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.
I’m sure some of you will agree few things are cooler than a member of the fairer sex blowing the drumheads off of some of the guys out there. So today, I am proud to include the very first Drummer Spotlight featuring a female drummer, a lass named Claire Percival from Irish Metal band Dead Label.
I look forward to including several more talented percussive females in the future, so stay tuned, and feel free to send forth your recommendations. Like Kevin Seconds says: “It’s not just boys fun.”
G- How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?
C- I have been playing drums nearly eight years, although for the first year, I more said I was a drummer than actually played!
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?
C- Hmmmm Professionally? Well, I guess the first professional recording we did as a band was our EP in 2010, the first time really doing a proper recording, as in click tracks etc. Before that, it was always demoing and stuff.
I thought drum performance was my calling before I could play… I think it was when I saw how much fun Travis Barker was having. I was like ‘Yeah I want to do that!’
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?
C- Ok! Well, my drum kit is a Yamaha Oak X Custom in Black Sparkle, and her name is Lucy! She is 10”, 12”, 14”, 16”, 22” and my snare drum is a Mapex Black Panther Phantom, 12”.
I am endorsed by Zildjian Cymbals (which is awesome because I used them before the endorsement anyway! J) I have A Custom 14” hats, A 16” A Custom Projection Crash, A 18” Fast Crash, A Custom, A 21” Z3 Mega Bell Ride, 21”. A 20” Oriental China, A 10” Thrashformer!!! Oh, and I swear by the DW 9000 double bass pedal. They don’t endorse me but I love them!
G- How often do you find yourself practicing independent from your performances? Any warm up tips or advice you can offer for our readers?
C- I practice with my band two to three times a week, then I try and get an hour a day in every day, but this is not always that easy! I work in a drum shop though, so I do get a bit of practice at work from time to time!
Tips for drummers: Number one: EXERCISE and stay fit, running or Bikram yoga really help with endurance, stamina and double bass accuracy. Second of all, get yourself some practice sticks. They’re sticks that are heavier than the sticks you play with and have a rubber tip! So you don’t need a practice pad all the time and you are not making too much noise! If you practice with heavier sticks, you will go for longer with your own size!
G- What drummers, then or now, do you hold as personal inspirations or players you often learn things from?
C- Man, there are so many wonderful drummers out there! My all time favorite drummer, idol and inspiration is Dave McClain of Machine Head. He is the perfect Metal drummer! He can blast, massive speed, super fast fills etc., but what he plays is memorable! You find yourself singing his fills… They are musical! He plays the drums in special way, and it’s not just how many hits can I fit in the bar etc. He’s the best!!!
My newest obsession is Mario Duplantier of Gojira! Man alive, this guy is amazing!!! He has some unbelievable skills, and live he plays just as perfectly as on albums! The first drummer that got me was Travis Barker of Blink-182. He has some serious style when he plays and I love it! I will always have a soft spot for him!
I have so many that I love it’s hard to think… Another is Craig Blundell! I have been lucky enough to catch some of his clinics, and that guy is truly an all round drum machine! He literally can play any style perfectly, and he also has the limb separation down to a tee! One to check out for sure!
G- If you could be the drummer on any recording in history, which one do you wish it could be?
C- Ooohhh that’s a good question! Can I name a few? Hummm, probably Through the Ashes of Empire by Machine Head. When I heard that album, I bought a double bass pedal. It’s an incredible album, from the drumming down to the sound, everything is amazing! Yeah, that album!!! My second would have been Master of Puppets, and my third being The Way of all Flesh! Sorry, I had to mention them! J
G- What is the worst drum-related injury you’ve sustained from playing? What happened and what was the injury?
C- Oh man. Well, it happens pretty regularly, but I often whack my head with the stick or catch my ear! That hurts so bad! I actually have a bit of a dent in my forehead because I always hit myself in the same spot! It hurts to catch your thigh too. Not cool! I went through a phase of catching my knuckles of the rim of drums and cutting my knuckles, but I haven’t done in a long time now! I am lucky enough not to have anything serious really, but the little stuff hurts!!!
G- How does international performance compare with your performances stateside, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?
C- Every international performance we have had has been an absolute BLAST! People in other countries tend to appreciate the fact that you have traveled and mosh like hell! I love touring, it’s so much fun, even the traveling part! It’s really cool to see how people are different and how they react to music in different countries.
In mainland Europe, they head bang and mosh, but in Japan they do hardcore dancing karate things… It’s really cool! As long as people move we are happy, and they seem to do that everywhere! At home, it’s a little different because this is where we started, you know? Like there are some awesome places to play here in Ireland, particularly Fibbers. It’s a great crowd, but Ireland is so small it tends to be your friends, or most of your friends, at the show. So it’s a little different, but nice all the same!
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
C- This is a tough one! I have two.
I think the most memorable was playing with Machine head in Dublin. It was so scary, but a dream come true and something I will never forget!
The craziest show had to be Rocktoberfest in Japan in 2012. We did not know what to expect when we were going over. We were like ‘Cool, a Festival!” Next thing you know, we are on a massive stage on the beach on an Army base playing to 8000 people! That was flippin’ nuts!!!
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?
C- Advice, let me see… If you want it, go and get it! Work harder than everyone else and never ever give up! If you truly want to play music, find some good people who want it too, work hard with them, put yourself out there. and nothing can stop you! It’s hard work and it takes a lot of sacrifice, but it is more than worth it!!!
Oh, and don’t do drugs!!!
Do you wear hearing protection when you perform? Why or why not? Do you think it is important for your fans to protect their ears?
C- YES! It is incredibly important! It’s hard to find ear plugs that don’t dampen the sound but attenuated ones are really good, any make. They look like little trees and they cut out the bad frequencies that damage your ears, but you can still hear!
Wear them!!! You have no career if you can’t hear!!!