“How do you get a drummer off your porch?”
“Pay for the pizza.”
Drummers always get a bum rap. Why is that? Ever seen a good band with a shitty drummer? No. Know why? BECAUSE THEY DON’T FUCKING EXIST (with exception for The Beatles.)
Drummers rule! We hit stuff, get peoples’ butts shaking, and ultimately determine whether or not the band is going to perform well. You CANNOT have a solid band without a solid drummer, so all you 6-string wankers out there with your tapping and flooded solos can suck it… This one is for the hitters. I’ll be sitting down and chatting with several drummers of note in the future to give them a bit more exposure and some insight as to what they do.
For our introductory interview, I got in touch with Bury Your Dead/Walls Of Jericho basher DUSTIN SCHOENHOFER to tell us about how he got started, his gear, and a few bits of wisdom from his vast performance experience… Welcome to Live High Five’s DRUMMER SPOTLIGHT!
G- How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?
D- I’ve been playing pretty much my whole life. (My) dad was a drummer, so I was always around drums.
G- How long have you been playing professionally and what was your first project?? Do you remember the moment that you really felt that drum performance was your calling?
D- I’ve been touring since I was 18, first doing regional stuff. Then, as my first real band (Premonitions Of War) started to take off, I started doing full North American Tours.
I think the first show I ever played, I was maybe 16, and right then and there I knew that THIS is what I wanna do. I actually dropped out of college before even attending because tour opportunities fell into my lap, so I got in the van instead.
G- Are you working on any releases right now? When will you be heading back to the studio or on the road? Can you tell us about the projects you currently have in the works?
D- Right now, I’m involved in a few different bands and budding projects. Both Walls Of Jericho and Bury Your Dead are doing some touring this year, and I am gonna be playing for a couple of different bands as a hire on, but I can’t really talk about them yet… You know… Super secret band stuff.
G- Let’s talk gear for a second… What is your current rig looking like? What kind of drums and cymbals are you using primarily, what configurations, and what companies are backing you up at this time?
D- Oh man, I’m the luckiest dude ever with endorsements! Currently, I am a C&C Custom Drum Co. endorsee, Sabian cymbals, Evans drum heads, and Vic Firth sticks.
My kit sizes are 24×16, 12×8, 15×15, 18×16, a 8×14 maple snare, and a 6.5×14 cast iron snare. (My) cymbals are 18′ AAXplosion, 19″ AAX metal, 18″AAX metal, 15″ HHX hats, and usually 22″ rides and 20″ china. Evans G2 coated heads on the toms, EQ3 kick heads, and power center snare heads. For sticks, I go with the new Vic Firth X55B jams.
I can send pics hahaha! I’m a nerd… Sorry.
G- Aren’t ALL drummers when it comes to their gear? What are your approaches to live performance versus studio sessions, and how do they differ given the different types of projects you are involved with?
D- Live performance is always just a bash-a-thon and basically me trying to break all my gear, including myself, and usually one or the two happen just about all the time. Of course, keeping time is important, and feel is a big part of live play since none of my bands play to a click track … All the while acting and looking like an idiot.
For the studio, I really have to be a chameleon with all the different stuff I’ve done from metal to death metal to indie rock to country ballets. So really, I just concentrate on playing for the song and not being a show boater, unless the band wants me to.
I’m a little more comfortable in the studio, too, because 9 times out of 10, I’m on a click track as well. So, going from a rippin’ ass 200 BPM metal track to a 120 BPM 7/8 waltz swing in the same day isn’t a big deal. As long as I’m on the click, I’m not gonna get yelled at.
G- Yes you will… You’re a drummer. J How does international performance compare with your performances stateside, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?
D- To me, tour is tour… (It) doesn’t matter where I’m at. I have my routine and I just roll with what I gotta deal with to do the show and have fun.
As far as audience reaction, it varies ya know? Europe is always awesome!!! South America is great!! Indonesia is completely insane and almost scary, but I’ve played great shows just about everywhere. I’ve really been lucky having to do all the crazy shit and go to the crazy places I’ve been to but, ya know, I’ve played some real bummers, too. So, I take the good with the bad.
G- Ahhh The Facts of Life. Are there any bands or artists that you hope to jam or fill in with in the future?
D- I have a few bucket list bands to cross off still. Metallica is one just cause, ya know, it’s Metallica. I would LOVE to fill in for TOTO if Simon Phillips couldn’t do it, and I wanna jam with Michael McDonald cause he’s the man and writes hits.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
D- 2009 WACKEN OPEN AIR FESTIVAL. Walls Of Jericho played that fest and it was unreal!! 100,000 people in attendance and all I remember is during a song we clap during a 4 on the floor part and seeing the sound travel thru the crowd was crazy!! It was like the first 30,000 people were on with my kick, and then as it went further back you could see the hands being off cause it took that half a second for the sound to travel, and even further back etc etc. It was nuts!!!
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
D- Just keep at it and don’t let the little things get to you. It’s the little dumb shit in this business that drive people out of it.