XUL (Melechesh) – The passion of playing music
Vi vet alle at Melechesh opprinnelig kommer fra Jerusalem og Israel, men bandet måtte flytte utenlands for å få arbeidsro på slutten av forrige årtusen. Black metal i Israel er ikke enkelt. Bandet endte opp i Nederland og etter som bandets trommeslager Lord Curse ikke kunne være med til treskolandet, ble de nødt til å se seg om etter en ny. Xul er nederlenderen som tok over trommene i Melechesh etter at Absu-boss Proscriptor McGovern trakk seg ut av bandet i 2005 og han har siden da vært fast inventar i Melechesh. Han heter egentlig Yuri Rinkel, men tok etter hvert artistnavnet Xul, som han dro med seg etter sin involvering i bandet Inferi. Han er mest kjent for å ha vært trommeslager i det aller første nederlandske extreme metal bandet Thanatos, der han spilte fra 2001 til og med 2009, men har også spilt i flere andre black metal band fra sitt hjemland. Her er Xul fra Melechesh og hans bidrag til The Blast Beast Series.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
"The passion of playing music. That’s what it started with in the first place."
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?
"All of them to be honest although speed would be the less important one. Sometimes you need to get a specific technique down to play certain grooves."
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?
"So many drummers have inspired me over the years so it’s pretty hard to pick one. If I pick one right now it would be Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and I would probably ask him where his love for those little bell chimes comes from. I use them too for such a long time and I used to make them myself as well."
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
"I think both of them. It depends on what you want to work on when rehearsing alone. Lately I’ve been jamming on the guitar riffs with a click so I can play the songs alone. It’s cool to improvise on the songs that already have their given drum beats so if you play them live you have freedom to add a little extra. But sometimes I just practice to keep my chops and endurance up which of course is very important."
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
"Yeah. Be open minded all the time. Try to focus on what you want to accomplish, not only for the band you’re playing in but also for yourself. I’ve noticed over the years that practicing one thing only gets you so far, so try to be creative in every meaning of the word."
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
"We usually start out jamming to riffs so I’m listening to what feels best carrying them. Most of the time Ashmedi already has some drum beats for his riffs so that works too."
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for extreme drummers (or, generally speaking, drummers), and what can you do to work them out?
"Keeping up your endurance can be challenging. It’s not good when you’re totally burned out already in the first song, when playing live or in the rehearsal room for that matter. A good warm-up routine helps a lot but also playing everywhere when you can find the time for it. Usually at home I practice my hands on a practice pad while watching a movie or so and before you know it you’ve been playing 2 hours or more. Make sure that you’re alone though otherwise it will drive the other people crazy."
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down?
"Wrists and fingers because it gives me control in power and speed. Heel up for my feet and sometimes double strokes for the very fast stuff because I don’t want to strain my back."
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?
"It is definitely worth it! If you rehearse a lot it’s fun to see how far you can push yourself to accomplish something. The love for the music itself plays a very big role in this as well.
I’ve had my little quitting moment years ago. Life for me was different then but when I looked at myself in a mirror I realised I can’t imagine myself not playing the drums, not playing music. So that moment quickly passed and now years later I still love doing what I’m doing."
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 try be concentrated as much as possible although the energy of the audience gives you that extra bit to push you a little further. I love it! But unfortunately I’m usually in the back so I can barely see them."
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?
"Like I mentioned before try to be open minded. Listen to other styles of music. Not only because of the drums but also for arrangement ideas and such. It can be very helpful. What I like about certain drummers is that on no matter what drum kit they play you can hear it’s them. A big kit with all the cymbals in the world doesn’t make you a better drummer. Playing and enjoying it does."
Which snare drum and configuration do you like the best? 12", 13" or 14"? And which material?
"I love the sound of a wooden snare drum. 14" would be my preferred size. I’ve tried other materials as well but I still come back to a wooden shell. Sometimes I play on a brass snare drum but it’s a bit too ringy for my taste."
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
"Since a year and a half I use Axis X Longboard Twinpedal. My springs are a little above medium tension and my beater distance is at factory settings…, not too close and not too big."
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.
"Steve Shalaty from Immolation because he has such a cool style of playing drums. Even when he plays blast beats it still swings like crazy. And like he says, and a famous singer of the past said, "it doesn’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing".