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 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.
Undoubtedly THE pinnacle of excitement for Syracuse, NY area Modern Rock fans, this year’s installment of KROCK-A-THON, on August 2nd, will once again host a plethora of high profile and building acts. As you probably know, most of those have hard working and professional drummers, and sometimes I want to speak with them to get their names out there from behind the kit. I mean, we can’t all be lead singers or lead guitarists you know. So allow me to introduce you to Chris Vest, hitter for Nashville, Tennessee Alternative Rock act Framing Hanley prior to their trip Upstate for 100.9 and 106.5’s Summer extravaganza!
G- Hi Chris and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! How’s everything going with you, friend? Gearing up for a solid Summer run?
CV-Hey, thanks for having me. Everything is going good. We’ve been on the road all across the U.S. for a good two months now. We’re taking a week off to be with our families and then we’ll be right back at it for a while.
G- Very cool! Tell us… How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?
CV- I’ve been playing drums for 14 years. I got my first real kit during my freshman year of high school and started jamming with some friends in my neighborhood. We would just play our favorite cover songs along to the cd and slowly learned how to play our own instruments. It was not very pleasant at all. Thank god my mom put up with it.
G- I’m sure all drummers can agree a patient and tolerant mother makes life music easier. That, or a padded, soundproof basement.
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?
CV- Technically, this band (Framing Hanley) is still my first project. It is still the first and only band that I have played in. I’ve filled in for a few gigs here and there, but this band has always been my focus. It has gone through several names and a few members since those high school days, but the core of it has remained the same. We’ve been fortunate enough to do this professionally for 8 years now.
I knew that drum performance was my calling after playing in my high school talent show as a sophomore. That was the first time that I had played in front of anyone other than my bandmates. It was in front of the entire school, and I had a tremendous amount of anxiety for days leading up to it. Once the song started and I was a few beats in, the adrenaline rush kicked in. I had never experienced anything like it before and I knew then that I wanted to do this for a long time.
So 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?
CV- I could go on for days about this stuff, but I will try to keep it brief. I’m kind of a gear nerd when it comes to drums.
G- We all are, my good man. Hit us with it.
My kit is a Pearl Reference.12” rack tom, 14” floor tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum. I usually use a 6.5”x14” Pearl Reference Brass snare or 6.5”x14” Pearl Ultracast snare. I’ve been with Pearl since Framing Hanley started and I couldn’t be happier with my kit. The Reference series sounds so big and powerful in live settings. It matches the sounds that I have in my head and fits perfectly with the style of music that I’m playing. I don’t just say that to sound like a salesman or something. I chose to play with Pearl because they are what I have been playing since I was young. My very first kit was actually a Pearl Forum.
I’ve tried several different cymbal set-ups over the years. Regardless of what brand or sizes I usually prefer brighter crashes that will cut through and dryer sounding hi-hats and rides to bring out more articulation. Lately, I’ve been playing with 14” Meinl Traditional Byzance hi-hats, 22” Meinl Traditional Byzance ride, 18” Meinl MB20 china, 19” Zildjian K Custom Hybrid crash, and 20” Zildjian A Custom Crash.
I also use Pearl hardware, DW9000 double kick pedal, and Vater 5B wood tip drumsticks.
G- How often do you find yourself practicing independent from your performances? Any warm up tips or advice you can offer for our readers?
CV- My practice routine usually depends on scheduling. If I’m at home, I will try to practice every day. If we are on the road, I may only get to practice a couple times a week. If there is an open room where I can set up a practice kit and really concentrate, then I will try to take advantage of if.
My only advice for warming up is try and concentrate on your technique and not so much on playing certain rudiments or chops. When you get behind the kit and your adrenaline starts pumping, your technique is usually the first thing to go. If you can maintain that same technique throughout the entire show you will play better, be more consistent, and your body will thank you later.
G- What drummers, then or now, do you hold as personal inspirations or players you often learn things from?
CV- So many to choose from. I spend a lot of time watching other drummers and trying to figure out what they are playing or what makes them so unique. When I first started, my favorites were Morgan Rose (Sevendust) and Will Hunt (Dark New Day, Evanescence). They are such hard hitters and some of the most entertaining drummers to watch in the business.
Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), no explanation needed. The best one two punch in rock and roll.
Ray Luzier (Korn, KXM, Army of Anyone) and Aaron Spears (Usher), are tasteful but flashy players. Both know when to sit back and ride the groove, but as soon as the right opening in the song comes along, they go off!
Lately, I’ve been a big fan of Ilan Rubin(NIN, Paramore, Angels and Airwaves), our generation’s version of John Bonham, the perfect combination of power and finesse.
G- If you could be the drummer on any recording in history, which one do you wish it could be?
CV- Wow, that’s a very hard one. I wish that I could have been on “Fool In The Rain” by Led Zeppelin just to come up with that shuffle groove. That songs shows why Bonham was so legendary. However, no one can do Bonham better than Bonham.
So in that case, I really wish that I could have been the drummer on “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters. Probably one of my favorite songs ever. It’s so intense and it still gives me goosebumps. I would have loved to be the guy in the studio laying down those parts.
G- What is the worst drum-related injury you’ve sustained from playing? What happened and what was the injury?
CV- It’s kind of embarrassing but I busted open my eye while playing, more than once unfortunately. There have been two occasions when I was a little too excited to play, started swinging like crazy and popped my self in the eye. Both times I had so much adrenaline going that I didn’t realize that I had done anything until one of my bandmates pointed out that I was bleeding from my eyebrow and down half of my face. It made for some pretty brutal pictures.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
CV- There are almost too many of those to pick just one. We’ve played some huge shows or festivals with thousands of people that are mind blowing, but we have also had some small club shows where 300-400 people are going insane and bouncing off the walls.
One that really sticks out is getting to play at the Roundhouse in London, England. It was the last night of our tour with Good Charlotte, packed house, and my wife was able to fly all the way over to see it. Plus, there is so much history in that building. Just knowing that I was playing on the same stage that John Bonham, Keith Moon, and so many other legendary drummers had played on was incredible. It’s definitely one that I will never forget.
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?
CV- Just keep at it, work hard, and enjoy yourself. Dedication and work ethic will take you a long way in this business. It has its ups but it can have many more downs. If you don’t have the dedication this business will run you over. Most importantly, have fun! That’s the whole reason that we start playing music. Don’t ever loose sight of that and enjoy every minute that you can.
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?
CV- Yes, I do. I wear molded in-ear monitors. I had used monitor wedges in the past and never enjoyed how distorted and abrasive it was. With my in-ears I can dial things in just the way that I like them and keep them at a level that is comfortable. I think that it is very important for our fans to protect their hearing. You only get one set of ears and if you mess those up you will not be listening to any music in the future, so take care of them!