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. I’m very pleased to get a few questions in with Origin/Gorguts drummer John Longstreth. The metal world wouldn’t be the same without players like John and his lightning quick reflexes. Honestly, he is one of the fastest and most technical players on the market, so pay attention when/if you see him perform.
John is also preparing for his first instructional DVD which hit its goal back in December 2013 over at Indiegogo. He’ll probably be doing something outrageous like showing viewers how to play “Flight Of The Bumblebee” using all gravity blasts, so you will definitely, DEFINITELY, want to scoop this up when it drops.
G- Hi John and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! How is everything going on your “double duty” tour with Origin and Gorguts?
J- HI! Everything is excellent! Everyone is being real supportive, and that is the most important thing because when you have support like this, the job is easy.
G- Let’s get right down to it… How long have you been playing drums and when did you get started?
J- My entire life. I started REALLY playing around 8th grade (whatever age that is), but I’ve had a drum kit since before I was in Kindergarten.
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?
J-I remember having a conversation with a kid in grade school while watching “Live Without a Net” by Van Halen and I remember saying, or thinking, “I have a drum kit in the basement, maybe I should set it up”. Believe it or not, I was approaching being a guitarist at that point.(more on that later) It all went “professional” around 1995 when I joined Angelcorpse. I mark that time as professional because that’s when record contracts, and tours started appearing. It was also my first full length album.
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?
J-At this point, on this tour, I’m using a Pearl Session Birch kit. 8, 10 rack toms, 12 left floor, 14’ right floor, and a single 22” kick drum. It’s transparent Amber, fantastic sounding kit. I have a vintage Pearl Free Floater Steel shell, and a Pearl Demon Drive double pedal. The cymbals are all Meinl, 17,18” Soundcaster Fusion crashes, MB8 china on the left, Sound Caster Extreme Metal china on the right, 13” Byzance medium hi hats, and a pair of MB20 Heavy Bell rides that HAVE to be the ultimate ride cymbal, in my opinion. It’s a pretty stripped down version of what I used to use in the past.
G- You recently and successfully completed your first instructional DVD via IndieGoGo. How do you feel about the response you received in its backing, and what can we expect from the release in terms of content?
J- I guess its something that once its all said and done, I will be ale to look back on and say it revitalized my career. People have been VERY supportive, we asked for what we thought was a modest amount of money and we went up and over that amount. This DVD is supposed to embody the essence of independent self-release. I’ve seen some really poorly written campaigns asking for an astronomical amount of money and they tend to fail. People aren’t stupid, and we aren’t here to rip people off, and I think they sensed that in how the campaign was set up, the amount of money that was asked for, and the handful of reasons we had in crowd-sourcing to begin with. Id say this is going to be a quasi instructional/performance DVD. It’s being approached from a drummer’s perspective. I’m not a solo drummer (YET! HAA.) So, I stuck with a handful of techniques that I consider myself to be known for, explain how to slowly work into them, and then demonstrate them in the songs they have been heard in. We have some Origin, and Gorguts songs. We’re also debuting a project that has been slowly forming in the background called Crator.
G- How often do you find yourself practicing independent from your performances? Any warm up tips or advice you can offer for our readers?
J- Quite a bit. Most of the time, actually. I usually find myself approaching blast beats and double bass with a strength and conditioning approach. I’ll work on these bits to get warmed up, go into some more creative stuff, and then usually return to all the death metal chops to finish out. I’ll hear a strange fill in a song and take that to the kit and usually butcher it…… But it seems that a lot of my best material comes from personal interpretation, or misinterpretation. I’ve found that getting as far away from death metal for a limited time helps with creativity. For instance, I spent months on a drum fill I learned from Styxx drummer Todd Sucherman. Randomly, I tried to smash it into an Origin song, and it worked out beautifully and now its one of my regular bits. Mr. Sucherman may cringe if he watched me do this, but it worked out for me. I know this isn’t any real cutting edge method for creativity, but it’s fun to search in strange places for material, and its important to NOT underestimate the more simple procedures. Can you spot the Jerry Rafferty fill in Portal? It’s there. So silly, So fun.
G- What drummers, then or now, do you hold as personal inspirations or players you often learn things from?
J-Todd Sucherman, Brandon Thomas, Nicko McBrain, Gene Hoglan, Sean Reinert, George Kollias, Paul Bostaph, Dave Lombardo, Derek Roddy, Doc, Hannes Grossman, Chris Coleman, Ray Demarchi, Lux, Adam Mitchell, Bernard Purdy, Alex Van Halen…………to name a few.
G- If you could be the drummer on any recording in history, which one do you wish it could be?
J- Roxy and Elsewhere by Frank Zappa.
G- What is the worst drum-related injury you’ve sustained from playing? What happened and what was the injury?
J -I was recording Knives of Ice, by Dim Mak. I was trying to use the one handed roll during the reoccurring verse section. It wasn’t a very well rehearsed part, and I basically ended up doing this over and over, and it must have went on for 2ish hours before I simplified the part and used the one handed roll for the turn around(s). Anyhow, for the remainder of the recording, my right hand was compromised and I started waking up with my whole right arm asleep. Pins and needles to the point of pain. I know this is permanent ligament, because I still have that sleeping sensation in my right hand on an intermittent basis. I can say that through rebuilding my one handed roll technique, and diet, its not nearly the issue that it has been. However, in the recording, you can hear the one handed roll that happens at every turn around and you can tell it isn’t as strong as it should be. To this day, I’ve restructured how I approach and use the one handed roll in order to make it a more sensible, and musical technique. At the time I was using a real heavy, full arm approach in order to get it to come out live. I pushed too hard, too fast, for too long, incorrectly, and something gave. That song turned out to be “The Incident at the Temple at Leng”, which ironically is one of my favorite songs on that album.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
J- New York City. Origin/Gorguts at St.Vitus. Small room, sold out, lots of friends, one of my favorite cities on Earth. One of the best overall vibes I have ever picked up from a single show. Perfect end to an amazing tour. LIVE FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!!!!!!!!
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?
J- First off, it’s a tough, and dirty job. Don’t look for the glamour, money, and rock star status that you’ve read about in “The Dirt” or seen on MTV growing up as a child. That barely exists anymore, and where it does exist, it’s outside of metal.
Metal, of all forms is about “labor of love”, and that is why John Gallagher and I say “They always come back” (yes I dropped a fucking name, but its important). We say this a lot, every time we cross paths on tour. We always talk about a guy that has retired because he lost his love and worked too hard, but came back because his memory held on to all the good parts. This is what happens to anybody that follows their own dream, or path in any discipline. The end result is that you get to claim something as “your own”.
Get some education, learn how to hold a solid job. PLEASE develop real world skills alongside developing blast beats. Try a mom and pop business in a college town and get in there WAYYY before you start touring. Develop a healthy relationship with them and they will let you have that flexible schedule that allows you to work on music. Just be ready to work and PAY ATTENTION. The good stuff goes by quick.
Also, thank you very much for this interview. Thank you to everyone that supported the DVD process, and the Origin/Guts tour.
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?
J- Always, and very important. I actually wear noise canceling in ears, so I can have my monitor settings at a manageable level on stage AND protect my hearing. One day, I’ll get smart and become more responsible with the car stereo knob. Until then……what?