\"There are no unknown Wackerman drummers that I\'m aware of, unless they\'re hiding out in Europe... The grand total of drummers in my family would be four: my brothers John, and Chad, me, and my dad.\"
You took drum lessons with some famous teachers including jazz great Chuck Flores and Murray Spivack, who helped shaping the concepts of teaching hand development, snare drum and drum set technique in the 20th century. To what extend have their expertises influenced you?
\"Both Murray and Chuck have influenced my playing tremendously. I learned my technique, speed and hand control from Murray and my cordination from Chuck. All of that constitutes my playing style, so I wouldn\'t play the way that I do had I not studied with them.
Actually, every session or band that I\'ve been involved in has its own unique style or personality. Playing with Tenacious D was amazing, mainly because it had dirty comedy and I was a fan of their music long before I joined. Bad Religion has incredible song writers as well as politically driven songs that are inspiring. I\'ve been fortunate enuff to have the freedom to add my personality to most of the musical adventures that I\'ve participated in.
Is there anything you would like to learn or to develop more as a musician?
\"No, I think I\'ve learned everything - just kidding, of course there will always be patterns that I\'ll be working on eternally. Ostinatos being one that is an endless practice and I\'ll always be going through stick control and accents and rebounds. I\'ll be taking those to the grave.\"
You replaced Bad Religion\'s drummer Bobby Schayer in 2001. Bobby was loved by many fans worldwide and he had been with the band for a long time. Did that make it difficult to join Bad Religion?
\"Bobby and I are two different drummers and I respect everything that he has played on. We both approach the music differently and the guys in my band knew this before they hired me. I can see how fans might find change difficult, but I feel that I\'ve been in this band long enuff for the fans\' acceptance.\"
What have you learned from playing with Bad Religion? You were already quite experienced when you joined them.
\"I think they taught me how to be a more \'mature player\'. I feel that my parts are more song worthy than before. Working and analyzing with how they craft the songs has inspired me to shape my drum parts better.\"
Punkrock seems to be a true passion for you. Why?
\"I feel attracted to its aggressive nature, the message in the lyrics, and the energy of the live shows.\"
Bad Religion songs are fast. Sometimes incredibly fast, with you playing thirty-second-notes on the kick drum. Though it might sound like sacrilege to some narrow-minded old school punkrockers, you even use a double-bass pedal sometimes. Can you respond to that?
\"I\'ve always used a double pedal since the dawn of my time. To me it\'s the extra frosting on the cake. Whenever I need some added sugar I just wiggle my feet together.\"
You\'ve stated to never play the same fill because you like to see what else you can come up with. That may be a great way to develop as a drummer, but pretty hard for the other guys in your band. How do the other band members respond to that?
\"Well that statement is partially true... There are some songs that I do the same fill every night and other times where it\'s more improvisational. Whenever it\'s a fill that has a hook in it I\'ll always repeat it, but I know when it\'s appropriate. My singer will look back at me if it he feels that I\'m going off into a Latin fantasy fill.\"
\'New Maps of Hell\'
It took Bad Religion about three years to start recording the new album \'New Maps of Hell\', which has been picked as release of the month on Drummerszone. What did you do in the meantime?
\"Well, I was working with tenacious D for most of last year, as well as doing various sessions. I also recorded a new project called Kidneys where I performed all the instruments myself, but I have a live band too, with Tony Palermo on drums. Whoever\'s interested can check us out on myspace.com/Kidneys. I hope to be touring with Kidneys in the near furture. We have a show in Hollywood for Setember. We\'ll see where we go from there.
Touring with Tenacious D was incedibly funny for obvious reasons by the way. I really liked learning Dave Grohl\'s parts, who I\'m a big fan of. We\'re coming out with a live dvd from Seattle in the fall, so be on the look out.\"
Could you give us some details about the stuff you\'ve played on for \'New Maps of Hell\'?
\"I use DW drums, Vater drumsticks, Zildjian symbals and Protection Racket drum cases. I put Evans G2 clears on the toms. The snare got an ST coated head, my kick an EQ4 head. My studio set up is the exact same as my life set up: 18x22\" kick drum, 8x10, 10x12, 12x14, 14x16 toms. I can\'t remember all the snares but I know we used a 5.5x14\" DW Bamboo and a few Ludwig Black Beauties. On the song An Honest Goodbye I did use a 26\" kick which was monstrous, but did the job.\"
In what ways does \'New Maps of Hell\', Bad Religion\'s fourteenth album, differ from their 2004 album \'The Empire Strikes First\'?
\"I think the songwriting is better and it\'s more reminiscent of some of our earlier work. Some songs sound like a train falling off it\'s tracks but the sound is still cohesive. I think we sound younger, which is good for the our older image.\"
You co-wrote three songs on \"The Empire Strikes First\" (The Quickening, Beyond Electric Dreams, and All There Is). Why not on the new album, on which all songs are written by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz?
\"Honestly I was touring so much with Tenacious D that I couldn\'t really focus on song writing for this record. I hope to write on the next one, since songwriting is one of my passions. Greg and Brett are both fantastic song writers. Brett\'s songs are a little more poetic and Greg\'s are more scientific.\"
Could you tell us a bit about the recording process for the new record?
\"For \'The Empire Strikes First\' Brett Gurewitz and I started demoing songs at Brett\'s house, where has he has a little studio set up there with a Roland V-Drum kit and Pro Tools. We did the same demoing approach with this record. Usually we work out the parts on ideas that he has or sometimes an idea will form from a drum part. Greg works on his songs in New York. So he\'ll send out his demos and we\'ll formulate parts around that. Before we step into to the studio we have a two week pre-production rehearsal to practice and arrange the songs.\"
What is your favorite studio in which to track drums? Why is it your favorite?
\"I really enjoyed working at Grand Master Studios which is where we recorded \'New Maps Of Hell\'. I like it because it\'s a tighter sounding drum room. For this style of drumming I prefer a smaller room or else the sound will get lost.\"
What is the most important thing that every drummer should know about recording drums in the studio?
\"Well, 9 time out of 10 you\'ll be recording with a click track. It could be your best friend or your nemesis. So I always encourage drummers to do their home work with mr. and mrs. click.\"
How do you prepare for a show?
\"I do a lot of yoga, but I know when I\'m pushing or over-exerting myself too hard, so I\'m cautious. Usually I\'ll stretch for 10 minutes and warm up for 20 minutes by playing random rudiments at a slow speed, then eventually increasing.\"
Mike Fassano was your drum tech in the studio. Could you explain what he in what ways he has helped you?
\"Mike has great ear for tuning and knows which snare will sound the best on any paticular style of song. My live tech is a dude named Rhino, who has the same skills in a live setting.\"
In 2005 you participated on \'Drum Duets\', playing with your brother John Wackerman. How do you look back on that experience?
\"It was awesome! It was a very relaxed session and John let me play with no restrictions. We plan on doing it again this year for volume 2. Keep an eye out!\"
You\'re also playing guitar and singing. What are the chances of you releasing a solo debut? How will it sound like?
\"Well, I have already released two records with Hot Potty that were offically released in Japan. For anyone that\'s interested: I\'m selling one of them on our Hot Potty MySpace site. I will be releasing a brand new record with Kidneys in the fall - also through our MySpace page.\"
Tony Palermo of Ten Foot Pole, Good Riddance and Unwritten Law fame, is Hot Potty\'s regular drummer. Do you let Tony come up with his own drum parts, or do you discuss them? After all, you\'re Hot Potty\'s bandleader :-)
\"It\'s a little of both. There are some parts that need to be played the same as the recorded version, and then other times Tony will bring his flavor into the mix.\"
Josh Freese was also participating at one time, right?
\"Indeed, on the last Hot Potty record entitled \'One Step Closer To Broadway\', Josh played on the first song called Malaise. I never thought in a million years that I would strap a guitar on while Josh is playing drums on my record.\"
Hot Potty has lent tour support for Bad Religion. Wasn\'t it weird to perform first as a frontman and then switch to the drums, providing a solid backbone?
\"The main and ongoing challenge for me is fronting a band, since I don\'t do it regularly. I was very excited at the time to be doing both, so my adrenaline kept me going. It was a smooth transition for me.\"
Just our of curiousity: which three albums did you buy last?
\"1: The new Korn record because I played on it and was anxious to hear how it came out. I\'m out on tour at the moment and I couldn\'t wait.
2: \'Icky Thump\' by The White Stripes. I bought it because I\'ve always loved their previous work and the single that I heard, Icky Thump, had me dancing in my house, so I couldn\'t resist.
3: Jimmy Chamberlin\'s solo record. I have been a huge fan of his - starting in my high school years. His work with Smashing Pumpkins is stellar and this record shows a little bit more of his fusion side, almost Tony Williams-esque. I love it!\"
Thanks a lot for your cooperation! Any last words to add?
\"I think it\'s great that you guys provide a forum for drummers to read interviews and become educated on the instrument... Kudos to the zone!\"
»» Listen to Bad Religion\'s \'New Maps of Hell\' - release of the month!
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