What’s the biggest lie told to a drummer? 

Hang on a minute and I’ll help you with your gear.

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 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 August 4th, 2013, I met up with Nonpoint hitter Robb Rivera at 95x Fest in Syracuse, NY to talk about his lengthy career as a drummer, practice tips, road doggin’, and get any professional advice he could impart on us fellow beat-offs to make our transition into the music business a bit less frustrating.

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

R- Well, I first got interested in it when I was 9 years old, seeing a girl who was the reverend’s daughter playing the drums in church. (It) sounded cool and she was pretty good. I was playing guitar at that time, but drums looked interesting as well.

I got interested in drumming full time when I was 16. I liked all instruments to be honest. I wish I could play it all. I (also) play guitars, bass and drums and mess a little here and there on the keyboards.

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?

R- Professionally, since 2000. That is when I got my first record deal through MCA records.

First project? Wow… I think it was a band called Wring Steele. (It) was just buddies jamming, and we never really got a singer that actually worked out. This was when i lived Puerto Rico.

I felt drumming was my calling because in Wring Steele (which became Witch Hunter a few months after that,) I was playing guitar in the band and none of the drummers could play in time, so i just said i will play drums. I bought a really cheap set and just went for it. No lessons and never sat down with them, but for some reason I just picked it up. (I’ve) never taken a lesson in my life.

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?

R- My current set is a Pearl Reference Series, Sabian AAX Cymbals, and old Paiste Rude ride that I have had for about 25 years, and Vater sticks.

I play on 20” kick, 14” (rack) tom 16” and 18” floor tom, 14” snare.

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

R- I never practice independently, and never have in my life. (There were) always people complaining about noise, (and that is the God Honest truth. After never really doing it, I realized that I hate it.

I have to practice with a band or a guitar player. I can’t do it by myself.

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

R- Funny you ask that because it happened for the first time a few days ago. I pulled a chest muscle and that hurt quite a bit, to be honest.

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

R- A performance is a performance no matter where you are at. I give 110 percent no matter where it is.

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

R- There are so many to mention. I think the most amazing tour we have ever done will always be Ozzfest 2001. I will never ever forget that tour in my life.

We went in knowing like 70 percent of the bands already and had such a great time on that tour. I really wish we could totally relive that tour all over again! Playing to 6000 plus (people) per day at 11am, our day was done at 1:30 pm. Then, it was all the bands hanging out doing a BBQ almost daily. Summer Camp for ROCK N ROLL!!!

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?

R- First and foremost, if you want to be a professional drummer, then you have to be a professional. That is the attitude that has to be carried at all times in this business.