Ed Udhus interview – by Travis Marc – 2010.
I was lucky enough to meet and speak with punk drumming legend Ed Udhus from Zebrahead last week, before the bands sell out show at the HMV Forum in London. Prior to the show Ed had seriously injured his wrist by tripping off of a stage ramp which had not been clearly marked. Not one to disappoint his fans, Ed pushed through the pain and played an amazing set which left the crowd hungry for more. Here’s what the inspiring beat maker had to say…
Hi Ed, thanks for your time. in regards to your drumming, what was it about the drums that initially attracted you to the instrument?
I’d have to say that the “Cheap Trick” album “Live at Budokan” is what really made me want to play the drums, it pretty much all took off from there.
Did you have any type of tuition? A lot of people believe that you loose a certain natural element within your playing if you’re to trained, what are your thoughts regarding this?
I did do some drum training as a kid, the usual marching and snare drum type stuff. I also used to work from the “Stick Control” book and that one influenced me quite a lot. Eventually I got an old Louie Bellson book called “King of Double Bass”, which really kind of shaped and influence a lot of my playing, because I do quite a lot of double bass stuff. It also got me into how rad Louie Bellson actually was.
As far as loosing a natural element to ones playing by training to much, yeah I agree with that. I’ve even noticed that my own groove playing is a bit taken back from the constant click practice.
Let’s talk briefly about your practice routine, do you have time to keep up any type of practice routine having such a gruelling tour schedule?
I do a lot of singles and double strokes, they really seem to help. I also play quite a few paradiddles. I find that paradiddles and doubles really get me going, and I try and do these kinds of run throughs for at least twenty minutes a day. I drive the rest of the band crazy, cause I’ll hit anything as I seem to always loose my practice pads during warn ups.
Who are your current influences as a drummer and why?
Old school influences would be Bonham, no one could push the kick and pull the snare like he did. My favourite drummer of all time is probably Stewart Copeland, especially for all the percussive kind of stuff and groove that he did. I love Butch Whackerman, he hits the snare unlike anyone I’ve ever heard. Josh Freese, for his all around style. Dave Lombardo, Miki Dee. Man there’s so many great drummers now days. Then there’s guys like Tim Yeung from Divine Heresy that just keep pushing the boundaries. I can’t believe that guys can play like that now days.
Zebrahead aren’t exactly new to touring, tell us a bit about how the current tour going and also what’s your favourite part about touring is?
The current tour is going great, we love to tour, it’s all we really do I mean, we’ve really made our career from touring. So far this tour has had everything you could possibly ask for, great sound, big stages, showers, everything. The kids here in the U.K are awesome too. I give this tour a thumbs up all around.
My favourite part about touring is the fact that I get to play the drums every night, if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t do it, there’s no way in hell.
You guys have toured with numerous big names, Green Day, 311 and the band you’re currently on the road with Less than Jake. Tell us a bit about what’s goes on backstage before a show?
We’re a bunch of old guys ha ha. We generally hang out back stage and have a few beers. Sometimes we’ll play on the Internet a bit or go sight seeing. We all have bicycles that we take out on tour with us and often take our bikes out and go check out some of the sights or even some music stores. That’s pretty much it man. We live vicariously through our career ha ha.
What advice could you offer musicians who are starting to do major tours on how to stay healthy while on the road?
Drink a lot of water, take some vitamins, eat good food and try do some walking around, and don’t drink to hard. I mean party by all means, but just don’t party to hard, these tours are usually pretty long. The most important thing is to have fun though, if you have fun you’ll probably stay healthy.
Let’s talk a bit about your gear for a while, could you tell us why you use the gear that you do?
I switched to Sonor a few years ago after a friend of mine started using their drums and I checked out his kit. I had no idea how awesome they were until I tried his and I’ve never looked back. Sonor have been really great bout helping me find the right drums to suite me and they’re awesome in regards to helping me get drum kits on location while we’re flying from country to country. Another thing I’ll say about Sonor is that generally when you take a factory kit from most drum companies the snare drum won’t always sound that great, but Sonors factory snares are amazing. In fact their delite snare is one of the best snares I’ve ever owned, you just can’t not tune it well. You can see why some of the guys who play them, actually do play them, they’re just so great. I also use Vater, and their product support is absolutely amazing. I really love their sticks. And Paiste cymbals – we’ll they need no introduction really, they’re always there when I need them and they sound fantastic. I live quite close to the Paiste office so whenever I need to do change overs they’re always there for me.
I understand that you have your own company called GOMC, which makes custom road and flight cases. Tell us a bit about how the idea to start such a company came about?
Probably about ten years ago we were doing a lot of touring in the states, where everything is always bigger. Big stages, big buses, big everything. I wanted some traps for my drums and couldn’t find any, so I made them myself. I took them out on tour and people started asking when I got them. I told them I made them, and before I knew it a lot of people wanted the same ones. So I started making them and now I pretty much make them for everyone, at least everyone in America. We’re actually currently in the process of opening an office here in London. The main two guys at the shop are drummers, so a lot of the ideas are very drum based.
What’s next for both Zebrahead and yourself personally?
Zebrahead are currently doing our tenth studio album, so I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll probably head out to Japan soon for more touring. Personally I want to keep growing my case company and keep playing drums. If we ever stopped Zebrahead I’m pretty sure that I’d probably join a cover band or something, just so I could keep playing I love it man.
A question I ask every drummer I meet – What do you feel is the most important piece of drumming advice you have ever received and why do you think it has proven to be such good advice to you?
Learn how to pocket. Some people describe it as moving the mountain, you need to get up under the song and push it around. Just take absolute control of it, and once you’ve got it create a pocket that the rest of the band can groove to. You need to provide a bridge for the band to walk across. As far as I’m concerned that’s what makes a good drummer.
Any final thoughts or advice?
Hang in there and keep playing, if you’re not having fun there’s really no point in doing it.
For further information on Ed or Zebrahead please visit www.zebrahead.com alternatively to take a look at GOMC please visit www.gomc.tv