We’re Talking Fast: Extreme Metal Roundtable

DRUM Do any speed drummers do double-strokes with the bass beaters, like a roll? Like a short cut to high bpms?
MAZURKIEWICZ There are. There is a technique for that. Different kinds of techniques for getting a double stroke out of that. Foot to heel …
HERRICK Guys going upward of 200 bpm, I’ve seen them doing this [mimics fast heel-toe motion].
BYRNE It’s almost like a conga player.
KERSWILL That’s basically what it is.
MAURKIEWICZ There’s crazy techniques for double bass. That gravity-blast thing …
HERRICK That’s another “no power” thing. It sounds impressive. You bounce it off the rim.
BYRNE It’s basically a Johnny Rabb stick-trick-type thing, right?
HERRICK I forget who I saw. Some guy doing it, like, one-handed on a ride cymbal.
MAZURKIEWICZ Big Canadian thing. Lot of the Canadian bands seem to do that.

DRUM! Did Johnny Rabb kind of start that? Seems like a free-hand thing.
HERRICK I don’t know if he invented it . . .
KERSWILL It wasn’t being applied to metal then either. He was just doing it as an exercise. I think that dude just has so much time to be a drummer and develop things, where we’re like, ’Oh, we got tours. I need sleep.’ We’re driving thousands and thousands of miles. I would love to create some kind of technique for kids to get into.

DRUM! Do you think you’ll reach a point where you’re over speed?
HERRICK I’m not. I would love to be faster, but it’s just another tool to have in your arsenal. That’s all.
KERSWILL I wouldn’t say I’m over speed, but I’m over speed as the only element of your playing. Like, just concentrating on speed. We all need to play fast and improve on that. I’m fine with that. I need to do that and I’m a more confident drummer because of that. I’m just saying don’t use it as the only tool in your playing.
BYRNE I think it’s part of development, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. Like [looking at Mazurkiewicz], watching the DVD with your new album. The one tune you were tracking – I don’t recall – but it was like, “Yeah, this is going to be one of the first tunes where I’ve gone over 200,” or 210, or something like that?
MAZURKIEWICZ Yeah.
BYRNE So, for you guys who have been a death metal band, you’ve always been fast and so that’s like a milestone for you and you’ve been developing that forever. But there are guys now that are like 280 right away, and that’s all they want to do, so obviously that wasn’t all you always wanted to do.
MAZURKIEWICZ Yeah, exactly.
KERSWILL That same thing happened to me with the Unearth record [2008’s The March]. “I’m going to try to play 200 bpm. Like, okay, got to do it.” And I worked on it, and I did it.
MAZURKIEWICZ I think that’s the thing with a lot of the speed drummers – they’re so interchangeable. It’s like, who’s playing drums? You can’t tell. And don’t get me wrong, they’re phenomenal drummers, but there are many drummers that sound alike. They have no individuality.
KERSWILL One of the greatest things I ever read was when Bill Ward took lessons for, like, eight months when he was 42, and finally he got fed up with it – “This sucks, I hate it, I can’t do it. I’m done.” And the teacher goes, “Excuse me, but are you Bill Ward of Black Sabbath?” He’s like, “Uh, yeah.” Then the teacher goes, “Then just be Bill Ward from Black Sabbath. None of us sitting here play the same thing, and that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t want to be like any other drummer. Just be yourself.

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