Bobby Jarzombek, probably best known as the time keeper for British metal legend Rob Halford, is the epitome of a laid back, good natured, friendly Texan. But put a pair of drum sticks in this man's hands and watch Dr. Jeckyl turn into Mr. Hyde. Jarzombek's skill level behind the kit is truly frightening and anyone that's ever seen or heard him play can only echo the Metal God's sentiments who calls Bobby "the best heavy metal drummer I know."
Jarzombek was born and raised in San Antonio, TX and grew up in a very musical family. Picking up the drums at age 10 ("my mom bought me a $14.- kit from Sears for Christmas..."), Bobby soon started jamming with his two brothers, Ralph and Ronnie, and eventually hit the club scene by the time he was a high school senior. Quickly developing into one of the hottest drummers in town, he then joined local up-and-comers, Juggernaut, with whom he made his official recording debut, aptly titled 'Baptism Under Fire', in 1986. A second album followed but by then Bobby had already been tapped to join seminal New York metal band Riot for their CBS comeback release, 'Thundersteel', a power metal milestone that also yielded an MTV video in 'Bloodstreets.'
As a member of Riot, Jarzombek toured throughout the US, Europe and Japan and recorded a total of 5 studio and 2 live albums, including 'The Privilege Of Power', an eclectic semi-concept album featuring the Tower Of Power horns (!) and other special guests, 'Nightbreaker' ('94), which signaled the arrival of new vocalist Mike DiMeo, and 1998's 'Shine On!', recorded live in Japan. During that time, Bobby's signature drum style, a unique blend of absolute power, dazzling chops, imagination, and creativity, became an integral part of the Riot sound, so much so that after departing the band early into the 'Brethren Of The Long House' sessions, he was persuaded to rejoin in time for 1997's 'Inishmore.'
In the mid 90's, Bobby also reconnected with his younger brother, cult guitar hero Ron Jarzombek of WatchTower fame. Joined by Riot bassist Pete Perez, the duo formed Spastic Ink (as in "crazy, written-out music"), a post-progressive all-instrumental outfit whose 'anything goes'-approach - as evident on their highly touted 1997 debut disc, 'Ink Complete' - owes as much to the spirit of Zappa and Carl Stalling as it does to the brothers' early prog heroes such as UK and Rush. It is also a reflection of Bobby Jarzombek's philosophy as someone who has always considered himself "a musician first - without regard for stylistic boundaries."
However, it was his prowess as a metal drummer that would elevate Bobby's career to a whole new level when in the fall of 1999 he was asked to submit a package to former Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford whose new project was deep into the pre-production phase but lacked that last vital link. Halford was more than impressed after what the singer later described as "seeing a videotape of the sickest drum solo I've seen in my life. It takes a lot to impress me 'cause I've been around the block! I knew Bobby from Riot but had never seen him play live. He's like an illusionist on the drum kit. It's effortless and entertaining, and he's just brilliant." A few weeks later, Jarzombek found himself at a Los Angeles recording studio laying down drum tracks for what would become the Metal God's triumphant, Roy Z-produced return to former glory with 'Resurrection.'
In the wake of 'Resurrection', Bobby experienced the highs of touring big venues in North and South America as support to Iron Maiden, including a sold out show at New York's Madison Square Garden, jammed with Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate in London and Rudolf Schenker in Hanover, delivered the goods in front of 250'000 crazed fans at 'Rock In Rio III' in Brazil - since documented on Halford's 'Live Insurrection' double CD - and was voted '#1 drummer 2000' by the readers of Japanese metal bible, Burrn!, in recognition of his work on 'Rez.' And then there was that surreal rock star moment of being rushed to a Sting concert in Chile with a full police escort and blaring sirens...
2002 saw the release Halford's blazing sophomore release, 'Crucible', whose multi-dimensional textures gave Bobby a chance to stretch creatively in ways its predecessor 'Resurrection' only hinted at. America's foremost authority on all things percussion, Modern Drummer Magazine, called the album "a stunning slab of metal, and Bobby Jarzombek's drumming is a prime reason. On propulsive scorchers like 'Betrayal' (which begins with a dazzling mini-solo), 'Heretic' and 'Handing Out Bullets', the drummer shows astonishing power and precision. The Metal God knows how to pick 'em." On the live front, Halford tore it up with several European summer festival appearances, and Jarzombek also lent his talents to John West's 'Earthmaker' album, and had the honor of co-headlining 'DrumFest' in Mexico City. Last but not least, Bobby tackled a project near and dear to his heart, 'Performance & Technique', his first ever drum video, put together over the span of several months in San Antonio and his new home, Los Angeles.
Released in February 2003 and available through bobbyjarzombek.com and other select outlets, 'Performance & Technique' spotlights Bobby's unique approach to drumming and features two free-form solos, footage of a Riot-era drum solo performed live in Japan, and full-length performances of the Latin-flavored 'So It Ain't!' as well as 'Peppered Cancer' and 'School', two new songs co-written and recorded with Ron Jarzombek on guitar.
The new year promises to be another busy one for Jarzombek. After a successful return visit to Japan in February in support of 'Crucible' and the just released 'Fourging The Furnace EP', Halford are gearing up for a full-fledged tour under the '2003 Metal Gods World Tour' banner in the spring. In addition, Bobby will be powering Halford band mate Metal Mike Chlasciak's new outfit, Pain Museum, whose debut CD is due out later this year, and he can be heard on 6 tracks on the highly anticipated Spastic Ink sophomore disc, 'Ink Compatible', that's sure to be one of the most talked about prog releases of 2003. Stay tuned.