What do you call a drummer that breaks up with his girlfriend?
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.
On February 27th, I sat down with Nick Jett from TERROR during their stop in Albany, NY at Bogies to talk about drum stuff (duh.) Check him and Terror out… These guys are no joke!
G- What’s going on, Nick! How’s everything going?
N- Everything’s been going great. We’re kinda on the final stretch of the tour. The shows have been awesome! Just kinda dealing with the shitty East Coast cold weather. That’s been the only down side at the moment (laughs,) but everything is good.
G- In stark contrast to Houston when it was 75 degrees with shorts and t-shirts and everything.
G- So, we’re here to talk about drums, so let us know… When did you first start playing, and what got you started, man?
N- Umm, my father is a drummer, and my grandfather was a drummer also. So, I guess ever since I was a little kid, my dad got me to try to play. I didn’t really totally pick it up or get into it until I was about 12 years old when I got into music. So I guess since I was 12, 18 years ago.
G- Right on. Now, you started playing when you were 12, and you probably weren’t get paid to hit your skins yet, but Terror… You’ve been all over the place, all over the country, all over the world… When did you first start playing professionally, and what was your first project? Do you remember the time when you felt drumming was your calling?
N- Umm I don’t even know if I would consider drums my calling. I think it’s… I’m a musician, and I love music, and I love everything to do with music. I think people that can play the drums usually get kinda cornered into playing drums in bands because it’s an instrument that people cant usually do right.
N- So, I feel like if you’re a drummer, you’re always going to have a gig or a band to play in. So I just… Professionally? I guess if you’re going to consider “professionally,” it’d be when I may got my first endorsement a couple of years into Terror being a band.
But yeah, it’s kind of hard to consider myself a professional drummer because I see myself as a musician, and somebody involved with the hardcore scene and metal scene, and yeah… I guess that’s it.
G- Yeah a lot of the drummers I talk to, their fathers played, grandfathers played. My father plays, I have 2 older brothers who play, so a lot of us are familiar with that. And you really can get pigeonholed in the academic sense when you’re in school. With me, it was “What’s your last name? Oh you’re brothers played drums! You’re playing drums.”
Let’s talk gear for a second… What is your current rig looking like, what kind of drums and cymbals are you using, what are the configurations, and what companies are you endorsing right now?
N- Well, I’ve been with Spawn drums now for about 10 years.
N- I have a set in the states, and I have a set in Europe. But I have a really simple kit, just a 4-piece kit.
N- 22in kick, 16in floor, 12in rack tom, and 14in snare drum.
G- All Spawn?
N- All Spawn stuff.
G- What’s the wood?
N- It’s all maple stuff. I do have a couple steel snares through Spawn, and a couple of brass snares with Spawn. They make all different types of shit, and they’ve done a couple of custom snares for me that have a split shell and some weird funky stuff, but they can pretty much do everything.
As far as cymbals, I’ve play Istanbul Alchemy cymbals for about 10 years now.
N- And I play the Alchemy line. I like the Power X crash cymbals, and I use the Raw series ride, hats, and china usually.
G- And what sizes are you playing with?
N- Umm, pretty big. I use a 22in ride, and then 19in and 20in crash cymbals, and a 22in china cymbal, and 14in hats.
G- And there’s gotta be some pretty good bulk in the metal behind those cymbals. You’re not playing with paper thin stuff.
N- Yeah, you know, Terror is so loud, and I’ve always played pretty hard, but I think we’ve always been a band that plays loud. So, to compete with the guitars and bass, I’ve always played hard and played stuff that projects, and the bigger stuff usually last longer and can sustain the hard hitting shit.
G- Right on. Now, you play a lot of shows all the time, and practicing is important as far as keeping your hands in shape. Do you have any practice tips or anything that you do to warm up before a set?
N- Uhh, I never practice and never warm up. (laughs) When I’m at home, I don’t play drums. When I’m on tour, I don’t warm up. I change into my playing clothes a couple of minutes before we play and get up there. I don’t do anything with that kinda stuff.
I mean, I probably should, because I notice that I’m a little tight the first few songs, then I’m kinda warmed up a quarter way into the set. I’d play a lot better, but it’s just laziness and don’t have the interest to do it, I guess.
G- (laughing) A lazy drummer… When’s the last time you heard that, folks?
Now, you talked about when you started playing drums, but were/are there any particular drummers that you follow or inspired you when you really got into it? Are there any drummers we should be checking out now?
N- Umm, I would say my 2 main influences when I first started getting into drums were Dave Grohl and Bill Stevenson.
G- Nice. Straight from punk, huh?
N- Yeah I’m definitely a punk rock kid. I got into metal later on, and I can definitely appreciated drummers like Dave Lombardo and stuff like that, but I felt like I could never play anything like that. I was a punk kid that liked stuff that was really raw and straight forward, so drummers like Dave Grohl and Bill Stevenson, they played really hard, and they played cool, tasteful things without overplaying. Those were 2 artists that I was really into when I was first playing drums, so I would copy a lot of their fills or practice to their records they were playing on and stuff.
G- Nice. Now, given the Terror has obviously released a ton of output in the studio, and you guys are seemingly always on the road, do you have any particular approaches to your live work versus your studio sessions, or do you go into it just as hard either way?
N- Umm, I don’t know. I think live… it’s a totally different setting, especially with Terror. With terror, the whole set revolves around the energy in the room, and vibing off of the people in the crowd and just the energy of the show, so sometimes I tend to play a little bit faster if the show is more intense, or play harder if it’s a more intense show.
Live, compared to in the studio when you’re maybe not playing as hard because the drums don’t sound as good if you’re hitting them too hard. I guess there’s different techniques for studio stuff. Yeah.
G- Right on. Now, this might be an odd one, but I’ve had stitches, I’ve bled, I’ve cried, and I’ve laughed my balls off playing drums. What’s the worst drum related injury you’ve sustained from playing drums? What happened and what was the nature of the injury?
N- Umm, I hit my knuckles and stuff on the rims and cymbals a lot, so I bust my knuckles and my hands and there’s blood all over the drum heads. That’s pretty common, so I guess that’s not a big injury, but the biggest injury was when I smashed my thumb on the snare drum rim once, and it broke my thumb. I didn’t go to the doctor for it or anything, so it took forever to heal.
So, probably for a year during Terror, I played drums with my thumb sticking out.
G- With a broken thumb knuckle?
N- Yeah because I couldn’t hold the stick with my thumb because it still hurt a year after. So I had to play with my thumb sticking out. Kind of like a thumbs up thing. It sucked.
G- Yeah it sounds like it sucked. That’s terrible! Be careful of your hands when you’re playing hard, folks.
Now, to get into some fun stuff, you’ve played shows all over the world. Japan, Europe, Australia, all over the states… What was the most memorable show you’d say you’ve played as the drummer for Terror. Where was it and what was it like?
N- I don’t know. It’s hard to pick A show. We’ve had some important moments in the band. Last year, we played Wiffle Force fest in Germany, and we had the privilege of playing the big stage the last time we played. So, that was probably the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of. So, we went out on stage and it was raining and borderline snowing, and playing outside in front of, like, 30,000+ people. So, that was a pretty intense show.
But at the same time, we’ve had some pretty wild shows even recently, where we’ve played in people’s kitchens in front of 20 people that were just the most insane shows ever.
G- (laughing) Where the hell was this playing in front of 20 people and why wasn’t I there?
N- We do that a lot. They’re a lot of places that don’t have big hardcore scenes and we’ll play anywhere, you know? So, we’ll play some big festival one day and then play some small town in the middle of nowhere for 20 people. We’re not aiming to play in front of huge crowds every night… We’ll play wherever people want to support the hardcore scene. If there’s 10 hardcore kids that want to see us play, we’ll go there and do it.
G- Nice. And the last question I have for you today is, you’ve been doing this for a long time and you’re in an internationally recognized band. Records, tons of shows, tons of artists you’ve played with.
There’re a lot of kids out there that look up to you. They have the music dream, and they want to be drummers. They want their first kit, first pair of sticks, and they’re trying to do their thing. As someone who’s been doing this for a long time and has seen the ups and downs, peaks and valleys, what advice could you give to some of the drummers out there who want to do what you do and be a pro?
N- I think people try too hard sometimes. I just think ‘do yourself.’ Be yourself and don’t do what you think people want you to do. Play music you want to play, do it because you want to do it. Don’t do it because somebody wants you in their band. Overall, just your love of music should be your main inspiration for doing it, so stick to that instead of being worried about where the better gigs is, or how much you’re going to get paid, or anything like that.
In the end, the real enjoyment is to go play music everyday, and for me, eventually I made it a career doing something I love. So, just stick to that and do it because you love it rather than anything else.
G- We hear that a lot, and it’s really good advice. Folks, if you don’t love this and you don’t want to go tour, and you don’t want to put in the time, don’t bother. There’s a lot of other people who will.
Live High five speaking with Nick Jett from Terror. Spawn drums, Istanbul cymbals. LIVE BY THE CODE is coming out on Victory Records very shortly, so make sure to pick that up.
N- April 9th LIVE BY THE CODE is released in the US and Canada. Worldwide is different, so check on the internet to see when it’s coming out in your country. It’s coming out on Century Media in Europe and other countries outside the US, but it’s definitely April 9th on Victory Records in the states and Canada, so pick it up!
G- And don’t forget, the road dogs that they are, Terror will be out on the road in April with Hatebreed, Every Time I Die, This Is Hell, and one more act. They’ll be playing in Rochester, NY at Water Street Music Hall and I’ll get you the dates when they come.
Nick, thank you very much for speaking with Live High Five today!
N- Hell yeah.