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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2001.MM.DD - DW Drums - Interview with Brain

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2001.MM.DD - DW Drums - Interview with Brain Empty 2001.MM.DD - DW Drums - Interview with Brain

Post by Blackstar Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:46 pm

Interviewer: Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm here with Brain... from Guns N' Roses... an' I wanna to talk to him a little bit about rock n' roll drumming… I think the first question I have is how do you approach…a studio situation versus a live.. situation?

Brain: Well... ya know li..I mean live.. it's…I..I try to approach them actually the same. Because I think if you can…do that…cause live you get…you get more energy and you get, ya know like your adrenaline gets pumped because there's a crowd…but an' then, ya know, your performance is better because of that…because you're psyched to play... you're psyched to just ya know do the gig just, ya know there's a bunch of girls out there or somethin'. But ya know in the studio, I try to recreate the same thing because I… whatever you play…whatever you play…basically a studio, all it is is just putting up some mic's in front of the…who you are, what you are, what you do. So…I try to approach it the same way, where I try to get all the energy I can feel like it's a live situation where I wanna rip... and shred…because then it'll come out on the tape... and if you can get that performance it's there forever…and then, ya know, it's the greatest thing that to listen back and love what you've actually done. So…I actually try to approach it the same. I try to make a vibe in the studio that is conducive that makes me feel like I wanna play. The same way as live when there's a bunch of people there. So maybe I'll put up posters of…ya know…my heroes…ya know like Tony Williams and then Bruce Lee and Robert DeNiro or somethin' ya know and I'll look at them while I'm playing….Anna Kournikova (laughing)

Interviewer: Do those non-drumming influences, influence your playing?

Brain: Oh yeah…totally…I mean, ya know, there's only a few…there's only like…ya know a handful of drummers that I…I still listen to daily that…ya know really in… make me wanna play drums…ya know…I mean, nowadays…it's…ya know such a different vibe with computers and drum machines that it's a different feeling, ya know. When I listen to Timbaland or somethin' an' I listen to his programming, I wanna program…ya know, when I listen…when I put on ya know Buddy Rich, I wanna play the drums. So it's different, ya know. I don't really like listen to like ya know a techno…song that I know that's been done.. totally on computers and go like.. "okay now I feel like playing the drums'. It's more like 'Whoa! What did they do?' I might wanna le..learn from it and learn rhythms but it doesn't make me wan..physically wanna play. But if I put on, ya know Vinnie Colaiuta in "Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar,"... shi…I just wanna go and start soloing... because.. ya know.. he's just ripping in that song so…

Interviewer: Do you feel like your other musical influences like jazz.. or electronic drum base whatever, effect your rock drumming, though?

Brain: Oh, totally…I mean it's..ya know I m..mean rock drumming…I remember ya know when I first started playing an' my.. teacher..umm..I was all into all these chops and I was listening ta…ya know all this jazz stuff…whether it be Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones…and he was just ya know so..soloing an' doing all this crazy stuff …and I knew how to do that... but…ya know the other side of the coin, which he was like "Well, have you ever heard, ya know, of Phil Rudd from AC/DC" ya know, "Ya know how to just rock?" And I was just like.. "Well... yeah, I guess?…I mean I think I do?"…ya know or whatever. So, I started playing and… ya know… it was like a lot easier to just…go back… instead of go…I mean..ya know…I learned all these chops an' I learned how to play the drums - jazz drumming, Latin drumming… ya know…I can play a Mozambique 8… ya know… a Baion, any kinda rhythm…you ask me a somba at… 160 or whatever ya know, I was into just playin' as fast as you can…ya know all that… when I let it…now I knew how to play, that I let it go…and I learned how to just play two n' four, make the back…back beat as solid as possible and the 8th notes on the high hats and just ya know two n' four on the cl…I mean…I mean…two n' four on the snare an just…ya know just… lay it down. It's just helped…me by..ta…now I didn't have ta… go… like go… I'm just a rock drummer and now it was…it was easier to go the other way…

Interviewer: umm-humm

Brain: …if ya know what I mean…instead of like… to learn how to read, an…an learn how ta like…play all different styles really helped my rock drumming because I could just let it go then.

Interviewer: So you think it's important to have a vocabulary?

Brain: Oh, definitely because that's the..that's the only way where you can stretch out when you want to…but ya know…ya…the the thing…and I've talked to this about when I interviewed Stewart Copeland…umm…cause he's one of my favorite rock drummers…is that…you gotta have that thing though…you gotta have…he calls it the X factor.. an we were talking about that, because.. he used ta say ya gotta..ya gotta know how to rock first of all…it's gotta be in you. I mean even if if you listen to Tony Williams…he's rockin'…the drums…ya know he's…to me he's like he's rockin' the jaz… I mean…but it's jazz but he's rockin' it.. ya know. I mean it's like…it's like... punk…ya know it's like he's playin' hard…he's he's killin' it. So it's like there's this that thing that ya gotta have…I think that… ya know you can develope… I guess…ya know wha…I mean…whatever happens when you're young and how whatever you're into.. in life or whatever.. but ya know I think that it it helped me so much to learn all those influences…learn how to read and really ya know..kno…have a…be a well rounded drummer cause then you can jus' let it go…

Interviewer: Umm huh

Brain: …And then ya know what's rad is like.. okay you are playing the Phil Rudd solid stuff and jus ya know laying down the two n' four but then ya know if there's like a good lookin' chick in the audience you can do crazy fill an' impress her so it's like it's… ya know ya have to…you have to learn everything. I…I… that's the way… that I approached it and it's worked for me… cause obviously I'm ya know…still in the business…an' still workin'.

Interviewer: What advice would you have for a young drummer coming up that wants a career in music?

Brain: I…I've said… the way…the only way I've lasted in this… is by knowing…how…being a well-rounded drummer…ya know…learning how to read, taking lessons, getting…getting into it - just learning everything you can about the craft…because… ya know you don't know…at one point…any…at any point what the situation you're gonna be in where you might have ta pull it out…ya know, so… as much as I've learned how to like… play jazz and play as quiet as possible, I practiced playin' as loud and as simple as possible…ya know…so I've learned every extremes of drumming to be able to just' ya know… and then let it go and your own personality will come out…but I think it's important.. if you just ya know… only play in a…an' I mean…how many ba…I mean…if all you do is just like… start in a band an', an' all you care about is… just like ya know going out and partying an' just playing..a..ya know a.. at clubs and not like doing your homework and practicing…ya know… I mean how many bands last more than two or three years…ya know?...but if you learn your craft you can stay in this business for…that ya know…I mean there's there's …in…forever….um there's a bunch of people doin' it… But they're all…they all know their craft… ya know.

Interviewer: How do you think you've seen your drumming evolve since you've started?

Brain: With… a certain project or just…?

Interviewer: No…just since you started playing. I mean besides… years of experience, how've you actually seen your playing evolve? What have you noticed?

Brain: Well…well I mean it's it's…it's, I mean it's…I found out like… who I am and what I can do as a drummer…so… ya know through like… I mean my the…the…the way that I've like…I…I've found out that…what kinda…what I can do and what I am…if that makes any sense. Ya know, it's just like at first when you're first starting you wanna learn everything and you wanna… ya know, like I was saying before…learn everything, but then at one point you'll throw it away. And when you throw it away and just play the way you feel and what you wanna do… that's when like, you evolve…you feel like "oh this is who I am an' this is how I play." Now when I listen… ya know, when I listen to myself, I know what I sound like…but it took years to get there by.. ya know, at first I…I'm ya know…Steve Gadd…a..I'd wanna copy him…Stewart Copeland…ah..I'd wanna copy him…a, John Bonham, I'd wanna copy him…and do that… ya know - learn. But then after you just got to let it go and ya know… just…ya know…it's that Bruce Lee saying… that I always… ya know think of is… what is ya know…but you're not suppose…don't think - feel…ya know…just like… ya know… ya just gotta go for it… ya know at one point and just say… "Okay I don't care… what… is.. being written on paper… ya just gotta play what you feel and let it come out".

Interviewer: More…specifically, what do you think is key about rock drumming?

Brain: A wi…well with rock drumming, I mean it's all about a vibe. Ya know, I mean it's all…especially live… I mean with like what I said before even in the studio, I mean…but especially live… I mean you people wanna be rocked out…ya know, they wanna they wanna like…they want "your" personality to come out… so they could feel it... on stage…ya know, I mean… that's…and that's like why it's so important… ta like I think learn everything so you can have that…you can just let go…because if you're constraint, you're never gonna be able to be yourself…ya know, if ya.. can't.. quite.. rock.. the crowd or can't.. quite.. play.. that.. particular part you wanna play…ya know, as a drummer.

Interviewer: Well maybe some other aspects of rock drumming that are important. I mean, how do you prepare for a live show…I mean it's probably pretty physically demanding? How do you protect your hands and your hearing… and, ya know…you're hitting pretty hard when you're playing that type of music?

Brain: Yeah, well with rock drumming, I mean I definitely warm up before… and I have these exercises that are very simple.. but they've totally helped me out… and those are the ones that I'm gonna ride out. Umm.. ya know.. so there's like.. these hand exercises that I do and then these feet exercises. They're very simple. They're like real basic. But if you learn to just do that before.. and, ya know, do it for a half an hour to…I usually warm up for about half an hour to forty-five minutes…that's all its really takes. Ya know, I remember reading a thing about Billy Cobham one time and he's saying that "Oh if you have if ya have to warm up…you're not a real drummer." But umm, I mean ya know to me that's.. all.. ya know.. bull crap because I mean, ya know.. I mean you gotta like protect your hands and warm up.. ya know get.. in.. ya know.. so you can…soon as you hit… you can be playing as hard as you want and strong as you want without like.. injuring yourself or jus' ya know, feel like.. comfortable behind the drums. So, ya know, warming up is a big.. for me, especially in a rock sit..situation, ya know, playing these big shows.. especially now if like.. Guns N' Roses doing this last show in a.. Rio in front of like 200,000 people.. ya know, I mean I was so nervous, I'd warmed up for like 3 hours.. ya know ,but.. Ya know it as far as hearing and stuff and the rock I.. I.. I have custom ear plugs and you know. you can.. you know.. I think it's.. "" I think is the company I got it from, ya know it's like "hear" …it's called "hear" but I think you can go on the web it's "" and its like.. they make like these custom…they they mold.. these ear plugs for your ears and they.. they give you these custom plugs so you can, ya know, protect your hearing and I have two or three different ones…I have one that are solid that completely cover.. your ear.. for like, ya know practicing. So I really…and then when you're playing with a band, I have like a 15db.. cut and a 30db cut ya know depending on how it feels an' how loud the music is. But protecting your hearing.. I mean.. ya know.. especially in the r-rock.. ya know.. when.. ya know they got Buckethead who's gotta be playing the ten different Marshall stacks right next to me, ya know.. I gotta protect 'em.. ya know.. whatever. And I, I just went to the doctors an' they said my hearing is pretty gr..great actually.. so.. I get it checked out.. cleaned out twice a… that's one.. good thing too for like your.. the.. drummers like coming up.. or one's that are.. playing a lot, is go have your hearing checked like once a year. And ya know have them cleaned out.. and whatever.. cause a lot of wax gets built up.. in your ear.. a.. from just wa..your ear wanting to protect itself.. from the sound, ya know if you're not using ear plugs or whatever so.. I always get 'em checked out an'' so I've been.. doing it now for thirty-somethin' years.

Interviewer: Talk a little bit about yer yer gear.. for yer rock gig.. I mean a.. what's.. you're playing bigger drums.. you're playing bigger cymbals..

Brain: Yeah.. ya know.. I'm playing like a twen..ya know, I mean I'm.. I'm playing bigger.. ya know, all my cymbals are 20's.. ya know.. I got 13..14-16 inch.., ya know.. maple.. a Toms... and my kick drum's bigger - 24.. ya know.. and umm.. snare drum.. I like to use like a seven and a half… or some… er.. or si..I think it's si..six and a half.. yeah six and a half.. like, ya know. metal drum.. ya know, that's different than, ya know, what I normally do. But for rock, ya know, I like to have it big and feel like there's some power behind it… so… that just sounds the best to me to have, ya know the bigger.. bigger drums.

Interviewer: So Brain…what would you say your approach is to tuning drums?

Brain: Well, it de. It de..depends on the situation but in in a rock situation.. ya know, the situation I'm in now.. I like to tune 'em a lot lower… and a lot of people, ya know, say, "well, hey it's not".. ya know.. "tuning 'em low kinda they get lost.. an', ya know, you don't get the attack." But, ya know, I mean, you get the right.. monitor system…live.. or ya know in the studio, if the engineer's good, and he knows how to like give you the right send.. an' an' the.. mon… I mean an' tha umm tha engineer live is good… I just need ta fee…in rock... I just need to have everything lower…I tune my snare lower… usually, ya know, if if I'm if I tune my snare.. like, I usually tune my snare maybe like even.. a whole step down then from what I usually would do maybe like.. doin' just ya know... I don't know…I mean like a…ad.. sess..doing an ad session or somethin' or just doin' a session, ya know they like to always hear a higher crack... but, ya know with rock... I always tune my drums.. lower… I like to have.. ya know.. with the bigger drums.. I.. I like 'em lower because I like to feel the power behind the kit when I'm playin… because.. if…the one thing I've…noticed.. is to get.. ya know the right… you have to get like the right monitor system… you have to get the right kinda.. ya know, hearing…I mean… ya know ear protection so you can hear yourself and you can feel what you're playing because.. soon as I feel.. great... soon as the drums sound great…when the drums are sounding great… then I can play so much better. So, ya know I thinks it's important to find out what you, ya know, what you guys.. like to buy…but I.. I definitely like ta make it sound powerful when I'm playing rock… so it… Kick drums, too.. I'll tune it lower.. I'll just tune everything.. I'll just do it like a little half turn.. and get it to where.. ya know.. it just feels a lot bigger.. ya know cause.. that's jus..just what I like for rock drumming.

Interviewer: …using different head combinations for rock? Or using two flat heads or…?

Brain: Well, you can experiment…yeah, you can experiment.. I mean... umm… for live... I like to use.. ya know.. the.. ya know, double.. coated emperor so I can play real hard on top, then I use the single coated embassador on the bottoms. a..In the studio I like to use the coated embassadors on top and the.. coat.. I mean.. umm then the..a…clear.. embassadors on the bottom. Snares I always, ya know, since you're playin' hard an' especially in this rock situation, ya know I like to use.. ya know, have like a maybe a black dot put on top, ya know so I can play extra hard or whatever.. but, ya know for tuning I definitely.. like to tune stuff lower in the rock situation.. just makes you feel big… ya know makes you wanna kick ass more.

Interviewer: How 'bout a…ya know when you…when you're lookin' at your drum setup.. and you're talking about flexibility of your hardware…is there anything you a…you use a lot of multi-clamps…do you have a pretty standard cymbal setup for that?

Brain: No. I mean for rock..for rock I'd…I mean.. I just use all straight stands…I like to have all my stands straight up and down and.. ya know, everything on it's own... ya know.. every, every like.. cymbal on it's own.. stand…because.. I'm playin' so hard... an' so powerful that if I have too many multi-clamp stuff, ya know…I' just…it gets weird.. ya know, cause the setups harder.. and I'm using such a s-simplistic kit now.. and, ya know, in what I'm doing it's.. ya know.. it's like... it's like four stands…four drums.. and you're rockin'.

Thanks to Gypsy for the transcription.


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