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MEET DAVE MCGRAW.

Meet Dave McGraw, drummer in Cattle Decapitation. More about his Death Metal MIDI pack here: Death Metal MIDI

Name: Dave McGraw
Location: Seattle, WA
Links: https://www.facebook.com/cattledecapitation/

When did you realize you had a passion for music?
I noticed I had a passion for music when my uncle played Joe Satriani’s “The Extremist” album for me when I was around nine or ten. I just could not stop air guitar playing and drumming, even though I had no idea what I was doing.

How come you ended up behind the drums?
When I was thirteen years old, my neighborhood friends and I decided one day while listening to “…And Justice For All”, that we were going to start a band. Everyone was already playing guitar or bass, so I stepped up to the drummer role.

Starting out, who were some of your heroes and who shaped you as a drummer?
At the very beginning, I was learning to play  drums to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath because I was definitely not ready to jump straight into Metallica and Sepultura haha. So drummers like Ian Pace were (and still are) a huge influence. Then later on drummers like Lars Ulrich, Nick Menza, Igor Cavalera, Ingo Schwichtenberg, Dennis Chambers, Simon Phillips, Dave Weckl and many more helped shape my style and versatility.

As far as this MIDI pack, what did you try to cover and what do you hope the end-user takes away from it?
Coming into this project, I wanted to cover as many beats and rhythm variations, in as many different styles, feels and grooves as possible, so that way the end-user would have more to work with and not feel limited in their creativity. I think that the end-users of this MIDI pack will be pleasantly surprised with what we did and I hope that it allows them to take their songwriting and creativity to the next level.

Comparing death metal from when it was “new” in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s through to today, a lot has changed – especially when it comes to speed and technicality. Why do you think it is that the overall level of musicianship has gone up?
I think that death metal, and Metal in general, have basically experienced what jazz did as far as evolution of the genre and evolution of musicians. Metal musicians tend to always work hard to perfect their craft, and with the internet and social media coming into the scene, it’s allowed people to connect and discover newer levels of musicianship which almost (in my opinion) helps to fast track someone into higher standards of technical capability. When I got into the metal scene, there was no YouTube videos of seasoned metal musicians that showed you how learn a particular technique, you had to learn it by ear, or go to the show and talk to that individual in person. So I think we’re in the beginning (or midst) of a sort of musical golden age, there are so many good players out there now, and I think that having a tool like Superior Drummer has also been a huge part in allowing end-users to create music at a much more comfortable and faster pace.

The music you play with Cattle Decapitation is beyond intense, particularly drum-wise. Is it extremely exhausting to play a full show or is performing blast beats and double bass drums in 260 BPM for hours on end something you learn to master, like a long distance runner type of thing?
For me personally, it all comes down to technique. Granted, that playing this kind of music does make you use everything you’ve got, every time. While on tour though, after a couple of nights  your body will adjust, and it becomes more routine. I do, however, enjoy working out at the gym as much as possible, because this is definitely a high-intensity style that requires some physical conditioning, as well as focus. Only when I’m focused and feeling good is when technique will come into play and do the rest. Some nights I may be more tired than others, I haven’t fainted… yet!

The band formed way back in 1996 and you joined almost ten years ago. How has the last decade been and what’s the best part of being in Cattle Decapitation?
It’s been quite an amazing journey thus far. My favorite thing about being in a band like Cattle Decapitation, is the dedication to the art of what we do. Obviously I love the traveling, writing music, and all the positive things the band and its members have brought to my life. I look forward to many more years of releasing our music, and hopefully people dig it.

If you weren’t playing death metal, what would you do?
I actually play several different styles of music, it’s just that I’m known more for being a death metal drummer. If I wasn’t touring for death metal bands, I would probably be doing another style, whatever it may be.

What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you on stage or in the studio?
The worst thing I’ve experienced, and still do sometimes, is an indescribable anxiety that keeps me from feeling comfortable and able to relax, which affects my playing from time to time. Pretty common amongst musicians, but for me it started happening the last few years. That’s the worst thing for me. I can handle pretty much anything else. I’ve played shows literally right after having general surgery on tour in Berlin, and also played festivals on the worst possible gear, but you always make the best of it, and try your hardest to put on a great performance.

Seeing as you’re a drummer, what’s your take on software such as Superior Drummer 3 and how do you use it in your own or your band’s creative processes?
I think that Superior Drummer is an essential tool for all musicians who want to produce music at their own pace, with human-like realistic dynamics and control. I’ve been very fortunate to be around phenomenal musicians and songwriters my whole life, and I remember how much we used to hate having to use older software and technology to write drum parts. But ever since Toontrack started releasing its drummer software products, it’s been a breeze. I like to use Superior Drummer to expedite my creative process when it comes down to writing drum parts. I’ll have an idea for a section, and start working with that by finding a groove or beat that’s similar to what I have in mind, and then go from there, this way it’s much easier to write music and share ideas with my bandmates, and the high quality of the samples really helps with the “end-product-vision”. I have my Roland TD-30 kit setup with Superior Drummer as well, so a lot of time I’ll lay down a part and then mess around with different sounds, or use the beats in the library in combination with my personal track to save some time. I love Superior Drummer!

LISTEN TO DAVE IN ACTION.

INSIDE: THE AYOTTE CLASSIC KIT.

Learn more about this wood-hooped marvel and why we chose to sample it for the Superior Drummer 3 core library.

LOW TRANSIENT BUS.

Try this technique to add more low-end punch to your drum mix.

VALVE DISTORTION BOX.

Add some grit to your mix! In this feature, we dive into the world of the Valve Distortion Box.

VELOCITY CURVE AND GHOST NOTES.

Learn how to save hours of MIDI editing with this smart workaround.

GRID EDITOR CUSTOM SELECTION.

Learn how to use this super-handy new feature in the Grid Editor of Superior Drummer 3.

CUSTOMIZING THE ENVELOPE FOR THE TEMPO.

How to shorten the decay of reverberant drums in Supeiror Drummer 3.

AUDIO DEMO MIXED BY BOB ROCK.

A stunning track, mixed by Bob Rock and featuring the Hard Rock EZX.

NEW EZX RELEASE.

Want Bob Rock’s drum mix on your next song? Here you go.

ARTIST PROFILE: ALAN SACHA LASKOW

Meet Alan Sacha Laskow, Canadian guitar player and multi-talent that makes album-quality productions right from his basement.

ARTIST PROFILE: TOMMY ROGERS.

Meet longtime Toontrack user and Between the Buried and Me singer/keyboardist Tommy Rogers.

HARD ROCK EZX DEMO.

A sample of what’s in store on May 15.

NEW EZMIX PACK RELEASE.

50 settings to make your mixes sound warmer and more defined.

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