Dan Whitesides: Pumping Power With The Used

On “I Come Alive” as well as in “Give Me Love,” you play fast single stroke rolls and you’re very free with them. How did you develop those around the kit?
Wherever my hand is, I do the easiest way to get to the next drum. I train my left hand to do exactly what my right hand does. Normally people play with their right hand on the hi-hat. I switch it up and use my left hand, and the same with my left foot. I am not great with my left foot for double bass, but I can play a song with my left foot if I have to. I don’t need the right foot. So it’s trying to work both limbs equally. I could be a lot better at it though.

Do you practice that?
Yes, I practice it for sure. I don’t like it when my right pedal breaks, but it does – then I play with my left pedal. Great drummers can do everything ambidextrously. That’s an inspiration. I will practice rolls starting with alternating hands, back and forth. Instead of starting with my right, I will start with my left. I will do a roll with my left, then with my right, then switch it up. I bring a practice set out to gigs, I even use weights on my legs so my kicks will feel lighter; I don’t always do that though. I also play beats using every part of my body. The hi-hats and toms and snare and kicks are going at once. That’s helped me out a lot too.

You also play some really extremely syncopated beats in “Vulnerable” and “Kiss It Goodbye.”
It’s not straight 4 or 2 and 4, but very syncopated within the accents. That’s always a judgment call.

When is a syncopated beat the best thing for the song?
In “Kiss it Goodbye,” it sounds crazy, it’s not going to be on the radio. On songs like that I have more freedom to do whatever I want. The producer told me to go crazy there and I did. It launched the entire song. And you have to pay attention to the song and listen to everybody. If you listen to our last album, the B sides are a little crazy. But now with our own label we could do what we wanted. It wasn’t an issue.

You mentioned your general routine. How do you warm-up?
I go in an hour before we hit and practice on my pads with these huge marching sticks. I stretch with them too. Sometimes it’s hard, and I don’t feel like warming up, but most of the time I warm-up for an hour just playing super hard for ten minutes, then some light buzz rolls. I will always be somewhere warm. I just get my sticks and hit. I used to play along to songs but now I am more relaxed. I go in super relaxed and calm and warm up mellow. Just trying to keep it chilled so I am chilled when I get onstage, where everything changes. I will play paradiddles. I will do single strokes for ten minutes straight and you can really tell the difference. And I do lots of stretching of my entire body. I am all over the place so I try to stretch out my entire body.

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