ROXY PETRUCCI (Madam X) – That infectious groove
So far, we have not had any female drummers in the Blast Beast Series, and the reason is simply that there are not too many of them to choose from. We will try to do something about it and here comes the very first in this series with a female drummer. Roxy Petrucci played drums in Madam X and later in Vixen. Over the years she has had the pleasure of meeting many of the really great drummers like Ian Paice and John Bonham and has chosen another well known drummer as her successor in the series, namely, Virgil Donati. Here is The Blast Beast Series and Roxy Petrucci.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
The satisfaction and fulfillment I feel whenever I play and my friends and fans who are forever inspiring me.
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?
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! Ritchie Blackmore gave me a compliment saying, "l like the way you play, you swing." It’s what I strive for, that infectious groove.
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?
I was lucky enough to meet John Bonham when I was a kid but I was tongue-tied. I would have loved to watch him jam he was such a natural. I sat behind Ian Paice when Vixen toured with Purple and man he lays it down. I’ve met many of the greats throughout my career, to many to name but all an inspiration for me.
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
Blah, blah, if you’re serious get motivated, be disciplined and practice. Take lessons if possible. My jazz instructor would play rhythms then have me play them back. I learned so much by watching him. I like hands on instruction…drums that is. Gary Ashton from Michigan was my first drum instructor and he had me master all the basics first knowing I was a Sabbath freak he’d slowly assign me Sabbath songs to learn. He was a great teacher who knew how to keep me motivated.
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
I like playing with a click when I rehearse it’s done wonders for my timing. Music is a big motivator for me so I also practice with guitar & bass tracks. I dig working on technically challenging material, funk and rock. I still pull out my trusty drum books too. Hey, I don’t want to give the impression that I practice all day long day in and day out because I don’t. I go through stretches where I just tinker or don’t practice for days. I’ll get the itch to pull out my clarinet and squeak out a tune or two. It’s all-good.
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
I like to play around with beats and fills that are atypical but compliment the music i.e.: The song ‘Titania’ inspired me to play around with some syncopated off kilter rhythms that was fun and interesting. I was fooling around with a marching band cadence from my school days and applied it to the song ‘Metal in my Veins’, with some tweaking it gave the track the controlled chaos Maxine and I were looking for.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for drummers and what can you do to work them out?
Finding the pocket and a tendency to rush fills…Drummers should jam with decent musicians as much as possible to develop the feel and confidence you need to drive the band with a steady groove. Whether the tune is fast, slow or mid tempo drummers are the driving force.
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down? Why?
Are we still talking about drums? Wrists, fingers are for twirling sticks. I play heel up except when I took jazz lessons it was heel down which felt unnatural for me.
You must have rehearsed a lot during the years along. Do you think it is worth it, and have you ever thought about quitting?
I do what I do and if I need a break I take a break. I have other interests but music is in my blood.
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?
There were times with Madam X and Vixen when we were totally exhausted from the constant touring. Getting the energy to perform was a challenge however, once the band hit the stage we could always count on the audience to rev us up! In Madam Xs case many times the audience was just as entertaining to us as we were to 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?
It’s expensive to do anything these days so why not do something you love, right? To be a good drummer in any genre you have to want it and work at it, don’t let outside distractions allow you to lose focus and surround yourself with likeminded musicians who aren’t playing with their tweeters, or is that twitter. Whatever.
And then some about your equipment:
I use Pro Mark 5B wood tip sticks, Zildjian Cymbals, Billdidit hi hat clamp. Mapex, Pearl and DW produce solid sounding kits but my Tama kit from the Vixen days is my fave.
Which snare drum and configuration do you like the best? 12", 13" or 14"? And which material? Wood, steel, brass or bronze?
14" Maple DW snare sounds fanfuckingtastic!
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
DWs and you’d have to ask my drum tech what the setting is. I like a little bounce but not so much that it loses power in the punch.
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.
Virgil Donati, no explanation necessary.