Dan Carle: Kick It To Win It

Dan Carle: Kick It To Win It

dan carle

Photograph: Ashley Malley

Clean-cut, shorthaired, and tatt-free, Dan Carle comes across more like the rush chairman of Sigma Chi instead of a precision-obsessed drummer in one of djent’s stalwart bands. We tracked the man down in Reno, where After The Burial will give fans a small taste of latest release Wolves Within. The 26-year-old is mighty grateful ATB will dish out only one new song while it’s still hot off the hard drive. “This is probably the hardest album we’ve written as far as like technicality and stuff,” he says, hanging in the back of the Knitting Factory where they will sound check in a few hours. “There were definitely more demanding drum parts on this album.”

When we ask for specifics, the drummer doesn’t hesitate to offer up “Disconnect” with its crazy intro followed by a mid-song solo, and so many tempo changes it comes across as unstructured. Too much structure is the bane of modern extreme-metal drumming, but Carle fights against the genre’s stylistic parameters on “Nine Summers.”

“It’s the first song where we’ve ever had dynamic drums,” he explains. “It’s usually balls-to-the-wall, playing as hard as you can the whole time, but this song actually has clean guitar, a middle section with lower tempos. We were able to break it up a little bit for a second, then come back up.”

To avoid crappy sounding 8-bit drum samples during the writing, Carle programmed the beats with samples from Toon-track’s Superior Drummer. “It gave us a better idea at preproduction of what things will sound like.” Once the patterns were set, he played the parts on a triggered kit, mapped out the notes, and re-sampled them. “That’s the biggest challenge you have with importing samples over from MIDI, is the velocities, because usually it does sound pretty machine-y, so you have to go in there and humanize them.”

For the blastbeats, Carle deploys three types he has informally named the New York Death Metal blast, the Corpse blast (in honor of Cannibal Corpse, which sounds like “everything hitting at once”), and his favorite, the Split Blast, which divides the hands between snare and ride. “It’s got that single-stroke roll sound to it. It’s more notes taking up space and it makes it sound more complicated than it is, but it definitely caters to the music the best.”

Although he has not measured, Carle estimates the fastest tempo on Wolves Within at around 210 bpm (“Virga”). Live or recorded, volume is consistent thanks to triggered bass drums. “My hands have very good endurance in them,” he says. “The thing that I struggle with dynamically, as far as going faster, is the kick drum, which obviously, if you’re playing a double-bass part at like 210, you’re kicking a little softer.”

Excellent ankle muscle control enables him to get fast tempos even when the heel is very low. “It’s basically floating just above, but it touches at parts too. My feet are not really ’heel-up’ – I mean, they are,” he clarifies. “It’s just really low. I keep [the space] tight and low and don’t like to pick my feet up too high.”

He takes a similarly hybrid approach to the swivel technique. The southpaw player’s left foot swerves in and out, but the right is stationary. Most players move both. “When my foot cocks out and in, it’s like a metronome, and it helps me feel where my feet are at. When you’re going super fast, at like 200, you have to have a pulse you feel or else you’ll get lost and it’ll start getting jumbled. Doing the swivel really helps me stay on time. I know if my foot’s kicked out, I’m on a downbeat, and when I’m kicked in, I’m on an upbeat, and I feel that in my body when I’m playing, so it helps me play the parts tighter.”

Carle has only ever been in two bands, northern Minnesota metallers Nostalia, and now, After The Burial. Before that, he did high school jazz band before enrolling at McNally Smith College Of Music in St. Paul. Time spent there learning proper technique would come in handy for extreme-metal. “My goal is to not be pouring with sweat at the end of a show,” he says. “I don’t want to waste energy. I want to hit my cymbals in the same place every time, the drums exactly in the center every time.”

As for the left-handed setup, Carle makes no apologies. He tried for a year to adapt to a right-handed setup but his neuro-circuitry wasn’t cooperating, so he reverted back to leftie. “That’s the way I can learn things fastest so I just stuck with it.”

dan carle

Inside Tracks

After The Burial
Wolves Within

On Wolves Within, After The Burial’s Dan Carle emphatically announces he’s graduated to the big leagues of extreme metal drumming. All the essentials are present: remarkable speed, fluid technique, power, endurance, consistency, creativity, the ability to change tempo on a dime. Scope out “Virga” for evidence of said attributes. After opening with a half-minute blastbeat blitzkrieg, the slammin’ southpaw flexes muscle on driving verses that continuously change shape every few bars. Like ice sticks to windshields in his native Minnesota, Carle’s fleet feet glom onto his bandmates’ jagged, djent-y riffage, producing a devastating rumble to match vocalist Anthony Notarmaso’s guttural growl. Ratcheting up the intensity another notch, he fires off a face-melting drum break loaded with syncopated snare strikes that explode atop an avalanche of sixteenth-note kicks. Carle’s grooveability is another valuable asset. Note the subtle snare ghosting on the chunky choruses of “Pennyweight,” or the way he tacks slight ruffs to the tops of his fills – both are nice human touches in a decidedly inhuman genre.

Quick Licks

Dan Carle has both the physical and mental chops to pull off some truly wicked drum parts. “Anti-Pattern” begins in 15/16 where Carle combines a funk groove and a grouping of seven notes played L R L R L L (Carle’s a lefty), with cymbal hits doubling his kick drum. He ends this section with a ripping fill in 2/4. At the verse, he plays another killer fill and a syncopated double-bass groove that mirrors the guitar.

dan carle


Band After The Burial
Current Release Wolves Within
Age 26
Birthplace Virginia, Minnesota
Influences Marco Minnemann, Mike Portnoy, Tomas Haake
Website facebook.com/aftertheburial; myspace.com/aftertheburial


Drums Mapex Meridian Maple snare Mapex Black Panther Sledge Hammer
Cymbals Meinl
Sticks Pro-Mark 5B
Heads Evans
Pedals Pearl Demon Drive (direct drive; two singles)
Hardware Gibraltar rack, Tama Iron Cobra hi-hat
Electronics Alesis DM5 module, Roland RT10K triggers

Get the How To Tune Drums Minibook when you subscribe to our newsletter