How do you tell if the stage is level? The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.
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.
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 this column is for the hitters.
On April 11th, 2013, I sat down with Kung Fu drummer Adrian Tramontano in a drive-by interview in Syracuse, NY. What a sport, ehh?
G- What’s going on, man? Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today.
A- No problem, man. Yeah we got this!
G- Dig it. So, tell us… How long have you been playing drums and when did you first get started?
A- Umm 10 years old. I’m 33 right now, so 23 years. Not serious until about 12 years old when I started playing gigs with my dad. He’s a guitar player playing jobs, and making a little bit of money here and there. I played “Time is on my side” by The Rolling Stones and then I started listening to Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and yeah.. I was hooked on it when I was a kid. So yeah… 23 years of craziness.
G- Right on. So playing with your dad, you were sort of playing professionally at an early age…
G- So that worked out pretty well. So, what was the name of that first project, and when did you realize that drums and drum performance was something that you really wanted to take seriously?
A- Immediately, and the name of that project was Recall. And at that time, when that first started, I wasn’t really a member of the band. I used to go to the practices and watch their drummer Bobby Estrom, and this is the first time I’ve ever talked about this guy. This is awesome! I was just watching him, studying him sitting behind the drums and learning everything he did. He was a really good drummer, like a Ringo Starr, like Charlie Watts… Really simple, but good groove and good feel, and there’s not too many people like that anymore. So, he was a really good drummer for just being in a bar band.
And yeah, they started letting me sit in when I was about 11 years old. Just a song a night, and then 2 songs, and 3 songs and eventually, they started splitting the pay with me and I started drawing a crowd because I was like fucking 3 feet tall (laughs.) it was kind of an event, so people started coming and they were like ‘Hey he’s bringing people… Let’s start splitting the pay with him.’
G- Awesome! It kept you in bubblegum and comic books, right?
A- Well, I was doing other things then.
G- At 12?! Right on!
Alright, well let’s talk gear for a second… What’s your current rig looking like, drums and cymbals, configurations, and are you endorsing any companies right now?
A- Right now, I am endorsing zero companies right now.
G- That’s surprising to me.
A- I just haven’t pursued it in the past 5 years. I have been endorsed before by a drum company called Smith Drums that’s not even around anymore out of Connecticut, and Silverfox sticks. But, I just ended up not doing it anymore, and I sort of stick to things I like. I have a mix of cymbals going on right now, mostly Zildjian’s though.
G- Alright. So, you obviously play a lot of shows… All the times, it seems. How often do you fid yourself practicing independently of your performances, and do you have any warm-up tips or advice you can offer to some of our readers?
A- Umm, yeah. The things is I play so much, fortunately, for the past decade or longer, I play all the time, so I don’t practice too much anymore. I try new things at gigs, no matter what gigs they are, jazz gigs or pop session work or anything. I do new things at the time and I listen to the musicians I am playing with and they give me ideas as I’m playing, so that’s my practice. Just playing shows and reaching for new things.
The tips I can give, I guess, are practice young. Start young! I used to practice for like 4 ours per day during high school and all that stuff and in my early 20’s, always playing the drums because, you know, you just love to do it. So, that was more or less jamming and reaching for new things. I never looked at it as practicing. It was never work to me.
And learn how to play right-left-right-left-left.
G- (laughing) Stick Control?
A- Um hmm.
G- Right on! So, drummers hurt ourselves, and we sometimes get injured… What was the worst drum related injury you’ve sustained? What happened and what was the injury?
A- Ohh. Umm, it didn’t last for very long, but it hurt like… I hit myself in the head a couple of times with my drum stick (laughing.)
G- We’ve all done that before.
A- It really just stunned me, man. It was like I punched myself in the face.
G- And what would you say is the most memorable show that you’ve played to date on drums? Attendance wise, or just something where you were dialed in? Like, your proudest moment?
A- Hmm… I’d say Highline Ballroom was pretty awesome with Kung Fu, rocking out there. The Gramercy with RAQ was pretty frickin’ sweet!
G- Errr you got that gig! You’re talented , too, but I wanted that one.
A- I was listening to that music for a while, so I had a head start. Yeah, a lot of great moments! Great American Music Hall with The Breakfast, kung Fu doing Camp Bisco last year was pretty amazing. There was probably 5,000 people for that set. Gathering of the Vibes late night this year is gonna be sick, too!
G- And lastly, you’re on the road playing and living the dream… Any advice you can give to some of the young, up and coming drummers out here who want to try to make it in music and go on tour like yourself?
A- Yeah. Well, I’m still trying to figure it out myself, but I would say focus and keep your eye on the prize. You may get a lot of disappointments, bit what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you get chewed out by a bunch of people that you’ve never played with before, telling you not to do something, learn from that.
And keep learning from playing with other people. Don’t let a negative experience make you stop playing.
G- Alright. This was a quick one on a drive-by, and I appreciate it very much! Thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today, and play well tonight!
A- Thank you.