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How is a drum solo like a sneeze?
 You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

Well, maybe not in Hardcore.

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 September 27th, I got to meet up with Craig Anderson, hitter for one of the most prolific and legendary hardcore bands to come out of the West Coast, the mighty Strife! We talk about drums, injuries, and the finer moments of his career, and it’s a good one!

Interview:

G- So Craig, what’s going on and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. How’s everything going?

C- It’s going good, man. How are you doing?

G- Ehh just hanging in there, man. Glad to see you guys return to Syracuse after such a long time. What has it been… About 15 years?

C- I think so, yeah. We haven’t been up here in a while.

G- How have the shows been so far in the tour?

C- They’ve been good. This is the second one in. All the shows have been good  with good turn outs. I’m glad to see people are still into it, which is good.

G- And you guys are playing East Coast Tsunami on Sunday, so that’ll be awesome!

C- Yeah. That’s kind of the nucleus of why we’re out here. Originally, it was going to be that one show, but we got offers to do other ones, and people wanted us to come to different places, so that’s how it turned into a short little tour.

G- It’s gonna be a riot, dude! I went last year and it was great!

So, we’re here to talk about drums, man. Let’s talk about your history: How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?

C- I started when I was 10, so about 32 years.

G- Right on.

C- And I can’t quite remember how I started, but I must’ve expressed some interest because my parents signed me up for drum lessons, and here I am.

I’ve had a couple of different teachers. I had a local teacher, this guy Ken Cox, for about 8-10 years. And from him, I took lessons from Greg Bissonette…

G- Nice!

C- For a while. And then he had to go and leave to do a record in Canada, so I started taking lessons from his friend, Mark Craney, who used to play with Jethro Tull and Tower of Power…

G- A couple of little bands.

C- Yeah, and I took lessons from him for about 10 years, and it worked out really good, because I knew who Mark was from the day I started playing. So, to take lessons from him was just amazing!

G- Nice! And since we know when you got started, 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- I think it was pretty early on, within the first couple of years. Again, I must’ve expressed a lot of interest, because my parents said I was practicing and playing all the time. And shortly after that, my brother started playing guitar and kinda had a little band. And form there, you meet other people in school and stuff.

And during high school, you go through that thing where you have a band, but you don’t have all the positions filled. You have a band, but you don’t have a bass player, or you have a band, and you don’t have a singer, or you’re looking for this. So, I think it was after high school when I got my first band that had everything: 2 guitar players, a bass player, a singer, and a drummer. That was my first real band.

G- And what was the name of it?

C- It was called Wild West.

G- Wild West. Alright.

C- It was still back in the heyday of… Have you ever seen Decline Of Western Civilization 2?

G- Of course.

C- On the Sunset strip, where everyone was going around and handing out flyers… It was right at the last couple of years when that was still happening. So, we’d go down to Hollywood and hand out flyer. It was a rock/metal band.

G- Dig it.

Well, drummers we are, we’re all big nerds for our stuff, so we have to talk gear for a minute… Tell us about 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- I play DW Drums. Collector Series.

G- Nice!

C- Confiugurations are 12 and 14 on top, 16 floor, 22 bass, a 5×14 snare, whether is be Brass or Wood, and depending on what band I’m playing with, I have the other sizes, as well. Most of the kits I have have everything from the 8” to 18” toms with the double basses. Some gigs you need all that stuff, some you don’t.

G- And it’s all DW?

C- It’s all DW. Well, I have (2) DW kits, I have a GMS kit, I have a Gretsch kit; One of those old ones, like Phil Collins with the concert toms?

G- Oh yeah.

C- That one is great, and I still have my first kit, which is a Rogers. The old Rogers with the script logo and memory lock hardware.

G- So, 5 kits?

C- I never sell anything. I just accumulate stuff over the years. I get good deals. The Gretsch kit was a buddy of mines… It was just sitting in the garage and I got it off of him for a few hundred dollars because he needed to get rid of it.

G- Sweet!

C- The GMS kit, I saw an ad in The Recycler. It’s funny. One of my favorite bands is called Fates Warning, and the drummer in the band was Mark Zonder, and he played a white GMS kit.  He also owns a studio in L.A.

So, when I saw the ad, I said ‘That sounds so familiar.’ So I called him, and he answered the phone. I was like ‘GREAT… How much is it?’ He said ‘$900.’ The bass drum alone is wroth more than $900, so I went down and got it.

And it’s really cool because it’s one of my favorite drummers from one of my favorite bands, and I bought the drum set that was played on one of my favorite records of all-time. It was pretty cool. And I got it super cheap!

G- Well well well.

C- And I don’t sell things, so I just keep accumulating drums all the time.

G- It’s one of our obsessions, man. We’re hoarders.

C- Yeah. The only way I could streamline it was to re-do all the tom mounts, so I would only need 1 or 2 sets of hardware that I could interchange.

G- Yeah, the hardware weighs more than the drums.

C- Yeah. And a Yamaha kits has different tom mounts than Ludwig or pearl. So, I made 1 set of hardware for all the drums to interchange.

G- Dig it! And how about the cymbals and sticks?

C- Cymbals are Paistes. I play the Rudes now.

G- Heavy! They are loud!

C- Very loud! Usually 3 crashes, so 17” 18” 19.” I use the Wild Crashes, and my Ride is a 20” Crash…

(I laugh)

C- I especially with Strife and my other band (Ignite,) it’s a lot more washing, not a lot of bell work stuff. The Crash works better than the Ride. And I have a bunch of Chinas. I’m a total whore when it comes to Chinas.

G- (laughing) Alright.

C- I was in a band, one of the first punk bands I was in, and the singer hated the Chinas. We were arguing about it, and he told me ‘When you make your own band, you can have your double bass kit and all China cymbals on it.’ I always remembered that, and now that I have a bunch of Chinas, I just put all the Chinas on the kit! The whole kit was Chinas… It sounded amazing, like a dream come true. I’m so glad that guy made the comment.

G- That’s brilliant! And how about heads and sticks?

C- Heads are Attack, and sticks are Regal Tip, 5B wood tip. And the good thing about that is those are the ones I bought anyway. So when I got an endorsement, it was great. All my endorsements are companies that I would buy on my own.

G- Very cool!

Now, you play heavy music… 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 wish I could practice more. I live in an apartment in L.A., so I don’t really have a place to have my drums set up. I can still have a set up at my mom’s house, because she loves it…

G- Perfect!

C- So when I go up there, I can practice a little bit. I wish I had a lock out, but L.A. prices are though the roof.

For warm ups, I use this cheap little thing called a Knee Pad. It’s one of those little pads with the velcro that you put on your knee. I’ve used other one but they’re so heavy. This on is less than a pound, super light so you just thrown it in your bag, and it works great. You don’t have to find a table top to put it on… Just put it on your knee, and I just do combinations of doubles and para-diddles and stuff like that, double stroke rolls… Whatever gets the blood in your hands going.

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

C- I can’t really say anything major, besides going for a cymbal squelch and going under the nail, or those random times where you hit your knew. It’s like ‘Why did I hit my knee?!’

And my advice to you all is if you are hurting your hands while you are playing the drums, you are doing it wrong. If you’re hitting your knuckles and bleeding, you’re doing it wrong.

G- Very true statement.

So, in all of your performance history, what would you say is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?

C- Well, I’ve been playing with Strife for the past couple of years, and there’s been some really good shows. Black and Blue was really good. But with my other band, Ignite, this one time we played Groezrock Festival. We played that and it was amazing!

G- “Ash Return!’

C- And we played a show in Poland one time, and I can’t ever describe it. It was like playing in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome! It was a huge hardcore show and everyone was on stage. We’ve had a lot of shows like that, so it’s hard to pick a particular one. Sometimes in hardcore, you have shows that are just so out of control and so much fun, at the same time. Some people would see it and say ‘This is violent,’ and it’s not because everyone is so polite. On the surface, it looks like everybody is beating the shit out of each other, but everyone is super polite, there is etiquette, and there are rules to moshing and what to do.

G- Pick the kids up, folks. And stop with the kicking. There’s no need to kick.

C- Yeah or the guys that run around the perimeter and start hitting everybody?

G- Yeah. They won’t do it alone in a parking lot. That’s why.

So, to finish up today, you’ve been doing this for many years. Strife, Ignite, international touring, recording, all good stuff!

A lot of kids are looking to pick up drumming in the future, so what advice can you give from your experience to 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- I’d say do all you can to get in a band and go out on the road. That’s the best way to learn. There are a lot of guys who are great players, and they never get out. They’re hometown heroes, but they never get out of their little fish bowl or bubbles.

It’s easy to be in a band and play shows where you’re the hometown hero at night and everyone gets to go home. But when you go out on the road and you play shows to nobody, that’s when bands start turning on each other…

G- And you sleep on concrete.

C- That’s when the band really has to come together.

G- If they’re still your friends in the morning, you might just have something going.

Well, I just want to say again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. Totally pumped to have you guys back in Syracuse! I just want to say whatever you do, travel safe, play well, and I look forward to doing this again!

C- Awesome, man. Thank you.

G- You’re welcome!