Derek Roddy Interview – by Travis Marc – 2010.
Blast beat master, Derek Roddy visited our shores late last year to demonstrate some examples of the extreme drumming movement which seems to be taking a lot of the drumming community by storm. I chatted to Derek for a little while a few hours prior to his mind blowing clinic and this is what he had to say…
Hi Derek, briefly tell us a bit about what it was that initially attracted you to the drums?
Well I grew up in a really musical household, my parents and my brother all played instruments, so I was constantly around music. I guess I’d have to say what initially attracted me to the drums would have to have been Buddy Rich. Yeah, Buddy made me want to play drums, and I’d say that Kiss made me want to play drums in front of people. My brother was quite a bit older than me and so he would be bringing home all these records like Kiss and Alice Cooper and I really got into it. Shortly after that we started a little band, and things have just always been going for me since then. Musically, I have just always been hitting stuff. My parents were always extremely supportive and I’m extremely thankful that they gave me the opportunity to do what I do, while I was growing up.
Besides your constant clinics, as well as your work within various bands. What are you currently up to?
On a lot of my days off I often go hang out/work at this great drumming shop called “Resurrection Drums”, which is great because there are always great players coming into the store and jamming on the kits. It’s a great way to learn, and for me that’s what it’s all about really. In my older age I’ve realised that life is about experiences and to be in a situation where I can so easily see these great drummers from all around the world is just such a cool experience. Jeff Lee the owner of Resurrection Drums has really made the place a little hub where drummers feel at ease just hanging out. I’m also busy doing my band “Serpents Rise”, which is kind of a project which I started from scratch. Basically, I just got tired of people always telling me that they loved the bands that I was in, but didn’t really enjoy the vocals, so long story short, I took the vocals out. I’m also doing another project with a child hood friend of mine, it’s kind of like a vibey, fifties, mafia film score type thing, but it’s really cool. We’ll have some stuff out shortly. For now though, if you’re interested in the Serpents Rise stuff you can go onto my website and download some stuff. I also breed snakes, and that’s a great little hobby of mine, which just takes my mind off of the drums from time to time. (For constant updates, please check out www.derekroddy.com)
What is your general approach in regards to your drum clinics. Do you usually have a set routine worked out, or does the approach change according to your audience?
It definitely changes depending on the crowd. One thing that I always try to do is play a lot of music, I don’t really consider myself this big “drum solo guy”, and in my opinion I play a lot better with people than by myself. So I always do a lot of play alongs and a lot of music, because that’s where I feel most comfortable. I also like to emphasise to the people in the audience that they shouldn’t get discouraged when things aren’t going they way that they want them to. I like to explain that drummers should take some time to devote to their craft and set realistic goals in order to reach them. Education is my top priority with my clinics, I’m no there for my own ego, because let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for the people attending and the great companies that endorse me (Sonor, AA Meinl, Vater), I more than likely wouldn’t be able to come out and perform at these things.
What has been your most memorable drum clinic or gig experience and why?
Without a doubt the Moder Drummer Festival. It’s like the holy grail of the drumming world and it turned out to be one of the coolest experiences of my life. The Austrian Drummers weekend and Pasic were incredible too, but all clinics and gigs are rewarding. The nice thing is that I’ve been able to expose extreme metal to a lot of drummers who had never really seen it done before, and a lot of the top guys, like Land and Mayer are starting to demonstrate examples of blast beats within their own clinics, and crediting me for it, it’s tremendous, I’m very lucky.
Do you have any sort of regular practice routine, and if so could you please describe what it consists of?
Man, I wish I did. My main practice routine is me, wishing I actually had a practise routine. It’s probably the same for 99 percent of the working drummers out there, because every time we actually sit down behind our kits, we land up playing the same stuff we already know. I recently started trying to work out specific practise for specific times so that I can build up the weaker parts in my playing, like my left side. It’s quite hard to do because again, it’s so easy to just go back to what you already know. I do play everyday, I just don’t have a regular routine.I like to visualise a lot of the stuff that I want to achieve, which is really important, because if you’re able to put a pattern in your head and get it right, it makes the actual mechanics of the body a lot easier.
Tell us a bit about the writing process in regards to your book, “The evolution of Blast beats”?
There really wasn’t that much info regarding the subject available, so I took it upon myself to start making notes and put something out there. The first part to it was to write all the possible blast beat combinations, which actually didn’t take to long. After that, I started to put together the exercises that could work within and around the various groove patterns, which were also fairly easy to come up with because I’ve had most of the content in my head for the last twenty years. I’d have to say that the hardest part about it was actually the production part, when we actually started putting the book together. Just getting the cover right and that sort of thing, that was tricky. My Dvd was harder because I wanted the performance to be right. I don’t really get into the technique side much, because I feel that everyone is different and should play how they play. The main focus for both projects was to expose the genre and teach people about how to do it, not what to do, when trying to do it. It seems as though everyone is always looking for a specific technique to solve their problems, but the only thing that makes drumming problems easier, is hard work. Time spent is what it really comes down too.
What are your thought on how the Internet has changed the music industry, and the world over the last decade. Also, what advice, if any would you offer musicians on how they might be able to utilise the web to their advantage?
I believe that information is the key to everything, and the amount of information currently available is simply amazing. The part that I don’t really like is the instantaneous results people expect to get in real life, because of the instantaneous results they seem to get via the internet. I honestly feel that we as humans need to follow through with more things, and learn to control certain instincts that we have in order to understand our constant need for new things all the time. So, yes the internet is a fantastic tool, it’s given us access to a lot of things that we otherwise never would have had, but the rate at which we can get the information is really quite scary. So, I guess how you use it would have to come down to your personal character and individualism,
Who or what are your influences?
My main influence is life itself, and that goes for everything, music, getting along with people, everything. As far as drummer go, again, I’d have to say Buddy Rich. I also really like Billy Cobham, Tony Williams, Eric Carr, etc. There are so many man, all drummers, all musicians, anyone. I think that we can learn from anyone and everything, it just depends on what we decide to take from the situation. I love my snakes and find that they inspire me to. All things should just tie into each other and influence you, that’s what does it for me.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
I’d really like to go back to school and major in something like Biology. Drumming is great, but it’s really only a small part of me as a person. I’d like to imagine that I’m going to be happy somewhere, but it’s hard to say, because we never know what the future may hold. Maybe if I am able to major in something like Biology, I could even teach or something like that. We’ll have to wait and see.
Yeah forever drum ! Try and be a versatile person, especially within our modern society. Adapting yourself to various situations will only make you stronger as a person. So yeah, be versatile, listen and learn. Oh, and Sonor is bar none ! Seriously, no one else can replicate their sound, check them out !