FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The FAQ are mainly based on an interview conducted by Sam Lambert in January 2005.
Date of birth? Can’t remember, too old.
Where are you based? Montreal, Canada.
Hobbies? Lots just no time to do them so not worth mentioning.
Fave Drink? A good cold beer.
Fave Food? Paella (spanish dish).
Worst Food? None, I eat pretty much any foods.
Fave bands? Tones, but just to name one Led Zeppelin.
Fave Film? Tones, just to name one Army of Darkness.
Fave Country to perform live? All of them are different and all are as equally interesting.
Fave Guitarist? One of my Faves is Jimmy Page.
Fave Vocalist? One of my faves is Jeff Buckley( in metal, Dave Vincent).
Fave Bassist? Les Claypool and BILLY SHEEHAN.
Fave Artist? (I believe you studied fine art?) A little, fave would have to be Matthew Barney.
How long have you been playing and what made you start? I’ve been playing drums for 17 years, and 10 of those seriously. I always loved music and as a kid I tried different instruments and drums were for me.
What is your earliest drumming memory + (if you can remember) what was the first song you were able to play on drums? Playing on empty coffee cans would probably be my oldest memory. I would try to set up as many as I could find some that had different sounds and play. The first song I played on a kit was Smoke on The Water (Deep Purple), surprise surprise, I think a lot of folks played that song first. I didn’t play that well if I can recall.
What was your first experience of playing live? I was practicing for a battle of the bands in my high school and had my kit set up in the cafeteria stage. At lunch my friends asked me to go play and the teachers said it was alright, so I played in front of 300 kids, they were impressed at the time but it probably wasn’t that great.
Tell us about your kit set up and what hardware you use? I use a Pearl MasterWorks kit all Maple with Pearl Hardware exclusively. Redge from Pearl and Drumanddrummer.com built me a custom rack with new Pearl specs and hardware. It goes all around the kit and has a top tear with some cymbals hanging down. It’s a Monster. Have a look at it at Drumanddrummer.com.
What is your stick of choice at the moment? Have you always used them + what makes you choose them over other sticks? I use VicFirth sticks exclusively, the F1 model which they print with my signature and the Cryptopsy logo. The stick has great balance and the tip is excellent for attack.
What is your favorite (or most used) cymbal in your setup? Again I use Sabian cymbals exclusively and I really dig there Evolution series. I would have to say that their 18″ Ozone crash is magic.
Tell us about your practice situation? are you set up at home? Do you woodshed? I have a set at home and at the Cryptopsy local. The band practices 3 to 4 times a week for about 3 hours per session including some business. Ideally I would like to practice 2 hours at least per day on my own but it rarely happens do to time constraints.
To date, what bands have you worked with (all styles included)? I’ve help out in some metal bands when the drummer couldn’t play a gig, I’ve done covers with bands of various styles. Worked on a rock project for a while. But mostly it’s been Cryptopsy and some jam type projects of different genres of music.
Do you change your setup when playing jazz? Do you think differently behind a jazz setup? I’ve tried different set-ups but Cryptopsy takes up a lot of my time so I try to keep the same set-up at home and at the local. Playing different genres of music takes different thinking and especially different feel.
Over the years, who has been your biggest influence? I’ve taken bits and pieces from all sorts of influences, there really hasn’t been one in particular influence, there’s been a lot.
Who is you favourite drummer of all time? No fave just faves.
What is your favorite drumming genre (jazz/latin/funk/metal…)? All have something about them that is different that’s how we can identify them as a particular genre, so I can’t say I like one over the other, they all have to be learned.
At the time of this interview, what drummer are you predominantly listening to? I’ve been listening to Kenneth Schalk of Candiria. I’ve enjoyed his playing for a while now, what a great groove drummer. He’s so solid it’s not even funny. Great individual as well, I’ve toured with him on different occasions and he and the rest of the band are stand out guys. Hats off.
Do you get much physical exercise? In what way has this affected your drumming? I believe you are quite a fan of the skipping rope? Yeah some, everything becomes a time factor. Bench press is good for upper body mobility around the kit. Jump rope or squats are good for legs. Different stretching excersises are good as well. My upcoming DVD will cover some.
In an interview, Lord Worm stated that you have “doubled” the speed of your blastbeats, and have also placed a second set of hats over your original pair. Interesting….. How did this come about? A couple grinds on the new material will have the rim shot blast technic so called “gravity blast” which some metal players think they invented. It was actually used by Buddy Rich 40 years ago. My technic is not with a double HiHat but with a splash and crash. It’s a fun technic but not something that is very hard to pull off.
Are there any particular “exercises” than you have practiced over the years? Most of speed exercises I have dabbled with are endurance excersises using metronome and a stop watch. In learning different techniques and styles of music I do a lot a listening and the feel of rhythms seems to sink in. Rudiments are very important and I usually concentrate on practicing the most popular ones, singles, doubles, parradiddles, triplets, flams, etc…
What grip(s) do you use? (if several, please name which + where you apply them) I use Matched grip pretty much all the time. I practice tradditional but have more power with matched.
When you “hyperblast” ie. speeds over, say, 280bpm, do you change your grip? No I just use more fingers than wrist, just like with the feet when I play faster stuff I use more ankles then legs. I guess it’s just a way to minimize unnecessary movements and keep energy.
Also, how did you get your weak arm up to scratch? It seems a lot of drummers would only be able to do such speeds with their strong arm… Well what I practiced a lot were double strokes and triplets to bring my arms up to par. I would do one hit with my right hand and two with my left to create a triplet at different tempos for a long period of time. This gets back to the endurance exercises I mentioned before. There are a few that work really well.
Tell us about the Guggenheim performance, where you collaborated with Matthew Blarney and Jonathan Bepler. I believe Will Rhamer and Derek Roddy(!) were also involved? Yeah very complicated to go into, but I’ll make it brief. I was invited by Matthew to perform on two nights along with other musicians from around the globe and from different musical backgrounds. I showed up to do a run through and Jonathan gave me some direction of what he wanted and the rest was up to me. It was in the theater of the Guggenheim and the musicians circled the crowd. He wanted to recreate part of the movie soundtrack from the Creamaster Cycles live and in surround (literally) in the theater as part of his exposition. It was really cool and something that was extremely different from what I’ve ever seen. It was also a lot of fun working with Derek and Will.
You have an instructional DVD in the pipeline… what will be covered in this? I will cover different stretching exercises, endurance exercises, warm-ups, what i use, foot and hand techniques, perhaps a grind library, I will show about 4 live songs from behind the drums, and a few solos, with some bonus material.
What has been the hardest thing for you to learn on drums? The hardest for me to learn is the discipline of focussing on a practice routine. There is so much stuff for me to learn and so many things to maintain and better, that the challenge on drums (and in life) is time management.