider frame style because of the projects’ desert connection, so High off the Glass rests on an original Mongoose Looptail BMX frame. The frame is covered with a myriad of LED spotlights, and adorned with two three-inch dichro revolver-style spinning marbles, and teardrop sprocket inserts. The taillights are made with one-inch-thick diamond-cut dichro, and the handlebar grips have dichro inset too – as do the pedal reflectors.

The first drum piece to tackle was the largest of the set, the kick drum, which lays down the driving central rhythm of the music and would hold the hookah. A spade-shaped hookah was designed and suspended in the center of the kick drum adorned with dichro marbles, dichro KMK and SRH Clothing logos (the spades seen throughout), and a six-inch-tall, one-inch-thick, diamond-cut all-dichro KMK logo crowning the top. The crown was made with a new press technology created by Marcel Braun at Living Glass Works in Eugene, Oregon, and specially tailored to deliver on this unique project. The hookah bowl piece – also constructed with dichro – sports a forward-facing hood to shield the bowl from rushing air when the kick drum is in use. The hookah is connected with rubber hoses to both of the tom drums (alto and tenor). All mouthpieces are spade-shaped and feature dichro-laden four-plex “whoopzip” style reversals.

Suspended by cushioning neoprene in the center of the alto tom is an Illadelph style condenser coil, the brainchild of mad scientist glassblower Luca. Condenser coils are freezer-capable scientific glass modules with a low-expansion gelatinous ooze that immerse and cradle a hand-wound Pyrex coil inside a heavy wall chamber. The smoke enters the coil and is immediately chilled to freezing temperatures, causing it to become extremely cool and dense, and delivering a substantial smooth draw at the mouthpiece.

The tenor tom holds a tricked-out dual-chamber Chameleon Typhoon that sports reverse axis spirals and wig wags with dichro. The Typhoon is unusual because of specially engineered air directors on each side of each chamber, which cause the smoke-air mixture to vortex inside each section and create an awesome visual swirling smoke show. Extra-cool smoke is delivered to the smoker due to the distance it travels – three times further in its circular path as opposed to a straight path – and a “softer” hit is inhaled because the combusted tar and ash are deposited against the relatively cool surface of the glass.

The snare drum offers Lou a completely self-contained, hands-free, all-glass vaporizer. Instead of including a standard vape whip, Chameleon re-engineered a whip that relies on a glass gather-constriction instead of a brass screen. California Vapors’ new super-juice long-life heating element was chosen as the guts of the vape because it could withstand the constant vibration of the snare drum. It’s encapsulated in a specially shaped vibration-resistant lathe-spun Pyrex vessel.

As for the crash of cymbals, Zildjan offered special one-off titanium chrome cymbals to match the Mongoose frame. The cymbals are held in place with sparkly KMK-logo dichro toppers.

No drum set would be complete without a spare drum, and High off the Glass makes no exception. Using “Muffin Tin” technology created for this project, Chameleon fused 50 pipes into a transparent drum and laid a stunning, large diamond-cut dichro KMK logo on the top. If you want to see this Lou Rider in action, make sure to hit up the next Kottonmouth Kings concert in your area.

• Read more about the Lourider Drum Trikes at www.lourider.net and be sure to check out these websites too!