Welcome to Lords of Metal, congratulations on your birthday last week. Is a birthday more a moment to look back or forward for you?
Thank you, Ramon! It is a bit of both for me. I guess it's a pretty normal thing to see birthdays as some sort of a milestone, that separate chapters in life. But so far, I always loved them. Well, then again, I just turned 37, so maybe you should ask me again in three years how much I love them.
Quite a few things happened in the last ten years. Would you say Annihilator accelerated it all, or were there any other possible options for you anyway at that point in your career?
Getting the Annihilator gig definitely accelerated my career and I will always be grateful for that chance. I did have other options at the time, but things would have developed slower I guess. Of course, you can never know for sure.
Have you ever felt odd to play for bands abroad, outside of Germany, or can you imagine musicians hesitating about doing that?
No, quite the opposite actually. I always liked playing with non-German bands more than anything else. I can imagine though, that especially for younger musicians, it can be a bit scary at first to leave your country and dive into a different musical culture. But it's a great learning experience.
I am sure it is, yes. Still I think it was a brave step that shows your adventurous spirit. Where lies the focus at this moment for you?
"Pre announcement answer": I have a new band with some friends in Sweden that I can't really talk about yet, but which will be officially announced soon. That's my main focus musically for now. Apart from that, I'm putting together a new educational system for drummers, called "Drumming Revolution". I was very fortunate to start with some great teachers back in the day who kept me from developing technical mistakes that a lot of people are suffering from. I also see a lot of young drummers now, who lack the most important basics. A proper technique, timing, playing with dynamics etcetera. So I decided to make most of the basic section of the program available for free, so that a large number of players can benefit from it. Drummers are a big community and drumming has enriched my life in ways I couldn't have imagined. So by doing this, I want to give back something to this community that has given me so much.
You have been added to the roster of Musikmesse Drum Camp. What brand will you be representing there?
I was actually personally invited by the Messe Frankfurt to play there and not through a specific brand. However, I'm gonna represent of course the incredible brands that are endorsing me now. I did have some changes recently, but it was really because I was looking for very specific characteristics in my instruments and it took me a while to find them. So, I will be playing Mapex Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vater Drumsticks, Remo Heads, Gibraltar Hardware and 2box electronics.
Are you attached to one brand, or are you going to discover new brands there in Frankfurt too, you think?
I'm very attached to these companies now, but I want to upgrade my home studio to something proper, so I will be looking into this...interfaces, mics, monitors etcetera.
So you will walk around at Messe as a tourist too, cool. What do you think is the main purpose of Frankfurt Musikmesse?
The main purpose is to bring people together. The companies with the customers, artists with music fans and last but not least, artists and companies as well. And of course, it's also about the instruments. Sure, you can go online and "see" all these things from the comfort of your home. But it's not the same. Instruments need to be seen in real life, you must touch them and play them.
Sure thing, absolutely agree. Do you like to play at fairs, which is a totally different experience from playing a concert, I assume.
I love being at fairs. I went to Frankfurt for the first time in 1993 as a kid. Terry Bozzio played there and also Living Colour. And now I'm playing there for the 5th or 6th time and there's a new generation of 13-year-olds who will be standing there, just like I did back in the day. And this is something that you always have to remind yourself of. It's nothing that should be taken for granted, but rather a big honor and also a responsibility to give the love for the music to the next generation.
Had you ever performed there as a central artist before, actually?
Yes, I played for 2box on the Agora stage in 2013.
Right, I remember missing that last minute last time. I will definitely try to make that up for you this year! Your résumé goes in quite some different directions, but it is all progressive music. Do you like it best when you can keep yourself challenged in music?
You couldn't be more right. I love challenges in general and to me, one of the most interesting aspects of playing, is to keep things interesting, without making them too complicated for the listener. It's a very thin line, but you have to remember that 99% of the audience usually consists of non-drummers. If anything, they might care about the groove and the backbeat and maybe about a bit of showmanship on top. So the idea is to give the 99% what they need, while also doing something for the 1% including yourself.
What kind of style will get your main attention during the show in Frankfurt, you think?
I'm all for surprises and I hope to discover new artists that will blow my mind.
Who will you be bringing along on stage?
This time it's just me and the Mac. I will play along to some tracks I recorded over the years and will probably also solo a bit.
Great! How important do you think it is for brands, and maybe artists too, to be at fairs like the Musikmesse?
I think it's super important. The moment you leave your whole promotion up to Youtube videos and the net in general, the question who produces better videos or takes nicer pics suddenly becomes more important than the actual quality of the instrument. If you're serious about your product, you have to show it to people in real life.
For me as an artist fairs, including Frankfurt, are important dates during the year, to get together with industry friends and other artists.
The concept of Brandworld Guitar is new. The Drum Camp was already there last yesr, what is your idea of it, how it is going to fit in fort he audience?
The drum camp is a fantastic idea. I wish it would have existed already when I was a kid. This mix of performances and clinics is really cool. People can definitely take some inspiration home from the Messe this year!
People tend to live online more and more and go out less to see, feel and experience music. That goes for online instrument sales too. Does this concern you, or is that just the new reality?
Of course, it's a new reality to a certain degree and I must say I'm guilty of ordering everyday items online as well. But I believe a music instrument has to be bought on sight. It must be love. And especially for inexperienced players, it can be a great thing to go to a good music store and get some advice. So I'm all for supporting "real life". Go to music stores, go to concerts, go to events like Musikmesse.
How many drum kits do you currently own?
I really don't know. I guess around 5-6 acoustic drum kits, plus 3 electronic kits.
You have worked with many great names in all kinds of styles. Is there a style you would turn down if you were asked for it?
I like all kinds of different music. I guess there isn't a particular style I would turn down, even though I'm certainly not a perfect drummer for every style. I would turn down a musical situation rather for the persons that are involved, in case they would support ideologies I couldn't stand behind, like any sort of discrimination for example.
Great answer! It is very hard to make choices, but what memory do you cherish the most in your career?
Wow, that's almost impossible to answer. I guess, it's a draw between my first big festival headline show with Annihilator at Sweden Rock festival and probably playing Progpower Atlanta with Rhapsody. But that's when I talk about shows from my perspective.. There are countless seemingly smaller moments, which were in fact really big for me. To suddenly play together with people that were idols to me when I grew up, or to get nice comments from other drummers that were idols to me, or I should say, that are still idols to me. But above all that, I think the memories I cherish the most, will always be the way my family supported me, how my parents and especially my dad, went out of their way to see me play whenever they could.
What is still left on your bucket list?
There is a lot on it still, both personally and professionally. I want to launch the "Drumming Revolution" and help to educate more young drummers. I also still have many goals and much more to learn on the instrument, there is always stuff to work on.
Back to the Messe event, will you be scheduling moments for the audience too, you think?
Oh absolutely! Anybody that has a question or just wants to have a pic or just chat, is welcome! Don't be shy, I'm always up for a drum chat!
I give you the honour to close the interview down for both our metal audience and the visitors of Musikmesse
Well, first of all, thank you for the great questions! To my friends in the big metal family, I can only express my gratitude for their continuous support and interest over the years! And to the Messe visitors, I'm wishing you all lots of fun in Frankfurt! Make sure to stop by at the Drum Camp!