Buckcherry’s Xavier Muriel: Project & Serve

Stay On The Fast Track

Rock recording is a seize-the-moment proposition. It’s all about spontaneity, feel, and going with your gut. But when a certain budget is allotted, you’re at a high point in your career, and fans have definite expectations, relying on a hunch is easier said than done. For his part, Muriel was determined not to overthink the beats, doing 16 drum tracks in two days with Marti Friederickson in Nashville. “He’d go, ’Yup, that one’s done’ and he would take a big fat magic marker, and do a cross-hatch on the back of my right calf. It was a joke at first, but we kept doing it. And by the end, I looked down at my calf and I had fifteen hatch marks. And literally that day I went straight to the local tattoo shop. So every mark that [Frederiksen] put on my leg, I had the guy go over with a tattoo gun. So yeah, that’s kind of crazy but I was excited about that. I read constantly about guys that spend six months in a studio doing drum tracks, and I’m like ’What is that all about?’ That’s not the way we do things.”

xavier muriel

Muriel’s Setup

Drums Yamaha Oak Custom (Ozark Matt Black)
1. 24" x 17" Bass Drum
2. 14" x 6.5" Paul Leim signature Snare Drum (or Manu Kaché model)
3. 14" x 10" Tom
4. 16" x 16" Floor Tom
5. 18" x 16" Floor Tom

Cymbals Sabian
A.19" AAX Crash
B. 20" AAX Crash
C. 14" AA Sizzle Hats
D. 22" Mega Bell Ride
B. 20" AAX Crash
E. 20" HHX Crash
F. 19" AAX China
A. 19 AAX Crash

Percussion Toca
H. Pro Line Mega Bell

Xavier Muriel also uses Yamaha hardware, Flying Dragon direct-drive double pedal, and SubKick, Remo heads (Emperor Clear, tom batters; Ambassador Clear, tom resos; Powerstroke3, bass batter; Black Ebony, bass reso; and Emperor Coated, snare batter, and Diplomat Clear, snare side), Vater XD-5B with stick wrap, Buttkicker throne system, Audix microphones, and Randall May EA internal miking system.

As you might predict from this consummate showman, a cat for whom delivering time and time again is a point of pride, Muriel continues to use the click track on most of the songs. “Some of the tracks that I wanted a little bit looser in, say, the choruses, I wouldn’t [use a click], because Jimmy [Ashhurst], my bass player, is just such a natural metronome himself that it was easy to do. There are points on every record and even in live shows where I really focus on Jimmy as far as locking, because once we get started on a song you can’t move him. He’s that good. So I never have to worry about being pushed or pulled either way by him. But most of the time I sing while I’m playing – not vocally, not with a mike – but I sing to myself because that’s kind of the way I am. I follow Josh a lot. Rhythmically some of the things that he does kind of place me.”

Cueing off the singer is more of a ’70s approach because rock drummers were more jazz-oriented – or grew up listening to jazz – so following the vocal line was more ingrained. Also in that decade, the studio approach hadn’t gotten so gridded out. As always, Muriel has his own theory about this. “In the ’80s there were a lot of drummers that were so fixated on what there hair looked like and how many times they could thrown the stick up in the air and catch it. I’m not saying that I’m not a showman [laughs] because I am to a certain extent, but my job up there is to create the most solid foundation for everybody else to go off and be a little bit slinky and be a little bit loose and a little bit greasy. But that shouldn’t happen with drummers. If you’re loose and slinky and greasy, then you’re out of pocket and that’s not cool.”

Speak Truth To Power

Simply put there is nothing on earth that Muriel would rather work his ass off for. Band members at their level usually tolerate each other at best, but even with infrequent down time they get the itch to hang out, get food, whatever. Nelson, Muriel, and his drum tech are into building and riding Harleys but they don’t have the time to do that any more. “We still have a passion for what’s next,” he says. “We did ’Lit Up.’ We did ’Crazy Bitch.’ What else do we got?”

Wrapping the bandanna around your head (and occasionally a pant leg), donning leather jackets, and emptying out yourself every night is no shtick, it’s Buckcherry’s life. They’ve stuck to their glam-tinged ways for the better part of a decade, watching as nĂ¼-metal, pop-punk, metalcore, garage rock, and whatever else come and went. “When you’ve been told over and over, You’ll never be anywhere, you’re never get anywhere, no one is going to sign you, rock and roll is dead’ – and these are real things that people told us – when you have that much adversity facing you and you think about it and then you go back into the control room after a couple of days and you listen to what you just laid down and it makes the hair on your arms stand up, and you get that feeling the same way you had the same feeling when you put on “Back In Black” for the first time, that’s what it’s about.”

In the current industry climate, the chasm between mega-sellers and artists that must tour to survive gets increasing wide. Buckcherry sell a respectable amount of records (2.8 million overall sales as of press time) but the band’s heart lies in performance, averaging 300 days a year on the road for the last four tour cycles. “We pride ourselves on being a live band,” Muriel says. “I don’t think we could ever be one of those bands that only toured six months out of the year because that’s not how we started. When we got together we were, and still are, a gang. We hit stage and it’s war.”

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