What sparked your interest in music?
My dad had a jukebox that played 45s when I was a kid. My brother and I would push the buttons and then marvel at the clanky whirring noises it made as it loaded up our selections. Then we would dance and dance to what we picked and then do it all over, regardless of overall genre. So at an early age I was exposed to bands like The Who, Zeppelin, The Beatles, Petula Clark etc. I loved it.
How come you ended up behind a drum kit? Were you always drawn to drums and was it your first and only alternative?
Drums picked up where the jukebox left off. It really clicked for me right around age 12 when nu-metal reared its head. It really hit me when I saw Korn’s ‘Freak on a Leash’ music video. Or Marilyn Manson at the 1998 MTV Music Awards in a G-String. These bands were the KISS of my generation. I was very very drawn to the sound and role that the drums played. It was perfect. My dad then took me to my music store and rented me a drum set which I later bought. Incidentally it was sold to me by Daniel Adair, the drummer of Nickelback, who is himself an extremely talented drummer. Small world, eh?
To you, what defines a great drummer? Name a few that you think stand out in today’s scene (regardless of genre) and some that helped shape you as a drummer growing up and learning the instrument.
To me a good drummer is one who can communicate the emotional content of the music they play. That doesn’t mean you have to play like Dave Weckl. It just means you’re in touch with what the music needs and can deliver that with actual feeling. If you have chops and technical facility, even better, but is not always required. Some killer drummers I like these days areTyler from Yautja, Jared from Rivers of Nihil, Nick from Baptists/Sumac, Steve Vargas from Greber/The Great Sabatini. Drummers that helped shape me as a youngster: Nick Barker, Joey Jordison, David Silveria, John Bonham, Vinnie Paul, Jimmy Chamberlain, Neil Peart, Gene Hoglan. I’ve known Gene for around 17 years. He’s one of my oldest friends and was my teacher for many years, when he lived in Vancouver. I learned an immense amount from him and owe him much. In my opinion, he is the best metal drummer ever and there is much evidence to back that up. So I always looked to him for inspiration and how to navigate the music business as well, because he’s been mostly successful in doing so and is also just a real nice guy.
Before joining Revocation in 2015, you were in 3 Inches of Blood for quite some time – a band pretty different style-wise compared to Revocation. How was the transition jumping straight in to the Revocation sphere of massive speed and technical playing? Was this something you always practiced?
It’s funny – I always tried to play along to bands like Dimmu Borgir but couldn’t really as a teen. Then I joined 3 Inches of Blood and still needed mad skills to do it but not quite as much as a technical death metal band. Then when Revocation came along, I had the years of playing under my belt and the understanding of how to learn complicated parts. So by that age (27), I was well equipped to learn Revocation’s music. Music like that is hard, but it’s also just something you need to break down and listen to over and over and really try to understand and make groove. So I was sort of intimated at first, but the more I listened (slowly) the more I understood and thought, “Oh okay it’s this and that, but just played really fast, COOL”.
Have you always been into technical death metal and what did you do before the 3 Inches of Blood and Revocation eras?
I did always love technical death metal and my first band was pretty much that. It was called Angel Grinder and I started it when I was 16. Not a bad name for a first band, huh? Also before 3 Inches of Blood, I played in a band called Just Cause in which Gene Hogan was the drummer before I joined and I had to learn all of his parts. I sat in a room with him and played along to the record. Anytime I played something wrong he would stop me and hop on the kit and show me exactly what he played. So that was pretty cool.
You have played in bands for the better part of your adult life, traveled the world and made records. Tell us about some of the stand-out moments so far in your career.
Jamming with the Dillinger Escape Plan for four days in May 2007 when I was 21 was a real highlight. Playing Wacken 2008 was amazing. Touring with Gorguts, Exodus, Type O Negative were big ones. Becoming a teacher/host on Drumeo. Joining Zimmer Hole.
If you weren’t playing music and being in a band, what would you do for a career, you think?
I’ve been in the film industry in Vancouver since I was eight, so I’d probably keep pursuing different facets of that. I’ve also always loved martial arts, so I would probably throw myself back into that.
What drum kit do you use for live shows and the studio?
Studio and live with Revocation I use my Performer Birch-Bubinga Starclassic kit. Molten Brown Burst. Beautiful drum set.
What is your relationship to e-drums?
I own a set at home. Roland TD-15. I use it all the time to practice and sometimes to record drum ideas. It’s a great tool!
What Toontrack products do you use and what role do they play in your creative process?
I use Superior Drummer 3 program, which I run through Logic 10. I love it. It really helps me communicate a proper drum idea and vibe to others. I demoed the whole new Revocation record on Superior Drummer so I could better understand the structure of the songs and also what drum parts would sound like.
FIVE MUST-HAVE ALBUMS.
Blue Oyster Cult “Secret Treaties”. Every song is good, its an amazing 70’s rock album.
Judas Priest “British Steel”. Too many hits to count, just a solid damn record, gotta bow down to the Priest!
Morbid Angel “Covenant”. About as evil sounding and disgusting as it gets, Morbid Angel has created some very important death metal masterpieces.
Amy Winehouse “Back to Black”. I’ve been listening to this a lot lately, Amy was our generation’s Dinah Washington. The songs are fantastic. She’s sad and damaged. That is very heavy metal, just a different genre.
Rush “Moving Pictures”. About as focused and well executed as prog rock songwriting gets. If you can drum to this stuff, you can drum to just about anything.
QUICK Q SHOOTOUT.
Double-pedal or double bass drums?
– Double bass drums
Click track or no click track in your headphones live?
You can only keep one cymbal on your kit – which one?
Sabian – 21” HHX Plosion
Club gig or festival – what do you prefer?
Dream team band (with you on the drums!):
Frank Zappa on guitar, Buck Dharma on guitar, Geddy Lee on bass, Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Rick Wakeman on keys and Ruth Underwood on percussion.