1.What is your typical schedule on the road (or in the studio) like?
Well, the road and studio are two different animals but I try to treat drumming in the studio the same as I treat drumming live. I do the same stretches and warm ups to get amped up before a show in the studio and the reason is because I want a lot of live energy on the recording. My day on the road is usually, wake up at noon (life is hard) chug a bucket of coffee to wake up from my zombie like state, down some hash browns and eggs, check on my drum tech and make sure my kit feels comfortable to play, dash to any press, interviews or meet n' greets for the adoring fans and finally get ready for the show. Come showtime I try my best to MELT FACES WITH PUMMELING ROCK, and after the show I'm usually in catering scarfing down food to make up for the millions of calories lost! Later on we like to hang with fans, the other bands and cool local folks before we head to the next city. In the studio it's pretty much the same routine only less press and WAY more coffee!!!
2.What are some of the things you love about your job?
What isn't to love about my job?! It's always been more than just a job for my sister and I, considering we started this band when I was 10 and she was 13. It's our whole life and I have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be doing this. It's a lot of work and it's easy to forget how much you love music, making music, playing music, traveling around the world, meeting incredible people who come out to see us... It's endless how much I love what I do.
3.What are some of the drawbacks?
Sometimes flights suck when you're traveling for band work! I LOOOOOVE traveling but dealing with flights can be a pain in the ass! Usually we have to get up ridiculously early (which I hate) to get to the airport 3 hours before our flight, and the reason why is because we have to check like 25 pieces of gear! That's no fun when you're running on 2.5 hours of sleep (WHERE'S THE STARBUCKS!!!) Then ya gotta sit in a chair for 14 hours, hope and pray all the gear makes it, ya gotta fight jet lag, eat airport food... BUT WAIT! I got no room to complain! I get to see Europe and Japan and get to rock faces around the world! Once we arrive to where we're going it makes it all worth it! I feel so lucky to do what I do and it never gets old!† I can't think of any other drawbacks, maybe using public showers or hunting down laundromats... again, no room to complain!!
4.What made you want to play drums, and how did you get started?
I was always bangin' on something as soon as I learned how to walk, but I think when I was around 3 years old I started getting into it. My sister got a little plastic K-Mart toy drum set for her birthday and I used to sneak into her room when she wasn't around to play it! I think Eventually my sister just gave it to me, so I beat that thing to death! When I was 5 I saw my dad play bass for the first time in one of his bands and I would always watch the drummer, it just looked like the most fun instrument ever! Around that time my parents got me my first real drum kit; an old 1960s purple sparkle Ludwig kit that I lOOOOOOVED for many many years! Then I heard the song Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin in the car and my life changed! That drum intro was the coolest thing I'd ever heard and I had to learn it!
5.Whom did you study with and how did that affect you?
I had a few teachers here and there when I got older but my real teachers growing up were John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Mitch Mitchell, Bill Ward, Alex Van Halen, Nick Mason... The list goes on and on!! I would just jam on the drums to old records, sometimes on the couch if my parents and sister we're sleeping!†
6.What was your most difficult -or challenging- gig, and how did you handle that?
I think my most challenging gig was when Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour asked me to play one of his solo shows in Vegas. His drummer, Roy Mayorga, was having a baby with his wife and wasn't able to do the gig, so I filled in for him. I learned all the songs, which were mostly fast punk songs like Buzzcocks, Ramones, Green Day, etc. I had them all figured out before I showed up for rehearsal, but when we started playing together he kept asking me to up the tempo and play them even faster (in Corey's usual explosively funny personality). It was very difficult to get through a rehearsal without my sides hurting from laughing so much! That was possibly the most fun gig I've ever done and also the most challenging. We played outside at the Vegas Hard Rock in 114 degree weather playing fast punk songs at 10 BPM faster than the recording! My right arm fell off and I had to sew it back on after the show!!!†
7.How did you get your current gig?
I started Halestorm with my sister when I was 10 and she was 13 years old, and haven't stopped since! I think we were just the crazy kids growing up that thought it would be cool to start a band, the only thing is we haven't grown out of it! We are still the same crazy 2 kids that we've always been, and I couldn't be happier!!
8.Are there certain shows that stick out in your mind above others?
It doesn't matter if we play in front of 60,000 people or 6 people we love playing with each other so much that there is NEVER a bad gig, no matter what goes wrong or if one of us is sick (in my case usually hungover!), playing music together is therapy for us. That being said, there are a lot of shows that just blow our minds, such as playing the big festivals in Europe like Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park, Download, etc. Loud Park in Tokyo Japan, all the huge U.S.A. festivals like Rock on the Range, Rockfest in Kansas City, Carolina Rebellion, etc. There is no drug in the world that can compare to playing in front of that many people, it's such a rush!††
9.What was the strangest thing that has happened (or that you have seen,) during a tour?
Our merch girl got bit by a fan on the knuckles in Texas once during a meet n' greet! She got bit so hard that she had to see a doctor to get her hand fixed up! That was a weird experience, I think that person had a few screws loose! It's hard to pick just one thing as "the strangest" cuz it's a f***ing circus out here! Weird stuff happens to us everyday in our line of work!†
10.What do you do to maintain your versatility as a drummer?
Hmmmmm interesting question! I'm flattered you think I'm versatile haha!! I guess the best thing to do is to listen to a lot of different styles of music and learn all that you can from different players out there. For me I try to stay versatile when it comes to songwriting and what influences me. Being a drummer I usually think about the rhythm first and that helps me come up with a melody, a guitar riff or lyrics that all fit together in a groove. So listening to different drummers and different drumming styles can help me write and develop a groove that I can write musical parts on top of.
11.Whatís your current set-up, and what are you digging about it?
What am I digging about my new Ludwigs? In short... EVERYTHING!!! Right now I'm playing a classic maple series kit in the Gold Glass Glitter wrap finish. They look stunning and sound monstrous! I play a 14X26" Kick, 10X14, 16X16 & 16X18 toms and I usually bounce between my 6.5X14" Supraphonic 402,†6.5X14"Acrolite and†6.5X14" hammered brass snares. I love the new Atlas hardware, it stands up to all the abuse I give them and the Pedals are insane! I've honestly never felt pedals that smooth in all my years of playing. I've used the Speed King pedal for years and always stood by it but I think the Atlas pedal may have topped it. †
12.How important to you are the drums you play and how do you feel it affects your playing?
They affect my entire mood and style while I'm playing. Ludwig has been a part of my life since I first got into music so when I finally had the chance to work with a company as one of their artists, Ludwig was a no brainer. Every drummer that inspired me growing up was a Ludwig player and now I can say that I'm one of them!
13.What drew you to Ludwig?
Just hearing John Bonham's cannon-esk drums on those old Zeppelin records and watching videos of Buddy Rich playing things no one had ever seen before back in his day or Ginger Baker playing with a whole new ground breaking innovation for that time. All of these players changed the way I approached playing drums because they added so much to the sound of their bands with an irreplaceable style. They had such a natural aggression and the drum tones weren't just dead thuds but wide open sounding drums. Ludwig inspired me to play how I play to this day.†Not only do I get to carry on the name of my influences to inspire new young drummers to play them, I get to work with an amazing family like drum company of down to earth people who I consider my close friends... What more could you ask for!
14.Can you describe how you tweak your drums to get your personal sound?
I like to tune them very open, I love hearing the natural ring of the drum, the air being pushed out of the bass drum, the sustained "ping" of the snare drum... it's almost unheard of nowadays! I'm lucky enough to have a sound engineer and a drum tech on the road who like to hear the real sound and dynamics of the drums. Most sound guys would rather just trigger everything and use digital plug ins, or just gaff tape the heads till they sound as if you were punching a shower curtain! Our sound guy is an old fashioned kinda cat who loves using analog gear and loves to make my Ludwigs sound like thunder! I once told him "Mike, make my drums sound like dump trucks falling from the sky!"
15.Are there any upcoming projects that you are particularly excited about?
Right now I'm very excited to do our first regional headline tour on our second album ("The Strange Case Of... Halestorm) and shortly after that we're going to do our very first European headline tour EVER!!! Coming up in the summer we have the Carnival Of Madness tour with Evanescence, Chevelle, New Medicine and Cavo which will be very big and very fun, and on that tour we'll be supporting our newest single "I Miss The Misery", my personal favorite song on the new record. Other than that just same old rock forward!
16.Who are you major drumming influences?
Most of my influences were Ludwig players like†John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich, Mitch Mitchell, Alex Van Halen, Nick Mason... as well as Keith Moon, Gene Krupa, Dave Grohl, Bill Ward, Sean Kinney... I even dig a lot of modern players like Travis Barker, Morgan Rose, Shannon Larkin, Will Hunt, Sal Giancarelli, Mike Wengren, Roy Mayorga, Dirk Verbeuren, Ray Luzier, Tim D'Onofrio... I know I'm missing a lot of them! Most of these players I've gotten to share the stage with and watch every night. I've learned a lot from watching and talking to many drummers I've met and had the†privilege to hang out with.
17.What are your five favorite albums (drumming or otherwise)?
MANNNNNN that is a long LONG list! Well If I we're stranded on a desert island and had to pick 5 albums right now I guess they would be...
Led Zeppelin - II