SHANNON LUCAS (Black Dahlia Murder) – …it still needs feel and depth
Shannon Lucas is currently the drummer in THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, where he joined in 2007 and before that he played in All That Remains. It is rumored that the reason why Shannon began playing drums at high School was that it was easier to get a top grade there than playing guitar, something he did to begin with. He has Tomas Haake as his great idol, is no big fan of improvisation and have chosen a young guy from California, as his successor. Here’s Shannon Lucas of The Black Dahlia Murder and his interesting contribution to The Blast Beast Series.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
I think of it as a desire and a physical addiction that keeps a drummer playing. At some points when you do something in great amounts you get burnt and need a break but we always come back. It seems to be my calling and trade in this life so ill make the best of it.
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 say it’s a toss up between technique and groove. Your technique can play a huge roll in creating groove but without groove speed is pointless. Despite that music is fast it still needs feel and depth.
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?
That’s a tough one but I seem to always go back to Thomas Haake from Meshuggah. He’s so intriguing and creative. Groove that is unreal and great limb independency. I would thank him for inspiring not just me but most drummers I know today in the metal world. I’d also inquire about lessons, hahaha
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
I’m not really into improvisation so systematic progress is totally me. Practicing to the click and repetition of the songs makes for a tighter performance.
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
Practicing and playing live to a metronome has been the best thing for me. It’s helped me build speed, stamina and overall performing confidence. Putting in the work is the only way we can progress.
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
Actually when writing new songs I don’t really rehearse them with the band. I get whole songs from the guitar players with rough drum machine ideas. It gives me a direction and the vision they are seeing. There are too many possibilities of what can be played over most riffs and each can change the entire feel of the song so it’s best to have whoever is writing the song to put down what they are hearing. I can then make that reality. It’s important for drummers to not just play parts cause they can or showing off but to compliment the riff and create accent and feel. There are times to be flashy and times to lay back.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for extreme drummers (or, generally speaking, drummers), and what can you do to work them out?
It seems that after touring with and seeing many extreme drummers live the most challenging thing for most is consistency and their feet being tight. I think a good thing is again the click. Even if you don’t use it live, practicing with a metronome can help many tighten up. Hitting your drums consistently is crucial and most don’t realize that it sounds bad when you blast at a lower volume and then smash your drums when you slow down.
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down? Why?
Both wrist and fingers, it’s a mixture. Which allows you to gain speed with the fingers while using minimal wrist to retain power and control. I play heel up with also allows me to have plenty of control on slower parts and then utilize a pedal to muscle relationship for faster kick parts.
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?
I’ve definitely put a lot of work into my craft and by no means am I where I wanna be. Which is what keeps us growing and progressing. It’s totally worth it when I can play music that people like and possibly be an inspiration for younger drummers. It means a lot. I don’t think I could quit. One day my body might not let me blast but that’s where the groove will remain.
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’m very concentrated and almost in my own world. Paying attention to the song, the click, my body, what I’m hitting and my consistency can distract me a lot but I notice my band mates energy in relation to the crowd. How they are interacting together. It’s amazing.
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?
Unfortunately is the most expensive and expensive to maintain out of most instruments which can probably stand in the way of many drummers progressing and spreading their wings. Outside of the materials it takes drive and a humble approach to excel in this genre. Drummers need to keep an open mind and never get a big head no matter what anyone says. Someone is always better and there is always plenty of room to improve.
And then some about your equipment:
Which snare drum and configuration do you like the best? 12", 13" or 14"? And which material? Wood, steel, brass or bronze?
I prefer a 14", between 5 and 6" depth. I currently play a copper snare and am in love with it. I don’t wanna use anything else. I guess that makes me a creature of habit.
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
I use Axis A longboards and my settings are set to make the pedal feel a little heavier. I have the variable drive all the way at the bottom and my spring tension med.-loose. I feel that I get more control and momentum with those settings.
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.
We just toured with a young brutal death metal band from So Cal called Arkaik on Unique Leader Records and their drummer Keith Roylance is amazing and I was really impressed with his live performance despite the fact that he hasn’t had a ton of touring experience. He definitely deserves attention.