ELY (Splice) – The best thing in the world
SPLICE is a French brutal death metal band that has a talented female drummer in their lineup. ELY is her name and here is her contribution to The Blast Beast Series.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
The first time that I played the drums, it seemed like obvious to me. I need to hit to evacuate everything, even when I was taking my other music lessons my teachers said that I was always playing too fast or too loud. After having played different instruments in a band, I know now that my place is behind my drums, and to be the one who make the walls tremble is the best thing in the world.
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 three are important, speed is essential for our kind of music, but to handle the speed you need to be technical. I admit that speed is what impresses me the most; I see no sense in people who play fast just to beat BPM records. Technique is basis; it’s one of my great regrets that I don’t have time to take technical lessons and to work on other musical styles except from metal. And groove is the only way to not be some kind of a machine.
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 admire many drummers, and I feel tiny next to most of the guys who play brutal death metal, I always try to learn from them and they inspire me very much. I am a big fan of "the blast masters" like Flo Mounier or Marco Pitruzzella. If I ever meet them I don’t think that I will be very original, I could probably only say bravo and thank you.
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
I try to mixt the two of them, I improvise things that make me progress, like at the moment I’m working on my double, so I improvise to try and concentrate on my bass drum. It’s important to have goals and to always try and make progress by working on different technics, but that’s more the school way of working, even if it’s nice to make progress by working on different technical points, it’s sometimes difficult to force myself to do exercises, so it’s also important to find time to have fun on your instrument without having to ask yourself questions.
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
I don’t do anything in particular, I think that I do like everyone else: I spend a lot of time rehearsing for my band, and as I said before I try to improvise exercises to help me progress. I think that the only way to become the best is to work hard, and not stay on what I already know. When I can’t play a riff I make myself work and work on it until I get it, instead of trying to find an easier way of playing it. I love taking risks forcing myself to play faster more technical things than I usually do, to always have a goal to work towards.
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
When I play a new song, I try to have a simple structure in my head. When I start to play it with the band and that I feel comfortable with it, then I can have fun and add on what’s missing. When we rehearse I listen more to the guitars, when I can hear them over my drums!
What is, in your opinion, the biggest challenges for extreme drummers (or, generally speaking, drummers), and what can you do to work them out?
As a drummer, what frustrates me is that I have to be more "rigorous" than the others : I don’t drink before a concert, I don’t go out the night before a gig, I’m always the longest when it comes to setting up and putting away my gear. Since I’ve started drumming, I’m more conscious of my health than before. As a girl, there are also lots of things that I have to put up with, some guys have a problem with a girl who is playing on their "territory", they often discredit and they have more difficult to accept that you really make the blast like on the album so they didn’t even pose the question if it was a man playing. And there is also the opposite effect, some will say that you drum well "for a girl" and they’ll admire you, when they can’t admire a guy who does the same thing. But thankfully, not everyone is like that!
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down? Why?
It all depends on the speed. To blast, I use the "finger technic", which came naturally, in the beginning I used my wrist and without realizing it I started to blast with my fingers. For the slower parts, it’s more the top of my arm that I use, so that I can hit harder. It’s the same thing for my legs, I lift my knees when it’s slow, I switch to my calf’s then to my ankles to accelerate, it’s a way of saving energy by using different muscles depending on the tempo.
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?
Thanks for the compliment! It’s worth it to have fun on my drums. It’s true that most of the time it’s a real pleasure to rehearse, but there are moments when I have to force myself, and then it get more difficult. When you’ve got a fulltime life on the side, it’s not always easy to find the time and the energy to play, but it’s important to do it anyway, I used to play my drums once a day, now I try to play at least three to four times a week. I’ve never thought of stopping, and it seems impossible for me at the moment.
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 100% concentrated, or else I’m scared of losing my concentration. I’m actually trying to work on that because I think that it’s a pity not to be able to detach myself from my drums and enjoy the audience more. From time to time I try and look at what’s going on in the public, but the only thing that’s going through my head is the song, I give the impression of being cool, but I’m actually highly concentrated!
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 is very expensive! You don’t only have to buy all of the gear, but you often have to change what you’ve broken after hitting so hard: the drum sticks, the cymbals and the drum heads. It’s a financial sacrifice, especially when you’re young with no money. What you can’t buy though is the motivation and the passion, and even the most expensive drum kit in the world couldn’t give you that if you don’t have it.
And then some about your equipment:
I have two drum kits, an electronic one at home, and an acoustic one for rehearsals and concerts. My electronic one is an Alesis DM10 that I have customed by adding Roland mesh heads and cymbals. The acoustic one is a Tama Imperial Star with hyperdrive toms (which are useful seeing as I’m not as big as a guy), and my cymbals are and will always be Meinl, I love their Classic custom extreme metal series, the last thing that I bought is the stack of this series and I find it awesome, and finally my drum heads are Evans Onyx.
Which snare drum and configuration do you like the best? 12", 13" or 14"? And which material? Wood, steel, brass or bronze?
13" in wood, but I’m no reference when it comes to snares because I’ve never had the possibility of trying a load out.
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
My pedals are Axis, and they are set with the pressure about half way, it allows me to keep control because they bounce very easily. And I use a Roland RT-10T trigger linked to an Alesis DM5 module.
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 choose Nicolas Peyrotte ("LMKT") from Decades of Despair, because he has a hell of a blast, and he deserves to become better known, and what his band does is awesome.