"Savage In The '04"

       IMPORTANT NOTE: This was originally posted on MySpace sometime in 2006, so it contains somewhat dated information/opinions.

       These sound clips feature three drum solos that I played in the first quarter of 2004. The clips are chopped and edited together. My playing in these clips is 99% improvised. There are only two or three instances in which I am playing an actual drum part from a song (all of which are from my old technical metalcore/hardcore outift, The Murder Cadence).

       My playing in those days differs GREATLY from now. I played a mostly conventional setup but I favored playing open-handed (leading with my left hand) and still do, obviously. Back then, I rarely played along with a metronome. I practiced exercises pertaining to hand and foot technique along with a click, but I never grooved with one or practiced fill-ins, hand/foot combos, metric modulation, polyrhythms, blah, blah, etc. My playing was completely unrestrained; free and wild! I was infatutated with Dennis Chambers, Vinnie Colaiuta, Virgil Donati, and Marco Minnemann to a lesser extent (listen for the rapid inverted paradiddle grooves, straight jacked from MM, heh).

       However, you can mostly hear the Dennis in my playing. He was my first 'super-drummer' influence, and I still totally dig his playing. I can clearly recall walking into Pierce Music in Salisbury, MD around '96 or '97, simply wanting to purchase an instructional drummer VHS; any would do. I had not an inkling of who Dennis Chambers was and what he was about but I purchased the "Serious Moves" VHS and man, my mind was officially blown! His playing was way over my head but he sparked something in me and it pushed me into new, exciting drum territory. I was executing those roundhouse fills before I even knew how to keep time on the hi-hat!

       My head is in a completely different space nowadays. There were quite a few occurences that facilitated this change of approach. For over a year, I had stripped my kit down and had been playing a three piece kit with an auxillary snare drum to the left side; no rack toms in front and with five or six cymbals. I came to an 'artistic boiling point' with the limitations that such a setup creates. On a whim, I drove to the nearest Guitar Center and purchased a Pearl EXR shell pack. I then ordered a floor tom from the West Coast Drum Center and positioned it to my left. I was now surrounded by drums! By this point, I had been exclusively leading with my left foot in both personal practice and with my band at the time, Ever Since Radio. I led with my left foot in every musical situation imaginable: composing, rehearsing, gigging, and even recording. However, I sought to build a complete 'open stance' setup. I purchased two Pearl cable hi-hats and shedded my butt off. This is the kit that you see in my video clips from 2006.

       This new kit -- along with a healthy obsession with Mike Mangini and his Rhythm Knowledge books -- turned my playing around for the better. I started thinking more about subdivisions and subdividing those subdivisions, rather than fitting as many notes as I could into a bar line. I revamped my then horrendous hand and foot technique and I began doing more repetitious exercises, as opposed to playing random phrases and digging into the latest Virgil Donati chart (although both are valid practice methods!). The multitude of drums also inspired me to play more melodically. I matured and evolved into a much more musical drummer and continue to do so! A huge goal of mine is to develop the ability to transcribe/notate anything I play (a skill I possessed back in '04, but was not as fine), to the point to where I may be able to see the notes on paper as I am playing and improvising. I believe that all of this was a natural progression, however; I couldn't foresee myself continuing down my previous path.

       Eventually, I'd like to marry both styles/approaches. I feel that in the future I may revert to a conventional setup, but for now I am concerned with developing my left side to par with my right side. Here are a couple of photos of me playing the kit that is in the "Savage" sound clips, complete with goofy hairdo:

The kit was comprised of the following:

- Tama Artstar Custom Drums, 16x22 bass drum, 10x10 rack tom, 13x14 rack tom
- Tama Artwood Snare Drum, 5.5x10
- Sonor Jungle Snare (snares off usually), 2x10
- Mapex Black Panther Birdseye Maple Snare Drum, 5.5x14
- Toca Timbalito, 6" (listen for the crossovers between this tiny thing and my 14" rack tom about fourteen minutes into the first clip!)
- Sabian Cymbals, 19" V-FX Tony Verderosa Signature Ride
- Zildjian Cymbals, 14" Amir Hi-hats, 19" K Medium-Thin Crash, 21" K Pre-Aged Dry - Light Ride, 17" A Custom Projection Crash, 12" A Special Recording Hi-Hats, 17" K China
- TKO Percussion, 10" Hi-Hats
- Pedals : Axis A "Shortboard" Double Pedal, Pearl Eliminator Single Pedal with Gajate Bracket holding a cowbell, Pearl Eliminator Hi-Hat Stand, DW Cable Hi-Hat

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