With a taste for exotic instruments, an enthusiastic spirit, and an appropriate beard, Todd Bragg seems born for his role as percussionist with Crowder.
The guest lineup for the recent Gateway Men’s Summit included Crowder leading worship in a midday slot. Inbetween my duties playing percussion with Gateway Worship at that event, I had the pleasure of meeting Todd and setting up this short interview.
Worship Musician: What’s the Todd Bragg percussion story?
Todd Bragg: I started playing drums when I was six years old on a toy drum set with paper heads. My first real drum set came a few years later. I began to get serious about playing when I was around 13 and started taking private lessons. Playing in an orchestral setting at church taught me to think more musically as a whole and not only about the drums. In college, I took some percussion classes and played in the jazz ensemble. My degree in drafting and design led me to designing furniture for a few years before going into music full time.
After I moved to Houston to finish school, I began playing drums at Second Baptist where I met Cliff Young, who was starting Caedmon’s Call. I played drum kit with Caedmon’s for 18 years along with Garett Buell on percussion. We approached the songs in Caedmon’s as if there was just one rhythm part that was needed instead of a drum kit part with a percussion part on top. It sounds simple, but this expanded the way that I thought about drums as well as providing a platform to explore ideas.
WM: Your arsenal of instruments is quite eclectic. What influences your choices?
Todd: I really enjoy finding interesting sounds and modifying my instruments. I love to restore vintage drums and experiment with old or broken instruments. The idea of bringing something back to life is a practical or tangible way to live out redemption. That is so inspiring to me!
Many of the instruments make sounds inspired by digital samples and I search out ways to create those organically. For example, bells and metal objects that have a long sustain can simulate a modular synth sound. Bass drums, various shakers, and caxixis when played together become my version of a filtered drum kit loop. At least, that’s what is in my head.
WM: What goes into creating your percussion parts in Crowder?
Todd: There is usually an overall tone or theme that we are trying to articulate musically. The “front porch/bluegrass” influence with Crowder makes me think of folks getting together and making music with whatever instruments they have or can find and just having fun! It’s very celebratory, not polished or perfect, just simple and relational. I hit the antique stores, garage sales, and vintage music shops to build up a library of sounds–which explains my old metal gas can “drum!”