I was born with amnyoplasia congenita which is a form of arthrogryposis, basically I have no hip or knee joints and my hands are fused at my wrists. When I was little drums always captivated me, anytime I went by s store that had a drum set in the widow or I saw one I had to go check it out. I started playing on my mother’s pots and pans and then eventually moved up to a bongo drum which I played so much I wore a hole in it.
I was 5 when I received my first set, I had so much to figure out like how I was going to hold my sticks and how I was going to work my bass drum and hi hats, but I was determined and wanted to be a drummer and I wasn’t going to let my differences stop me. I don’t use the standard techniques like match grip or traditional grip, heel toe, heel up, heel down, swivel, I use the Shawn Wells techniques as I like to say. I played backwards for years see I’m a lefty but I had everything set up like a righty so I never used my hi hat pedal so I came up with a stick technique that made it sound like I was opening and closing them. When I was 18 I was playing in the church band in Oceana and the music director asked “Shawn have you ever tried setting your kit up like a true lefty”. I said no I hadn’t and we set them up like a true lefty and that’s how I’ve been setting up ever since believe me it was weird at first lol.
Over the years I’ve played in many types of bands, country, rock, hard rock, alternative, heavy metal, and contemporary Christian Rock/blues. Thru the years I found that when I was playing long shows my hands would start to get fatigued and sweaty, I tried gloves…. They didn’t work, I tried tape…. Didn’t work either. I found that I started to concentrate more on not dropping my sticks than playing, so in 2004 I created my sleeve, and strap design…..I wish I would have thought of it 20yrs ago, it made me not focus on losing my sticks and I don’t go thru nearly as many sticks as I used to. My gripping design can be used with any drumstick and are for any and all drummers, not just drummers with hand differences or gripping issues.
I use Diamondback sticks to make the sticks I use….. But any size or brand you use my gripping design. My design comes 2 ways, their is a strap version and a rubber sleeve that easily slides over you stick, so if you only have trouble with one stick you can slide the rubber sleeve over just one stick, slide your thumb in or whatever finger you prefer and start jamming!
With the help of Dom Famularo and Andrew Hewitt from CAN-DO MUSOS I’m slowly but surely getting them out to the public. I’ve been apart of CAN-DO MUSOS for about 2 years now, it’s a wonderful website for musicians with disabilities, you can check them out at www.candomusos.com .
Right now I’m in a band called CORE, we formed back in 2012, we are an indie rock band, we are finishing up our official debut album. Whenever someone asks me how I’m able to play I always say God is the reason. Here are some links of me playing and also a link to the tv interview I did after I was on drumtalktv and my video reached 500,000 views…. I’m getting ready to be back on drumtalktv next month.