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What is the difference between a drummer and a savings bond?

One will mature and make money.

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. Today, it’s the insanity of Bomb The Music Industry drummer, Mike Costa!

G- How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?

M- I’ve been playing drums since I was 6 years old.  Every Sunday, my father would play music throughout the house before heading to my Grandmothers and one Sunday, like a rowdy 6 year old, I was banging on things along to the music.  My father explained to me I was doing it wrong and that night when we got home, he set up his Gretch kit in the garage and I showed me a couple beats.  I just took it from there and would practice on my own everyday.

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?

M- I wouldn’t say I’m professional by any means, haha.  The first band, that I can actually call a band that played shows and practiced, was a band called Arty’s Taxi.  You guessed right if you thought we were a ska band.  I knew I always wanted to do something with music growing up, and drums were the instrument I was best at.

There was a show in particular where I something clicked while I was playing.  I just kinda let loose while playing and realized I’ve become more confident playing in front of people and decided to hit hard and not care if I messed up here and there and just had fun with it.  I became a kid who would concentrate on the beat to the kid jumping on my throne to kick a cymbal mid song.

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?

M- My current kit is a 4-piece.  It’s a custom kit from Fourth Street Drums, with a Pork Pie Snare.  Rack tom is 13×10, Floor tom is 16×16, both 6-ply, re-enforced.  The Kick is 24×18, 10-ply, re-enforced.  The Pork Pie is an acrylic 14×6.

My cymbal set up is all Sabian AAX cymbals.  I have 14” studio hats, a 16” dark crash, 17” stage crash, and 20” metal ride.  The only company, aside form Fourth Street, that I’m associated with is Pro-Mark sticks.  5A hickory, nylon tips.

G- How often do you find yourself practicing independent from your performances? Any warm up tips or advice you can offer for our readers?

M- It’s rare that I get the time to practice on my own.  When I do, I try to utilize the time as much as I can, playing for at least 3 hours a day.  But my practicing lately has been perfecting the songs in BTMI’s catalogue so I don’t get rusty, or forget how the song goes.  Haha.

For warm up tips, I would suggest stretching, or running through some rudiments to get the blood going.  Speed has been one thing a lot of people have asked me about.  I’ve heard a quick way to build up muscles for 16th notes is take a stick and hit a pillow with it as fast and steady as you can while doing something tedious (watching tv).  I just got fast over the years from playing along with fast songs and keeping up with it.

G- What drummers inspired you to begin playing drums in the first place, and what drummers, if any, are you currently following now?

M- The drummer that got me interested in playing was Liberty DeVitto, Billy Joel’s old drummer.  I never took lessons so all my learning came from playing along to different drummers growing up.  I started by playing along to whatever was on the radio and by my early-mid teens, I was mostly playing along to Chad Sexton (311), David Silveria (Korn), Dave Grohl (Nirvana), Tre Cool (Green Day), and Danny Carey (Tool).  Just to name a few.

G- 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?

Usually before a show I like to warm up a bit to get the wrists into gear, but the last couple tours I’ve done, my warm ups consisted on my wrists tilting the beer to my lips.  With Bomb, before recording, I listen to the songs repeatedly for weeks before we go into the studio.  With Binary Heart, I usually just go in and have a general idea of how I want the drums to sound and record them.

Studio sessions I enjoy because you get the chance for a “do-over” if you mess up.  Live shows, if you mess up, you mess up.  Although those little imperfections are what, I think, make a live show.  The energy, the little “flubs” on instruments, the banter, all of it.  No one wants to see a band where it sounds exactly like the record.  If so, go listen to the record.

G- What is the worst drum-related injury you’ve sustained from playing? What happened and what was the injury?

I’ve been pretty lucky when it’s come to drum-related injuries.  I usually get hurt before hand and then have to play a show.  Drum-related, I’ve cut fingers on cymbals, smashed my index finger between snare and stick, and once hit myself in the face with a stick while playing.  But the worst drum-related was when I jumped on my seat at the end of our set, I went to jump down and hit the cymbals for that “rock star” ending, and I ended up smashing my left shin against the snare and ripped my jeans on the leg of the floor tom.

Not drum-related, I was working with my father, doing construction, and my task for the day was scrapping up tile in this giant room.  I had this hollow metal rod with the scrapper at the end of it to get the job done, and it took me about 6 hours.  The feeling was equivalent to taking an aluminum baseball bat and hitting a tree with it for that amount of time.  That same night, ASOB started our 4 day tour with Streetlight Manifesto, and my hands were in horrible shape.  I had blisters all over the inside of one hand, and my other hand couldn’t support anything I held, even a cigarette would fall from between my fingers.  There is an mp3 of that show on the internet somewhere labeled “ASOB, broken hands set”.

G- How does international performance compare with your performances stateside, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?

My performance is usually the same no matter where I play.  The only difference is overseas I’m using someone else’s gear.  I try not to move settings around on other peoples kits cause I hate it when people adjust my settings on my kit.  So I do my best to play with what I got, but sometimes when the ride and crash cymbals are in a different spot than you’re used to, your muscles aren’t use to the different motions while playing so I get sore.  (This is probably why most drummers stretch before playing, haha).

G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?

M- There has been a lot of memorable shows!! Craziest, performance wise, was a show we played in California at the Homestead Lanes.  The whole idea was to power through the whole set, no stopping.  During the first song, Matt tripped over something and spilled a whole beer on me and onto my snare drum. But with no stopping mid set, I had to wait 3 songs before I had time where I didn’t play to turn my snare drum upset down to get the beer out.  I was sticky!

Most memorable is the ASOB reunion show at the Warsaw, May 2012.  To see that many people singing along and having a good time to a band I’m a part of, was incredible.

G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming drummers everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional drummer?

M- Don’t give up your dreams, and practice your ass off.