DANIEL WILDING (The Order of Apollyon) – Hands down above everything
Hands down above everything it is the fact that I love playing drums and I love playing live. It’s a very hard, unpredictable life being a touring musician and you really have to be in love with it and willing to sacrifice a lot to be able to do it. If I didn’t enjoy it as much as I do I wouldn’t be where I am now.
You are playing in a genre where both technique and speed, together with groove, are important ingredients. What do you think is the most important of these?
I would have to say they are all as important as each other. For a drummer to be truly great I think they need to know how and when to use each of these and in the right context. Extreme metal is largely renowned for speed, but the truly great drummers of the genre really make you sit up and notice when they pull out a simple groove that really flows and sits in the pocket. Something quite rare in a genre almost dictated by tempo. In the beginning I was completely immersed in speed. The faster the better. The more you grow as a musician and the more you listen to other styles and drummers you quickly realize that it really isn’t everything. Drummers I once before thought were no good due to there drum parts being "simple" I now realize are absolutely perfectly executed and well written. And some drummers I thought were amazing because they played super fast, I realize can’t make a simple beat sound good. Its one thing to be great at speed and it’s another to be great at grooving. To be great at both is what I strive for.
Which drummer has inspired you the most throughout the years, and what would you have said to him/her if you had the chance to meet him/her in person?
By far my biggest inspiration as both a drummer and a musician would have to be Danny Carey of Tool. His groove, execution and chops are impeccable and the ideas that he comes up with are simply amazing. Literally everything he does brings something to the song and is always completely tasteful and brilliantly executed with incredible understanding of dynamics and structure. He is one of those drummers that when listening to a lot of his parts sound simple, but when attempting to play them they are incredibly technical. Plus when he plays live he simply looks awesome (if you see my current set up you will notice some very obvious similarities to his). If I ever got the chance to meet him I would have to firstly pay my respects and most likely try to pick his brains about his influences, where he gets his ideas and the history of Tool. A true genius of the drumming world.
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
I would say both are as important as each other. Obviously you need ground rules and some sort of system to know where you are and to guarantee yourself musical and technical progression. But I feel improvisation is essential to what being a drummer and a musician is about. When you come to being in a band, if you have your own ideas that you can bring to the table as opposed to regurgitated exercises from a book, you and the musicians you work with are going to be infinitely happier with the result.
Playing along to CD’s was literally got me where I am today. It also made me realize my passion for playing live music in a band. I would and still do play for hours along to my favorite songs. Playing what the original drummer played or improvising my own things over the top. It’s a great way to practice time keeping, improvisation and playing in a band like situation. And above all it’s great fun.
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
As clichéd as the saying may be, when writing I completely stick by the notion that "it’s all about the music". The last thing on my mind is "how can I make people listen to me?" or "what would be the most technical thing to put here?" In general I try to make everything as musical and as tasteful as possible within my own limits. I know what I can and can’t play. I often write things that will need a lot of rehearsal but for example I would never write a 320bpm gravity blast part. Basically for me, complimenting the music is the key. I listen a lot for guitar accents and will to my best to embellish them whether it is within a blast beat, with cymbals in a groove or with bass drums. In general extreme metal is not a genre associated with the term "less is more" but I like to play using this concept as much as I can.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for extreme drummers (or, generally speaking, drummers), and what can you do to work them out?
I know for me as an extreme drummer keeping my chops up is the biggest hurdle. Even if I don’t practice for 2 or 3 days, when I sit down at the kit the next time I am struggling to play tempo’s I was playing with absolute ease 3 days before. It’s very frustrating. Basically now I try and play every day on a practice pad, just 5 to 10 minutes of rudiments. Sometimes to a click or just improvising by myself. It really helps.
Another thing I have noticed when touring that seems to be a big problem for other drummers is not playing on there own kit. It seems many drummers rely on there own exact specific set up to play what they play and are very fussy about cymbal height and tom position etc. I have literally played on everything. From 2 bass drums and 6 toms with 10 cymbals to 2 toms an 18" bass drum and 3 cymbals. Obviously its much nicer to have your own set up, but those who tour a lot know this is very often not possible. I would say learning to play on other kits is essential in a touring environment. The kit shouldn’t dictate how you play, you should. So I see playing on other kits as a fun challenge as opposed to a problem. A view I urge other drummers to get into.
Wrist when playing slower and fingers for playing faster. This is literally just how I play, I wouldn’t tell anyone to do one over the other because as we all know drumming is completely personal. For me when playing slower I like to dig more into the drums really feel what I’m playing physically. For speed it’s all about relaxation and flow so fingers is the only choice. This is largely just because this is the habit I fell into that worked for me. There was a period where I tried to hit as hard as I could all the time, but eventually when I put those techniques into gigging practice I would be on the verge of a cardiac arrest.
I play heel up. Again this is just a technique that I fell into that felt completely right. I feel with heel up you can get more power when you need to and it is much easier to control.
You must have rehearsed for an insane amount of hours to be as good a drummer as you are. Do you think it is worth it, and have you ever thought about quitting?
As with anything you want to try and be good at you have to give a lot of time and effort sacrifice a lot of things. People nowadays really expect things to come quickly and are looking for an easy way to do something. I always knew that was realistically never going to happen and was prepared from the start to put in the hours that it I knew it would need. Plus I have always really enjoyed playing, so practicing has never been a chore for me.
I have never thought about quitting drums. I have thought about quitting the music business, as I’m sure every musician has, considering the amount of BS that goes on. But never drumming. It always was and will be an escape and incredibly fun thing to do for me. I plan to be playing drums for as long as humanly possible.
While playing at a concert: are you 100 % concentrated about what you are doing, or do you notice some of the mood and energy among the audience?
I would say I am around 85% concentrated. Whenever I play live I like to be able to know a song well enough that I don’t have to think about it. Of course sometimes this doesn’t happen and you relax too much and forget things, these are the times when mistakes happen. But generally I try not to think too much. I never count, which can sometimes cause problems but I like to be able to feel the changes and will most often sing the guitar parts to myself in my head. Crowd reaction obviously affects everyone in the band, but I think as drummers we get off the easiest. There have been days when the crowd has been terrible but I have played really well and vice versa. So it’s completely dependant on the gig really, but I would say in general a great crowd helps to make a gig more fun.
Is it expensive to become a drummer, and what does it take outside all that can be bought for money to become a clever and good drummer in extreme metal?
It can be very expensive to be a drummer. Like with any instrument really. You can get very caught up in having the best of the best, but I feel that if something sounds good no matter what the price then it’s worth having. A lot of people get fooled by the fact that you need to have the biggest name for it to be the best, but there are so many companies and so much choice out there now that you really can save money and get products of great quality and that sound brilliant.
As we all know it’s very hard to be a touring musician. And extreme metal is not renowned for bringing in the cash. I think you really, really have to love it. It really has to be a passion that comes above everything else. You really have to be willing to sacrifice a lot and those who do it for the wrong reasons get found out and cast out very quickly. Basically, as long as you are loving it and giving it everything because you are loving it then you are already a clever and good drummer.
Which snare drum and configuration do you like the best? 12", 13" or 14"? And which material? Wood, steel, brass or bronze?
My favorite snare configuration is by far a 14" in Maple Wood. I have tried many snares and although the response and bounce of a 13" is brilliant, it’s very tricky to get the sound that I like. I like a snare that has power and a great "crack". I have never been a fan of metal snares; you just can’t better than the warmth of a rim shot on a wood snare for me.
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
Currently I am back to my old trusty Belt Drive Pearl Eliminators with the Blue Cams. Literally the best pedals I have ever used. I have tried and toured all the direct, belt and chain drive pedals on the market and these blow all of them out of the water. I have my springs pretty loose with my beaters quite far back, I like to be able to feel everything I play and rely on my feet for the movement and not on the pedals response. Plus with you’re beaters further back you get a lot more power. I use the big red wood Danmar beaters as well. They give you a great punch out of your bass drum.
As always, we are rounding off with you picking the next drummer in these series. Pick a drummer, and explain why he/she deserves (!) to be one of our Blast Beasts.
Lyn "320" Jeffs of Ingested. Truly inspiring drummer to watch and a great guy to boot. Impeccable technique and great approach to drumming. His "320" nickname speaks for itself as well.