The influences , or inspirations however you should choose, that I have had over the years come in a variety. Some are other drummers and musicians, some may be bands as a whole, some may be people that have crossed my path that I have learned from , and others may be friends and family. I think it is important to take influence or inspiration where ever you see it , use it to your advantage and be creative with it . Use it as a guide to structure whatever it is that you want to do. Everyone on this page has helped me do exactly that. So first I am going to roll through the major drumming influences that I have had, and then I'll work along from there.
First and for most on my list of professional drummers that I have as an inspiration/influence is Nicko McBrain of IRON MAIDEN. Nicko is probably one of the most under credited drummers on the face of this planet. While his fame with Maiden is undeniable I don't think that the drumming community gives him enough credit for his playing and innovation in the music/Metal industry. His speed ,accuracy,dexterity and stamina is unmatched even in much of today's speed metal playing. while most of us were struggling trying to kick out as much as we could with two bass drums Nicko has always done all that and more with one. The way he works with Bass player Steve Harris is unbelievable . The creativity exhibited by these two musical giants in their collaborations in Maidens music is with out a doubt the building blocks on which most metal drummers and bass players aspire for today. Their musical relationship is incredible. Nicko's compliment of hand and foot work along with the spot on timing with which he executes each stroke or accented note demonstrates the power and finesse in his playing. Each song is a new adventure/challenge, there is never anything standard or a-typical about Nicko's playing ....it's always just bad ass! Two of my favorite Cd's to play along to are Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. If you ever wanted to test your abilities, especially with one bass drum, work on those for a few years!
Next on my list I would have to say is probably Dave Lombardo of SLAYER. Like most metal heads growing up in the '80's Slayer was it and the power behind Slayer was Dave Lombardo. His lightning fast double bass speed and furious fills coupled with his single stroke ride patterns were mind bending to the aspiring/growing drummer. I'm sure ,like many others , I spent muscle burning hour after hour working on my double bass speed and ride work to be able to play songs like Reign in Blood,South of Heaven,Angel of Death, and War Ensemble. Anyone of those is a b listening testament to Dave's abilities. Just when you think it doesn't get any better , later Dave was a part of GRIP INC.. This was some absolutely mind bending phenomenal drum work, definitely way under acknowledged. With grip Dave showed a more refined edge and massive creative ability in the use of his kit and hand foot patterns as well as throwing in some of his traditional "Lombardo Licks" . All of which is recommended listening if not for just to check out Dave's drumming.
As I moved deeper into the metal world I stumbled on to a band by the name of FORBIDDEN , throttled by Paul Bostaph. If there were ever truly a better kept secret in the world ,Paul is it. While famous with the underground his drumming in the metal world is unequaled. The FORBIDDEN albums Twisted into Form and Forbidden Evil have kept me reeling for years. Talk about some mind bending ,blazing drumming years ahead of it's time. Paul set the stage for the complex Metal drummer of today. With insane time changes, two handed ride patterns, wicked double bass work and fills, let alone the intense writing style and effort that Paul put in to his playing in those years was absolutely incredible. Over the years Paul has been a staple in the Metal world drumming community , taking over the throne for Dave Lombardo in SLAYER, as well as most recently I saw him with EXODUS. I had the chance to meet him that night. EXODUS played here in Houston at the ENGINE ROOM and I was working security that night , ( a great way to get to see the show for free,meet the band and get paid - that's a win /win in my book). I was standing outside after the show by the bus as the gear was being loaded and talking it up with some other old Forbidden fans when Paul walked up and joined in the conversation...one hell of a nice guy! We had a great conversation about drums and drumming and about all his work over the years, a very cool experience. - I hear FORBIDDEN is touring again , you bet your ass I'm gonna be there!
Around this same time I was also getting into TESTAMENT. John Tempesta is a beast of a player! His work with TESTAMENT is undeniably some of the best metal drumming ever recorded. John's driving force behind the kit was insatiable the way he drove a groove. John had an uncanny ability to create that primal force , a literal power in the grooves that he was playing that just drove the rest of the band as well as the crowd. Like the rest, John was no stranger to a quick double bass drive, and intense ride rhythms as well as powerfully structured intense fills. I think the thing that grabbed me most about John's playing was his writing style and the way he orchestrated his parts almost mechanical and fluent at the same time. John's work with WHITE ZOMBIE and ROB ZOMBIE in later years was equally astonishing. Touching on a new side in the Metal market , John brought the heavy to funk and the funk to heavy. I think he demonstrated to most of us that you don't have to be pinned to just one thing and that it's OK to explore a different angle and go out side the box. While the ZOMBIE projects were not that far out of the box , I think the playing styles between ZOMBIE and TESTAMENT were extremely different.
As I started to broaden my horizons in my listening and playing I started concentrating more on what Neil Peart was doing with RUSH. It is undeniable that Neil is a drumming icon as much is Buddy Rich or John Bonham. For many years I only listened to RUSH and never attempted to play any of it because frankly , the massive technical demand of Neils playing scared me. It wasn't until the last ten years or so that I have had enough patience or desire for the challenge to sit down and really listen and dissect what Neil's is playing in the songs that I am learning. The sticking patterns to meet the appropriate accenting alone is enough to boggle your mind , let alone the top side and bottom side coordination, the numerous part changes and movements through out the structure of the songs. I think 2112 and Moving Pictures are still two of the most powerful drumming recordings that Neil has done with Rush there is no shortage of inspiration that flows from Neil and The band. Every new album is an adventure in a new style or experiment with new technology and sound , or timing. I recently was given Neil's video "Anatomy of a Drum Solo". I have never seen such a display of hand eye coordination, variance in times, and polyrythmic ability in my life. Absolutely amazing...I want to be Neil when I grow up !!!
John Bonham - LED ZEPPELIN , truly a Hammer of the Gods who offered no quarter when it came to drumming. It seems to me that John poured his very hear and soul out in his drumming. Just listening to all the different styles of all of the different albums and songs that ZEPPELIN did, Bonham was a percussive master. Blues ,swing ,reggae, rock, you name it Bonzo was a master for every style who applied himself and his abilities relentlessly,tirelessly toward his playing and application of his instrument. No matter weather on the kit,hand drums,steel drums and percussion, or just stomping and clapping Bonzo never failed to produce magic. Over the years in learning most of the ZEPPELIN material at one time or another, I found that nothing was ever as easy or straight forward as it sounded. Bonham's timing and hand foot patterns and single bass work were absolutely incredible. Something to truly listen and study before sitting down to play it and and a true accomplishment when you can. Bonzo's Montreaux was a song well ahead of it's time especially considering that it is totally percussive.
Charlie Benante of ANTHRAX has always been another huge influence. Charlie's drumming was a huge driving force in the Metal scene of the late 80' and 90's scene. Charlie introduced a mix of unbelievable double bass speed and broken up rythems creating that "THRASH" sound. I honestly think ANTHRAX was the embodiment of thrash metal. Charlie's drumming being a blend of Metal and Hardcore. While Charlie's playing is Thrash oriented let it not be said there was no groove. Charlie always managed to capture that primal underlying rythem that when you heard it you couldn't help but stomp around ....even if there was no pit . His endurance and dexterity are mezmerizing as is his utelization of his whole kit. ANTHRAX's Among the Living,State of Euphoria, Sound of White Noise, and Stomp 442 are absolute must have's for any metal drummer.
I can't say enough about Vinnie Paul his work in all of his projects - PANTERA,DAMAGE PLAN,REBEL MEETS REBEL, and, HELL YEAH - well speaks for itself. Vinnie has been one of the biggest drumming forces that the Metal world has ever scene, from his sound and production to the attitude and aggression of his playing. Vinnie has one of the cleanest and most accurate drum sounds I have ever heard, big and bold and always lets you know just who is boss. His creativity knows no bounds in his use of combo double bass and hand patterns, off time grooves , and his overall feel for timing in knowing when to lay back and then just let loose and slam the hammer down. vinnie's work with PANTERA stirred masses into a frenzy over and over again pulling up a primal aggression from deep within and bringing it to life in music. The incredible power that has brought forth through Vinnies playing and work with his bands is truly astonishing. to watch him play is truly a lesson in comfort , Vinnie sits comfortably on his throne and truly rules that kit while delivering power ,accuracy,and sincerity with every stroke and kick. If you are into drums and drumming and have not listened to Vinnie...your missing out big!
As Metal started to progress , develop, and branch off I got into QUEENSRYCHE , among many others. Scott Rockenfield has been a phenominal part of QUEENSRYCHE's success. Scott is not the a-typical drummer on the metal scene. From my perspective his creativity is very outside the box ,while listening to the QUEENSRYCHE material it may sound straight forward, but when you sit down to learn/play any of those tunes you find out just how diverse and intesnse Scotts playing style is. Through his complete utelization of his drumkit Scott has excellent stick work with intricate hand patterns over perfectly infused bass drumm rythems. The color added through the use of his cymbal work and various triggerd effects adds an extra level of dynamics to his playing.Scotts playing defines the emotion in QUEENSRYCHE's music and the intensity behind every movement of each song. Some of my favorite QUEENSRYCHE releases to play to are Queensryche (EP),The Warning, Rage for Order, and Operation Mindcrime. Afew years ago while I was in the DIRT project I looked into getting a custom drumkit built by Scotts company after I saw his add for Rockenwraps in the back of Modern Drummer Magazine. I called the number in tha add and left a message. I was shocked when I got a return call and it was actually Scott. Not wanting to sound star struck, I kept the conversation strictly about the drums and what I was looking for , then Scottasked about the band and where I was heading with my playing.Then he said " well I don't know if you know it or not, but I am in a band called QUEENSRYCHE"...well hell that's all it took and he door was open for conversation. We talked for about an hour about drums,playing,and music. It was a great conversation, and he is one hell of a nice guy!
Mark Zonder of FATES WARNING has been a quiet force in the innovation and evolution of drumming. His work with FATES WARNING is absolutely phenominal. his arrangemnts are refined and almost orchestral. Mark's cymbal work/ride pattern alone create a distinct and difinative rythem that are a driver in the music almost seperate from the rest of the kit.His patience and restraint in his double bass work brings to light intricate patterns and grooves that are a challenge in themselves. Marks stickwork is defined,accurate and to the point, he is fluid and demonstrates great finess in his playing with the movements and the emotions in the music. He is a dynamic player that brings a new definition and intelect into drumming. While Dream Theater seems to have dominated the progressive metal world, Mark and FATES WARNING were first and I believe are the unsung heroes of progressibve metal. FATES WARNING's release Parralels is one of my favorite learning tools.
Mike Portnoy of DREAM THEATER...not enough can be said about Mike's innovation,dedication,drive and power behind drumming and music. A cornucopia of creativity, Mike leaves no stone unturned when comes to his composition,arrangements,and orchestrations in his playing and how it fit's the music. His power ,speed ,and accuracy as well as use of dynamics and polyrythmic expertise leaves the studying mind twisted with a headache. I first heard DREAM THEATER fifteen years ago on a saturday morning when my room mates were doing our reugular saturday clean of the apartment with the radio blaring. The song "Pull Me Under" came on and I was blown away...I had no idea who this band was with such a fresh sound and excellent musicianship. with a bold clean production and a powerful drum sound reminisent of Vinnie Pauls, it pulled the drums to the forefront of the music to be an actual part of the band rather then just the backing driver as always had been in the past. Mike ,on top of a collosal kit that always seems to be growing ,demonstrates a delivery of power and finess with sickening accuracy and speed. The world clock could only hope to keep as good a time as Mike does moving in out and around the timeing of the music and his parts. Using every option/drum/cymbal/etc. at his disposal Mike creates and draws out a fury of emotions and power in the DREAM THEATER's music through his playing. Through his use of complex double bass patterns , intricate stick work , dexterity and stamina Mike's playing has thrust the drumming world in to a new dimension of creativity ,epectancy, and learning. I approach Mike's playing much like I do with Niel Pearts, one song at a time. His works are so complex and intricate that I take my time to study them carefully as not to miss anything if I intend to play the song. Over the past few years I have added "Pull Me Under" and Rush's "YYZ" to my regular practice regiment. I am continuously learning from both works. In recent years I have met Mike Portnoy on numerous occasions and on one miraculous night while playing with Destruction Evolution we opened up for ADRENALINE MOB and KILLDEVIL HILL where is shared the stage and time with not only Mike Portnoy but a grandmaster of the craft, Mr. Vinny Appice.
Ian Paice of DEEP PURPLE is another all to underpreciated drummer as far as I am concerned. Ian's drumming with DEEP PURPLE set a standard for rock in the 70's and 80's. Nothing is as simple as it sounds with Ian's playing. The song "Perfect Strangers" is a perfect example of that from the hi hat groove during the verse ( listen closely,it's not a standard 4 pattern, the pattern and accenting is key) to the differnt cymbal work and timing through out the movement of the song. "Smoke on the Water " is another one that comes across as absolutely simple until you get into it and listen to exactly what Ian is playing...lesson number one...it's not always as simple as it sounds. Ian found a pocket groove that captivates. He has captured that bluesy feel that swings the listener and has a natural flow an awesome old school sound. Ian and DEEP PURPLE are definately required listening for a rock drummer, if not just for a history lesson in where it all came from.
Looking at all the rest of these one would probably think that most unlikely to be on my list of influences might be Phil Collins. Phil Collins work as a drummer and in the music indusrty as a whole is one amazing contribution after another. Obviously most people associate Phil collins with "In The Air Tonight" , the song that the TV show Miami Vice made insanely popular. You really have to admit that the massive breaking Tom fill in that song, that no one can ever resist air drumming to, is one of the greatest recorded drum moments in a recorded song. It's huge and what is even better is that the song was written around the drums. it wasn't until years later after racking my brain trying to figure out the song , that I read an article in Modern Drummer where Phil said that the main rythem in the song ( the verse) was done on a drum machine. Talk about a crushing moment....Never the less it's still a great tune- that whole Face Value release was exceelent from a drumming standpoint. One can't forget though everything that Phil did in the GENESIS years, he was a pioneer for the singing drummer ,playing on a massive set up and keeping pace with the likes of Simon Phillips ( Studio, The WHO) and Steve Smith ( Journey) who are two other drumming greats who were prominent in that era as up and comers. Phil has an outside the box approach to playing and writing,all of Phil's work is very rooted in the percussive side of music, and he is always integrating cutting edge technology into his music. Phil Collins put Gretsch drums on the map , being a lefty, I thought he had a very unique set up...but his set up always looked bad ass with those single headed concert toms set up looking like a row of cannons.
Lately I have really been getting into Jean Paul Gaster of CLUTCH...BAD ASS is all that can really be said to describe his playing. He is very free flowing with his chops , and really brings the funk when it comes to CLUTCH's music. He is a marvel to watch play, sitting on a 4 piece kit , he draws this powerfu, thunderous, groove and punch from the drums that seems unreal. He is a master of timing or off timing if you like. The intensity and concentration needed to sit down and work out a CLUTCH tune if you are used to standard rock or metal is unbelievable, and a true humbling experience. Jean makes use of a little kit and makes it sound like what most of us would do on our monster sized kits. It's a real ego buster when you first sit down to work Jean Paul's drumming out and realize your not quite as able as you thought you were. in order to better learn his style and some of the CLUTCH material , I down sized to one of my smaller kits and worked on nothing but CLUTCH and Led Zepplin tunes for about three weeks solid until I felt more comfortable with Jean Paul's playing style. It is actually very similar to John Bonham's. Right now CLUTCH's Robot Hive/Exodus is at the top of my working/playing list.
Eric Carr was another early influence for me . A fellow Ludwig player, Eric had on of the coolest and biggest kit's I hade ever seen. In late 2006 I saw his kit, the big black one you always saw the adds with that had those super huge bass drums, it was on ebay and ended up going to a buyer in Japan. That is one of those times when you really wish you had lot's of disposable cash hanging around. Eric's work on KISS' Animalize and Asylum was excellent. He brought a new sound and thunder to an already gigantic entity, he really pushed KISS in to the next era. With a huge sound Eric pounded out straight times without having a straight forward feel to it. His fills were artistically placed and never repetitious , always accenting and complimenting the mood or pulse of the song.His cymbal work was full and warm not blistering or abrasive which can happen so often in a rock drumming situation. Eric was avery well rounded solid drummer as was evident in his full aplication of his kit , it was not all just for show, if it was there it was being used. Eric had great stick work , using a lot of alternate hand patterns for his fills, and throwing in combimations with his footwork. No doubt he is sorely missed in the drumming world.
Another Kiss drummer that is definately under recognized for his other works is Eric Singer. While I thought Eric Singer did great with Kiss, and was an excellent replacement to sit on the throne after Eric Carr's passing, I think some of his best work was with BADLANDS. This is definately one of rock/metal's under rated super bands. Jake E. Lee, Eric Singer,Ray Gillan, and Gregg Chaison. BADLANDS pioneered the southern movement back into rock/metal , bringing some of that dirty south feel back to the music. It was a sound that had not been heard or played for a long while in the industry and Eric's playing complimented every bit of it. Laying down a solid blues/rock/swing groove. Eric 's playing with BADLANDS brought the realism back to an industry that seemed almost too fantastic. Captivating the blues element , Eric put the groove back on the bass and snare, using dynamics and cymbals he brought power and emotion out in his compositions. His tom fills were smooth and full , and precisely placed. This is another recorded work that is not as easy as it seems when trying to learn it. While Eric did not play on the bands Voodoo Highway release , both releases , Badlands and Voodoo Highway are excellent for exploring feel and groove, finding the "pocket".
Another influence that I had from early Metal was Tommy Aldridge, who I first discovered while he was playing with OZZY. Tommy captivated a sound all of his own even in a time when Metal was realy just starting to come in to it's own Tommy's playing was not the standard by any means. He is rock solid with a very powerful snare sound, almost machine gun like, and a bold powerful tom sound with a huge bass drum sound. in production Tommy's kit always sounded monsterous. His playing is smooth but fierce, while he flows around the kit each stick finding it's intended impact. There was nothing standard about Tommy's fills with alternate sticking patterns and accenting to fit the drive of the fill. When you sit down and analyze some of the work that Tommy did with OZZY ,the underlying basic grooves of the tunes don't seem to be to difficult, until you dig a little deeper to exactly what is going on around other parts of the kit. Tommy used a lot of hand foot combination patterns in his fills and intro's that brought an unseeming speed and power to the rhythmsrhythmmesmerizingutilizationrhythmmesmerizingutilization that he was playing.I think his work phenomenalon Diary of a Madman , Bkitlizzrd of Ozz, and Bark at ithe Moon is incredible and a great challenge for any working drumrhythmser to woScott'srk on. Tommy later went on to play with WHITESNAKEwhere again he carried on a superbly executed performance and a dominating powerful drum sound. One of my favorite WHITESNAKE songs to play is "Still Of The Night" , it excersizes every part of the kit and is a test in dynamics patience and skill.
...more to come
CURRENTLY ON MY MP3 PLAYER:
Black Label Society
Corrosion of Conformity
Lamb Of God
Black Country Communion
Five Finger Death Punch
At the top of my "other musicians I want to work with " is Zakk Wylde. I would love to be a member of the Black Label Society and play with Zakk....he writes kick ass tunes!!!!
Always on my list is the opportunity to jam with Iron Maiden....if Nikko is ever sick or on vacation...I'll jump in, no doubt. That would be a dream come true for sure.
I think it would definately have beeen awesome to work with Dio , the man was a legend and wrote incredible tunes.
A tour with Ozzy would be cool...definately.
If Rainbow were to reunite , I would love to be a part of that too.
A night with BB King would have beeen kick ass....backing up the legend.
I would sit in for Frank Beard in ZZ Top anytime!!!!