Roy Mayorga is holding back tears. The insanely talented — and tragically underrated — drummer for Stone Sour swells with emotion as he absorbs an experience he will later equate to witnessing the birth of a child.
But this is no child being born.
This is instead the birth of a dream, a dream that manifests in thunderous sonic form as it rumbles from the stacks of amps, through the eager practice space and into the very core of the proud drummer.
This is “Threadbare,” one of four tracks Mayorga wrote for Stone Sour’s latest record, and this is the first time he’s hearing it performed by his band. This is the birth of a moment.
“To hear a song I wrote come out live from their amps was mind-blowing for me,” Mayorga recalls, now far away in some corner of Europe playing another killer show for some kind of sold-out crowd. “I’m very proud of this song and really happy my brothers in Stone Sour embraced it and turned it into what it is today.
“My role has typically been just the drummer,” he continues. “This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write songs for this band. These guys embrace the fact that I play more than one instrument and if I have something to say musically they’re happy to listen to it. It’s great.”
Mayorga’s four songs on Audio Secrecy — “Threadbare,” “Nylon 6/6,” “Let’s Be Honest,” and “Anna” — certainly demonstrate the band’s faith in their drummer’s musicianship. In other words, this isn’t just some oh-the-drummer-wrote-a-song token of appreciation. Mayorga not only wrote a sizeable chunk of the material on the album, but he also wrote some of the album’s best songs. It’s quantity and quality (a lot like his drumming), with “Threadbare” leading the pack.
“‘Threadbare’ is the first song I attempted to write for this album. It began as just a series of chords on the guitar, like you hear in the beginning of the song. I had just installed a set of Seymour Duncan pickups in my guitar and plugged in and strummed these two chords and loved the vibe instantly. Next thing I know I’m putting up the click track on Pro Tools and making a loop of it and the song came alive more and more as the hours went by.”
Then came the drums.
“The idea I had for this song was to have two different drum kits with two different sounds. One being more raw and big sounding like a John Bonham drum sound and the other more contemporary. Then marry the two together. I thought that would add to the vibe and emotion and really bring out the dynamics of the movements within the song.
“So the first half of the song really sets up the next part where the more contemporary drum sound kicks in and just lifts the song even higher and stays that way, continuing to build to the end.”
And you’ll get there, assuming you make it across the bridge. It’s a treacherous pass full of odd time, pounding toms, and mischievous little trolls. Okay, maybe no trolls, but you get the point: It’s big and twisted.
“The song is mostly in 4/4 timing except the bridge in the middle and the same part at the end. Those are in 7/8. The secondary bridge is split into two different time signatures, 7/8 and 9/8. This is definitely something that wasn’t really planned but it just felt right while I was writing and playing it so I went with it and just figured out what the timing was later when I was showing it to the band.”
Beyond his work as drummer and songwriter for Stone Sour (and previously Soulfly) Mayorga also does classical film scoring for projects like Legion and Shutter. So musical inspiration floats freely around him, and writing “Threadbare” helped him recognize when to harness these moments.
“I just woke up in a certain mood one morning and decided to grab the guitar and play. And I’m so glad I picked up a guitar that day because otherwise I wouldn’t have this piece of music. Since then, my first instinct in the morning is to pick up a guitar, because you never know when you might stumble across something amazing.”
His versatility as a songwriter and film scorer certainly impacts his work at the drum throne, where his creativity on the kit is matched only by his raw rudimental ability. But the biggest lesson he’s taken from his experience brings him, naturally, back to the basics.
“I’ve learned to keep things as simple as possible. If you start writing things that are too complex it starts to get lost in translation. I try to keep things in the style of the band and not get too far out in left field. But for the most part I just write what’s inside of me and if it works it works and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.”
So, now it’s your turn. Grab a pair of sticks and cans, park it on the throne, and get to wailing. But whatever you do, make sure you go all the way with it, as Mayorga wisely advises.
“Play with your heart and your soul and go get it. It’s not going to come to you; you have to go to it.”
Next page: Full drum transcription of “Threadbare” and streaming music.