CUSTOM EDGE 1.0. it s not just a kit INTERNATIONAL

into the time machine WITH BERTRAM ENGEL, Brothers in DRUMS: ULF AND BODO STRICKER. m a g a Th e O f f i c i al P ub l i c ati on of D ru m Works...
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into the time machine WITH BERTRAM ENGEL, Brothers in DRUMS: ULF AND BODO STRICKER.





Th e O f f i c i al P ub l i c ati on of D ru m Workshop

versatile THOMAS











INTERNATIONAL ©2010 Drum Workshop, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

it’s not just a kit CUSTOM it’s aDW.

EDGE 1.0 14

Welcome to the very first edition of Edge Magazine International. To put it bluntly, this idea is long overdue. We’re fortunate to have one of the best international artist rosters in the industry and have been waiting for the right opportunity to expose these accomplished players to the world. Well, the time is now. In these digital pages, you’ll find articles and features that we hope will entertain and inspire you and in coming issues, we’ll be featuring artists from other European countries, Asia, South America and everywhere on the globe. Thanks for reading and, as always, thanks for making us “The Drummer’s Choice.”

Scott Donnell –Director of Marketing, Drum Workshop, Inc.




jonny quinn | snow patrol custom shop=custom sound

Mega-selling alternative rockers Snow Patrol are fueled by the beat, big drum grooves and fat, organic drum sounds. When their stickman Jonny Quinn needs a certain vibe, he knows there’s only one place to call, the DW Custom Shop in California. Whether he plays his Collector ’s Series rig or this versatile Jazz Series ™ set-up, he knows that producers and front-of-house engineers will be floored by the full-tonal spectrum and resonance that he gets from his DWs.

For more on his Collector’s Series kit and DW Custom Shop Shell Technology, log on to

ARTIST FEATURES 14 Thomas Lang From Austria to California, nothing is impossible. 20 Carlos Hercules Authentic sound in whatever he plays. 24 Bodo Stricker Known for his fast feet and intense licks.

IN THIS ISSUE 08 Time Machine: Bertram Engel 12 DW Drum Clinic with Ulf Stricker PRODUCT NEWS 04 Product Focus: SSC 06 Gear Guide: Factory Accessories 18 PDP Product News: Mainstage Snares, M5 Drumsets and 500 Pedals

International EDGE Magazine is a publication of Drum Workshop, Inc. ©2011 Drum Workshop, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For promotional use only. NOT FOR SALE.

>product focus

Many custom drum companies make some pretty visually unique drum sets, but how many of them can customize sound? At DW, we’ve made it our mission to give drummers the tools to build their dream drum sound from scratch. >

>SSC, Sonic a lly Cus tom SSC First, there was VLT, or Vertical Low Timbre, shell technology. These were allmaple shells that were laminated utilizing short grain to put less tension on the shell. The result was shocking, a much lower fundamental tone than traditional 7 and 8-ply DW shells. Then there were X Shells, another foray into the science of grain orientation, but this time we went diagonal, and the note went even lower still. Most recently, we unveiled VLX, a combination of VLT and X technology that yields the most fundamentally low and beefy sound to date. It’s perfect for floor toms and kicks. All of this grain-oriented shell making technology has advanced sonic customization dramatically, but at the end of the day, it all seemed very confusing. Drummers really wanted to know which specific shell configuration was suited for each tom size and how they could use this to create the sound they’d always been hearing in their head. Combine that with other shell

features such as ESE (Enhanced Sound Edge), reinforcement hoops, or not, and even alternate woods, like birch, and the whole thing seemed undeniably exciting, but somewhat overwhelming. To make things easy to figure out, we introduced SSC. It’s the culmination of years of Custom Shop shell technology all wrapped up in one kit. So what is SSC? Put simply, it stands for Specialized Shell Configuration and it’s the recommended DW shell selection. For instance, if we’re talking about a 7-piece drumset with 8” through 16” toms, that would include an 8” X shell, 10” and 12” VLT shells, 14” and 16” VLX floor toms and a VLX kick. Snare drums are always completely subjective, but it’s hard to top a straight-up 10-ply VLT snare, meaning no reinforcement hoops. I know what you’re saying now, then how is this new SSC thing custom? The DW Custom Shop will still make

shells however you want them, but this is the default shell selection, the one that we’ve seen work time and time again for artists like Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio and others. Remember, we’ve been doing this a while so DW artists have already tested VLT, X and VLX on some major tours and in some of the world’s top studios. You’ve probably already heard it and thought, “Those drums sound killer!” Now, you know the secret. We almost left out the best part; SSC doesn’t cost a cent more than any other Collector’s Series kit. It’s all about you telling us exactly how want to sonically customize your set and we’ll do the rest. We’re a custom shop, we live for this stuff. If you’d like to learn more about the science of grain orientation with Neil Peart and John Good, visit:


Classic looks for state-of-the-art players.

©2011 Drum Workshop, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SSC , Sonical ly C usto m SSC

the snare drum company™ [INT. EDGE 1.0] 5

A cutting-edge line of drums, pedals and hardware deserves a cutting-edge line of innovative accessory options. That’s why we created DW Factory Accessories. Not your average add-ons, DW accessories are thoughtfully designed to give drummers more custom options and flexibility with their set-ups.

From a myriad of clamps and arms, to DW Coated Clear and Clear Edge drumheads, True Tone Snare Wires, replacement parts and so much more, DW offers premiumquality accessories for the most discerning drummer. Take, for example, our new 101R rubber and 101W wood 2-way beaters. Both are based on our popular selling 101 plastic and felt beater design and offer 2 new ideas to help drummers create new sounds and find their dream bass drum tone. Also new is the 2141X, the perfect way to easily and securely mount a folded hi-hat stand to a double-bass rig. “Metal and rock drummers always appreciate a new way to solve and old problem,” explains DW Director of R&D, Rich Sikra. He continues, “Older clamp designs were bulky and hard to adjust, this one uses an integrated claw-hook clamp to more efficiently attach to the counter hoop from both sides, avoiding slippage and the need to clamp to nearby cymbal or tom stands.” Now, DW Factory Accessory brand parts are available to buy online at:

at nowMORE than ever THE DRUMMER’S CHOICE.

Standard equipment on every Collector’s Series® drumset is our unique True-Pitch tuning system, STM (Suspension Tom Mounts), DW Heads by Remo U.S.A. and every kit is Timbre-Matched for optimal sonic consistency and tunability. With unsurpassed sound and one-of-a-kind looks, it’s today’s standard in custom drums. Find everything you need to customize or repair your kit in one place!

©2011 Drum Workshop, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Distributor for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux: GEWA GmbH • D-82481 Mittenwald • [email protected]

P r em ium Qualit y Ac cessories

Bertram engel & dw collector’s series


>gear guide dw fa cto r y a c c es sori e s

>Time Machine BERT RAM ENGEL :

A G erm an- E ng ine er e d C ar eer

interview and photos by Stefan Fischer

Edge: To what extent has drumming equipment changed in the last 30 years? Bertram: I believe that the hardware section has changed, especially. In particular, the area of cymbal holders, pedals and their manufacturing. I believe that the workmanship has changed overall. PDP kits have reached a level that high-class kits by Pearl, Sonor, and Yamaha used to be at in 1980 or 1985. Edge: Would you say that the sound has improved significantly? Bertram: Well, the best sound is with my DW Drums. I have been playing DW Drums since 2006 and I have definitely noticed that this is the best sound for me, compared to all other companies that I used to play. I had always wanted to play DW but it somehow just never worked out because I had been involved with other companies. One day, I met John Good at the Messe in Frankfurt and I could finally play

the Rolls Royce of drums and luckily get an endorsement (laughs). There are, of course, sonic differences between the drum sets that I play now. The best sound for me is in the “Cadillac-Mint” set that John built for me back in 2008. With this set, John specifically catered to my style; he observed my moves and hits and put together the configuration afterward. If someone who builds drums knows you well and has observed you play, that’s a determining advantage. Up to now, this is definitely my best sounding kit and I’m about to receive a new one, just in time for the next Maffay tour. They also built me a White Marine FinishPly set with a 26” bass drum. It also has a 24” but I prefer playing the 26”. The configuration is the same as that of the last set. Even John’s idea of the VLT and the X-Shells, that’s a sensational progress! Edge: When did it become clear to you that you’d like to be a musician? Was there a certain moment?

Bertram: Yes, there was a certain moment. I was 8 years old and I saw this film about the Beatles called “Live at Shea Stadium”. I remember Ringo played on this unbelievably high platform. I think this wasn’t just for show, as the bass drum was directly by the ears of John, Paul and George. They didn’t have monitors, after all. It definitely impressed me that Ringo stood on such a high platform and that 50,000 people were cheering for him. That’s when I told myself, “That’s a good job. That’s something I’d like to do.” Thereon, I started to take music lessons which were taught by my father. My father is really an architect, but also a hobby musician, so he had a violin, a piano and a small drum kit at home. I started with piano lessons, but always liked the little drums. That’s how I came about drumming. At the age of 12, I had my first band and it didn’t take too much longer, because I practiced all day and all night. At the age of 17, I had the chance to join Udo Lindenberg and become part of his “Panikorchester”, because my older brother knew everybody there; they’re

>T ime Machine: BERTRAM ENGEL all from around here. I joined their band practice once and listened to them play. When Udo said to me, “If our drummer ever breaks his leg, I will call you”, that was a strong hint, in a way. When I was 17, Udo finally called me. I had already been a huge fan and I knew how to play all of their songs by heart. That’s when I got the job. Then, Peter Maffay saw me at the German Museum in Munich with Udo and he hired me for his band right away. Since then, I’ve mainly been playing in these two bands.

and Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, an act from the 1970’s. So yes, I did a lot of different things in the last 34 years and covered a lot of different styles. I’m really a background drummer and I consider myself to be a classic rock drummer with soul influences. In the beginning, I listened to a lot of black music such as Otis Redding, Bill Withers, and so on.

Edge: You mentioned that you have been playing in these two bands for 34 years. Are there any new challenges?

Bertram: Yes, I’m really quite old-fashioned when it comes to this, and I always say that these are the roots for everything nowadays.

Bertram: There are challenges with Peter Maffay in particular. We have done so many projects, i.e a children’s project called “Tabaluga”, featuring a small green dragon. That was more than just a musical. Then, we had a project called “Begegnung”. In the course of this project, we worked with seven or eight different nations that naturally played a totally different style of music than the one I had been used to for so many years. I also acted as producer in this project and I had to keep all of the pieces together which was a challenge, of course. What was special about Peter Maffay was the fact that we didn’t always have the same cycle of tour, album, song writing. We always did something new. And working together with Udo has always been interesting because he often worked with other people. Yet, I wasn’t involved in each of the album productions. Nevertheless, I have always been involved in the live segment and that’s where I had to learn and be able to play the music that was created by others. It’s always a challenge to play pieces live that were created by others. My musical life has always been very interesting. From the 1990’s until the beginning of 2000, I was dealing with a lot of foreign acts. I played with Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker and Bruce Springsteen in Berlin. The latter was for a video recording, it was a great experience. I also played a tour with Jimmy Barnes, who is a top act in Australia. I went on tour through Australia and New Zealand with him for about 2 months. We were headlining in Australia and in New Zealand, opening for Tina Turner. With Peter Maffay, we often had guest acts. We played with a multi-platinum Canadian artist, Amanda Marshall, and Alannah Myles was on tour with Udo Lindenberg. This is how I got to know a lot of different people. We also did a project with Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Edge: Do you still enjoy listening to that kind of music?

At the age of 12, I had my first band and it didn’t take too much longer, because I practiced all day and all night.

Everything’s really a fusion of earlier styles. Young acts play like Led Zeppelin or Free or Bad Company did in the 1970’s. They might mix things with hip hop, techno or electro, which are modern, but they also contain influences from the 60’s or 70’s. It was a great time of invention for me. Those are the acts that I grew up with. I tend to pull important things from this time, which has given me my basis. What I mean is that drummers such as John Bonham, Ian Paice, Mitch Mitchell, Nigel Olsson, the big names from that time, were influential. Edge: In the span of these 34 years, how did you manage to stay on top of things? Bertram: I was busy night and day. At the moment, the music business has declined a bit. Studios are shutting down and you start creating your own rooms, and you even make recordings there that you can use. I had a house on Mallorca and recorded people in my studio that no one even knew. One time, a producer called me up and asked, “Can you record some drum tracks for me?” I’d simply send the tracks as MP3s, and the producer listened to them and said, “Yes, I like it, but could you open the hi-hat a bit more in this one area? And, I’d like to get a different bass drum figure in the last chorus.” Then, I changed it and

mailed it back again. He said, “Ok, that’s great!” Afterward, he transferred half of the payment and I sent the full tracks. Payment in full was to follow. Another time, I received a call from a bass player who had played with Ozzy Osbourne, I think his name was Bob Daisley. He called me up because he liked my playing, yet we had never met in person. Later on, he used my drums for a certain project. It’s all a bit strange. Playing together, the actual interaction with friends and musicians has declined. This makes being part of Peter Maffay’s band, as we continue to record albums the old-fashioned way, even better. Edge: Do you feel that traditional recording is much better? Bertram: Yes, the traditional way to make music with a combo. The audience is spoiled by certain sound expectations, i.e. different rhythmic sounds and samples created by computers. It’s impossible to create such sounds with only 4 men in a room. Back in the day, this wasn’t the expectation because those sounds didn’t exist. However, there are some new bands that record garagestyle and for that you need the dirty feeling and the groove. Kings of Leon are a good example for this. Some elements may not sound 100% perfect, but it sounds like it did in the 1960’s or 1970’s. They are young guys who live in 2010, but they have managed to transport a lot of influences from that era. Edge: How did you learn these skills and what made you eventually decide to become a producer? Bertram: I was asked by Peter Maffay if I could produce songs with my colleague, Carl Carton. He was the band’s guitarist. Peter had heard some songs that we had recorded in our spare time. We had simply composed something, Carl on guitar and me on keys. We played it at practice and when Peter Maffay heard it by chance, he really liked it. That was in 1989, we had just produced “14 Jahre” and that’s when he heard our songs. It was like an audition, an audition that didn’t feel like one, because he simply asked for the songs in the recording studio. He then asked us if we could produce his titles in the same way. At that time, he had just been recording new song ideas on some sort of a Dictaphone. Peter was gone for 7 days and we produced the songs our way. That was pretty much the door-opener to become a producer for [INT. EDGE 1.0] 9

>T ime Machine: BERTRAM ENGEL Udo at the age of 17, I was naturally very, very arrogant and very self-confident. I set up an enormous kit and I pretty much got naked. I sold myself to become famous. I didn’t have the skills at the time and I don’t think I would have gotten the job. I wanted the job, but there was my love of music, too. It wasn’t the show for the show’s sake. It was for the music’s sake. At the age of 18 or 19, I had a little change of direction because I realized that if I didn’t stop the show and seriously start dealing with my drums, I wouldn’t be able to advance. Then, I really started practicing and I started thinking about what I really wanted. I thought, “Do I still want to play music in 20 years from now?” I remain selfconfident with what I do, and have always been a backbone for the bands that I play with. I have that in me. Maffay. If you are a producer and musician, you suddenly have a different competency, which means you have more responsibility. You aren’t just sidemen who play music. We produced all of Peter’s albums from 1989 until 2004. Then, we experienced a change because everybody wanted to try something new. After 14 years, Peter felt the urge to hire someone from the outside for the production, which was totally understandable after so long. Two years later, I produced the “Begegnung” album. We even produced the latest album together, since everybody has developed really well in the band and we all have some production skills now. It’s our 40-year-anniversary best of album named, “Tattoos”. It reached number one and everybody added to the album; suddenly all four of us were producers! Edge: Does playing the piano and other instruments help with your producing and would it be more difficult if you only played drums? Bertram: Yes, because I see the big picture. I think I probably would have stayed a sideman in that case. Naturally, my drumming is different because I see it from the keyboard player’s perspective: harmonic parts, bridges, verses, etc. Sometimes, I like using completely different instruments. Let’s take this drum set for example: I put up different cymbals than I usually use here, and I put up a tom on the left side, where I usually have a side

snare. I usually have a hanging tom in front and I create “my world” around it. And I might play a side bass drum like this 28” for example, to have a different sound. It’s not about double bass playing for me, but the second bass drum serves to create a direct connection to another sound. The same goes with the second snare. It gives me many sound options without having to use a huge kit. It still looks like a rock ‘n’ roll kit, not so much like a heavy metal set-up. You can put a lot of melodic things into practice with it. I’m also a singer and I sing backing vocals with Maffay. So, I’m also a fan of drummers such as Don Henley or Phil Collins who can sing at their kit. Back in the day, Ringo Starr would do vocals for one song and that’s how I started. Yet, you have to have a totally different type of independence for that. It came to me naturally. Other drummers who try and learn this at a later point in time sometimes have difficulties. You really have to play everything straight in time, and because the lyrics might change the meter, you sometimes have to shift or make changes. This means you’re singing and pushing the beat from behind. That’s something you have to learn. For me, it was like second nature because I had been singing all these years. I’d listen to Elton John albums and try to play the piano, and then I’d try to play the drums. Then, I’d let a friend play the piano, because he was better at it than me. And that’s how my first band was formed; we played these Elton John songs together. Of course, they were ballads and thus, relatively easy to play. But even as a 12-year-old, I knew that it was way

more effective to play these songs as simple as possible, rather than swirling around. Swirling around has never been my thing, anyway. I always wanted to play to the song and these types of songs didn’t demand any technical insanity. That’s why I have always been a relatively simple player, but as the experts say, “Simple does not mean easy”. I haven’t always been the drummer’s drummer, but I was the audience’s drummer. Edge: How did you deal with success at the early age of 17? And now, 34 years later, what’s your perspective? Bertram: At 17, I still had this naive arrogance because I wanted the job, I wanted to get there and there were hundreds of others who wanted the job with Udo Lindenberg. He was the top act, after all. There was no Grönemeyer, no Xavier Naidoo, no Silbermond, all these bands weren’t around at that time. We were the act in the rock area. It was as if you became part of U2, cool and with commercial success. Back then, Peter Maffay was a bit more unknown and maybe less attractive with all of his German popular music. Yet, a few colleagues had already worked with him and said to me, “Come over some time. He is planning to take a different direction, just join us. Have a look at it and be open-minded, get to know him as a person first.” When I got to know him in person, he was totally different than I had expected. Now, we have put a career of 34 years behind us. Sometimes, you have to get rid of your prejudices and simply go there and listen. When I joined

Edge: Did you begin playing to the click and do you use one today? Bertram: I didn’t play to a click because it didn’t exist back then. Ah, wait, there were two songs with Lindenberg in the show, because some things came from tape. Back then, we didn’t have computers, they’d give you a click or a metronome and the wind and string players came from the tape. That was the first time I played to such a thing. Udo has always been in favor of this kind of perfection. He started to loop himself. He played a groove for 20 minutes and then he took the best 2 bars and looped them. He looped complete drum pieces early on. We’re talking about 1976, which means he was one of the pioneers of working with such technical things. He has always had a perfect ear, which helped me learn to play to machines. No click-tracks, no metronome, no setting tempos, just by feeling. We practiced for such a long time that the tempos were stuck in my head. I’m not saying that I have become old musically, but nevertheless, I’m old now. I’m mellower, more experienced and can deal with certain things more intelligently. I approach things in a different way thanks to maturity and experience. Personally, I find the way I play today is much better. Edge: You also have a project called “Rhythm and Art”, tell us about that.

Bertram: I developed it with my wife. We had auctioned an hour with me via eBay for a foundation called, “Reporter Ohne Grenzen” (reporters without borders). It was a charity thing; simply play the drums with Bertram Engel for an hour. I thought, “Wow, someone paid 800 euros to spend an hour with me and play. That’s great!” My wife said, “We should do this more often. You could try and pass on what you’ve learned in 34 years.” So, I tried it out at the Drums and Percussion Festival in Paderborn, Germany. It went really well. Later on, I held a rhythm seminar in Marktoberdorf in 2008. It was sensationally successful and I really enjoyed it, too. Most recently, I was at the Drums and Percussion Festival in Paderborn with Uli Frost. It was a one-week recording workshop and you meet a lot of people, many world-famous drummers such as Simon Phillips and Steve Smith.

Niedecken or Helge Schneider, Frank Zander, Herman van Veen (a Dutch artist) and internationally, Ronnie Wood from the Stones, Bob Dylan, Tico Torres from Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp. There are many international music artists who also draw. They do it out of passion and they don’t even sell their paintings. Edge: What advice would you have for someone trying to follow your same career path? Bertram: If you love music and your instrument so much that you don’t care about anything else, then go for it. You won’t play your instrument as a job, but more because it’s your calling. It has to be a calling. Professionally, it means that I make money with it, to make a living off it, yet, not everyone has this passion. There are many professional musicians who simply play because they can make money with it, because they found a job that earns them as much money as being a carpenter or a painter or a baker. Then, there are people like John Good, who know how to build great drums and there are others who see it as a product, who have it manufactured in factories. That usually means that the drums aren’t that good. Everyone should do his job because of his calling. Even my drumtech does his job with the feeling that it’s his calling. He says, “I know I didn’t make it as a drummer, but I ended here as a drumtech.” Maybe he will build his own drums one day. Passion is the determining factor.

So then, my wife had the idea to do something with art and music. We were looking for names and at some point, we had the following suggestions: “Rhythm and Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Rhythm and Art”. We googled it and it didn’t exist yet. “Rhythm and Art”, that sounds great, we had to do it! “Art and Rhythm” was some company, but “Rhythm and Art” wasn’t taken yet. We secured the domains first and then started looking for a location to hold workshops twice a month, similar to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp they have in America. You can play with the stars. I also offer individual lessons if someone is interested. Certainly not from 9 to 5, as it would be the case in a music S el ect e d D i s c o gra p hy : school, yet on demand, that’s the way 1975 Jackboot: Angel I plan on doing it. At the same time, 1976 Udo Lindenberg: Sister King Kong 1977 Peter Maffay: Live we’ll sell artwork by musicians. On 1979 Marius Müller-Westernhagen: Sekt oder Selters September 3rd, we start with Udo 1980 Eric Burdon’s Fire Department: Last Drive 1980 Johnny Tame: Indistinct Horizon Lindenberg, then we host Wolfgang 1980 Gillian Scalici: Hell, I want more 1981 1981 1981 1985 1985 1986 1987 1988 1991 1992 1996 1999 1998 2001 2001 2003 2003 2004 2006 2008 2010

Average Businessmen: Average Businessmen Johnny Tame: Untamed Udo Lindenberg: Udopia Elephant: Just tonight The Raiders: Single: Touch me The Pretty Things: Out of the island Tony Carey: Bedtime Story Mark Aubin: Restless heart New Legend: Deep Colors Bleed Anne Haigis: Cry Wolf Jimmy Barnes: Hits Robert Palmer: Rhythm & Blues Yothu Yindi: One blood Lucyfire: This dollar saved my life at Whitehorse Carl Carlton and the Songdogs: Revolution Avenue Bruce Springsteen: The video anthology (DVD) Silver: Intruder Casanova: All beauty must die Peter Maffay: Begegnungen Udo Lindenberg: Stark wie zwei Peter Maffay: Tattoos

[INT. EDGE 1.0] 11

>drum clinic Groups of 3 an d 4 i n d i f f er ent note va l u es

Thomas Lang’s

B y U lf s t r i c k er

In Most of the time hand-foot combinations sound stiff and boring because the amount of notes within a group sets the note value, i.e. a group of 3 is always a triplet and a group of 4 is always 16 th notes. Here are 2 little execises to help you develop fill and lick ideas in different note values. The first exercise is a group of 4 notes, meaning right-left-foot-foot. It moves up and down in the note value therefore I called it a rhythmical pyramid. The idea is to play the exercise with a quarternote pulse stepped on the hihat by your left foot. So you make sure you hear both, on the one hand the hand-

Photos by Stefan Fischer

See it at foot combination on the other hand the pulse. Now you are able to play groups of 4 in 8th notes, 8th note triplets and 16th . Once you feel comfortable, add more values, like 16th triplets, 32nd notes or odd values like quintuplets. Then start orchestrating it on the drumkit to find your very own licks with that


The second exercise is the same idea but in a group of three notes, meaning right-left-foot. Be aware of the crossrhythm in the 8th and 16th notes. It takes 3 bars to resolve. This is what makes groups of three interesting playing even note values.

STUDIO STAGE SOUND style The all-new Performance Series is Thomas’ sound.

Speed, power and fluidity define Thomas Lang’s drumming style. From his mind-blowing footwork, to his remarkably even single stroke rolls, he has raised the bar for drummers everywhere. To make the cut with a drummer of this magnitude, a drum set must possess maximum articulation, projection and a full tonal spectrum. Enter the new DW Performance Series, everything Thomas demands from a kit and more. Why wait any longer? Make Thomas’ sound yours…what’s your Performance? TM

©2011 Drum Workshop, Inc. All Rights Reserved. DW Heads by Remo USA are standard equipment on all Performance Series Drums.


AS m

g n



o th

We sat down with the international drumming phenomenon to find out why he’s often misunderstood and what he’s doing to change his stereotype. There’s no doubt that Thomas Lang’s mighty chops and powerful persona have taken the drumming world by storm, but it’s his very calculated and thoughtful approach to playing that has kept him in the spotlight. As a music fan, he likes everything under the sun and as a drummer he’s versatile enough to play it all. As he graces the cover of this premiere issue of International Edge, we discover what makes everything in Thomas’s musical world work out. EDGE: Before we talk drums, we’d love to know what’s in your iPod. Thomas Lang: I’m a fan and thankfully, I’m working in the field of music. It’s a big plus. I have a very eclectic mix of stuff in my iPod; it’s a wide range of all styles and eras. Recently, I downloaded the new Deftones, the new Alice in Chains, the new Avenged Sevenfold, a lot of Electronic, R&B and Hip Hop, too. I’m pretty much into anything that’s hip on the radio right now. I try to be informed at all times about what’s happening on the charts because I also write and produce music. So, I listen to a lot of stuff on the radio and download a lot of stuff that I like. I think in the end, all music is good music, and I find inspiration in pretty much everything that’s out there.

nt a l p l ns wel a tr or his a i f t rn ops to eye. o e f i r l Ca cal ch mo s theShanahan , t rn ni uch meetos by Rob o b m ch an is te ere’s hannnell/pho i r t t tt Do h th n us ing t a A i by: Sco u x c i n b le , a us ’s en f ow m e H be de n und s ’ o -bo ca wh a de scle er mu v o

EDGE: How do you find the music? Do you actively look at download sites? LANG: I listen to a lot of radio, then I write down what I like. I put it in my iPhone and there are also little pieces of paper lying around with new artists that I like written on them. I also have alerts which come up if an artist has a new release on iTunes, so I’ll go to the store and get it. I listen to a lot of samples on iTunes, dig around and actively search for stuff that I might be interested in. EDGE: Is it hard to play a gig you’re not musically into? LANG: Well, I try not to do those gigs at all. There’s a lot of stuff that I could potentially do, or I get offered to do, but which I’m just not interested in musically. For me, there are always three reasons to do a gig, or not: it’s the music, the people, and the financial

aspect. Two out of those three should always be fulfilled. If I get along with the people really well, then I’ll probably also like the music; I could probably make a compromise financially. Or, the money is so great that I don’t care about the music or the people, which never happens. Or, the music is just so great, that I overlook everything else. So, I try to avoid gigs where I dislike the music. I’ve done it many times before and because of those experiences, I don’t do it any more. Since these days, it’s easier to make that choice, but I remember the times when I did those gigs. It’s harder work, as you say, but at the same time, it’s still something that I enjoy doing. It’s still better than doing something else. Still, when I’m making music that I really enjoy, there are aspects to

“I feed off of the energy of the audience and the band, that always works for me in the end.” the job that aren’t enjoyable. But you know what, I suck it up, because it’s still good; I’m still playing music for a living and I still enjoy what I do very much. So what, maybe I don’t like that song, but everybody else does and there’s always an audience. They like it and they deserve to be treated with respect and I can pull myself together and just pour my whole heart into it, even if I don’t love it that much. I feed off of the energy of the audience and the band, and that always works for me in the end. Even during the times when I had to play music that I didn’t like very much, the music was never the real problem. It was the other aspects: the travel, the organization, the money or somebody in the band who wasn’t cool. It was never really the music, even if it wasn’t my favourite kind of music, it was still all good at the end of the day. EDGE: Do you have different music you listen to as Thomas the drummer vs.

Thomas the music fan? LANG: Those are two different things, two radically different things. Strictly as a drummer, I listen to very little music. I don’t get much satisfaction out of it, it’s not that enjoyable. The listening process is more analytical and it’s a more active listening process. To me, that’s not as enjoyable. I don’t seek out that kind of music, because again, it’s not a passive, pleasurable, enjoyable thing for me. I have to concentrate more; it’s more cerebral and more involved. As a drummer, I listen to more complex, highly complicated stuff of all styles; that could be progressive metal, jazz, fusion, whatever. The music that I listen to as a fan is song-based music, totally melodic and very simple from a drumming aspect. The drumming is completely part of the song and that’s the music that I enjoy listening to a lot more. That‘s also the kind of music that I produce and write. EDGE: How do you separate yourself from your drumming career? What defines you? LANG: There is, of course, Thomas Lang the man and there is Thomas Lang the musician. As a person, the things that define me are, of course, my experiences in life, relationships, my children and my family, my cultural background and heritage, all of those things. All of that is somewhat related to Thomas Lang the musician, of course. So, what defines me as a person also defines me as a musician, in a certain sense. I think I’m a creative person and I think I’m a very diligent person, very productive, and very focused in general. EDGE: What would you do if you weren’t drumming? LANG: I think I’d either be a physicist or a carpenter; polar opposites, but I like both. I like the simplicity and the productivity of carpentry. It uses such natural material, it’s such a handson job; very immediate and very satisfying. I like the natural aspect and it requires a lot of skill and experience. I’m also very interested in science. I dabbled in physics for a while. I find it very intriguing because there are mathematical systems that work and that can be applied to anything. There is such a massive system, a logical approach to describing the world, which ceases to exist at one point. [EDGE 1.0] 15

EDGE: Part of what defines you is also your Austrian heritage. Do you feel that moving to California has changed your drumming? LANG: Well no, I think my style is independent from the location. I think I’d be inspired by the same things if I were living somewhere else. Of course, in recent years there’s been a massive Gospel drumming presence, which has inspired and influenced most everybody in the drumming world. That sort of thing inspires everyone, regardless of where they live. What mostly influenced my playing was the fact that I stopped doing a lot of session work in London. I lived there for almost fourteen years and I did a lot of session work there, working with many, many different artists, touring with them, recording with them. I deliberately left that pop scene because I was getting bored with the music and the whole vibe. Quitting those kinds of jobs and sessions has had a great impact on the way in which I approach the instrument. Now I have the time and the luxury to just sit back in my studio here in California and write whatever comes to mind. I get to work with my band, Stork, and play some crazy music and join some crazy, fun bands like Schwarzenator, not thinking about the commercial aspect. It allows me to be more selfish, more artistic and a little more creative again with playing, maybe that was the result of moving here. EDGE: Let’s talk a little bit about your drumming boot camps. LANG: I’ve played many drum clinics and have worked in the drum world for a number of years, and it all started to become a little less satisfying for me, performing for a large crowd of people for a short amount of time. I wanted to do the reverse. I wanted to spend a lot of time with a small amount of people, to get my ideas across and to show them concepts in depth. I don’t teach privately, but this is the closest thing that I can offer. It allows the students to have a really ultra-intense weekend or week. It’s actually handson playing, everybody plays. It’s not a passive experience for the students. This is actually hands-on teaching, where everybody is playing all the time for eight hours a day: four hours in the morning, one hour lunch break and four hours in the afternoon until six. A

lot of these students experience that for the first time in their lives. After three days, there are definite results. I want everybody to walk away being able to play something that they weren’t able to play, and to have concrete results at the end of the camp. By doing that, by spending that amount of time even just over a weekend, we can achieve that. It’s a really intense learning experience. It’s a small group, so I can work with each student to correct whatever hand positions or mistakes they make and interact with each one of them, like in a private lesson. Logistically, this has been a good thing for me, because when I have a session, then a few days later, another gig, I can fill gaps in my schedule with these camps. I may already be in that city or have some time off, so I can organize and host a camp

“I think playing and practicing are two different worlds, and one influences the other.” at the moment. I can take my camp to the people because it’s a small guerilla operation. EDGE: How do readers find out more about it? LANG: Well, there’s a website: www. where you can register for the camp and find out about camp schedules. You can even register and pay online. It’s very inexpensive. I charge much less than I would charge for a private lesson. So, I think it’s a very good value for the money. We offer hotel packages and travel packages, the whole deal. EDGE: Do you think that people take away a newfound discipline that they can’t experience elsewhere? LANG: I know it for a fact. I get emails from a lot of the students who have attended other camps, but they

say this one has completely changed their approach to practicing and to playing in general. They’ve made huge improvements, because they have experienced what it takes to do this and how to be disciplined and focused, and how to practice correctly. EDGE: Do you feel that you, as a player, learned more from practicing by yourself or by playing with other musicians? LANG: I think playing and practicing are two different worlds, and one influences the other. They cannot exist without each other. You can’t achieve the same technical level if you haven’t practiced by yourself and you cannot become a great musician if you’ve never played with other musicians, so I think you need both. It’s like the left hand on the fretboard is doing something completely different than the right hand when it’s strumming, but together, the two hands make music. They’re two different activities and two different mindsets are required for either practicing or playing, but doing the right amount of both creates the perfect balance. There is a saying that goes, “Never play when you practice and never practice when you play” which underlines that you can’t do the one without the other. EDGE: Do you feel that you’ve been stereotyped in any way? LANG: Totally, yes. In the drum world I’m known as a technical clinic guy, although it’s the smallest part of my actual career. I understand that many drummers are only focused on drumming. They Google drum solos, and that’s it. EDGE: Do you like drum solos? LANG: They put me to sleep right away. There’s this mesmerizing thing about them; no matter how great the solo, it makes me fall asleep. That includes my own solos. It’s really weird, but I do like them, of course. I was always a great fan of Buddy Rich. I do like drum solos, there are so many wonderful, classic drum solos, but it’s not the reason why I became a drummer. To me, they’re secondary. In fact, when I’m doing a clinic tour, after two or three days of just playing by myself, I get totally frustrated and it becomes hard work. EDGE: I think that’s how you’re typecast.

“My approach to instructional products is to pack as much information in there as possible and that type of information is strictly technical.” People think you’re a chops guy and don’t understand that you’re a musical player. LANG: I’m typecast as the drummonkey, clinic-titan-whatever-drumguy and it has to do with the fact that a lot of drummers only know me from instructional products. These instructional products are strictly about technique. When I release a book that’s called, “Creative Coordination” or whatever, that’s what it’s about and there’s nothing else in it. My approach to instructional products is to pack as much information in there as possible and that type of information is strictly technical. So, when there are performances that demonstrate these technical exercises, a lot of people think it’s my musical identity, or this is who I am, but it’s not. EDGE: That whole thing exists in the guitar world, too. They have guitar heroes and we have drum heroes. LANG: I’m flattered and proud to be considered that in the drumming world, but at the same time, it makes me smile because it’s not exactly who I am. It has become a valid business aspect in my career, but in regard to my real ambition and my actual musical identity, it’s only a tiny part. EDGE: You just attended a DW event with a bunch of amazing players, Thomas

Pridgen, Derek Roddy, Alex Acuña, a long list of guys. Talk a little bit about the experience and being part of the DW family. LANG: I had a ball! It was a great afternoon and a fun hang. It was great for me to really meet a bunch of the guys from my new family in person, not only to hang and snack on the food, but also to play and jam and talk drums. I had a great time meeting everybody and playing the new Performance drums. I was blown away by the quality, the sound, the look and I think it was a very smart thing to do; to get everybody into a room. There was such a variety of different players from so many different styles of music and it was wonderful for me, not only to hear everybody play their very unique and individual style, but also to hear the drums like that. It really showcased the extreme versatility of the kit, the way it works in all styles of music and the way it speaks in all languages. I was amazed at how different the kit sounds, depending on the player’s personality. Every drummer sounded different on the same kit, but it sounded awesome every single time. The kit seemed like it would assimilate and adjust to the drummer’s style so well. It was projecting and translating to whatever we did very, very precisely and uniquely. EDGE: What do you see yourself doing

musically in the next couple of years? Will you take the gigs as they come? LANG: Well, I’ve avoided long tours for a number of years now because of my kids and I was concentrating more on projects, but now they are in school and it’s all good. Now, I’ll be able to tour more, and I’m always writing and producing and working with my own band. Of course, I’ll continue to do session work as a side thing. It is not my main focus now, but I do a fair amount of sessions. EDGE: This is the last and the most important question: Have you heard any good jokes? TL: (laughs) Yes, I have heard a few good jokes, but I can’t repeat them! (more laughter) How do you know when a violin is out of tune? When the bow is moving. What’s one of the least frequently heard sentences in the music industry? Is that the banjo player’s Porsche out there? What do you throw at a drowning guitar player? His amp. What’s the difference between a drummer and a drum machine? With the drum machine, you only have to punch in the information once. [INT. EDGE 1.0] 17

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working in a warehouse. I knew I really wanted to play the drums, so I decided to use my savings to go to Music College in New York, where I had family. I auditioned for the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and that was the real start for me. Those were the first intensive lessons. I learned a bit of Jazz, piano, vocals and also some music theory. This was the time when I realized that if I wanted to make playing the drums my profession that I had to be professional, too. I had no dreams, necessarily, about staying in New York, because I’d met a lot of good players there who couldn’t get work. I knew that England would be the place where I could make a living.

EDGE: Oh wow, what a great introduction.

in through the outdoor Carlos HERCULES

EDGE: So you came back to the UK. How did you get into your first professional gig?

As his name would suggest, he’s a Herculean drummer. He’s had some of the biggest gigs the UK has to offer and remains a first call touring player to Brit-Pop’s elite. Edge’s David Phillips met with the big man to talk about his background, career highlights and what’s on the horizon. When I started working with DW, it was a great pleasure to sign Carlos as an endorsee. He is one of the UK’s most sought after session musicians, a player who enjoys the kind of career that drummers can only dream about. Not only has he been Beverly Knight’s drummer of choice for the last 12 years, but his music and personal skills have allowed him to work with some of the world’s most influential and iconic music legends, including: Eurythmics, George Michael, and most recently, Leona Lewis. Carlos credits his success to hard work, developing his natural talent and being honest and gracious. He has long said that getting hands-on experience with technology and programming is an important aspect of any modern drummer’s approach and his rig is fused with electronic toys of all kinds. For this inaugural issue of International Edge, we caught up with Carlos to talk about touring and so much more.

house and teaching a bit at the moment.


EDGE: Are you still teaching then?

Carlos: At first I taught myself by listening to records, playing along and trying to work things out. I think I may have progressed quicker if I had taken lessons. However, while I was listening to Chaka Khan, Earth Wind and Fire and George Benson, that kind of stuff, I didn’t realize until later I was listening to a lot of jazz, the likes of Perdy, JR Robinson, all the great session guys. I think this was the big advantage to listening to a lot of records. This was back in the early 80’s, when there would have been no programming, no multiple takes, just start at the top and record it. Now, I think whilst I may not have known what a paradiddle was, I trained myself how to groove, really making sure the pocket felt right. You really can’t miss if you’re playing along to those boys.

Carlos: Yes, yes, just between tours. I like to keep my hand in. EDGE: Starting at the beginning, when did you start drumming?

EDGE: Have you got a few days off at the moment?

Carlos: I was 17-years-old when I started. I wanted to play when I was about 7-yearsold but my parents wouldn’t let me because of the noise and all that kind of stuff. Then, a neighbour moved in next door to us and started a band; he was a percussionist. This was when I started to learn some music, most of which was Caribbean. My parents were a little bit more turned on by that, so they bought me a set of congas as a sort of compromise. That’s when I got my foot in the door. Three months later, the drummer of the band left. The drummer’s spot came up and I said, “Let me play drums, let me play drums.”

Carlos: I am self-building a garage for the

EDGE: So, did you take lessons or are you self-

EDGE: How did you then make the transition into becoming a professional musician? Carlos: When I was 21-years-old and things in this country seemed a little bleak, I was

Carlos: When I went back to England, I started an original band. It was hard getting work, we just kept hoping we would get signed; every guy’s dream, you know! We did this for a while, well you know how these “sliding door” things happen, the band decided to do a showcase for some agents to try to get ourselves some more work. It so happened, there was a show band on the same bill that weren’t using a drummer, they were using sequenced drums. They saw me, and asked me if I fancied doing some shows for them. I said, “Of course, it’s work, why not?” At that time, I didn’t realize the function scene really existed. They were working maybe 3 or 4 times a week, up and down the country and abroad. I kind of cut my teeth with them. They had every track sequenced and a click to play along to.


EDGE: Really? So, a very professional band. Carlos: It was a really professional function band. They were working a quite a lot, so it really was my apprenticeship. Then, I got a call from a friend whose friend was the bass player and MD’ing C Lewis, asking if I wanted to audition. I went down, auditioned, and got that one as well. That was my first real pro gig in the early 90’s and it all spiralled from there, really. EDGE: It still really comes down to who you know, not what you know. Carlos: Yes, it does. It’s all about whether people can vouch for you. I was on an agent’s book for absolutely ages, and never got any work. Then I did a gig with Steve Walters, the bass player and we got on really well. He said I should call the agent and ask for more work. He said, “This time, tell him I vouch for you.” Two weeks later the agent called and offered me an audition. That audition was Beverly Knight. In this industry, it is all about reputation. People are always a little cautious when they put you forward for a gig, if they get it wrong, or you turn out to be a bit of an idiot, it goes back to them.

Carlos: That was it. Beverly’s gig was such a good gig, it was like a showcase for me as a player. EDGE: It’s a really great band as well, isn’t it? Carlos: Yes, and it is very free, so we can really produce her tracks. Whatever they do in the studio, we do live. So, we auditioned on Wednesday and her tour began on Saturday, it was literally that quick. EDGE: You had to learn the whole set in three days? Carlos: That was one of the best things about having been to the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, having been taught to read and score music. I got the CD, spent a day scoring it, and went to the audition. If I hadn’t scored it, there was no way I would

“I was 17 years old when I started. I wanted to play when I was about 7 years old, but my parents wouldnt let me because of the noise and all that kind of stuff. Than a neighbor moved in next door and started a band.”

have got the gig because the music for Bev’s set was very interesting and full of intricate little pieces. I didn’t even practice it, we got to Saturday’s gig, read through it, and we were on the road. EDGE: So, what was that first gig like? It must have been pretty scary. Carlos: Well, it was hairy because on Thursday, they decided the bass player they auditioned on Wednesday wasn’t suitable. So, they brought another one in on Friday and he had only one day, so he scored his part, went on stage and did the gig. It all turned out really well, and that was the beginning of it all, really. EDGE: How long have you been with Beverly now? Carlos: 12 years. EDGE: Are you still playing with her live? C: Yes, we have some shows coming up in August. She’s not as busy as all of us would like, but it’s one of my favourite gigs. For me, there probably aren’t many gigs where you get that much musical freedom. She is very, very up for whatever you come up with, and if it sounds good, it’s in. That’s all

she cares about. EDGE: That was the opposite for George Michael wasn’t it? Carlos: Yes. EDGE: I think you had to play exactly what was on the record. Carlos: Absolutely. George has great ears, he spends months doing the recording, getting it right, so by the time he has decided it is good enough to go to the public, that he’s happy with it, he wants the live gig exactly as he thinks it should sound. EDGE: How did you get the George Michael gig? Carlos: Well, that was a good story as well, another example of who you know. I had a gig with the classical quartet, Bond. It turned out that production and half of the band was George’s band and production team. Unbeknownst to me, I auditioned for the George Michael gig when I was on tour with Bond. The tour went really well, it went great and they were happy. I never even thought about it, because the seat wasn’t available at the time. EDGE: So, you were first call when the tour came up? Carlos: Yes, basically they didn’t audition anyone else. It was a case of, come down meet the guys, and as long as everyone is happy with you, it’s yours. EDGE: Talk us through what you had to do on that gig, because I know that there was a lot of playing to loops and that sort of thing. Carlos: That was very interesting, as well. As a session guy, I’m always intrigued by everything new. This was a very different gig in the sense that I had never before relied so heavily on electronics. I had never thought so much about trying to recapture sounds, playing things very much like they were originally recorded. For instance, “Careless Whisper” can’t really change much because all the fills relate to the song. It’s an iconic song. The drum parts are synonymous with that track and a lot of fans know that song inside and out. It’s one of those anthems that you have to play as it was recorded. The whole experience was a good discipline. Even if sometimes you think I wouldn’t have done it like that, you have to remember, that song has been in existence for 20 years. It really made me think about subtle fills, things that were a half beat or a beat long, some little snare drum fills with ghost strokes, splash cymbal work, that kind of thing. EDGE: So, just keeping the groove, but perhaps with some slight additions to it? Carlos: Very small embellishments that [INT. EDGE 1.0] 21

didn’t get in the way of what had already been laid down. Some of the drum tracks were very interesting to play because George has a bit of a bass player thing going on. “Faith” for instance, if you listen to the programming, it’s incredible, so to try and relay that in a live situation was very interesting.

play, you are very exposed; very much part of the show. With this show, you had to deal with your ego because you weren’t as much part of the show. You are playing your part audibly, but visually adding very little.

EDGE: It was such a big show, with a huge band and massive stage. Did that make it more complicated?

Carlos: Oh, that was fantastic! I have to say, that has been one of my best experiences, just because they are gods in their own right. Annie is such an iconic figure and fantastic vocalist, and Dave Stewart is very eccentric and extremely clever. He is one of those genius people. He knows the sounds, how he wants them put together, and all that stuff, yet he has the energy of a 10-year-old boy. He was fantastic.

Carlos: Yes, it did. The way the stage was designed, you could only see one other player. So, I could only see the bass player. There were 15 guys on the stage making noise, that you could hear, but you couldn’t see. It’s really, really hard to communicate or vibe like that. That was a little bit surreal in the sense that you were part of a show, but it almost felt like you were in the pit at west end show. On top of that, you couldn’t see the show because we were behind the screens, so it was only when they were running some video at a sound check that you could actually see what you were playing along to. EDGE: It must have been really weird? Carlos: When the DVD came out, we all went, “Wow, what a show!” It was the first time we actually got to see it, which was really bizarre. The gig was also very different emotionally, as well. Most gigs you

EDGE: What was it like working with Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart?

EDGE: What did you actually do? Was it a tour? Carlos: No, we hoped it would end up like that, because it was kind of a reunion, but we did do some very iconic things like the American Music awards and the induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and some other American TV. It wasn’t a very long period, but it was significant. EDGE: I saw you recently on the Leona Lewis tour. How was that experience? Carlos: That was brilliant, as well, actually. We had a lot of fun on that. Last year’s tour, she wanted it to sound very much like the record; that was her comfort zone. This tour, the brief was to make the sound as live as possible, to have the band involved. She was really open to what a live band sounds like. Lots of trust issues come with this when you’ve been used to doing 3 or 4 years of mostly PA’s with your tracks as they are on record. Leona could have wanted everything perfectly the same every night like George, but she didn’t. With a live band, you might have a guitar playing lines that weren’t there before and drums that aren’t digital sounding, and that kind of stuff can be worrying to people, but she took it in stride and said, “Oh my God, this sounds fantastic!” We were really open on the tour, really allowed to interpret the music as best we could, the way we thought we should. You could see her grow from the beginning of the tour to the end. It was really, really good. EDGE: This time, the band was right on the stage and you could all see one another and play off one another, right?

Carlos: I have never been involved in a show where the band was so visual. You could be seen at all times, you could be flashed up on the screens at all times, and you really had to consider that. Also, there were aerial lifts. I had done a show with dancers but not the full aerial lifts; all that was going on, it was massive! In the early stages, you had to learn to ignore it because it was distracting and you could miss cues watching something you hadn’t seen before. We all rehearsed in our own little bubbles, and then they put us all together to do the show. The first time you see it all in dress rehearsal it’s a huge distraction. You had to be careful. It was only at the end of the tour that I had a complete overview of what the whole show actually looked like. EDGE: How did you go about preparing for it? Carlos: Well, as always, you get as many of the songs beforehand to do some prep work. I also do as much programming before we go into rehearsals as I can. But obviously, things change, and that’s what rehearsals are for. So, you go in and get the new samples and new versions that you need. Then, we start to go through it all. Next, the boss comes in and decides what stays and what goes. Up until then, it’s all temporary until you get the go ahead, then you can really start to lock things down and start to say, “OK that’s it, that’s the final thing.” For me, the gig was a good compromise between the full programming I did for George and the very little I do with Beverly. Pretty much all of the electronic stuff that was on the album, if I could play it, I played it. So, I had pads and I had a kick trigger so I could kick some sub-bass sounds or lay off a couple of pads, etc. Yet, still every drummer will say there’s nothing like playing a live acoustic kit, absolutely nothing like it. But, you know, in these modern times with everybody using so many sampled sounds, big, weird and interesting sounds, you need to be able to do both. EDGE: How do you change your kit between all these different gigs? Carlos: If I’m on a big kit with a big tour like say, The Waterboys, which is a very rock- orientated gig, I’ve got a DW kit that takes care of that: a big 22” bass drum, 13” mounted tom and 16” and 18” floor toms. On the pop stuff, Bev, George and Leona, I use a standard 10”, 12”, 14”, 16” floor toms and maybe two snare drums for some extra sounds. Now, I find I am also triggering kicks, acoustic kicks and/or snare with two kinds of dedicated pads and an electronic kick. When you are playing dedicated dance-orientated stuff it makes no sense trying to reproduce it sonically on an acoustic kit. That kit is pretty much the touring kit and it is set up in the same way. I have two of these rigs going, so if I have one out on tour and if I have to run back and do something with someone else, I can always

“You need to be able to play a few styles fairly competently. then, I think the rest of it is people skills more than anything else, being a good person on the road.” use the other kit. The kits are pretty much the same; the only variation is the cymbals. EDGE: Do you find some gigs harder than others? Carlos: Not really, they are all different for various reasons. The George Michael tour was more disciplined and the actual concerts were tense because you were actually playing less, so you had to make sure that when you did play, it counted. With Beverly, it’s probably choppier than the other gigs. Some of the hits are quite adventurous, but that ups your awareness on a gig and you are focused in a different way. Leona was really a mix of both. I had a couple of solo sections in the show, and then the rest of it was very groove-based. Every 4 or 5 songs, you would get a little four bar blast, where you could really unleash it. I used to get very excited at those points. EDGE: What would you say is your most memorable live performance? Carlos: Maybe the American Hall of Fame. EDGE: With Eurthymics? Carlos: That was crazy! I was sitting back stage with Travis Barker and his new wife, who had just made a TV programme. Then, I was in the dressing room and Shakira came and sat next to me, and to the other side of me was Carmen Electra. I look out on the front row and there’s Woody Harrelson, Will Smith, etc. Then, you get up on stage with Eurthymics, and the response that they get from such a star-studded audience reminds you of the significance of what they

have laid down in the industry. I was on stage playing for them, thinking, “Oh my God!” Yard was my tech, and I overheard him talking to one of the production guys. He had asked him who I was. Yard told him my name and what I’d been doing. He said he had heard of me and went on to say he had been watching me for the last couple of days and thought I was great. I was sitting there thinking, “Wow, who would have thought at 17-years- old this is where I would be?” EDGE: Is there anyone who you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Carlos: Loads. The ultimate, I think, would be the Prince gig. EDGE: Have you met Cora? Carlos: No, Beverly did a support tour with them and they did some of the O2. Funny enough, I was on the George tour and I missed it. Otherwise, that would have been my gig and I would have been rubbing shoulders with the man. They even played at some of the after show parties he likes to do. He loved Bev, took her back to America with him to do some recording, so that would have been a fantastic experience. I know of Cora, she’s a great player. EDGE: Do you have any tips for anyone that would like to become a session drummer? Carlos: It’s harder out there, I would say. I don’t know if being a session drummer is necessarily the goal. When I was embarking on my music career, I never thought about being a session drummer. It kind of evolved that way. I wanted to be a drummer in a

band. If there are young guys out there trying to be the next Coldplay, or whatever, that would be far more lucrative for you and let you live the rock and roll life. The session thing is a bit more of a 9 to 5 job, a bit more hard graft; you’ve really got to know your stuff. If you do decide that it’s for you, or that your time has passed for the rock band, then I would say you have to try and play all sorts of different music so you can sound authentic at whatever you play. You don’t have to know it all inside out, because you are going to be very much a jack of all trades. There’s not one type of music, especially in England, that will pay your bills all year round. Maybe some really big rock bands might keep you busy for a year or two, but on the whole, if you’re a session player, chances are you’ll simply be going from one thing to another. You need to be able to play a few styles fairly competently, so you have to hone those skills. Then, I think the rest of it is people skills more than anything else, being a good person on the road. When you’re on the road you have to remember that you only play for an hour-and-a-half, so it really is about how you behave off the stage, as well. You need to have people skills for people to want to be around you. If you take George’s show, for instance, there were about 200 people in the crew. You have to get on with all of them. Every venue has a new set of security, every hotel has staff, you have to be aware of all of this and think about how you behave. Even if you’re the best drummer in the world, if you have an attitude, people will begin to think, “You know what, this gig doesn’t really need you.” They’ll take someone who is a lesser player, but easier to get on, even if you’re brilliant. [INT. EDGE 1.0] 23

THE DRUMBEAST He’s a hard hitting time keeper known for his quick feet and even faster fills. In this inaugural issue of International Edge, we proudly expose the world to a German metal master as he talks shop and gives the kids a glimpse into his world. photos by Stefan Fischer

BODO Stricker

Edge: Tell us what’s going on at the moment.

Edge: How long have you been playing drums?

Bodo Stricker: Currently, I’m playing some shows with my band, Last One Dying, and we released an album last September. In between playing shows, we’re writing new material to record another album soon. Along the way, I am doing a little project called Whyteboy, which is sort of along the lines of Kid Rock and Methods of Mayhem. We played a couple of showcases for labels and booking agencies and stuff like that, but that’s just a little side project right now.

Bodo: I’ve been playing drums for about half of my life now, so about fifteen years. I’ve never had any lessons, I’m completely self-taught. I just learned by listening to CDs and tried to figure out what the drummer was doing.

Edge: How did you come to join the DW family? Bodo: That’s quite an interesting story, actually. I believe it was one of the trade shows in Frankfurt, probably six or seven years ago. I was playing DW pedals for way longer than that. I think I bought my first 5000 series double pedal with a single chain about ten years ago. So, I was playing at the trade show in Frankfurt with one of my bands and I just wanted to go by the DW booth and thank the guys for creating such a good pedal. So, I spoke to John Good and we hit it off right away. We decided to stay in touch and he gave me his business card. We kept seeing each other at these trade shows and then eventually, we said, “Hey, how about if we make it official?” And that’s how that happened. So there was a friendship long before there was a working relationship.

Edge: What’s the most interesting show you’ve ever played? Bodo: The most interesting show would probably have to be a festival that we played in China. I did this little 3 week tour with a band called Final Virus. It was sort of like Frank Zappa, with trombone players and keyboards, jazz and metal all mixed into one. We had the opportunity to go to China as a part of a cultural exchange program. They brought a Chinese orchestra over to Europe and a band from the pool of this cultural exchange was sent over to China. We were lucky that it was us! So we played this festival in front of about 80,000 people, and since it was one of the major events in China every year, it was nationally televised. They said there were almost a billion people watching it, so that was quite something. Edge: Do you feel any pressure playing to larger crowds? Bodo: To me, it doesn’t make that much of a difference if it’s 80,000 people or eight people, because the way I see it, I always feel comfortable. I’m playing my drum kit,

which looks the same night after night. So, I don’t really have to do anything different because my workspace is always the same. If I was a singer and had to fill big stages like that, run around and entertain people, it would be a different thing. Personally, I prefer playing the smaller shows, like club shows up to 1,000 person capacity, because you have much more interaction with the audience, whereas if you play big festivals with big stages and security in front of it, you kind of feel a little isolated from the audience. I like the smaller shows because you can get in touch with the audience and get that kind of feedback. Edge: Talk a little more about being self-taught. Bodo: Mostly, I was just listening to records and playing along. At the time when I was learning to play, there was this show on TV, called “Superdrumming” featuring Billy Cobham, Simon Phillips and Louie Bellson. So, you got to watch them play and then you were like, “Ok, this is how that works and maybe I can try this out.” And there was this guy named Gerry Brown who had all these stick-twirling moves and stuff like that, so that was quite interesting. I think the visual aspect is very important when you are learning drums, because if you are just listening, it is sometimes hard to figure out exactly what they’re doing. If you actually see them play, it’s like, “Ah, alright, now I get it.” Then it’s just practice from that point on. [INT. EDGE 1.0] 25

Edge: Why did you end up being more of a “metal” drummer? Bodo: When I began drumming, I started out playing jazz and fusion and that sort of thing. I didn’t have a double bass drum pedal until I had played for five or six years. I think it had a lot to do with the music that I was listening to at the time. I shifted my interest towards the heavier music when bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were really popular. A friend of mine turned me into Primus, which was one of my major influences; Tim Alexander, a great drummer! By listening to some of the other stuff like Faith No More, that’s how I got in touch with the heavier stuff. Then I played in a little cover band that was called Absurd and we did Primus covers. The guitarist in that band gave me a CD from Meshuggah and that’s when I said, “Alright, I’m really going to start practicing double bass drumming now” because the stuff I heard on the CD was just so phenomenal. I wanted to play like that guy. Edge: How did you develop your double bass technique over the years? Bodo: When I first started trying it, I found it really hard to stay balanced, because both of my legs were sort of floating in mid air. So I took the drum kit and set it up left-handed. I played the bass drum with my left foot, the hi-hat with my left hand, the snare with my right hand, completely the opposite of what I would usually do. That helped me to develop the strength in my left foot, which I needed for the difficult stuff that I wanted to play. These days, there are all these people who have tutorial videos on how to do the flat foot technique and the heelup or heel-down technique. When I first started practicing double bass, there was no to look all of these things up and you didn’t know what anything was called. You just did what was necessary to play what you were hearing in your head. The hardest part about it wasn’t learning the technique to move your foot that fast, but the endurance to play parts like that over an extended period of time. It takes years of practice with a metronome to build up these muscle groups. A lot of kids ask me, “How do you set up your pedal? How tight is the spring tension on your pedal?”, and I say, “You know what, I can tell you what I do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. You are gonna have to find out what works for you.” So, you can’t really say, “Ok, this is what you have to do to become really fast with the double bass pedal” because everyone has to do it their own way. Edge: Could you imagine living without social media platforms, such as Myspace, Youtube and

Facebook in the music industry today?

of the time, especially in metal. I find it very hard because sometimes you have to feed off the energy of a big guitar riff or whatever, and you really need to get that vibe going. If you are just playing drums by yourself with the click, that feels strange. The first time that we went in and recorded an EP was the hardest time to get the right feeling and the right energy. It was an interesting experience, trying to play without having the energy of the band or the crowd.

Bodo: I think one of the biggest steps was Myspace. It used to be that when you found out about a new band you’d have to go around trying to find their CD. Then came Myspace and now, every band has their own page and you have their music on that page. So, you have access to so much more music than you had before. No matter how obscure the band is, they are most likely on Myspace and you can listen to their music. I think it is a great promotional tool, especially for smaller bands that people don’t know about yet. A smaller band can be friends with a famous band and then people are like, “Ah, if they are friends with them, maybe I’ll check them out.”

Edge: What music do you listen to today? Who are your heroes? Bodo: Actually, I listen to a lot of different music and most of the time it’s not even metal, because when you are involved in metal music so much, then sometimes you just need a break from it. I like a lot of vocal jazz, like Diana Krall or Michael Bublé, that type of thing. I’m also a big fan of Sting and everything that he does. I even listen to some hip-hop and prog rock, like Porcupine Tree. Gavin Harrison is one of my drumming heroes, he’s a great drummer. When I’m in the mood for some heavy stuff it’s usually something technical like Meshuggah; Tomas Haake is also one of my influences. Even when you don’t listen to metal, let’s say you listen to Porcupine Tree, there is always some drumming stuff in there that you can use and adapt to your own style. I always try to expand my musical horizons and listen to new stuff so I don’t get stuck in my niche and just play metal drums.

Edge: Back to the drums, did you try a lot of different setups over the years? Bodo: The set-up that I have right now, I’ve been playing that for about five to six years. I have experimented before and this is what I always come back to because it feels the most comfortable to me. I like to have three toms above the bass drum because I also use a lot of splash cymbals and bell cymbals for little accents, and if you play faster fills it’s much easier to play the rolls if you have three toms up there and don’t have to move around that much. So I either play 3 up, 1 down or 3 up, 2 down. Right now, I am using 2 floor toms, which I just recently went back to. I had rack toms for the longest time and usually I play 8”, 10”, 12”, 14”, 16” and the 14” and 16” would always be floating. Recently, I switched back to the floor toms with legs because I just like the way they sound. They have a much fatter sound, especially since DW came out with the X-Shell construction. The 14” floor tom sounds as deep as one of my old, old kits. Every time DW comes up with something new, you want to try it out because you know it’s going to be great. I’ve got one of these kits right now, which they call SSC (Specialized Shell Configuration); it’s a mixture of X-Shells, VLT-Shells and VLX-Shells and that’s how you create your own individual sound. You can set them up however you want, in terms of shell

Edge: Can you sum up what drumming means to you?

construction, to get the sound that you hear in your head. Edge: Do you remember your first studio session? Bodo: The first time that I did a real studio session, I had already spent a lot of time practicing with a metronome, so I was used to working with a click. A lot of times, you hear the producer say, “This really young band came in and they just couldn’t play with a click and were fighting with the click and stuff like that,” so it really helped me to practice with the metronome almost from the beginning. It wasn’t that I was feeling uncomfortable, but it sure is different when you have to play the same song a couple of times or if there are different tempos in the song, then you play one part and then you play the other part. It’s very, very different from playing live. You kind of feel a little bit isolated, because most of the time you track the instruments separately. You do the drums first and then you do the bass and guitars, so you’re playing by yourself a lot

Bodo: I think it’s a lifestyle, especially if you are involved in the metal scene. All these bands know each other and it’s like a big community. You see people at festivals that you’ve played with before, so it feels like a big family. I don’t go out and do solo things. For me, it’s always been about hanging out and having fun with your friends, and it can also be an outlet if you’ve had a really bad day. You can get behind your drums and let it all out! It’s a kind of therapy. Edge: Do you like the idea of doing clinics or workshops? Bodo: That’s one thing that I would rather leave to my brother because as I said, I’m self-taught and can honestly say that I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. I am just trying to play the things that I’m hearing in my head. I couldn’t necessarily tell you what I’m doing. I can play it for you, but I’m not very good at explaining what I’m doing. Plus, I’m not very good at reading sheet music and I’m always kind of scared of teaching people something wrong. For me, it’s always about the music and playing

with other people. I’m not a solo drummer, so I’ll leave it to the people who can do that kind of thing. Edge: Have you imagined leaving Germany to play drums somewhere else?

“To me, drumming is an event where people come together...” Bodo: Of course. Wherever there is a cool job to play drums or a good tour, I am willing to go. As I said, we did tours in China and all throughout Europe and we would love to go to Japan, so sure, no problem. Edge: You also play ice hockey in your free time. Aren’t you afraid of hurting yourself? Bodo: Actually, my wife has been playing hockey for sixteen years now and we are both goaltenders so, naturally, we have a little more protection and padding than the rest. They don’t have the full face mask and stuff like that. You don’t really worry about hurting yourself out there. Mostly, we play for fun and we play for the same team, so we get to go to practice together. She was actually trying to convince me to go on the ice with her for the longest time and I always said, “No, I can’t do that, what if I break this or I sprain my ankle? The boys

will be mad at me if I can’t play.” And then I actually did break my right arm in a really stupid accident at a festival. I just walked down a loading ramp that was apparently a little too steep and I slipped and broke my right wrist fifteen minutes before stage time and we had to cancel the show. After that, I was like, “You know what? If I can break my bones by walking down a stupid loading ramp, I might as well play hockey!” So, I’ve been playing hockey for a while now and nothing bad has happened yet. Edge: Any advice for young, aspiring pro drummers? Bodo: First of all, practice, practice and practice. Use a metronome early on, so that you get a steady groove going and won’t have trouble in the studio playing with a click-track. Also, try to be versatile; don’t just focus on only one thing. If you are just a pure metal drummer, then it will be hard to find a job in that industry because there are so many good drummers that can play every genre. Try to play with other people and, most importantly, listen. I know so many musicians who are amazing at their instrument, but if you sit them down and say, “Alright, now play a song and play along with this person,” they just do too much, they can’t listen. So, as a drummer, it’s really important to listen to what is going on around you; listen to what the guitarist playing, listen to what the bass player playing. It is not about showing off your skills, it’s about playing what’s right for the song. [INT. EDGE 1.0] 27

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