FREDRIK WIDIGS (Rage Nucléaire) – The feeling of satisfaction
FREDRIK WIDIGS is a Swedish drummer with extensive experience from several bands. He currently plays in Rage Nucléaire, The Ugly, Desaiha och Witchery (live) and has previously played in Demonical, Vomitous and Kraanium. He mentions Daath drummer Kevin Talley as one of his biggest influences, he prefers systematic progression, he recommends the use of the metronome during practice and he uses programmed drums as a learning instrument. Read more about this and more in FREDRIK WIDIGS contribution to The Blast Beast Series.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
Good question. As of now, I would say I consider drumming both a hobby and a job for me – there are so many aspects of it. Sometimes it’s just a great relaxation after a stressful day, other times it’s instead quite stressful when you have studio work piled up and a bunch of songs to learn in a short period of time. It’s a challenge many times and lots of hard work and practice, but when you can see that you’ve progressed and the feeling of satisfaction when you reach your goals – that’s what keeps me going.
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 that all these ingredients are important – you need a little bit of everything to be a flexible, diverse and successful drummer. A drummer who only can play fast wouldn’t last long in a more technical/progressive band situation, and vice versa. But it depends on what your personal goals are, of course. If constantly playing 250 bpm is your ultimate goal, practicing groove is a waste of your time. However, my personal goal is to be flexible so I try to practice a little bit of everything. One quality that is more important than any other quality as a drummer is timing, though. No matter what genre you’re in, I’d say great timing is more important than anything.
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?
It’s very hard to choose only one, but a drummer that has inspired me a lot through the years is Kevin Talley. When I first discovered his playing I was so impressed with his speed, groove and all the awesome details he threw in through fills and accents. I’m still today extremely impressed with how flexible he is, obviously – just look at the list of different bands he has played in, and all his incredible session work. I’d say he’s a great example of a diverse metal drummer. He has proven that he’s excellent in so many aspects – speed, groove, timing and being able to adapt to any band situation (and with short notice too). Plus he plays with a lot of power, even at high tempos.
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
To reach your goals and make actual progress, I’d say systematic practicing is the best. Improvisation is great and a lot of fun, but I’ve found that by improvising you mostly just use the "tools" you already have – playing the same beats, fills, accents etc. To further expand your "arsenal" and to incorporate new ideas into your playing, I’d say you need some amount of strict systematic practicing, to force yourself to learn new things.
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
Not really. I spent a lot of time when I was younger to find some magic formula or secret to become a better drummer, but the magic formula is just practice and persistence. Sure there might be exercises that are "better" than others, but you still have to practice many, many hours to make progress, there’s no getting away from that. My core rehearsal tips would be to use a metronome whenever you practice. This will help extremely much, both in studio and in live situations.
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
I listen to what the guitarist play and try to follow that in an interesting and fitting way. There are so many ways to do this and I think it’s important to have fun and experiment with different beats in the songwriting progress. Try following the riff with the bass drum, accenting specific parts of the riffs with cymbals or fills, and so on. If you have the guitars recorded digitally, a good way to experiment and find interesting beats is to program drums to it on your computer. If you sit down alone and listen closely, you might find ideas and details you wouldn’t have noticed in a noisy rehearsal space.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for extreme drummers (or, generally speaking, drummers), and what can you do to work them out?
One challenge that I think is getting bigger and bigger, is playing beats that guitarist and non-drummers have written and expect us to play. Like I said it the question above, I think drum programming can be a great tool to come up with new ideas and beats, but there’s a limit to it. I have experienced many situations where guitarists have written drum tracks that are practically impossible to play and they expect you to play it without an effort – like 300 bpm in 16th notes, or beats that require your hands to be at 4 places at the same time. In situations like that, you have to realize that you are human and not a machine. Don’t be sad because can’t play like Superior Drummer 2.0. I’d say programmed drums can never capture the performance and feeling of a real drummer.
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down? Why?
I play with my wrists, and heel up. Both because I feel that I get a lot more power that way.
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?
The satisfaction when you reach your goals or when you listen to a recording that you’re very happy with – that’s a great feeling, and at times like that I think it’s worth it. But of course anyone can have a bad day, or even bad periods, where everything seems hopeless and you think of quitting. In times like that you have to remember – winners never quit, and quitters never win. If you stick with your goal, you’ll eventually reach it. And when you do, you’ll see it was well worth the effort.
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?
It depends on what band I’m playing with. If the drumming is quite basic and I can improvise around the songs, I’m less concentrated and can just relax and "be in the moment" with the audience. However, if the tracks are more complex with details that needs to be played 100% correct to a backtrack, all my focus is on the drumming and not on the audience. In situations like that, it wouldn’t matter if I’m playing in front of 10 or 1000 people.
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?
Sure it is expensive to become a drummer, a lot more expensive than other instruments. The actual drum kit is obviously a large investment, but then you have all those "consumables" around it as well – drum sticks, new cymbals when your old ones start cracking, etc. Plus the electronics involved – triggers, trigger module, mix table if you wish to have backtracks live, and so on. So having money is of course helpful to get a good start, but you don’t need the best equipment around to be successful. Being persistent in your practicing is the most important thing to be a good metal drummer.
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’ve only used 14" snare drums. The sound of a 13" was to "poppy" for me. I like when the snare drum sounds heavy and deep, with great punch. That’s why I’ve always used a 14" brass snare. Very loud and distinct, but with lots of character too. Right now I’m using a 14×5,5" Tama Starclassic brass snare and I’m very happy with it. I’m thinking of getting a 14×6,5" Tama SLP Black Brass for more depth and body, though.
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
I use Tama Speed Cobras with Iron Cobra wood beaters. I use the factory default settings, except for spring tension which I have at maximum. The beaters are at a 45 degree angle. I used to play Axis pedals, but I could never get rid of the feeling that they were too light, and that I could get enough power or "feeling" when I played slower, groovier stuff. With the Speed Cobras I feel that I get the perfect balance between speed and power.
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.
I’m choosing Lawrence Dinamarca from Carnal Forge and Loch Vostok. He’s a very talented and humble drummer that the metal scene definitely will see more of the future!