We’re Talking Fast: Extreme Metal Roundtable

DRUM! Is it important to develop certain muscle groups in order to play faster?
KERSWILL All I try to do is [work] my tibs a little bit, because that seems to be the portion that fatigues the fastest in terms of when you have to do really fast stuff. Other than that, like with the calves? I think that would be detrimental because you’re just adding weight. You want to target the ankles more than your legs. Your legs shouldn’t be moving that much at all.
HERRICK I think it’s better to just have your calves stretched out and relaxed since they’re kind of the antagonist muscle of your anterior tibialis on the outside and to have this [pats his calf] looser will make this [pats his shin] function better.

DRUM! I heard from a super-fast player that the bigger you are – I’m talking muscle development – the harder it is to move around the kit. Is that true?
MAZURKIEWICZ You don’t see that many big—shouldered guys that are going to be that nimble around the kit, but there are some big guys that are super fast. Tony Laureano [Nile, Malevolent Creation, Nachtmystium], Gene Hoglan [Dethklok, Fear Factory], these guys are big guys that – and they’re not big-muscle guys – they’re just big guys and they move. I mean, it’s unbelievable watching these guys, how fast they are, and how quick they are. You just don’t expect it to be that way. And I know both of those guys don’t to that much training at all. I know Hoglan used those ankle weights for a long time, but other than that …
BYRNE It’s a weird thing. It’s like heavyset guys are great drummers.

[group laughter]

DRUM! So foot speed comes from ankle and shin muscles, but where does it come from in the upper limbs?
HERRICK I think it’s a combination of wrist and fingers, and it transfers more to fingers the faster you go. But then again, that’s not true of everybody. I’ve watched videos of Derek Roddy blasting and it’s, like, just his hand moving. He says he’ll go back and forth – when his wrists get tired. He’ll go to his fingers. And from his fingers, back to the wrist. I can’t play that fast with just wrists, you know? And then you got guys doing the Moeller technique and other kind of hand techniques. That stuff I don’t know, really.
BYRNE Yeah, especially with Hatebreed, where your right hand is cranking the entire set on the hats, I found you reach this point where it’s just a stick-control thing where the stick is in your hand, but you’re not really gripping it. You’re kind of just letting it bounce off the back. You have your pivot point here and it’s just bouncing off the back of your hand and you’re just kind of churning butter with the rest of your arm.

DRUM! Do you guys all use triggers live?
KERSWILL Not me, I’m adamantly opposed.
BYRNE Well, it’s funny. The reason I started using them was because my singer, he seems to have trouble hearing things on stage. It’s more of a benefit for him I think because a lot of the Hatebreed stuff doesn’t really go over 170, I don’t think.
KERSWILL [pointing to Herrick] And I think that’s why you guys started using them, too, was for monitoring purposes.
HERRICK Monitoring’s big and it was just one of those things where the consistency was like a frat house band.
BYRNE There’s some stigma, and I’ve realized with playing around with them I take that back – I was just being ignorant. The guys that trigger, I see why they do. It does serve a specific purpose. It’s not like a cheat, because you still have to play.
MAZURKIEWICZ There are cheats, but you guys are using it for the right reason, you’re not trying …
KERSWILL There’s triggered drums I’ve heard: drdrdrdrdrdrdrdrd ... and there’s no power behind what they’re doing. No consistency at all.

DRUM! Conventional wisdom is that as strokes get faster they’re less powerful, but does that always have to be true?
HERRICK I think to an extent. I know there’s guys like George Kollias from Nile who’s all about hitting hard all the time. I’m not that guy. As I get faster I want to be relaxed and let the amp do the work on that end. As long as it’s clean I’m happy.
KERSWILL I’m getting the faster speeds and still play with consistency without triggers, but I just love natural tone. I don’t prefer the fakeness from a sound perspective.
DRUM! Does tighter head tension improve speed?
KERSWILL No, my whole thing is I want to dig in on the grooves and make them as heavy as possible. I can’t deal with the bounce. I want that attack.

DRUM! Matt and Paul, I know you have looser tension. Doesn’t that make you work harder to play fast?
MAZURKIEWICZ I’ve always had a looser tension and I guess my body is just … I’ve dealt with it. I’ve adapted to it.
DRUM! Andols, so you’re the only player here who plays tightly tuned heads. How come?
HERRICK We have a lot of parts that are faster – or start-and-stop stuff – and if my heads were too loose I wouldn’t get the response and I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Like, we had a problem a couple shows ago over the course of the tour where my heads got looser and looser and I didn’t really notice it until we started playing. I’m like, “This feels like I’m hitting marshmallows.”
KERSWILL Yours [pointing to Byrne] were a little tighter than I expected. When I play a groove and I’m really laying in, I let it sit in the head.
BYRNE That’s what I was just going to talk about. Sorry, go on.
KERSWILL So I don’t want the bounce-back. I want to be able to have the natural feel, and sometimes when I’m hitting heavy grooves I almost stay in the head itself. So if it’s too tight it’s going to bounce back at me and I’m going to have less control.
BYRNE I do the same thing. And when you lay into it and leave the beater against the head you get that little bddrrrrrrr. And that feels weird coming from the pedal into your leg. Almost like a buzz.

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