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 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 July 9th, I pulled a drive-by Drummer Spotlight interview with Tim Tintari from HB Surround Sound right after opening for Sublime with Rome, Pennywise, and Julian Marley at Saranac Brewery in Utica, NY. Utica… Didn’t expect that one! Check it out below.
G- What’s going on, Tim, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. How’s everything been going?
T- It’s been going pretty well, and no problem. Thanks for speaking with me!
G- Absolutely. Drummers don’t get enough credit, right?
T- No. No they don’t.
G- Exactly. It’s not like we can copyright our drumbeats or anything.
T- No, we can’t. And you’re absolutely right when you say the drummer will determine if the show is good or not. If they drummer has a good one, it still might be alright. If he’s bad, the rest of the band might be great, but it’ll still be lackluster.
G- Yeah on a good band night, it’s always the guitar player or the singer, and if it’s a bad night for the band all around, it’s always the drummer’s fault.
G- It happens that way.
So, tell us a little bit about what you do, man? How long have you been playing drums and when did you first get started?
T- I’ve been playing the drums for 22 years and I started when I was 11. I’m 33 now. Actually, taking it back further, when I was a kid, an infant like 3 years old, my mom bought me a toy drum kit and, believe it or not, I could actually keep a beat at 3 years old.
I put it down for a while, and then I ended up joining school band in 6th grade. I did the symphonic band stuff, played orchestral music, and then joined marching band in high school.
G- And how long would you say you’ve been playing professionally? When did you realize that drums were your calling?
T- I don’t know. It just made sense, really. I come from a musical family; my mom is a musician, my sister, and I have other cousins who play the drums. It just made sense. One day, I just decided I was gonna play drums, and I’ve been going ever since.
G- And how about professionally? You’re on the road with HB Surround Sound right now, but what have you done before this?
T- Little things here and there. A couple of studio sessions where people come and pay me to do their records or whatever. I played in a bunch of other bands with other friends. In fact, 2 of the guitar players in HB Surround Sound I was in a band with in high school called The Perps. It was like a hardcore-punk band, and that’s the greatest thing about being on this tour; We’re touring with Pennywise and they were one of our biggest influence, you know? It’s surreal.
G- Now, I’m also told that aside from just being the drummer of this band, you also have a large repertoire in terms of marching… Can you tell us a bit about that?
T- Well, like I said, I joined the marching band in high school, and immediately as a freshman, I was put on snare drum. Anybody that knows about drum line knows that that doesn’t happen too often.
T- Freshman don’t get to play snare.
G- Yeah you’ve gotta fight for it.
T- You have to be on it, and I just fell in love with it. And the very next summer, I went and saw a drum and bugle corp show in Long Beach, California. I saw bands like Velvet Knights, the Santa Clara Vanguard, and the Blue Devils from Concord. At that point, I was like ‘Yeah, I wanna do that!’ So, I ended up auditioning and making it into the snare line of the Blue Devils, and I played in the snare line there for 2 years.
G- Snare line for Blue Devils?!
G- How did that work out?! That doesn’t happen!
T- Well, the Blue Devils get a lot of talent, you know? A lot of corps will get people that are raw and develop them; The Blue Devils get heart, just developed talent right away. It’s really kinda hard to pick the line because there are so many players.
G- Were you on a squad that caught a ring?
T- Not as a member. Later, from 2006-2011, I was the snare tech for the Blue Devils.
G- So, you’re a trainer, too?
T- Yeah. I taught the group and, while I was teaching there, I got 3 world championships 2007, 2009, and 2010, two drum titles which is the Fred Sanford Award. And in 2009, we had 1 of 3 undefeated drum lines in DC history.
G- Ok, so you just trumped one of the questions I had. That’s amazing, by the way! I come from a family of drummers myself, and that is a tremendous feat… Especially for such a young guy. To have that kind of title under your belt is something else.
T- Thank you.
G- Now, in addition to HB Surround Sound, what other projects are you working on right now? Is this your full-time thing?
T- Yeah this is the only band I play with at the moment. I’ve had other projects that I will get back to when I have the time, one of which is a hardcore-punk band that I play guitar with and sing in called Stuck Dickens.
G- A drummer who plays guitar and sings… Triple threat, right there?
T- I’m lucky. Like I said, I come form a musical family, so there was always a guitar in my house and I sort of picked it up along the side playing drums. It’s a rhythmic instrument, so playing the drums helped me learn guitar.
G- And how has playing guitar helped you play the drums?
T- It’s helped my ear, as far as listening to things melodically. A lot of times, drummers just get caught up in the mathematical side of playing things and coming up with a good pocket and original ideas in your beats and stuff. But if you’re more in tune with the music and what is going on melodically, you can get more creative on the drums.
G- I think a lot of drummers fail to recognize that dynamics and volume play a big part. We all know that Talent-to-Volume ratio: The less talented the drummer, the louder they play.
G- So, we’re drummers, and we’re all geeks who love gear, so let’s talk gear for a minute. What are you playing, give us the sizes, compositions, brands, cymbals, sticks, the works.
T- Ok. Well, on this tour, I’m playing my baby. She’s a Yamaha Maple Custom. Nice wood color with a glossy finish. As far as heads are concerned, I use Remo Pinstripes on the toms, and I actually use a Remo Pinstripe on the kick drum as well.
G- Good dual ply with a bit a dampener.
T- I love them and they’re durable. I’ve had these heads on since last summer (laughs.) I also use a Flam Slam where the beater hits, which is a little Kevlar patch.
G- Are you playing a single pedal or a double?
T- I play a single bass drum with a DW double pedal. 5000.
G- That’s my pedal, too! How about the sizes of the drums? And we can’t forget the cymbals…
T- Ok. The snare is a 14×6.5 Yamaha Steel, then I play a 12-inch tom on top and a 14 on the floor. The bass drum is a 22×18.
G- So a 4-piece set up?
T- Just a 4-piece. And I play all Paiste cymbals. I actually have a ride cymbal and a crash cymbal that I’ve had since middle school.
T- They don’t break! They’re good!
G- Are they Signatures? 2002’s?
T- Actually, I have a line they don’t make anymore called the Sound Formula Reflectors.
G- No shit?! Really?!
T- Yeah. I’ve had those since the early 90’s. My musical mother, when I was trying to acquire more equipment, went out and bought me my first crash cymbal, which is the one I still play, because SHE liked they way it sounded. I just sorta fell in love with them after that, you know?
I have a 17-inch Signature, 14-inch Dark Crisp Signatures, an 8-inch Splash, and a mini-China. And the ride is a Sound Reflector, 20-inch.
G- I got $20 says I can buy it from you right now.
T- No, you can’t. (laughing)
G- Well, I gave it a shot.
Tell us… Obviously you’ve been in the studio and you play live. Do your approaches differ a lot, and if so, how?
T- My approach to studio drumming, depending on who I’m playing for, is all worked out before I get there. If you’re talking about tour, I try to be as musical as I can, and just play whatever the song requires, especially if someone is paying you. If they want something more showy or flashy, I’ll throw that in if needed.
G- Dig it. Now, any warm up tips? How do you typically warm up for a show or gig?
T- The best piece of equipment you can buy, besides a drum kit, is a practice pad. They have a lot of these gimmicky things nowadays, but if you’re learning, you need a practice pad. I’ve had the same one since 1997. I played on it today before the gig!
And I play a lot of my drum line exercises, just 8 notes on one hand and 8 on the other. Some rolls, some big fat open diddles, stuff like that. Maybe some para-diddles and some flams for fun (laughing.)
Now, we’ve all sweat, cried, and bled for our drums… Tell us what the worst injury you’ve sustained from playing drums.
T- The worst injury from playing drums. There was one time where I was playing on the hi hat and really getting into it, and I put my head down and actually cracked myself in the back of the head.
G- In the back?
T- I had my head turned and I slammed myself in the back of the ear coming down on the hi hat, which is odd if you think about it, but it happened and it hurt really bad.
G- Did it throw you off? Did you drop a beat?!?!
T- I don’t think I dropped a beat, but I had to shake the stars out.
G- As long as you didn’t drop a beat!
Now, HB Surround Sound has played with Cypress Hill, you’re playing with Pennywise and Sublime with Rome tonight, all types of stuff, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
T- There’s a couple. I’d love to play a show with 311…
G- Chad Sexton, baby!
T- I’ve been able to meet Chad a few times, and he’s an awesome dude! I would like to play a show with NOFX. They were one of my favorite bands growing up.
But with our sound, I think we could play with a lot of different bands. If it were a possibility and they’d do it, I’d love to play with Faith No More.
G- 311, NOFX, Faith No More, and HB Surround Sound… Let’s do this!
Now, favorite or most memorable show, or more importantly, what is your proudest moment as a drummer? Any particular moments that stand out?
T- Well, especially walking around these shows after we play, I’m fortunate enough to get a lot of people coming up and shaking my hand, telling me it was awesome and they really enjoyed watching us play. Those kind of compliments are always great, because those people noticed the drumming specifically.
The highlight show so far was El Paso, Texas last summer. I am usually the first person onstage, to get behind the kit, and as soon as I walked onstage and put a peace sign in the air, the place exploded! They started screaming, and it was stuffed! There must’ve been 6,000 or 6,500 people in there. They were going nuts even before we played a note, and we threw down! What a great night… We really felt like rock stars that night!
G- Love it!
Now, just one last question for you today. You’ve been playing for 22 years, and it takes a long time to do what we’re doing. There’s always going to be a kid who wants to hit something and wants to play in a band, drum line, go on tour, etc.
From your experience, and in your opinion, what advice can you give to the up and coming drummers out there who want to do what you’re doing?
T- You need to be a musician first. Like I said before, a lot of people just get into the drumming side and they’re playing is really busy. You need to be a musician who plays the drums, not just some drummer.
The best way to do the, quoting Yngvie Malmsteen if you can believe that, is “The best way to get better is to listen to what you sound like.” You have to listen to yourself, and if it sounds good to you and sounds good to your ears, it’s good. If it sounds good and feels good, then you’ve probably figured out the technique for doing it right.
G- Right on. Well Tim, thank you very much again for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. I wish you guys the best of luck on tour! Travel safe, and I look forward to catching up with you again in the future!
T- Alright. Thank you very much!