Arguably the world's greatest living drummer, but realistically who's gonna rush forward to debate?
NEIL PEART has influenced just about everyone with his impeccable technique, creative innovation, and out-of-this-world rhythms that transcend rock and prog. The man is a machine--a true road warrior and deep-thinking soul.
Going back into the vault, we remember a time when RUSH played the old Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, NY. The band was staying at the Desmond Americana and yours truly got summoned to a guest room for bellhop assistance. Only it wasn't help with bags the guest needed, and it turns out the guest with the question was none other than the living legend himself.
What exactly did Neil Peart want? Directions to the arena--so he could ride his bike to warm up. Turns out that how Neil prepared for his marathon gigs. All part of his pre-game routine.
Peart is a prolific motorcycle and travel enthusiast, who savors exploring unchartered, under-appreciated, and often exotic terrain and chronicling his experiences with the care he puts into crafting his music and poignantly arranged lyrics. The template for drumming and percussion, Peart is the gold standard to which others often aspire to be or are measured in comparison.
To listen to Peart play is to hear the heartbeat of his soul. One of the most expressive drummers ever, Peart paints a wide expanse of emotions and imagination with his sticks and kit, choosing to let his music convey the visions he's reflecting upon. Love live Neil Peart! One of the greatest...EVER.
Kinetic fusion and combustion manifest through the intricate rhythms cooked up by GLENN KOTCHE, the brilliant do-it-all percussionist of Wilco, one of the finest live bands in the world.
We once saw Wilco in the comfy confines of The Royal Oak Music Theatre and Kotche literally didn't miss a beat during the 3 1/2 hour marathon show. His love and appreciation for exploring new sonic terrain isn't lost on his fans, who support his residencies and side projects.
Classically trained and experimental to the bone, Kotche is a tour de force composer and arranger of eclectic souring percussive sounds bound to transport you through portals in your soul, previously unknown. Never content to dwell in the familiar, his experimentation in sound design have led to groundbreaking revolutions in the percussion community, resulting in the highest levels of regard from peer composers and artists beyond the music community.
Right up there with Terry Bozzio, Kotche is a master artist with wildly ambitious ideals of how to push his creative impulses. Technically impeccable and nuanced in delivery & style, Glenn Kotche will lull you softly to sleep and proceed to carve you up before ripping your heart and mind in two. Serious chops, indeed.
KENNY ARONOFF is the quintessential drummer. He is a rockstar personified. Powerful, stylish, and possibly a cyborg, his tenacity and work ethic are unmatched. Rather than align himself with one band, Kenny has selected the road less traveled...and that has made all the difference. Less traveled? Yeah, right! Check his frequent flier miles...or Lear Jet points. More than a mercenary, Kenny is the guy you bring in when you need absolute perfection & professionalism...in the studio or on the road. His versatility and dynamic range have made Kenny the go-to choice for session work and touring. No matter the genre--from hard rock to blues to country and beyond--Kenny Aronoff can play anything awesome, with fresh perspective and nuanced interpretation.
Kenny has worked alongside and shared the stage with many of the world's greatest recording artists: Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, B. B. King, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, George Jones, Chet Atkins, Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson--the list goes on and on. There are drummers that have a dream gig they're striving for, and there's Kenny, who's worked himself to the top of the list for many elite gigs...every year. Talk about a man in demand!
Talk about serious networking chops!
He's traveled the world, touring with Joe Cocker, Bob Seger, Styx, Smashing Pumpkins, Melissa Etheridge, and The Bo Deans. Most notably, Kenny has spent the last 35 years electrifying crowds across the world, manning the throne & supplying rhythm for two of the greatest singer-songwriters (and American icons) of all time: John Mellencamp, and most recently, John Fogerty. Simply put: you wanted the best, you got the best (sorry KISS).
In addition to his "regular" gigs, Kenny is an annual top-choice for awards shows and high-profile national events like The Kennedy Center Honors and presidential inaugurations. Fallon, Letterman, Kimmel, Leno: he's played them all--many times over. In his "free" time, Kenny can be found at his studio, Uncommon Studios LA, and conducting clinics at drum shops across the country.
CHARLIE WATTS is an institution. For 50 years, this self-taught, jazz, blues, and big-band enthusiast has been the heartbeat of the legendary Rolling Stones. While it's Mick & Keith who generate the bulk of attention and whip the masses into mayhem with their posturing and headline-grabbing decadent behavior, Charlie chooses to ignore pages from The Art of Building Spectacle playbook. The classy, super chill, sharp-dressed gentleman, groovy cat isn't a role for Charlie; it's a genuine approach for life.
Forever humble, Charlie at once operates at the Parthenon of rock n' roll, while simultaneously urning for a simpler life, devoid of the chaos that comes with playing the world's largest stages every show, every tour.
Introduced at the early age of 10 to jazz & blues legends such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, Charlie cultivated an appreciation of swinging music that nourishes the soul on an elevated, communal level. Much of the foundation of his current playing style was modeled after the London jazz-club gigs he attended, and was inspired by, in his youth.
When not drumming for the world's most iconic rock n' roll band, Charlie pursues passion-projects (such as sitting in on jazz ensembles), breeding horses with his wife, and living the life of an old-soul, throw-back artist. How many drummers keep a collection of hand drawn sketches of every hotel room they've ever stayed in while touring? Imagine the Stones had Charlie not decided to leave his graphic designer position at that ad agency a half century ago. One thing's for certain: Charlie would be creating acts-of-love art on some level...and probably experience an equal level of contentment, if not riches & spoils.
Without reservation, U2 is one of the finest live bands on the planet. They consistently push the audio/visual production envelop and pride themselves on setting trends--both in expanding sound design in their music and in their curation of live experiences.
LARRY MULLEN, JR.--the founder of the band-- is a principle architect of this band of brothers from Dublin, Ireland. Larry's bombastic, military-style-laced rhythms & cadences supply the backbone for anthems and battle cries that transcend stadiums and arenas.
For almost 40 years, all with their original lineup intact, U2 has embraced the DIY, punk mentality and has consistently delivered on their mission to "provide three chords and the truth." As the band has grown, explored foreign terrain and broke new ground, Larry has provided stability by juxtaposing traditional, organic percussion against an emerging landscape of experimental electronic effects and richly orchestrated sonic landscapes.
More than anything, each U2 performance is a unique ethos-laced communal gathering. Larry Mullen, Jr. shares his platform to educate others on humanitarian activism and human rights awareness. People have the power, indeed! You gotta hand it to a band that wears their hearts on their sleeves & leads with their conscience, the ultimate desire to lift the souls of all members of the congregation...and incite them to think and act.
U2 doesn't merely compose and perform soundtracks for consumers of media, films and entertainment, they provide thematic inspiration for the mix tapes of our lives, always finding a way to capture and characterize the shared experiences that define us. While U2 unearths the heart of the matter in the content they explore, Larry produces the heartbeat that propels the expedition, burns throughout the adventure, and resonates after the last notes of each journey fades.
For almost 30 years, TROY LUCCKETTA has been the engine of perhaps the most underrated, consistently ass-kicking rock band in the land. Mechanical Resonance, The Great Radio Controversy, Psychotic Supper: are you serious? No one makes albums like these anymore! Luccketta is still a beast on the kit and Tesla continues to impress with their high-intensity shows. Not sure where Luccketta finds all this mojo, but he's also an in-demand producer and session player.
Natural, raw, and real: that's Tesla, and there's a reason why the band is beloved by it's legion of fans, which bridges generation gaps and in-fashion fads & trends. Tesla has always been about honoring the tradition of music, while striving to incrementally elevate their craft. No pretentious posturing and over-the-top glitz and glam here. Tesla has always kept it real and Troy is a 100% righteous dude.
Influenced early on by the likes of John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell, Troy was moved to study the masters and break down their routines to understand what makes them tick. Proving to be an early predecessor of The White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Royal Blood, Troy first performed live in the 6th grade when he formed a two-piece with a friend for a school gig. Sometimes, all one needs is a taste. A hungry, motivated lifelong learner, Troy has challenged himself to never forget his roots, inspire others to push beyond perceived limitations, and pay his blessings forward, by mentoring up-and-coming musicians, in the spirit others encouraged him.
Like a seasoned boxer, Troy understands and utilizes a balance between finesse and ferocity. Like the early mentors he studied, Troy has perfected the art of rocking hard & swinging with soul. Pushing himself beyond comfort and familiar routine, Troy has grown tremendously as an artist, both in the roles as a student and teacher. Opportunities to study and collaborate with internationally recognized musicians of various backgrounds and styles have made Troy a better man...and more in-demand session artist and producer. Check out his side-project, Saville Row, his AZ studio, TML, and TCM Music Group, the Nashville studio, where he produces and collaborates on session work. Also noteworthy is Troy's passion project and turn-around testament: A Song 4 Wellness, designed to educate fellow artists on leading a healthy, balanced life.
RICK ALLEN never set out to be a role model or humanitarian; he just wanted to create amazing music for people to enjoy. By turning tragedy into a case-study in overcoming adversity, Rick, with the encouragement of his band, Def Leppard, altered the course of modern drumming.
Experimentation with triggers and revolutionary electronics unlocked a new genre--and pushed the boundaries of not just rock 'n roll, but music in general. The Thunder God is a champion of causes to improve the lives of those suffering hardships: most notably his Raven Drum Foundation, Project Resiliency, and work with the Wounded Warrior Project. This goes without saying: Rick Allen is a total badass!
Rick joined Def Leppard, at the age of 15, prior to the recording of their first album and has been their driving rhythm force for the past 35 years. Among the leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Def Leppard have sold over 100 million records worldwide. There's a reason they've proven the test of time: their high-energy live performances are consistently exceptional.
As talented as Rick is and as critical his contributions to the evolution of new-millinium percussion are, his aspirations to grow as a complete artist, encompassing spiritual and visual realms, reflect the path of an artist inspired to share his growing perspective of holistic balance and the nourishment of soul. Turning suffering into perseverance, Rick Allen is proof of the resolve of the human spirit and in the power of evolution.
Laying down the backbeat for the notorious, genre-defying Twisted Brown Trucker Band for the past 17 years, STEFANIE EULINBERG has seen and experienced it all...and we're not just talking 'bout music! For each and every gig, the backing band for Detroit's hometown hero performs a symposium of American roots music, demonstrating it's evolution from blues, soul, gospel, country, funk, rock, and rap. PC pundits be damned, middle America's no-holds- barred, tell it like it is, Bob Ritchie (aka, Kid Rock) offers up a lush tapestry of the great melting pot.
Along with Jimmie Bones (keys) and Aaron Julison (bass), Stef creates one of the most energetic, swinging rhythm sections making live magic happen night after night. The demanding repertoire and itinerary keep Stef focused and motivated to deliver her trademark high-voltage, hard-hitting, bombastic beat-downs that lay the groundwork for the always-amped up Redneck James Brown. To be the drummer for Kid Rock, you need more than chops; Stef brings RNR attitude, style, and a swagger that supplements the big-top revival, traveling circus that creeps through the backwoods and blue-line tributaries of Americana.
Not a bad gig for a "chick" to land, but like most accomplished artists, Stef spent her formative years cutting her teeth and paying her dues. Hotel bars, cruise ships, prisons: Stef played them all, performing pop covers for anyone willing to listen...and pay. Those who have worked with her know: being handpicked by The Kid wasn't some token selection Being black and a woman marks percussionists as unique, but at the end of the day you gotta bring it--and how she's shined! Needless to say, Stef don't "hit like a girl!"
To say she's "one of the guys" is an understatement; Stef's a card-carrying member of the TBTB--one of the baddest collectives around. When not performing with her brotherhood, she composes commercial jingles, dabbles in sound design, and writes soundtracks for film adaptation--a lifelong passion. A collaboration with writer, Rayya Elias, is in the works, as her memoir, Harley Loco, is being shopped to premium cable for development and distribution.
What a ride it's been! Decadent, hell-raising, hard-driving debauchery: TOMMY LEE has established himself as the uber-showman of the hard rock & heavy metal circuit. The Crue may be retiring, but Tommy continues to push the envelope of what live drumming entails. While he hits the skins with reckless abandon, it's Tommy's knack for experimentation and innovation and early embrace of social & emerging media that more accurately define him.
All these years later, Tommy Lee continues to exemplify Motley Crue with his death-defying, devil-be-damned mentality he's delivered since Day 1, when he formed Motley Crue with bassist, Nikki Sixx, in 1981. Together, the Crue set off the next wave of California dreaming, as rock bands with stars in their eyes hightailed it to the Sunset Strip to benefit from the gold rush. Suddenly every label was looking for the next Motley Crue: dangerous and destructive. Glam metal! Only in a world where grit and fear are beautiful. Crue shows operated on a level of (barely) controlled chaos, as they mixed powerful, ear-splitting performances with elevated theatrics.
Being from Detroit, when we think of The Bad Boys, the Pistons of the early 80's come to mind. Outside of professional sports, however, around the same time, another Crue was staking their claim, selling out arenas and earning championships of a different sort. Tommy's memoir, Tommyland (published in 2004), provides an intimate, brutally candid glimpse into the inner workings of one of modern rock's most notorious bands.
Cutting edge, cultivation of expressive personality, and genre-bending interpration of percussion performance: that's Tommy Lee--carver and currator of his own influencial nitche. Tommy has all the talent in the world, but it's his incorporation of technology and thirst to create spectacle that puts him on a platform with no peers. While we're looking forward to his future EDM/DJ projects, collaborations with peers (like Billy Corgan), and session work coming out of his base of operations, Atrium Studio, but there's no down-playing his last-ever show in the D with The Crue. Take my word, we can throw one helluva funeral service. Bring on the Cruecifly!
With all the theatrics--the guillotine, the electric chair, the ominous vibe exuded by none other than The Godfather of Shock Rock, himself--it's still impossible to keep your eyes off GLEN SOBEL at an Alice Cooper gig. Even with Cooper's patented macabre spectacle, which merges rock performance and twisted live nightmare-fantasy theater, it's the freak behind the kit that draws you in.
Simply put, Glen is a pure percussive beast. It's hard to imagine him sitting still, his limbs relieved of perpetual motion. It's a tribute to the showmanship and professionalism of Alice Cooper to enlist a drummer with not only the proficiency and technical ability but also the primal instincts Glen provides. The Coop is the best at what he does, and working with him for the past 4 years has undoubtedly shaped Glen and provided exposure and opportunity to elevate him to the rare air breathed by rock's elite.
Playing drums since the age of 11, Glen got his start as a kid from LA, playing in community marching bands and jazz ensembles. A hotshot on the circuit after graduating, Glen won several contests, which raised his profile and increased his networking cred. In addition to landing the dream gig with Cooper, Glen has performed in support of legends such as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Rob Halford, Michael McDonald, and Robbie Krieger. "Light My Fire," indeed!
Glen is a master clinician, always grinding and filling in blank spaces on his calendar. In addition to session work, impromptu drop-in jams with fellow rock royalty on small club stages, and cultivating business relationships, Glen satisfies his teaching-itch by providing private lessons via Skype. One thing we admire most about Glen Sobel is his social media presence. Beyond promoting his projects and endeavors, Glen uses Facebook, twitter, instagram, and YouTube to keep his fan base and fellow drummers in the loop. Such access is refreshing.
It's safe to say that Dave Grohl learned more about leading a band--both what to do and what to avoid--during his time working with Kurt Cobain in Nirvana. While many consider Grohl one of the finest drummers of his generation, the Foo Fighters continue to dominate the airwaves and dazzle sold-out stadium crowds across the globe, in large part due to the drumming of TAYLOR HAWKINS.
Since he joined the Foo Fighters in 1997, fresh off a gig as Alanis Morissette's touring drummer, Hawkins has incrementally assumed more responsibility in the band, rising to the role of lead Grohl confidant, collaborator, and rough demo co-pilot. Together, they routinely meet to assemble the skeletal structures of new music prior to the rest of the band arriving to flesh out finite terrain. Parlaying these experiences, Hawkins has blossomed not only as an adventurous drummer but also as a confident band leader of several side projects, in the spirit channeled by Grohl years ago when he laid the foundation of the Foos, in between Nirvana production and performance commitments.
Have no worry, The Birds of Satan (an off-shoot of Chevy Metal) and, before that, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders aren't diversions from the Foo Fighters, who are riding high on their groundbreaking RockDoc and supporting concept album, Sonic Highways. These side gigs are passion projects and serve as opportunities to explore new terrain, evolve as an artist, and bring more creative insight to the Foos table when the band reconvenes.
Hawkins is an amazing drummer who plays with energy, precision, and panache. Growing up in Laguna Beach, CA, Hawkins had ambitions to be one of the best drummers in the world. Although he's not chasing that title anymore, his body of work speaks for itself.
It turns out, he's also an amazing singer and arranger of songs. Check out "Pieces of the Puzzle," a song Hawkins wrote, drums on, and sings for The Birds of Satan . He cites Phil Collins (Genesis), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Roger Taylor (Queen), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), and Neil Peart (Rush) as his biggest influences. Interesting company: none of these drummers took a backseat, content to be confined to the throne, for their legendary bands.
Let's just get this outta the way, straight up: yes,
BEN THATCHER has been known to stage dive, surf the crowd, bond with the sweaty people fortunate enough to be up front on the floor, return to his kit, and pound out an epic denouement to an extended jam--all without missing a beat.
Comprising 1/2 of of the dynamic duo, Royal Blood, Thatcher has been generating massive buzz since arriving on the scene in 2013. In just a few short years, he and singer/bassist, Mike Kerr, have become easily the most critically acclaimed new band out of Britain and have collected high praise from the BRIT Awards and Kerrang! Media icon Howard Stern is an avid supporter, along with rock legend, Jimmy Page, who calls the Royal Blood experience, "absolutely riveting." Page went on to proclaim that the two-piece is "taking rock into a new realm." Now, that's an endorsement!
It's difficult to fathom the energy and eclectic arrangements of sounds Royal Blood generate during a live show. Minimal stage setup. Band of 2. Maximum output, more indicative of a 5-piece in full flight. Thatcher's thunderous assault on the skins perfectly compliments Kerr's other-worldly wall of sounds--accomplished with triggers, effects, and alternate tunings, set into motion by playing his 4-string bass. You can't truly appreciate and begin to understand what Royal Blood are unless you've experienced them live.
Whether performing a full set in intimate theaters and or building their presence at the largest festivals (Glastenbury, Reading, Leeds, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Governors Ball),
Royal Blood continue to gain momentum and collect accolades. Thatcher will accomplish another milestone this summer, as Royal Blood opens for Foo Fighters on their stadium tour of the US and UK. In addition to Foos-founder, Dave Grohl, Thatcher counts Chad Smith (RHCP) as one of his biggest drumming influences, aside from his brother-in-law, who introduced him to some great rock drummers at an influential age.
RICH REDMOND is not only one of the most inspiring and motivational musicians we've met, he's also one of the most generous. A genuine rock n' roller at heart, Rich is one of the most dominant drummers in the business today. Speaking of business, Rich is a hard working entrepreneur who's branding instincts serve as a best-practice model for his professional peers looking to diversify their music empire and capitalize on their niche.
While his bread and butter gig entails drumming for one of the world's most successful recording and touring artists, country superstar Jason Aldean,
Rich Redmond isn't one to rest on his laurels. The #1 singles, sold out shows, and late-night & awards show gigs are opportunities to savor the spoils all the discipline and dedication that practice-room rudiments, tireless transcription, and constant repetition afford. Yet, for a man with an insatiable appetite and mind for music, the motor never stops. No park. No neutral. Just different levels of drive.
Realizing a corporate and educational need for authentic, participatory, feel-good, motivational events, he created the Rich Redmond CRASH Course for Success. Using personal stories and entertaining anecdotes focusing on the universal themes of Commitment, Relationships, Attitude, Skill, & Hunger, Rich models what it takes to be successful, whether in business or education, to leaders of commerce and students assembled at their schools across the nation.
Playing to his strengths of socializing and networking, Rich created a week-end long, VIP, immersive drumming experience for percussionists of all levels interested in intimate workshops and clinics with an all-star cast of professional, guest clinicians. Convening each Fall in Nashville (Rich's base of operations), the CRASH with Rich Drummer's Weekend has generated favorable reviews from those interested in a high-end, productive experience. Together with his longtime collaboration crew (and Aldean rhythm section & session musicians), The 3 Kings, Rich mentors up-and-coming recording artists, serving as a producer and songwriter via his studio production company, New Voice Entertainment. Hard to believe that a man with so many hats can wear them all so well. Now, that's inspiring!