Drumming, well I have South American blood in me. Our guitarist Pete once said ‘you South Americans come out of the womb playing bongos, I swear’. It’s in our blood. Hahaha. My dad was a drummer and used to make me watch doco after doco on SBS about all the greats growing up as a child. Coupled with that, I grew up performing my whole childhood through Johnny Young Talent School which later turned into Dancing. I was particularly obsessed with tap dancing and used to do it all night in bed till my feet cramped up, so I feel my obsession started there. I was lucky enough growing up to always be around really great musicians and the thought of sitting on the sidelines cheering other people on was not enough for me. I wanted to be part of the action, man. So the boys used to always jam at our house and let me get up and play after they were done jamming. My ‘go to’ was ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath and ‘Let There Be Rock’ by AC/DC. That was my catalogue of songs for a very long time. Haha. After sitting in the shadows my whole life, I decided in 2015 it was time and I bought a kit. I went straight to Col Gillies aka Master Yoda. He is the godfather of Brisbane Drumming I.M.O and has taught most of the shop owners and drum teachers in this town. I told him I want to be ‘good for a girl’. He said I will make you play well as a drummer. I needed to hear that. I like to think of myself as a heavy groove drummer, well that’s the goal anyways.
1. CARMINE APPICE
Carmine Appice is my absolute favourite drummer of all time. He played for Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Beck, Bogert and Appice to name a few. He is also my dad’s favourite drummer and I heard about him my whole life almost as if he was a family member. He is the Groove MASTER and has been going for over 60 years. What attracts me most about his drumming is his offbeat groove fills and his showmanship. He knows how to lure you in and take you on a ride. He is too damn lit to quit and that mirrors my personality so I resonate with his spirit. Don’t believe me, watch this solo from Evil – Cactus. I’m not telling you how many times I’ve watched this in complete awe cos’ I’ve lost count obviously. Lol
2. ROBBY STAEBLER
Robby Staebler from All Them Witches. It’s like his drumming doesn’t follow rules. I feel the greatest thing any musician can ever achieve is creating their own signature sound. Rob Staebler has done just that. I can spot his drumming from a mile away because no one drums like him and if they do sound like him, I would say ‘hay such and such has the Robby Staebler sound’. He does this thing where he does triplets on the bass kick. It’s kind of like his signature beat. His drumming syncopates with the music so well that I still haven’t wrapped my head around his greatness. My friend Rob who sings for Laceration Mantra, who I call a mentor, told me once, it doesn’t matter about your skill level, how I spot a great drummer when I walk in a room is timing and dynamics. These words are a mantra that swing around my brain all the time and it was some of the truest and greatest advice I ever got about drumming. This is the vid that began my complete obsession with my favourite band All Them Witches. It’s not necessarily my favourite now I’ve deep dived, but it was the gateway to the Greatness of Robby Staebler.
3. CHRIS DENNIS
Chris Dennis, or as I like to call him, ‘Chris Muthafkn’ Dennis’. He is a force of nature. Chris drums for Azrael, Veal, Tesla Coils (r.i.p) and probably more I don’t know about. Chris Dennis comes from the Gold Coast and is a drummer I can go watch all the time. I will never ever forget the first time I saw him play. Veal played Wallapalooza. I stood there with my jaw on the floor the whole set and couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. I thought my god, WHO THE FUCK IS THAT?! Yes he is a great drummer, but it wasn’t that that blew my mind. It was how he played. He was fucking ferocious and I’ve never seen anyone throw their whole body into drumming the way he does. He was drenched in sweat and he gave no fucks, he is so sharp on his movements it’s almost robotronic, like it almost feels like an optical illusion. I’ve never EVER seen anything like it. Watching him play made me think, fuck YEAH, I wanna play like that. I quickly started following his every move and made him become my friend hahaha. I asked for lessons and he helped me compose better drum tracks for a lot of our songs. The boss ass fill in ‘Heartquake’ is his, he gave it to me. I’m not gonna lie, I took it graciously, it’s fkn killer. I’m lucky enough now to call Chris my friend. Aka Sensai haha. This is some of his drumming from Azreal.
4. Igor Cavalera
Igor Cavalera, Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy, Nailbomb + more. I have always loved the Cavalera tribe and Igor’s style of drumming resonates with me on some otherworldly, ancestral, South American bloodline, tribal level. It goes without saying that he has his own signature sound. The Cavaleras created Tribal Metal and brought it to the mainstream thanks to the help of Gloria Cavalera, Max’s wife. I know it’s not everyone’s bag, but it’s mine. He, much like Chris Dennis, is a ferocious force of nature. I like watching people whose spirit emanates out of them as they play. We pour everything we have into our music, so I love watching people let themselves go live. Igor will always hold a special place in my drumming heart.
5. MIKE PORTNOY
I first saw Mike Portnoy at a G3 concert. Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Liquid Tension Experiment etc. I had never seen anyone drum like that. Prog drumming, WOW. To be really honest I was overwhelmed with greatness. I needed to go outside for a minute. My brain couldn’t compute what I had just seen. Mike Portnoy is one of the greatest prog drummers in the world and I fell deeply in love with his grooves after listening to Train of Thought by Dream Theater. I have deep divided into the world of Portnoy since and the greatest thing about him is he loves to collaborate and above all is the biggest fanboy ever of music. I highly recommend watching his MP Vinyl series. It’s killer. He’s one guy I’d love to have a beer with.