In His Own Words: Brooks Wackerman Of Bad Religion

Interviewed by Andrew Lentz Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's November 2010 Issue

We would never accuse humble Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman of being a diva, but after he blew us off in Zurich – twice – we’re beginning to have our doubts. He’s all apologies when we catch up to him in Prague a few hours before a BR performance. We forgive him, but only because the band’s aptly titled Dissent Of Man is so smokin’ with its anti-establishment snarl, catchy hooks, and of course, the kinds of scorching beats only Wackerman can deliver on command. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Bad religion just turned 30.

Mixing It Up
The song writing on this new record is different than any Bad Religion record I was a part of. So with that being said I did approach the songs differently and we still have the two-minute aggressive Bad Religion punk songs on there. But there’s a lot more art-pop stuff, too, so I was kind of wearing different hats on this record.

Hitting His Stride
What I’ve found is each time working with the band I just become more and more comfortable, and I think this new record is a better representation of me as a player and it’s still really creative and getting to work on the parts with the Brett [Gurewitz, guitarist] and Greg [Graffin, singer] in preproduction. There is more of a natural feel about this that – not to say anything band about the other albums – but it was definitely a sense of freedom on this record that I got off on.

Punk: The Evolution
I think guys like Josh Freese and Travis Barker definitely push the envelope in the punk genre. I think it’s definitely taken it to a whole different level versus 25 years ago when punk was originated. I studied jazz growing up; I studied classical snare drum; and I’m incorporating what I learned into punk drumming. Even if it’s subtle, I’m still able to play like myself, and creatively. It’s fulfilling.

Growing Up Wackerman
You know, I never thought of it in that light, just because it was normal for me to wake up and hear drums in the house, and going to Zappa rehearsals when I was seven to see [brother] Chad play, and going to all these shows – it definitely had a sense of normalcy to it. And then I started playing in a jazz band when I was in kindergarten. My dad was my jazz-band teacher at my elementary school. And I can speak for my brothers, too, because it was the same thing for them growing up. So, yeah, I owe everything to my parents as far as putting music in my life.

Standing Out In A Drumming Dynasty
I would say the main difference between Chad and I is the style of music we play. We both took lessons from the same teachers: Murray Spivak on snare and then Chuck Flores on drum set playing. So we have the same technique, just chose different genres in that regard.

Clinical Analysis
I haven’t done a clinic as Brooks Wackerman in awhile. Chad, John, and myself, we’ve been doing the Wackerman Three Drum Performance, we headlined the Montreal Drum Fest this past fall so we all wrote out drum compositions and were playing together. If I were to do a clinic, I would touch on being in a punk band and how to build stamina, how to pace yourself, the warm-ups I do before going on. I do a lot of yoga. I would just touch on what I have experienced, the sessions that I get hired for. If I was a kid in the audience that’s what I would want to know, that is, if I want to do what the clinician is doing. I would just be curious with having to play in the studio versus playing live. Get an inside scoop with that angle.

Three Decades And Still Going Strong
All these tours that we’re doing is in celebration of 30 years being a band [Wackerman has ten years with BR]. I really don’t know too many bands that have been around for 30 years. So the achievement of being in a band for 30 years is something. We’re happy to be doing what we love, and producing records, and playing in Prague, where actual punkers come out to the show still.