CHRIS VOLCANO (Abominator)
Chris Volcano have been the drummer and vocalist of the down under black/death metal band ABOMINATOR since 1994. He is also the drummer of IGNIVOMOUS and he was the drummer in DESTRÖYER 666 from 94 to 95. Chris is a reflected veteran in the australien extreme metal scene and here is his contribution to The Blast Beast Series.
What is the force behind you being a drummer, that is, what keeps you going?
Just the desire to create brutal music or whatever direction I want to go in. As a percussionist in general, I have developed a good ear for all kinds of music and I am constantly driven by the need to create it, as well as the need to improve my style and the consistency of my ideas. It’s a burning passion that can’t be quenched…….
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?
Speed is always important, particularly for brutal black/death metal! The technique comes second, as you are often playing on ‘feeling’ and nothing more. Obviously there are techniques you pick up and develop along the way, but you have to focus that primal aggression into every single hit. I don’t really like to describe anything I do as being groovy (like a discotheque) but more of a mid-paced THUD. To me groove is associated with music you can dance to. Dancing is shit
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?
Gee, that’s a tough one. All I can say is that I’m inspired more by the style and musical direction of bands rather than individual drummers themselves. When I started playing more extreme drum beats at age 15, my obvious influences would have been Dave Lombardo, Pete Sandoval and Mick Harris among others. If I met them in person, I would have said ‘Hello’!
Which is best while rehearsing alone: systematic progress or full improvisation?
A little bit of both, I like to progress from beat to beat because I’m mainly thinking about new songs so I’ll think of a progression of beats and then try to perfect it. Improvisation is good for drum fills and alternative beats to sections, but it’s always best to have the ideas to work towards.
Do you have any "core rehearsal tips" that have given you a lot of progress in your drumming?
Not really, I just show up to rehearsal and play. I’ll do some stretches and then play a song or two with the full band to warm up and then just push it and take a break, then do it all again. I’m better at giving advice about writing music, which is more the focus of the next question…..
What is important for you while rehearsing new songs/riffs with your band? Is there something in particular you do or listen for?
First it is important to gather all the ideas you have for a song and allocate beats for each riff, usually ideas will come from more than one person in our case. I listen to the general tempo and I may suggest a beat, or I will ask the riff composer what kind of beat they had in mind. I will show them my own riffs which I already have beat for. Then we arrange the song according to the feel of the riffs and the flow of the song. Some songs just write themselves, others require more thought and trial.
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 major challenge some drummers face is finding like-minded musicians to form a band with. Most drummers if they had a choice would play in the kind of band they like listening to. Its not like ‘beggars can’t be choosers’, I’m a drummer for devils sake! I should be able to play whatever I want! I don’t know many drummers who will just play any old thing. Another way is to join a band which at first may not be open to your ideas, but eventually they might come around and think better of them.
Wrists or fingers? Heel up or down? Why?
Definitely wrists with heels up in my case. I will be honest with you and say that my technique is not the best, in fact it is quite awkward and I probably wouldn’t teach it to anyone. I get more power out of the wrist but sometimes I find myself using my upper arms and shoulders to maintain speed and tightness, particularly while blasting.
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 greatest thing that makes it all worth it in the end is the sense of achievement you and your bandmates get from the release of an album you have put your heart and soul into. The more you do it, you realise that you can’t quit even if you do feel like it sometimes. Quitting is for people who want to sell out and live the normal fool’s life, as though they were never really into it in the first place.
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?
Always focusing on playing 100 per cent! However if the song is easier than the others you often find your mind wandering and you look at the crowd for a moment and think ‘where’s my brother George? I wish he was here’ or ‘that chick is looking at me!’ but it makes a difference if there’s a crowd getting into it. If there is not much of a crowd, you just treat it like a rehearsal more or less.
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?
Absolutely! Drum equipment is hell expensive, but less so if you update your kit over a period of time. But it takes a lot of spirit and determination to get anywhere with it at all. Having a flare for good and original ideas that stand out as much as possible also helps. This is the stuff that can’t be bought. Some drummers you see have the most grandiose drum kit possible but the band they play in is crap, and the drummer isn’t helping.
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?
Yes, that configuration precisely! As well as a single floor tom, at least three crashes and at least two chinas. For my snare drum I prefer wood. Steel drums wear out too quickly, Brass is okay but too top endy for my liking. I’ve never tried bronze, but I’ve always wanted to know what a snare drum made out of various composite materials would sound like; it could also double as an o-ring for the stupid space shuttle or whatever
What kind of pedal(s) do you use? And which "settings" fits your style the best?
I’ve used many pedals over the years, I’ve got an old pair of Sonor pedals that have held up well, I have a cheap but durable double kick pedal which I practice and sometimes play live with. I also use dominator pedals which are on permanent loan from a friend. I try to use relatively loose settings so it’s easier on the legs.
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 will have to recommend Matt Crossingham from CEMETERY URN, BELLIGERENT INTENT, DRACONIS INFERNUM (Singapore) and others. He is an amazing drummer with some of the best techniques I’ve seen, and he is insanely fast! I even consider him to be better than me in some ways, although every drummer is unique. He simply has to be acknowledged for his abilities. I’d also recommend J Read from REVENGE or Vaz from BLACK WITCHERY if you haven’t done them already. Hail Eternal Terror!