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Why didn’t the Little Drummer Boy get into heaven?

Because he woke up the baby, for Christ’s sake!

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. 

A little while back, I sat down with Chris from The Venetia Fair in Syracuse, NY to get some insight on what he does, what he’s doing, and what he wants to do with his drums.

Interview:

G- What’s up Chris? Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!

C- No problem, bud.

G- Let’s get right into it, man. How long have you been playing drums, and when did you first get started?

C- Well, I’m 25 now, and I started when I was in 8th grade, so about 100 years I’ve been playing. 100 years.

G- Yeah, you’re fucking old, dude.

C- Super old. But I’m good though.

G- And modest to boot! So, The Venetia Fair… I’m very new to it, I just heard about you last week, and it was a very good performance tonight! What I’d like to know is how long have you been playing professionally, what was your first project, and do you remember the moment when you first felt that drumming was your calling, if you will?

C- Well, I’ve been with The Venetia Fair for about 4 years, and before that… I haven’t actually NOT been in a band since I started playing in 8th grade. My first band was called Pirate Pete, and we were absolutely god awful, but I thought we were the shit. Then, I played with a few other bands, a lot of pop-punk, and then I heard that The Venetia Fair was looking for a drummer back in the MySpace days. So I hit them up, and I kinda went behind my old band’s back because I saw a lot of potential in these guys, and…

G- More so than Pirate Pete?

C- Yeah. But they were auditioning drummers at the time, and I wasn’t the best, but they said that they took me on because I hit really hard and I had a cool drum set. So, whatever it takes, you know, I made it happen.

G- I dig that.

C- Fuck it.

G- Well, the drum set that you had tonight, we have to talk en length about that, because that thing is awesome! Let’s talk about gear for a second… What is your current rig, what are the drums and cymbals that you’re using primarily, what are the configurations, and what companies are you backing at this time?

C- I currently play an SJC kit. It’s a 20x28in bass drum that…

G- What?!

C- Yeah it’s pretty uncommon.

G- That’s like Tommy Lee sized, dude!

C- I actually work at SJC, and I got it as a joke at first, but it turned out being awesome and now I can’t play on a regular sized kick drum now, because I feel like I’m playing on a baby toy and I’m going to break it.

But other than that, I have a pretty standard kit. It’s still big sizes, but I’ve got a 9×13 rack tom, and 16×16 and 16×18 floor toms. I have all these butcher hoops on my drums, which is a custom thing that SJC does. Great company! I work there putting out the best, I don’t want to say custom drums, but the best drums on the planet. The attention to detail is great, the quality is great, and if a kit doesn’t go out perfect, it doesn’t go out at all, you know?

G- Nice!

C- So, a great company to be with. For cymbals, I’m using TRX, which is also a great company. I love their customer service. I’ve been with a couple of other cymbal companies, and you just kind of get put on the backburner, but TRX treats everyone great.

And for sticks, I have a few buddies over at Silverfox drumsticks, and they’re great! They make the greatest sticks! I broke one tonight, which is very rare because they make some of the most durable sticks ever.

G- I threw the butt at you.

C- Yup. I was wondering who threw that! I was like ‘What a dick!”

G- That was me. I’m a drummer too, so it happens.

C- But other than that, that’s pretty much it for endorsements. I’ve got big road cases that I built myself with my company Black Art Custom. We make cases and guitar cabs, so I’m pretty set with gear for now. I hope to have this kit for a long time, but you know, our shit gets ruined pretty fast, so we’ll see what happens.

G- Right on. Well, the kit that you’re playing tonight is definitely one of a kind, so I would suggest taking care of it as much as humanly possible! I know you’ve got are heading to SXSW soon, and it’s probably going to get beer and blood splattered and destroyed somewhat, but keep it with you!

C- The good thing about SXSW is most of the kits are backline kits, so I can just destroy it, and it’s not mine, so fuck it.

G- Typical drummer attitude. I like it!

Now, in regards to practice, I’d like to know how often do you find yourself practicing independently of the band, and do you have any warm up tips or advice that you can offer to some of our readers?

C- Umm, it’s tougher than you would think to practice on my own, because a lot of the time, my drum kit is in our trailer, which is all over the place, and it’s so big that it’s tough to move around.

I do have 2 others kits at my house and a bunch of snares, but it’s mostly my hardware and my cymbals that I can’t afford practice sets of. So, we practice as a band as much as we can, and we practice a lot before tour and stuff. But other than that, if I get a bit of a lull between tours, I have a kit set up in my room at all times and I try to play it as much as possible.

I did a lot of practicing before we recorded this recently album…

G- Which is called?

C- It’s called “Every Sick Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain.”

G- (laughing) And who is it out on?

C- We actually put it out independently, which is awesome because we’re finally a free band and we’re shopping around. So, hopefully some good things are going to happen. We’ve got some things brewing, so stayed tuned for that stuff!

But other than that, I try to practice as much as I can. I did a lot of practice for the album, and I did a lot of practice for this tour, and I try to stay pretty active with drums. I don’t want to suck dick.

G- True. Well, like I said before, you can’t have a good band without a good drummer.

C- Amen.

G- So, if you want it, you’ve got to practice.

Now, to get into your history a bit more, what drummers inspired you to play drums, and what drummers, if any, are you currently following right now?

C- The first real band that got me into drums was Green Day back in the day.

G- Treeeeeeeeeeee!

C- Tre Cool. I love that guy! Weirdo, but a great drummer though. But it was back in 8th grade, you know, and I loved Green Day! I had every album and, when I got my first kit… My brother actually got it and I didn’t touch it for a year, but I sat on it one day and never stopped, I guess. But, the first thing I did was learn every single Green Day song. I could probably still play them to this day, so one of my claims to fame is, that I’d like to think, is knowing every Green Day song on the drums.

So, I did that and, as far as newer drummers, I guess a lot of the drummers that hit really hard, you know? Like, a lot of drummers are great on albums, but then you see them live and it’s lackluster. I want to see a drummer just go as hard as he can! I literally want to see a drummer drop dead during their set.

G- I was gonna say… You want to see a drummer have a heart attack during a drum solo, don’t you?

C- I would LOVE that!

G- That’s how I want to die. That, or post-orgasmic cardiac arrest. Like “uhhhh and then “ahhh” and then I’m dead.

C- There you go!

G- Good stuff, right?

Now, for a band that is obviously on tour and you have a new album out, what are your approaches to live performance versus studio sessions, and how do you feel that they differ?

C- Live and in the studio for us to 2 polar opposites things, because a lot of band… We record to a click track, and we want everything on our album to sound perfect, huge, and as flawless as it can be, so we play to a click.

Live, we’re currently not playing to a click track. I feel like it kind of limits you because just feeling the music and going along with it, it’s more of a tool instead of a vibe, I guess. So, currently we’re not playing to a click track. We get a little bit wild.

Like, if you go to a show and they can play their music perfectly every time to a click and with samples and everything, it’s cool. But, you might as well just buy their cd and listen to it in the dark. You want to see a show where people are going crazy and giving it their all, putting on a performance, there’s going to be fuck ups, but it’s something that… I fuck up all the time. I fucked up tonight.

G- Dude, the set was solid as a rock!

C- I fucked up a couple of times, but fuck it. Some drummers get bent out of shape, and then you can just tell that they’re in a bad mood for the rest of the set. But, like, if I break a stick or fuck up a part real quick, I get over it quick because in the grand scheme of things, nobody in the crowd noticed, so who cares? Everybody is looking at the lead singer anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

G- (laughing) Typical drummer response, and it’s true, man.

C- Yup.

G- That’s why we play drums… We’re afraid of the attention.

C- You’ve got to accept it, bro.

G- Now, as a drummer, I’ve had stitches, I’ve bled, I’ve cried, I’ve screamed, and I’ve moaned over my drums… What’s the worst drum related injury you’ve sustained while playing? What happened and what was the injury?

C- That’s a good question, because on the last tour, the first show of our tour kickoff, we were playing a hometown show, and it was great! We were getting pretty wild, and during the very last song, with about 30 seconds left to go, our singer Ben knocked himself into my ride cymbal, which is a really big, thick ass cymbal, right when my head was going down, and it just clocked me and gouged my head super bad. Gushing blood, I couldn’t even pack up that night. I got off stage, chugged 2 beers, and drove myself to the Worchester Hospital emergency room as fast as I could, and they told me that I was minor concussed, and I had to get 6 staples in my head. So, that was the worst injury.

I’ve got some sweet pics out of it, so it was worth it.

G- I would like to see those pics! I will include those in this interview.

C- Yes please do!

G- Now, you’ve been playing for a while and The Venetia Fair… I sincerely hope that after SXSW and all this tour has to offer, that you make the strides that you’re trying to make because today was awesome! But I’d like to know what is the craziest or most memorable show that you’ve played to date? Where was it, and what was it like?

C- Actually, one of the cooler shows we’ve ever played was the tour kickoff for this tour, which was 2 days ago. We played in East Wareham, Massachusetts and an awesome venue called 3065 Live. Tons of kids showed up, and people were stoked on the new album. A lot of kids around there had it already because we did a pre-order where you could get it early, so a lot of kids knew the words. It was wild! There was crowd surfing and somebody literally came in with a surfboard and was going crazy, but…

G- That’s the “Municipal Waste” Experience!

C- Yup! Up until then, we played Warped Tour, and every show on that was awesome! And then one of the cooler shows was when we played a show with Dance Gavin Dance in Colorado. We were an opening spot on tour with this band called Love Hate Hero, who is no longer a band, but that show was crazy. It was packed. We played first, but it was still super fun. Everyone at the show was awesome and it was a great, memorable night from what I can remember, because I had a few cocktails afterwards.

G- Did you destroy the bands that played after you, cuz that’s the key when you’re in an opening band?

C- I mean…

G- ATTACK!

C- We did well. There have been a few bands over the years that have been openly mad that they played after us because things like the stage was soaking wet. We played a show in Maine one time and accidentally put a humongous hole in the floor, so that put a damper on the rest of the show. So, bands weren’t happy about that, but we do our thing and a lot of times people don’t like it, a lot of times venues don’t like how wild things get. We’ve been banned for life from a couple of venues, but…

G- Banned in DC?

C- We’ve been banned from a venue in Detroit and South Carolina because… In Detroit, they had good reason to ban us because we ripped a big part of the ceiling down during the set, and it was a wild night. They were throwing beer cans at our trailer and stuff while we were driving off. It was crazy. It was a wild night!

G- Sounds like it! Now, to finish up today, you work for SJC which is a very good drum company…

C- The BEST drum company!

G- That’s a bold statement, but we’ll take it, but you work for SJC, you’re on tour with a band that’s on the build, and there’s a lot of kids out there that want to be doing what you’re doing… They want to go on tour, they want to play drums, and they want to be pros. So, from your experience, what advice or tips could you give some of the aspiring drummers out there that want to do what you’re doing?

C- Basically, you just have to take it as it comes, you know? People go on their first tours and they expect it to be awesome, and they expect kids to be packed in at every show, but that is not the way it is. You’ve got to pay your due. Our first tours, we were playing shows to nobody, but fuck it… I had the time of my life! I still tell everyone in my band to this day that the first tour we ever did was the best time that I ever had because I was young, I had never toured before, and we played shows to nobody and didn’t give a shit. I was doing something I loved and basically… There’s a lot of tough shit that comes with touring and playing music and trying to do it full-time, and you’ve just gotta take it as it comes, deal with it, and not let it get you down.

Especially, one of the bigger things and one of my biggest pet peeves is when a drummer messes up live and lets it get him down for the rest of the set. It shows, the crowd notices it, and they’re just pissed off and in a bad mood because they fucked up a little part. Who cares?

Back in the day, people would be like ‘good set, but you messed up a little bit.’ I don’t care anymore. Nobody notices, so fuck it. That’s my advice… Fuck it!

G- Well put and eloquent in its brevity. Anyways, I just want to say thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!

C- No problem.

G- And we’ll see you down in Austin. Travel safe, play well, and we look forward to good things to come.

C- Yup. Thank you!