Daniel Hans Erwin Zimmermann (Nurnburg, 1967) started to play the drums when he was twelve years old. Daniel received lessons from Michael Demmerle and Peter Giger, known from the "Family of Percussion". From 1988 to 1990 he studied Jazz at the Frankfurt Music College. From 1991 to 1992 he studied at the American Institute of Music in Vienna and received lessons from Jeff Boudreaux.
Dan Zimmermann played with the Comedy Rock band Heinz and then in a band called Lanzer. He made contact with Gamma Ray when he was recording the Lanzer's CD at Kai Hansen's Studio. Dan also started playing drums at Iron Savior after Thomen Stauch left them. In 1999 Dan was replaced by Thomas Nack.
In 1996 both had changed positions in Gamma Ray as well.
After his departure from Iron Savior Zimmerman formed his own band: Freedom Call.
Zimmermann names Simon Phillips, Tommy Aldridge and Dean Castronovo as musical influences.
Official bio from Dan Zimmerman's own web site:
It all started in 1976, when I was ten years old. An older cousin of mine already played the drums. When I saw him play for the first time, a passion awoke within me. From that day on, it was my aim to buy a drum kit as well one day. I started saving all my money. It was also my cousin who taught me the first grooves and fills. I watched him at his rehearsals as many times as I could, and he also allowed me to play his kit every now and then bought my first pair of drum sticks, of which I was especially proud, and I started to play drums on old buckets and on used "dash" boxes. Then, after a long period of saving money a dream came true: I had the money together and was allowed to buy the long awaited drum kit. I had also found a suitable rehearsal room because at our home there was no room where I could have rehearsed. My first ever set was a pearl coloured Rimmel drum kit and cost DM 800. Rimmel was an old German manufacturer. As far as I know you can't buy their drum sets anymore. Well, I have never seen any of them again when I went to music shops or trade fairs. From then on I played to records of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Blackfoot, Motorhead, Kiss and AC/DC, which turned out as a real training of timing, i. e. to develop a feeling for the speed and the time. I had to deal with the subject of different speeds for the first time and learned a bit how to pay attention to bass, guitars and vocals. Later, when you play in a band, this is absolutely vital. Especially the drummer should be able to follow his fellow musicians and of course vice versa. This is the best presupposition to play together, i. e. to play tight. The drummer should always know at what part of the song (verse, bridge, chorus etc.) he is, and that without counting. In order to get there, you have to develop a hearing for melodies and harmonies, and you have to learn how to keep guitar riffs and vocal lines in mind. You can certainly train that, you just have to do it. If the drummer is too busy counting during a song, he can't react to his fellow musicians anymore and he will never be tight. Apart from that, as soon as he gets lost with his counting, he completely loses his concept and doesn't know in which part of the song he is at the moment. That should never happen !
My absolute drum hero at this time was Clive Burr, the first Iron Maiden drummer. To me he was a genious and Istill admire his drumming. I was lucky to see him live on stage two times, in 1981 and 1982. I will never forget these shows and his performance.
After I took drum lessons and after a short period of time I had my first ever band called Metal Maniacs, which was made up of pupils from Nurnberg. We wrote our first songs, recorded our first demo and soon after that played our first gig at a summer fest at our school. From that day on I knew that playing in a concert is something really special, and I was eager for more. At the age of 16 I had my key experience: I saw Tommy Aldridge playing drums. At that time he was playing for Ozzy Osbourne band, together with Jake E. Lee, Bob Daisley and Don Airey, and they were supporting Whitesnake. I was totally stunned and impressed by the performance of Tommy Aldridge (especially his drumsolo and his movements) and I decided to rehearse even more in order to be able to play like him one day and tour all over the world. From then on I had two drum heros and later on there was another one, Simon Phillips. It is still a pleasure for me to listen to these three drum legends.
In the age of 17 I joined a band called Dynasty from my home town Nuremberg, a band with good musicians, great original songs and many gigs. I learned a lot from these guys. I met Jörg Deisinger (Ex bass player of Bonfire). He left the band after a couple of month to join Bonfire. Two years later I got the chance to play an audition for Bonfire too. They were looking for a new drummer after recording their second album in 1988. I didn't get the job and was totally disappointed and I doubted my abilities as a drummer. I had to admit to myself that my level of drumming was not good enough to play in the professional scene and there are many drummers who had more experience and a higher level than me. "One day my time will come" I said to myself and I decided to not give up. I rehearsed even more. After I finished school and done my social service I got my first ever engagement in a cover band called China White. In this band I first met Chris Bay. In the South of Germany, where I come from there is quite a strong cover scene and you can, play live a lot, if your band is good enough. You can make your expieriences and of course you can also earn quite good money that way. The live performance is a very important part of the development of a musician. Only live on stage can you become really good. The adrenalin is there, the stage fright, the presence of the audience, different hearing and sound conditions as well, and these things make it much harder to get the performance across to the audience. In the rehearsal room it is always much easier to play.
During these years with the coverbands I often played up to 130 shows per year, which was a great school for me and brought me a big step further. Without these experiences I'm sure that I wouldn't be where I am today.
But I wanted to learn even more, especially about other styles of music. So I went to a jazz school in Frankfurt called Frankfurter Musikwerkstatt and learnt the basics of Jazz and Latin music (South american styles of music such as Samba or Bossa Nova and cuban styles like Mambo or Songo rhythms). That seemed to be a bit too one dimensional to me however to do it all the time, because I have never felt like a Jazz drummer and so I quit the school after two years. I really wanted to get a wide knowledge and so went to Vienna to attend the American Institute of Music. That school was kind of a branch of the MI in Los Angeles. A few former teachers of the MI had decided to open a similar school in Europe. So the majority of teachers who were teaching at this school were american. The school unfortunately doesn't exist anymore nowadays. My drum teacher was called Jeff Boudreaux and was from New Orleans. With him as a teacher, I learnt very intensively and widely everything about Funk, Fusion (a mixture of different kinds of music), Latin, Jazz and Rock drumming and mainly just how to rehearse as well as about the psychology of drumming. He was an excellent well-experienced drummer and good teacher. He was very demanding, especially as regards discipline and the right attitude.
During the time at the school I used to play several hours a day. I had a rehearsal programm of a very wide range, which was due to the huge syllabus. We had a wide range of classes during the week: hand technique, pedal technique, drum solos, Latin-, Funk-, Fusion-, Rock- and Jazz drumming, psychology, sight reading (i. e. playing while reading notes from the paper), eartraining, harmony and theory, piano lessons, superlearning (i. e. methods to learn faster) as well as the different performance classes of Jazz, Fusion and Rock. Every student was given a new Jazz, Fusion and Rock song at the beginning of every week which he had to learn. At the end of the week the students met with their performance classes in the concert hall of the school and everybody had to play his songs with a band on a stage and in front of an audience. With that, I had a huge advantage because of my live experiences with the cover bands which the other students did not have, because I knew what it was like to play on a stage and also the learning of new songs in general was not really difficult for me anymore. The teachers could see who made which progress and gave good advice. Also in Vienna I played in a couple of bands, a metal band with original songs that was called Murdock, a rock cover band called Freak Show together with my fellows Stefan Hiemer, Milan Polak (latest guitar player of Falco), Lale Larson and Martin Schmitt. Both bands were formed by AIM students. In summer 1992 we played several club shows and festivals, especially the famous festival on the island in the river Donau called "Donauinselfest". After one year a beautiful but hard time came to an end. In order to get my degree, the professional diploma, I had to put a band together and study nine different songs, each of them of a different style of music - Jazz, Fusion, Funk, Latin, Rock plus a number of different drum solos, and I had to perform these in the concert hall of the school then in front of an audience. The "show" was announced in magazines and newspapers. When I got my qualification then, my teacher said to me "don't ever do anything else than playing drums", which was great to hear from my own teacher and so really good for my self esteem of course. During that one year I often was close to the point where I wanted to give up and study something else. The reason for that was I wanted to do too many things at the same time, and I approached the studies in the wrong way. You can't be perfect at everything. And it took me a while to find out about that. Especially as a young musician it is really important to learn a lot and experiment many things, the more you do the better it will be. However, you should never forget who you are and where your talents are located, and what you intend doing. You should really listen to your inner feelings and not let other people impress you with things you haven't got much to do with. As far as I'm concerned, there was a while when I kept thinking that I could really become a great Jazz drummer, but then I realized that I was much better at playing and especially at feeling Rock music. At some stage you reach the point when you should let grow what you have learnt and eventually develop your own style. The bigger the knoweldge and the musical range of a musician is, the more influences he can make use of at the development of his own style, and the more interesting his playing gets.
When I finished school, I went back to Nuremberg. I spent the next few years rehearsing and also joined a comedy rock band called Heinz from Erlangen and in September 1993 a cover band called Lanzer. Around that time, I also started to take lessons with Bodo Schopf. His name might ring a bell with some of you, especially those of you who play drums themselves. Bodo used to play with McAuley Schenker Group, Udo Lindenberg, The Sweet just to mention a few. It was him who taught me another very important basic rule. Train your weak side as much as your strong side. Give yourself as much time for the left as for the right hand and foot. He showed me a lot of interesting effective things concerning that subject.
With Lanzer we went in to Hansen Studios then in the autumn of 1993 to record the second album Under a different sun. On that occassion I met Dirk Schlächter as you all know, as he was the producer and the sound enginieer in one person. We got on quite well right from the beginning and so the basis was laid for me to join GammaRay a few years later. Jeff Boudreaux always said to us: "When you go in the business, your abilities and your knoweldge counts only 50%, because everybody is expecting them anyway and taking for granted that you are good. The remaining 50% are personal contacts, connections and the crucial bit of good luck to have success." After three years with Lanzer I was fed up with the permanent covering all the time. The chance to interpret the cover songs on the drums in my own way had helped me to stay alive for a few years, but then I got to the point where I was even thinking about giving up playing completely, and I was particularly fed up with the band. I was really frustrated and started asking myself whether this was everything, whether my whole life was meant to be nothing than just being a cover musician. So I left the band. A short while later I was told that Gamma Ray were looking for a new drummer, the chance to make my dream come true!
From December 1996 to February 1997 I practised very concentrated and intensivly. Dirk Schlächter sent over a tape with old and new songs to learn, mainly fast double bass songs so I knew what was expected. I definitely wanted to have this job and I wanted to be prepared as good as possible.
Finally the audition day came. I was absolutely sure of myself and so I was very optimistic when I left for Hamburg. I didn't put pressure on myself. I said to myself: "Try to give your best. If you get the job - great, if not it was at least a try". The audition went well for me. I played and sweated like hell. Especially one of the new songs at this time called "Somewhere out in space" brought me to my limit. The energy of Dirk and Kai impressed me a lot and pushed me forward. I didn't know before, that I was able to play like I did in this audition. After a few songs we figured out, that we fed together well and so I got the job I had dreamed of for such a long time.
Two days later we started the production of my first Gamma Ray studio album called Somewhere out in space. In the following years I went out on tour many times with Gamma Ray, Kingdom Come and Iron Savior. We toured in Europe, Asia and South America, USA and Canada. In 1998 I recorded two albums, one with Lenny Wolf's soloproject and one with Iron Savior (to see titles view discography). At the beginning of 1998 I formed my own band called Freedom Call together with my mate from the old China White days Chris Bay. Until now I have released 4 regular studio albums (1997, 1999, 2001 and 2005), one "Best of" (2000) , one "Live" album (2003) and several singles and compilation samplers with Gamma Ray and also 4 regular studio albums (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2005), one live album (2004) and one mini album (1999) with Freedom Call. During these years of touring and recording with all these bands I learned a lot about studio drumming, live performance and especially about myself. Kai Hansen gave me the chance to have a look at studio work, song writing, arrangement and writing lyrics. I never stopped learning. This is another basic rule for a drummer. Always try to be open for other styles of music, watch other drummers with different styles too. This should give you new inspiration and motivation. My personal highlight was the European tour with Gamma Ray supporting Iron Maiden during their "Dance of Death" tour in autum 2003. I was stunned by their huge production and their professionality. I got many unforgetable impressions from this tour. Playing once in the sold-out Olympic Sports Hall in Munich is something very special and probably won't come back again in my career.