Drummerszone proudly presents an exclusive interview with Pro-Pain sticksman JC Dwyer, who joined the metal/hardcore pioneers in 2003 and has been bashing the skins ever since.
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On April 14 Pro-Pain started touring Europe in support of their latest album \"Prophets of Doom.\" A good opportunity to conduct an interview with drummer JC Dwyer.
Drummerszone: Please tell us a bit about your early days. JC Dwyer: I started playing drums at age fifteen. John Bonham and Alex Van Halen were musical inspirations at the beginning. Those two guys are the reason I started playing drums to begin with. Later, when I got into heavier stuf, I got a lot of inspiration from Dave Lombardo, Charlie Benante, and especially Danny Schuler.
Did you ever receive lessons? No, I never took formal lessons. My neighbor, a guy named Baran Galocy, showed me the basics of drumset playing, and used to let me play his drums when he was out of town. I´d watch his dog in return for beating on his kit. It was a good arrangement. Other than that, I just sat down and started learning albums, starting with Van Halen\'s “Fair Warning” and “Led Zeppelin 2”. Funny thing is, those records are still the foundation of my playing.
Any comments on your latest release, Pro-Pain\'s \"Prophets of Doom\"? Yeah, buy it! Seriously, we´re really happy with “Prophets of Doom”, and with the reaction it has received. We´re out on the last leg of touring for that record right now, so get your ass out to a show or ten!
What’s different on this new album, compared with previous Pro-Pain releases? “Prophets...” is Pro-Pain in a very metal mood. Pro-Pain has always been a crossover band, with varying degrees of hardcore, metal, and rock comprising the sound. This time, we really leaned on the metal aspect. No particular reasoning behind it, that´s just where we were.
Could you tell us a bit about the process behind the recording? Basically, we all kick in riffs. That´s the first step. As we come up with stuff, we turn it in to “Headquarters”, which is Gary Meskil since he writes all the lyrics, he does the structures, etc. So he has this monster pile of riffs to work with, and he goes through them, figures out what works with what, lyrically, and otherwise, and does basic demos of the structures. Then we take those and get together and start recording, using the demos as the blueprint. It sounds strange, but it totally works. He always has a vision in his head of the sound he wants, and he knows how to make it happen.
Please tell us about drumming in a studio and in live situations? I still don´t know which I prefer! Obviously, perfection is more important on tape, and groove and vibe are more important onstage. I enjoy recording, you get to really dig in and see how good you are (or aren´t, haha). Plus, I love the end product. Getting a good real drumsound on a recording is very fulfilling, and working with Eric Klinger (Pro-Pain Rhythm guitarist, and primary recording engineer), I know that´s gonna happen. We get great sounds when we work together, and we have lots of laughs in the process!
Is there still ambition in Pro-Pain to take things to a higher level? Of course, always. But I´d say nearly fifteen years of success on your own terms is quite an accomplishment, in this day and age.
Most musians want to be out front, so there\'s less good drummers comin\' up. Can you respond to this statement? It´s true. Everyone wants to be the center of attention anymore. They don´t want to be “hidden” in the back. I´m guilty of it too, I got a couple projects goin´ where I sing, but drums are my first love, man. It´s so important to any music, especially heavy stuff. It´s funny, I “quit” drumming for a couple years, did my rock band, Soulbent... I played guitar and sang. Thought that was just great. Then I got the opportunity to join Pro-Pain, so I got back behind the kit. Man, it was like bein´ back home! It really made me appreciate it all over again. You youngsters out there, stay on drums, we need you!
What are drummers missing these days? I think a lot of music in general today is missing balls.
Well, you certainly don\'t miss that behind the drum kit. Just wondering: what would you like to add to your playing? I wish I were a little stronger in the speed department. I´m more of a groove guy, lightning speed has never been my strong suit. You gotta go with your strengths, though.
What have you learned (music-wise) the last year? That Sabian crash cymbals last longer than Zildjians, hahaha!
How do you explain to your grandmother the kind of music you play? She knows all about it. She tells her friends: “My grandson is in a heavy metal band!”, she´s really proud of me. My whole family is very supportive.
Can you explain the main difference between playing with Pro-Pain and your previous bands? Pro-Pain is a lot more straightforward. Just put the hammer down! It´s pretty cool, not getting hung up in really technical stuff, just attacking it straight-on.
Do you tweak your style for playing in different bands? Of course, you have to. In Raped Ape, I played pretty technical. In Gonemad, it was all about loose and groove. Playing in Pro-Pain, it´s the \'freight train approach\': straightforward, to the point, mow \'em down!
What do your colleague drummers think of you? I guess they think I´m OK. I feel like I´m pretty well respected among my peers. It´s mutual. I´ve had the good fortune to work with some great drummers in my time.
What’s the latest music you added to your iPod? I don´t have an iPod, but right before I left for tour, I got the new CD of country music artist Shooter Jennings, “Electric Rodeo”. It´s great. In fact, I don´t listen to a lot of heavy music on my own time. Surprising, eh?
Thanks a lot for your time! Any last words? I certainly hope these aren´t my last words, I got shit to do!