Tag Archives: drumming advice

Brad Hargreaves Interview

Brad Hargreaves Interview by Travis Marc – 2015.

The best part about having the UK Drummer platform, is that every now and then I get to talk to some real musical heroes of mine. One such hero happens to be the amazing Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind. I’ve been listening to his drumming (and his band) for as long as I can remember, and just always loved the way he approached his drumming in their ‘alternative/rock type genre of music. Third Eye Blind have a new record out called ‘Dopamine which they are currently on tour supporting, so when I heard that they’re coming back to the UK,I had to jump at the chance to talk to the groove master. Here’s what Brad had to say…
BradHargreavesDrum1Hi Brad, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview for UK Drummer. Let’s start at the very beginning, can you tell us how you originally got into drumming and what initially made you want to play the instrument?

My dad played drums when he was younger and gave my brother some sticks and a practice pad. My brother just threw them in the closet but I dug them out. Then, when I was ten years old a friend at school got an electric guitar and just said to me, “you’re my drummer”. I literally built a kit out of boxes with the practice pad as the snare, and it started from there. I have recordings of that homemade kit with me playing Jimi Hendrix covers, ha.

How did you meet/get involved with Stephan Jenkins and the rest of the Third Eye Blind guys?

While at UC Berkeley, a friend in a music class suggested that I go audition for a band that was looking for a drummer. I was playing in a bunch of bands at the time and really liked the challenge of finding different ways to compliment whichever musical situation I found myself in. Stephan gave me a demo tape and we realised he only lived about 200 yards from me., which was a strange coincidence. I went to jam with them and we actually worked up a song off the first record called ‘Narcolepsy’ during that first rehearsal.

Third Eye Blind just released an amazing new album called Dopamine. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? Did you use any interesting drum gear or recording techniques you used during the recording?

Thanks! The process meandered a bit for quite a while. We even tried a few tracks in London a few years ago, but the music just wasn’t there yet. At the beginning of 2014 it really began to come into focus and we actually worked pretty fast after that. I always use a bunch of vintage gear on recordings. I have some, and then we rent some in addition. We like having a lot of options for drum sounds, particularly snares. On ‘Get Me Out of Here’, we used this really deep rental snare that had a bunch of paper taped to the head from some previous session. It sounded perfect as soon as we put it on the stand.

Talking of drum gear, I love how you play such a minimal set up. Would you talk us through your gear and set up?

I have been playing a 4 piece vintage Ludwig that we built a custom riser for. The cymbal and hi-hat stands mount underneath the riser so there are no tripods stands on the deck and the mic cables are routed through the cymbals stands so there are not mic stands on the deck of the riser either. It’s very clean looking. I play mostly Zildjian ‘A Customs’ and use a Zildjian Avedis ‘Sweet Ride’. I also use Promark 2B natural drumsticks.

You’re on the road touring the new album as we speak, how’s it all going?

It’s great… We played a big summer tour outside in amphitheaters which is wonderful, but I realised how much I really like playing indoors. Drum sounds have so much to do with the room your in and I actually kind of think of it as ‘playing the room” as much as playing the drums. Playing in a nice theatre is where I feel like I can be the most musical on the drums.

What advise could you give us on how to stay healthy while on the road?

Wash your hands and exercise. I started running about 5 or 6 years ago and have never been sick since. Not once. I am convinced sweating is one of the best ways to maintain your health.

What about longevity in general. You’ve been a member of 3EB for twenty years now. In that time, many other members have come and gone. Leaving yourself and Stephan as the original core members. What do you think has been the key to staying friends in a band for so long is, and what advice could you give up and comers about trying to keep relationships healthy within a band environment?

I would say 80% of it is just sharing a similar world view in terms of how you conduct your affairs within the band and the level of professionalism you expect from yourself and others. We want the same things for Third Eye Blind. The other 20% is just having empathy for others, and wanting them to succeed because we are in this together. I am a team guy. I try to be the guy that looks at what needs to be done and does it.

Away from 3EB, you also perform as ‘Just Brad’, doing DJ sets accompanied by drumming – is that correct? What made you decide to do this, and how did you come up with the idea?

I was experimenting with drumming and DJing at the same time. I did 20 or 30 shows as ‘Just Brad’ but have not had the time to do it lately. The genesis of that actually goes back to the empathy thing. I was in the back of a van with a band called ‘Year Long Disaster’ that I played in for 5 or 6 years and was fretting over being double booked for the 20th time with a Third Eye Blind gig. I was so tired of letting the YLD guys down and getting sub drummers for the great shows they were getting so I vowed to myself that i would start a solo project where I didn’t have to let anybody down if I got another gig That’s kind of where (and how) it started.

Who or what would you say inspires you as a drummer/musician?

I get inspiration from lots of places. Other music, people, sounds, other musicians or even a Jackson Pollack painting.

What about practice? Do you still ever just sit down and practice away from the band? If so, what do you try work on?

Of course. I love to practice. I work on a lot of stuff with my feet. I feel like having a great bass drum foot is the key making a band sound good. It’s the key foundational element of most music.

The music industry has obviously changed a lot in the last 20 years. What are some of the main differences you see now, compared to say 3EB’s early success while on the road, or just in general?

Well, music is free now. That’s the root of the difference. At the same time, promotion is largely free now as well with social networking. So it’s a bit of a trade off, but one that actually works really well for Third Eye Blind.

Have you still got any musical ambitions or dreams?

I tend to be forward looking. This is the best we have ever played and we are writing some of my favorite music in our entire career I just want to keep it going. This right now, is what we worked so hard for.

What do you feel has been the greatest piece of advice anyone has ever given you in regards to your career?

I have been told by different people to just unapolegetically be yourself in your artistry. And I have always felt the same way. Never compromise and try to fit in. Be you.
BradHargreavesDrums2Any last thoughts or words of advice?

We are so excited to play Manchester and London coming up. We can’t wait to get over there.

Catch Third Eye Blind on Tour next month at the following venues.
Thu, 5 Nov Manchester Academy 2, Manchester, GB
Fri, 6 Nov O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, GB

For more info on Brad or Third Eye Blind please visit www.thirdeyeblind.com

(Please note that UK Drummer do not own any of the photos in this interview and they remain the property of the photographers who took them).

Effective practice – February Blog 2015

Effective practice – February Blog 2015.

Practice is a subject I find myself talking about almost daily among fellow musicians or students. Thankfully, its a subject that I never really get bored having conversations about and luckily from a practical stand point, it’s an activity that I actually really enjoy doing, because I know that even a short amount of practice every day can show really amazing results.

Being able to play (or learn) a musical instrument can be extremely rewarding and I consider it a blessing that I realised at a young age that playing music was/is what I wanted/want to do with my life. I consider my musicality a blessing and have therefore always tried my best to be very diligent about learning my craft and therefore my practice schedule.

When sitting down to spend some time on your instrument it is important to make sure that you are practicing effectively though, and not simply playing the things that you’re already good at or the same things you’ve been playing everyday for years. Playing is fine (and fun) but if you really want to improve you need to put a plan together, knuckle down and work at it.

Here are some things that I feel have really helped me over the years, perhaps some of these tips will help you too…

Try and forget about all the other day to day stuff you’ve still got to do or anything else that might be weighing you down. A clear head helps you concentrate and focus on what the task in front of you is. Play through your favourite things, like grooves or fills that you’re already good at and get them out the way, this allows you to feel good about why you’re about to practice and let’s you clear your head to work on newer concepts and ideas.

Set yourself some goals in relation to your instrument. These can be small things like trying to learn a new fill or bigger things, like wanting to prepare for your first clinic. Regardless, goals are important so that we can strive for new heights.

Monitor your practice schedule in a diary or journal. Mark down tempos and your progress with whatever you’re trying to do, heck even give yourself little compliments if you think you did well for the day. This gives you a clear and precise indication of just how much you’re practicing, what you’re practicing, and how it’s going. At the end of each week or month go through your diary entries and assess how you’ve done. This is a great confidence builder and can really make you feel good about all the work you’re putting in.

It’s much easier to be inspired to practice if you’re trying to emulate your favourite players and it’s important to try and imitate and copy your heroes in the beginning stages of your musical journey, (as long as you don’t become cheap carbon copies of them). Having someone, or someone’s skill set to aspire to is a great motivator so check out some of players from the music you like. If you don’t know where to start, simply pick up a music magazine and start with someone you like the look of, alternately you can scroll around on a streaming site like YouTube or Spotify for a while – you’ll soon find something or someone that you might want to listen to.

When you’ve worked on whatever it is you’re working on for a while. Reward yourself by playing to some of your favourite songs or exercises. It’s kind of like stretching after a good gym session, and can convince the fun part of your brain that you’ve just been playing/having a good time (the whole time), which makes things fun and satisfying, kind of like eating a dessert after a savoury meal.

Lastly, if any of the above ideas still aren’t helping you and you find yourself getting frustrated or negative towards your progress or music you’re trying to make, STOP. Take a break, go watch some tv, take your dogs for a walk or grab a bite to eat. Anything to get your mind off of what you’re doing. Frustration only makes things harder and when things get harder we become more frustrated, which in turn breeds negative thoughts, which in turn breeds more negativity. It’s a vicious cycle that is really best avoided. So chill out, and remember it’s supposed to be fun.

That’s it for this month. Be safe, be good to each other and practice hard.
Travis Marc.