Early Years

I began my drum quest at the age of 8 playing with tinkertoys on a Lincoln Logs can - I just dated myself. The thickness of the plastic container cover produced a terrific tenor sound which coincidently seemed to sound quite close to the snare flavor of that era of drumming.

I graduated soon to several toy drumsets that enabled my to gain a fundamental understanding of the components that made up a drumset and how they related to other instruments in an ensemble context. My first drum hero was Carmine Appice who profoundly affected me when I went to go see him play with Ozzy Osbourne on the "Bark at The Moon" tour. My Aunt who worked for Columbia Records at the time got me a ton of albums including Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Boston, and Billy Joel. Later I would discover Nicko McBrain, Scott Rockenfield, Stewart Copeland, Will Calhoun and a TON more.

I entered my first drum battle at the age of 14 and was a finalist – 1 of 15 selected out of over 150 entries. I did not place but for the first time my parents saw me play an actual organized and insightful (at least I thought so :)) solo – from that point on they became even more supportive in my playing. I began taking lessons from local Jazz greats Howie Mann and Al Miller and proceeded to gobble up books and drum charts. I started playing in local garage type bands by this time as well.

It was also around this time that I heard Neil Peart......indirectly ­ in the sense that I never actually owned a Rush album. However I had a friend who was a huge fan and I sort of absorbed some of his musical sensibility through listening to Moving Pictures and other great albums they created.

It was at this stage in my playing that I decided I wanted to try and meld the technical thinking man’s drumming with that of spontaneity and reaction. I am still honing that concept and always will as it becomes a slippery slope in some instances. Some music calls for more of one than the other – but it is all part of the quest.

Philosophy/Approach

Double-kick

For years I shied away from the double kick thing due to – some fear and also feeling like I wanted to prove that you can be a good drummer without it. Years later I realized I was probably shortchanging myself and probably taking a short cut in the quest and in turn missing a very important part of it. So little by little I began to work this in and have made great strides in developing it into my playing and continue to do so. There are some players out there nowadays that are doing superhuman things with double kick drumming - some of them doing things with their feet I can barely do with my hands!

The Click

Years ago I was a bit fearful of this gadget at first wondering if I would be able to play with it and also concerned whether it would make my playing sound mechanical. It is now second nature to me though I do believe in certain applications it is unnecessary. The key is to simply surrender to it and interpret it as just being another instrument that you need to lock in with. It also helped me become better grounded when venturing into concepts such as displacement and polyrythms.

Light and Shade

Listening to Nicko McBrain and Neil Peart were to me great examples of providing light and shade with drums in a musical context be it ensemble of solo playing. Not only with the drums high pitched and low pitched but also what was possible with cymbals in terms of rides vs splashes vs China types as well as where and how you hit them. I always keep this mindset when I am creating drum parts for a given piece of music.

Tension and Release

Knowing when to pull back and when to let things open up. Knowing how to do this not necessarily with sheer dynamics either but with different orchestrations on the kit. I think Neil is great at this but another great drummer Stewart Copeland also comes to mind when I think of tension and release. I think Stewart is a master at this especially with the hi-hat. He was another huge influence later on in my 20's.

Less is More?

Sometimes this is true. I hate cliches but you do have to serve the song. Sometimes however, I think this is an excuse for people to be lazy about creating drumparts that really embellish and compliment a song - and perhaps break some new ground. Brutal double kick parts are certainly not going to help move along a Samba (or perhaps it could - I will have to try) but the parts do not necessarily have to be the stock part you have heard over and over and over and.....you get the picture.