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Buckcherry’s Xavier Muriel: Project & Serve

xavier muriel

Game Of Thrones: Terry Gray

Sometimes an awesome drummer and an equally awesome drum tech do not mix. Just ask Buckcherry’s Terry Gray, who has knelt throneside by buddy Xavier Muriel since their high school days in Austin, Texas, drum key at ready. “We both have different ideas of what a kit should sound like,” Gray says from his room at the InterContinental Toronto Centre on a day off during the Buckcherry tour. “Xavier’s really funny about snares – he likes more ring in it, and I don’t. I’ll fit it a certain way and he’ll get up and then he’ll change it. Then during the show – and he’s one of those guys in between songs constantly tinkering with stuff – he’ll tweak it and he’ll hit and look at me with this face, and I’m like, ’I know. Sounds bad.’”

Vigilance is key. Gray’s position during performance is up close in Muriel’s left- and right-side blindspots, looking at every reflected head surface and moving piece of hardware and watching the drummer’s every stroke. “My biggest fear is like something going wrong with the kick drum and the kick pedal because you can get around everything else but if you don’t have that if everything else fails. And now he’s playing a double pedal again, so I always make sure those are working well.”

As house systems get more sophisticated, techs increasingly interface with the drummer via the sound man, but the direct approach serves Gray well. The tech advances the click for each song, but Muriel activates it with a start/stop pedal next to the hi-hat, so if the band is pushing or pulling he can turn it on and bring them back. “This band is really big on being tight and on time and stuff like that,” Gray adds. “Sometimes I stop the click on my own on certain songs, in breakdowns and things like that. But for the most part I’m just sitting there watching.”

The co-workers have even made a friendly game out of it. Sometimes Muriel will test Gray if he thinks the tech is getting complacent. A snare head swap during a song (in a part where there’s no drums) for instance. “He can’t wait 30 seconds for the song to end, he wants me to change it at the breakdowns to keep me on my toes.” [laughs] “It gets my heart racing.”

Gray wouldn’t call it PTSD, but in some ways the tech is battle scarred from the pre-Buckcherry days, when Muriel was drumming in a band called Saucer. “He actually snapped the beater shaft in half,” he recalls. “And the broken off stem slashed right through the head. Luckily he was playing a double pedal that day, so he was able to switch over and put his right foot on the secondary pedal. So he was still playing and I was replacing the beater and then I got around in front of the drum head with gaffer’s tape and I taped the gash in the head to finish the show. So ever since then I’ve been really leery about that.”

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