SLOVAK DRUMMER Interview – November 2010

Original version: http://www.slovakdrummer.sk/?q=node/1740

English version:

Your first drumming experience was banging on the kitchen equipment at he age of 5. Why did you choose drums?

I don’t know, it was just something I liked like many other small kids banging on some stuff that makes a noise, but this is my first memory of being interested by making sounds.

Where did you study playing drums?

I started studying in Reykjavik,Iceland when I was 13 years old with a teacher that was recommended. After a few months he called my parents and said that he had taught me all that he knew, so that was the end of that period. Then later I started my serious classical studies at a jazz conservatory at the age of 18 after I had finished my basic school. I still think its important for drummers to have some alternative education for the future. You never know what happens or if you can actually make a living from music, but if you are dedicated and you work hard then you certainly will.

Which drummers most influenced your drumming?

I am like so many others influenced by the greats like Gadd, Vinnie, Erskine, Weckl and Elvin, then of course people like Billy Hart and several Icelandic drummers influenced me too since they were the only ones I could actually go and see live.

You are one of the founders of the jazzfunk icon Mezzoforte. How and with who did you found it?

The band was formed by two pairs, me and Johann the bassplayer and then Fridrik and Eythor. We were hanging around a music shop in Reykjavik that Fridrik the guitarplayer was working at and we shared the same interest in Rock and then Jazz Rock, we just met for a few rehearsals got drunk together and hung out. Then things gradually evolved and led to some small gigs around the Reykjavik area as support band and also playing in some high schools on music nights.

Your latest album „Volcanic“ with Mezzoforte was released in November 2010. How did it come to existence and how did you record it?

The album has been developing for 2 years and we made lots of ideas and demos, then we went to a big fishing lodge on the east coast to record the demos with the band and write together, after that we went to another volcanic island to make the actual master recordings, which took us to Köln & Berlin for overdubs with our foreign players like Bruno, Sebastian and Thomas Dyani. A few tracks I sent to LA where Louis Conti played percussion on them. Then all the rest was finished and mixed in Reykjavik.

I used my Premier Signia kit on the album, 10 different snares and also an old Ludwig kit that I have had for many years. So half of the album is with the Premier kit and half with the Ludwig and also a very old Slingerland Radio king snare that I got from a recording studio, dark and deep sounding drum. Everyone in the band is very fluent on Pro tools so we all work on different things, some editing and choosing takes, creating loops and over dubbing. It’s actually a lot of work to make a record. We take a long time to record, but we would like to be quicker, but at the end of the day it’s about bringing out some great music hopefully :)

Which instruments did you use while recording?

The Premier Signia kit, 73* Ludwig kit. The snare drums were Ludwig Black Beauty & Supraphonic, Slingerland Radio King and another great drum from Brady that I got in Manny´s, New York in 1986 12 x 6. The cymbals are all Paiste except I sometimes used old Zildjian K hi hats that are great for recording.

Your solo project is called Earth Affair. How did it start up and what is its message/mission?

Its like with many things the urge to create and EA is my way to express myself and be more productive. Since its my own project I can do whatever I want with it without consulting the other guys. There is very much democracy in Mezzoforte and everyone has an opinion about the music and how things are done, so Earth Affair it gives me total freedom to write and arrange something different sounding that possibly my deepest thoughts and emotions can shine through. I´m allowing myself to sing, to play piano and really go over the top in some sounds and creation. Musicians should not be afraid to do whatever is on their mind and just do it, being afraid of what others might say, your family or friends is usually just in our heads anyway and should not stop our forward motion and creative process. Its wonderful to be able to create music and getting it out there. So just do it!!!
I´ve been lucky to work with some great people on my solo albums like Danton Supple (Coldplay) Flood (U2) and Morten Harket from A-ha. Now the new album i´m also working with good people and just focusing on making great music straight from the heart, which is what its all about isn´t it?

You as well wrote a music for Earth Affair and Helena Jonsdottir(one of the most respected dancers in Iceland). How did you start with composing?

I just started with one Roland keyboard with allof of sounds in it and a Roland MC500 sequencer at home, then I went to a studio and recorded it what I had put into the machine and played some drums over it. Sometimes I feel creative and sometimes less, it just comes and goes, but making a record or writing music requires your full attention and devotion.

Do you play also on other musical instrument except drums?

Yes, piano, keyboards and a little guitar. (then I sing too)

Which kind of drumsetup do you use during Volcanic tour? Brands,sizes, etc…

For the loops I use a Roland Spds sampling pad, then a Premier Gen-x kit (a mix of maple and birch) that I got in Germany, sponsored by Premier in England.
The snare drums were given to me by Craviotto and they are 14 x 6,5 birds eye maple and 12 x 6 Ash. I ´m using Evans EC2 on the toms and G1 on snare drums or Ambassadors, then Emad on the kick. Iron Cobra double pedal and a LP cowbell

What are your future plans concerning music and drumming?

Improve my playing, be better, have more control and a better sound. Be a better musician. I want to do more workshops because I enjoy giving back what has been given to me and you also learn so much from other drummers and make good friends at the same time. I´ve been lucky enough to make friendships with drummers like Weckl, Thomas Lang and Peter Erskine as well as Christoph Snyder from Rammstein and Wolfgang Haffner and many others around the world, + Julius Petrus of course. We are one family and we should all support each other wether people are famous or not so famous, we are all brothers and sisters on this earth…

What kind of advice would you give to young drummers?

Be grateful, have faith, get a great teacher, go where the music is growing, where you get to know great players and have the change to play yourself too. Go to an inviroment where the music is happening. Study allot and put in the hours that are neccecery for you to become a good player. Its allot of work and the the more hours you put into your practise, the better chance you have to becoming a professional player and getting paid for your work.
Most of all be true to yourself and honest in every situation. Find solutions to all situations, grow as a person and a human being, stay away from alcohol and drugs,

be nice :)

Interview prepared by Julius Petrus
Translation : Simona S.