Allegedly, you not just have the kit you play upon, but a great collection of drum kits. Why is that and what makes every kit so special?
I love my drums. I don't have any children, my drums are actually better than children, because they don't ask me for money, they help me make money! ;-) Well when I play on kit for a session or a tour, then it has experiences inside it and it becomes part of me. I never sell my drums? Never! I have them all in storage lockers. I have about ten kits in LA and I have over ten kits here in Europe. I have all kinds of drums, new and old. They are all cool and they all hold memories from my past. My dream is to buy one massive warehouse were I could set all of them up and play them whenever I want. I know that sounds childish but, that's what I want! ;-) I also want to live, work and practice there. One big complex for just my instruments and me!
Holland has a special bond with you. Not everyone might know, but you've played a very special performance here. After a concert in Tilburg in 1998 of the band Death, a guy in the audience tragically died of a heart attack. You played in the band on his funeral, right? That must have been one of the strangest performances you have ever done. How did you get there and what did it do to you personally?
Wow, how did you know that? I never told anyone about this. Yes indeed it was a very strange and powerfully moving experience. One that I will never forget! The boys name was Henry. He was a big fan of the band Death and he was also an aspiring drummer. Henry was a gardner by trade and suffered from a heart condition. Unfortunately his luck ran out when he was in the Mosh Pit at watching his favourite band Death. He had a heart attack and died while being removed from the venue.
One day I was at home and the phone rang. It was a young man on the phone. He asked me if I was Mike Terrana, I said yes and then he wanted to ask me a favour. I had an advert in Aardschok Magazine for drums lessons, the young man went on to explain that Henry wanted to call me for a lesson, but he was too shy and so he never called. A few days later he died at the concert. Then Henry's friend / band mate went on to ask me if I would come to the funeral and play a short drum solo and one original song that he played with his own band. It was a death metal band, very fast stuff. I thought this was a strange request, but it was obvious that the young man was trying to do something noble on behalf of Henry; he wanted me to help send Henry off. After a few seconds of thought I agreed to do it.
They sent me the song and I learned it. Two days later I drove to the funeral. I was a bit late. People were still filing in to the church and the boys from Henry's band mates met me outside. They were worried that I would not show up and seemed happy to see me. So then it was time to go in and this is were things get difficult! I was walking into the church and I could hear people crying and I got closer to the entrance of the church it got louder and louder. As I turned the corner, Henry's family met me. His mother and sisters were very sad and they were crying. I was trying to keep my composer, but then the reality and the seriousness hit me like a ton of bricks! There was such a feeling of sadness there. It was one of the most overwhelming and powerful situations that I have ever been exposed too. Now I was also upset and nervous! I walked into the church it was packed approximately 400 to 500 people. The casket was open. Henry was lying there in front of me with his hands folded on his chest. Henry had long blond hair was wearing his Death t-shirt. That was the first time I ever saw him. As I past the casket I noticed the drums were there along with rest of the band gear. I took my seat on the side with the other band members.
When I sat down, I noticed an older man staring a hole through me. I looked at him and he did not look away. Then I thought to myself to myself, my God, this guy hates me. I have long hair and I'm going to play metal music in his church. What have I gotten myself into! I was feeling anxious about what was to happen next. The sermon began and the priest said a few words explaining in the Dutch language, what was going to happen. Then it was now the moment of truth; it was time for me to play the drum solo for Henry. I got up sat behind the drums. There was not a sound, absolutely no movement from the people. At this point I was really nervous, because I realized, this was not a typical gig and this was not about having fun.This was about the conclusion of Henry's life. I close my eyes and I played a drum solo for Harold. I kept it short and sweet and then I finished with a slow marching snare drum pattern, letting the last few snare notes ring off into space.There was not a sound and no reaction from the people. I was not sure what people were thinking. I then went on to play one song with Henry's band, fast & heavy. The whole times I was thinking: "My god, I'm playing with a death metal band in a church." I was raised catholic so I was struggling with wether or not this was wrong! It was a strange feeling. The old man in the front row was still staring at me; his eyes did not tell me what he was thinking, he just staring! The priest finished and the people paid their last respects to Henry and the funeral was over. I felt relieved, because I had done what I was asked to do. I did this for Henry and his band mates!
I was hanging out a little while in the front of the church, but just then the older gentleman made his way over to me. I froze up a little bit; because I thought this guy hated me I did not want to have a negative conversation with him. The old man grabbed my arm, he looked into my eyes and he said in broken English: “Thank you very much for what you have done. Henry was my grandson”. My god, that just killed me! I was already over loaded, but it made me happy and sad at the same time. I was sad for him because he lost his grandson and happy, because he didn't hate me and appreciated what I did! So “All is well that ends well” as we say in the US and A. It was definitely the hardest and probably the most important thing I have ever done with my drumming. Life is precious and things can change in a matter of seconds. So appreciate you have while you have it. I still think about Henry from time to time and I will never forget him or his grandfather!
The names you have played with in the past are a dream to play with when it comes to musical challenges. So of them, especially Yngwie Malmsteen, have the image that they are great dictators that accept no own influences of their band members whatsoever. How do you cope with that?
Well, Yngwie was a difficult personality and he definitely had his ideas about how he wanted things, especially the drums. For the most part I tried to accommodate him and fulfil his wishes, because that is what he was paying me for. However sometimes it was hard because he would just kill off some of my playing style. Playing live with Yngwie was fun and he always gave me a solo, which I thought was cool. We did some really nice gigs, one of the better ones was filmed at the Budokan in Tokyo. In retrospect the working with Yngwie was hard but it was good for my career, however I did not cope very well after two years of ups and many downs, I just got tired of his egomaniacal behaviour. It was no longer fun and things were getting ugly. When this happens I just leave and move to something else.
The drummer is usually the guy in the back, who does not get as much attention as singers or lead guitar players. Wouldn't you like to form a band that is completely formed around your playing, in which all final decisions are made by you?
I think it is a shame that someone as sexy and talented as me should be in the back! It is sacrilegious!
Chicks need to see more of me! ;-) NOT! Seriously I am in the process of forming my own band, because I would like to pick some guys that are cool, funny and make good music with them. I like to have fun when I work. The studio can be stressful, but if you're with the right people it can be a lot of fun. The same goes for touring. If your on a bus with a bunch of creeps, three weeks can seem like an eternity, but when your working with cool people, three weeks goes really fast and then your sorry its over! I don't want to be a dictator, but it would be nice to have some control and of course I would treat all the guys in the band with respect and take good care of them! So yes, to sum it up it would be nice to just make a band that I enjoy and be surrounded by good people. Then it is very easy and fun to make good music.
To close: metal is an ocean of great talent. Every year we get to see new bands and some of them even last. What new bands are your absolute favourite of the last few years?
I liked the last Slipknot CD, Mnemic (a band from Denmark with a cool drummer and heavy tunes). I like Alter Bridge, good melodic power rock. Other good ones are Foo Fighters, Korn and Ramstein, they just have a killer sound and the new 'Volkerball' DVD is killer! Very well done.
Is there anything else you would like to get off of your chest?
Hahaha, well that is a loaded question and I think this interview is long enough. In closing, I would like to tell young musicians to keep it Real. Use the technology but try to keep the groove and the emotion in the music. If you play from the heart you can never go wrong! Thank you for inviting me for the interview and for the opportunity to express some of my opinions! By the way, I miss living in Holland. It is a beautiful country and the people are really cool. " alt="band image" style="float:right" class="cover" />