There’s no question about it. When you need a drummer, you call Brian Tichy. A monster drummer, he has been the number one go-to drummer when a band is in need of someone behind them with power. And he has been summoned by some mighty big names: Billy Idol, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Steven Tyler, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Queensryche, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Vinnie Moore, Sass Jordan, Ozzy Osbourne and now the Dead Daisies. “He and I are such fantastic partners creatively. We just work together like a dream,” Jordan told me last year. “I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever experienced this with. It’s just a constant flow of creativity when we’re together.”
“Tichy is amazing,” Dead Daisies guitar player Richard Fortus stated. When the band needed someone to helm the skins for the last few dates of the Uproar Fest tour last year, Tichy got the call. “It’s a great band,” the New Jersey native praised during their stop in Phoenix. “It’s nice to come in with some buds and play as opposed to coming into a new band where you don’t know anybody.”
Although Guns N Roses drummer Frank Ferrer played on the Dead Daisies current EP, Face I Love, it has been Tichy who has helped bring the songs to life onstage. This past summer, they scored prime opening slots on both the Bad Company/Lynyrd Skynyrd tour as well as the big KISS/Def Leppard tour. Currently, they are in Australia till early December.
Known as a devoted worshiper of John Bonham, Tichy created the annual Bonzo Bash, celebrating the music and mythical legend of Led Zeppelin’s backbone. “He did something that made me never want to stop listening,” Tichy explained to me last year during a tour stop in New Orleans while out on the road with Queensryche. “He sets you up and he makes you wait for something and you don’t know what is going to happen.” Bonzo Bash 2015 has been announced for January 22, at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California.
As if touring and the Bonzo Bash wasn’t enough, Tichy added two new projects to his repertoire: the Randy Rhoads Remembered tribute concert and The Ox & The Loon honoring The Who’s incredible rhythm section of John Entwistle and Keith Moon. During the 2015 NAMM convention, these two shows will run back-to-back with Bonzo Bash, making for a knockout triple night extravaganza.
Glide talked with Tichy a while back about being a part of the Dead Daisies family and about his major influences aside from Bonham.
How did you come to being in the Dead Daisies again?
It was real simple. I did the shows with them in September  and they already had stuff booked with Charley Drayton on drums out of the country, in Europe and Asia and stuff, and that was like all the end of last year. So then they called me to go to Australia in February but I already had stuff going on, like two or three different things happening. I said, “I’d love to but I can’t.” It was like the whole month and I would loved to have gone and done it but I just had too many things to cancel. So the next time they called it was really only a couple months later, in April, and they said, “Hey, we have a couple of weeks in July with Bad Company and Skynyrd.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool. I don’t have any big summer plans.” And right after that, like a few days later, “We have this whole KISS/Def Leppard tour.” I was like, man, this is great. It was really just keeping in touch. We hit it off when we all played and Dizzy Reed gave me a call to fill in on the last four shows [of the Uproar Fest tour] and they went well and everybody was happy.
And it was so hot in Phoenix, remember?
Oh yeah, I know. I remember I went running that day (laughs). I was out there before the show, you know, cause there’s no excuse not to try and get some exercise in. You’re sitting on the bus forever, sitting around at the shows, might as well go do something. But I remember going, man, there is no shade anywhere, running down this road. It was probably like 1:00 in the afternoon and that’s probably prime time there for the heat and stuff. But I remember that day, totally. I got back, took a shower and did the show. It was a lot of fun.
What songs are you guys playing from the new EP?
Well, the new single is called “Face I Love” and that’s definitely played. There’s a cover of “Helter Skelter.” We try to close with that. I like what they’ve done with the set. They give people a chunk of original music and then say, okay, we’ll end with a song ya’ll know. It’s pretty safe to assume most people have heard “Helter Skelter” before. Even if you don’t know it that well, you’ve probably heard it. So yeah, you hit them with a bunch of stuff they may not have heard and hope they dig it and then you close with something they all know.
The band got to open for Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd earlier this year. What was a highlight for you on that run?
The highlight for me was to stand on the side of the stage every night when they’re playing “Freebird.” That’s it. I said this even like two years ago, “Freebird” to me is like the best song ever written as far as songs that have been written. That’s what I believe. I think it’s perfect in every way. It’s just my opinion but to just be able to be on the side of the stage and watch these guys, I love them. Of course Bad Company is amazing too. It’s nothing but hit after hit after hit with both bands but the highlight is just being able to be on the tour and be able to play drums with a cool rock band and get to be a part of this tour. These are iconic bands. These are proven bands that are timeless and these guys have made a huge impact. So just to be a part of it, it schools you. You’re like watching Simon Kirke play drums and you’re going, man, these guys wrote these songs, played drums on these tracks even before Bad Company with Free’s “All Right Now.” This is just insane history. No matter where you go, people just want to hear this stuff live over and over and over and over. So the highlight is to be a part of the tour and be able to get on stage with a drum set and play drums on THEIR stage and then I get to watch these guys play these amazing songs.
Did you get to talk to Simon at all?
Just quickly a little bit but it’s one of those things where I don’t want to get in everybody’s faces, like, “Hey, stop what you’re doing and talk to me.” It’s more like if the time is right. Everybody has their own schedules so there might be a few minutes here and there. I was watching them on the side of the stage and Paul Rodgers walked by and shook our hands and everybody was nice but I didn’t get in a deep conversation with him, which I would have loved to. With Michael Cartellone from Skynyrd, we’re buddies. We’ve known each other since 1994 when he was playing with Ted Nugent and after with the Damn Yankees and I was playing with Zakk Wylde in Pride & Glory. We opened up a whole summer tour for Nugent and Skynyrd and Michael’s played in a couple of Bonzo Bashes so we’ve seen each other a few times here and there in the past couple of years. He’s awesome. It’s cool to see buddies like that on tour and it’s fun to hang around with them. You know, Eric Singer with KISS, I’ve known Eric twenty years at least.
I was going to ask you about KISS. Why do you think KISS still fascinates people?
The image of the guys up there, the classic image, regardless of it being Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, it’s this image that they created in the seventies when they got the biggest and that’s where they made the most impact. So I guess for the common denominator of fans, it’s what they want to see. They want to see those characters; they want to see the blood and the fire and the smoke and the bombs. And with me, you’re talking to a KISS freak (laughs). That was my first band, my first favorite drummer in the world was Peter Criss, and my first favorite band before Zeppelin and Aerosmith and all that was KISS. I was in the KISS Army. I mean, I still have posters of these guys on my walls at home (laughs). Like, the posters I had as a kid, I still have on my walls. So it was a huge highlight for me to get to be on a stage, to just be a part of it. I loved being backstage seeing how this whole thing rolls. It’s just like every other tour in respect that certain things have to happen in the course of a day for a rock show. But just it being KISS and so much goes into that type of show, and it’s the first band I got into as a kid, it’s just extra special.
You must have been excited to have Peter Criss at one of your Bonzo Bashes.
I gave Peter Criss a Legend award last year at Bonzo Bash and he and I talked on the phone but he wasn’t able to make the show. So for this year, things kind of lined up and Peter Criss came to our Bonzo Bash in New Jersey and I introduced him and we talked on stage for a while and did a couple of pictures and all that stuff. There was a lot going on, my show was going on so I still had a lot to think about, but I was like, man, Peter Criss! But he already knew how I felt about him. I told him in like this video interview thing where I explained why I chose for him to get the Legend award last year and what he meant to me and what the KISS records and the band and all that stuff meant. He already knew that but he came and he passed on the next Legend award to Corky Laing of Mountain, who influenced Peter mainly in the use of cowbell on the drum set, which I didn’t even know till Peter told me the story that he was going to say that night. So it was really, really cool just to be sitting there with this guy at this point in my life.
That was actually May 31 and the month before we did a celebration show for Keith Moon and John Entwistle called The Ox & The Loon in LA and Matt Starr, who plays drums for Ace Frehley, he had written me saying, “Hey man, I’m going to be in town and I’d love to play.” And I was like, “Alright dude, we’re not getting as many drummers but let’s do it.” Then I read that Ace Frehley is in town the night before doing the Revolver Golden Gods thing and I was like, “Is Ace going to be in town? Because man if you’re going to be playing the night after and he’s still here, I know he grew up on the Who and stuff, see if he wants to play.” And it was that simple. Matt said, “Hey Ace, let’s do it,” and then the day of the show Matt goes, “Hey, we need someone to play acoustic guitar.” And then here I am onstage with Ace, a legend of mine. A legendary guitar player but a hero of mine, and I end up playing with him onstage (laughs).
So then I’m on Gene and Paul’s stage with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. So it’s actually cool because they impacted me so heavily and they were such a huge influence and all that as a kid. I never forget that. That’s always super special to me. I never take that shit for granted because man, that’s where you came from and that’s what made you think about what you wanted to do for the rest of your life, was memories like that, with people like that and those records. And here they still are, getting on stage doing the same thing that they did when I was eight years old staring at these records.
My dad took me to Madison Square Garden when I was eleven and I saw the Dynasty tour and it just tripped me out. I remember, and this is the truth, I just stood there up in the nosebleed seats, really high up in Madison Square Garden, and I sat there looking down, going, “I can’t believe I’m in the same room with these guys. I can’t believe that is really Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace.” (laughs) That’s how heavy it was. And I knew that’s what I wanted to do and not to take anything away from Def Leppard, because KISS and Def Leppard are two great bands. I’ve had the good fortune to tour with Def Leppard when I was with Billy Idol in 2008. We did like three or four weeks together and it was awesome cause every night Rick Allen would come up during “White Wedding” and he would play the Tom Tom overdubs in that song so it was really cool. I was a kid and had High N Dry and had Pyromania so it was a real fun thing to be a part of.
When you first discovered rock & roll, what captivated you the most about the music?
Well, I would say pretty much the most common denominator factor that attracts most people: I love huge guitar riffs, I love guitar, I love guitar riffs. That’s one thing maybe some people don’t recognize is how much they love like the guitar riffs, whether it’s “Iron Man” or “Smoke On The Water.” Some people might like the lyrics and melodies more but that doesn’t mean I don’t love like an amazing Elton John or McCartney song or whatever. But the first thing that got me, my dad was cranking Beatles and Beach Boys and Buddy Holly. But when I first heard KISS, it was like the hard rock with big anthemic choruses. Everything came for me after KISS, really, and to this day if you didn’t grow up on KISS, you probably look over the quality of the songs but they have a bunch of great stuff, great guitar riffs, great songs with great choruses. But I think probably just the combination of the energy, like the unbridled energy/aggression of loud guitars blended with like power and groove and loud drums. I love volume, you know, crank it up. The more I love it, the more loud I want it to be. So I’m probably no different than anybody.
Why did you go to Berklee where it’s a more controlled environment for music?
Oh that was easy and I’ll tell you exactly why. Because as the oldest kid, my parents were trying to do the right thing, which is like, “We got money saved, you’re going to college.” And I’m like, “You’re crazy, I’m not going to college. Where am I supposed to play drums? You play like football and join fraternities at college. Where does the drums come to play? I don’t get it. I don’t even understand university. There’s no way.” And they’re like, “You’re going to college.” And I was like, this is insane. It just didn’t add up, it didn’t make sense. So somebody told me about in Boston there’s Berklee, a music college, and you can get college credit and it’s all music related and I thought that sounded perfect. So I told them about that and applied and it worked out for the better because I wasn’t stuck in my ways enough to not see the good that that could do me being in that kind of environment. And I learned a ton quickly there. And I also wasn’t a stickler there, like, “Oh, I’m into hard rock and metal and that’s all I care about.” I knew I wanted to get better in many ways as a drummer and a guitar player. I knew I wanted to learn and when you go to a music college, if it doesn’t rub off in a positive way, something’s wrong (laughs). You just got to be smart about it and if you’re there, take advantage of it, it’s very helpful. So that was really it, you know, but it ended up being a good thing because, man, what I was in New Jersey at the time with my high school band, we probably weren’t going anywhere fast. We weren’t the worst but we weren’t the best. And I don’t know if the guys in the band had the drive and dedication that I did. I’m not saying they didn’t but looking back, I couldn’t tell so just to stop my life for a local band where I grew up, I don’t know if that would have been the right decision at all.
I also wasn’t far from New York and if you look at the scene going on then, yeah, looking back now at the whole scene in the mid-eighties that was going on, you had the whole trash metal thing with Anthrax and Metallica and Overkill and Slayer. There was a whole thing going on that stemmed from Megaforce Records and Eddie Trunk was a DJ at the local radio station back then and he was a part of that whole thing. We didn’t know each other, he’s a little bit older than me, but somehow I think if I didn’t take that route of going to music college and I stuck in New Jersey and got some day job or whatever, who knows where I would have went. I don’t think there was any one correct path, it’s just the path I went down with the college thing and it was fine. At the same time somewhere around there Zakk Wylde was playing in New Jersey with his local band and he was seen by Mark Weiss, the famous photographer, and his assistant and they started talking and of course Mark knew everybody. So Mark was going, “You guys got to check out this kid Zakk. He’s a killer guitar player.” And word got to Sharon. Same thing with Sebastian Bach. It’s just word of mouth. I would have hoped if I didn’t go to music college I would probably have joined up with some other musicians doing good stuff and got ahead somehow. But it was fine. What I did was cool.
You mentioned Sebastian Bach. Did you know any of the Skid Row guys?
I didn’t know those guys until after the heyday. We actually all met in Jersey. The middle man of all that stuff would have been Black Label Society’s bass player John DeServio. We went to Berklee together. We met in 1986 there doing laundry. We met in the laundry room (laughs). I’m cranking an Yngwie Malmsteen cassette in my Walkman and he’s got his bass and he was like, “What are you listening to?” And I was like, “Yngwie Malmsteen Trilogy.” “I have that record too.” And we started talking and we’re both from Jersey and soon after he was like, “Dude, my buddy Zakk just got in Ozzy.” And this was like a year later. That’s how we all met and JD is from down in that area where the Skid Row guys are from and Zakk. I met them all. I saw Dave [Sabo] a couple of years ago.
What was the first big band that you played for?
There were a few but I played with Slash when he left Guns N Roses, and before that I played with Zakk Wylde when he left Ozzy, and to me those guys were on top of the world. Zakk did what, six or seven years with Ozzy and he was a guitar hero; and Slash was in Guns N Roses. So I played with those guys, and they are still on top of the world as far as being respected guitar players. They just don’t ever stop working and are still to this day just as popular as ever. Before that I played with another guitar hero, Vinnie Moore. He was one of my first bosses back in the day. That was Vinnie, myself and JD, we did like a seven month tour supporting one of Vinnie’s records. And before that, I did a record with this guy Randy Jackson, who was the singer of Zebra. Randy did a record back then for a post-Zebra band that was on Atlantic Records at the time. So I was just bouncing around doing all that kind of stuff. But after Zakk and Slash then I joined up with Foreigner and I guess as far as like a band with a big name worldwide, that was back in 1998 and I did Foreigner for a couple of years.
What do you think is the most important thing a drummer can do for a band?
There really is only one most important thing and it’s keeping good solid time, and solid doesn’t mean you have to hit everything and smash it as hard as you can and all that. It just means no matter what you’re doing up there, whatever it takes to make that band sound right and groove right and drive the band correctly, the way the band should be, you know, meaning like I don’t want to hear like Neal Peart from Rush playing in AC/DC and I don’t want to hear Phil Rudd from AC/DC playing in Rush. And I don’t want a drummer to change it up too much. But the main thing is the groove and the timing. And the first and foremost thing you can teach a drummer is the importance of consistency. Every time you hit that bass drum, every time you hit the snare, every time you hit a cymbal, it’s got to sound like one instrument. You can’t sound like a drum, a cymbal, a this, a that. It’s got to sound like a drum set and once you can keep that thing sounding powerful in the band with confidence in your capability, then they’re not worried, they’re not turning around looking at you, and that makes the band play better, makes the guitar player not worry about anything else. That’s the main job of the drummer. You hit the damn drums, you keep it in time and you make everybody feel good about it (laughs). That’s it. All the other stuff is icing, but I love the icing, I love all the other do-dads that go along with it. I love the visual side, I love the technical side, I love all of it.
But the first thing is, and just ask anybody in a band, if the drummer is lagging or tired or his energy is not there for whatever reason – if you sense it in the audition, well, you won’t get a call back, or if you’re on tour and you start being one of those guys that can’t handle the road and makes excuses, you’re not going to keep that gig. The band has got to be driven by the drummer. There is no bass player, there is no rhythm guitar player in the world, I don’t care who they are, that can fill in for the drummer. If the drummer has a bad night, had one too many elephant tranquilizers like Keith Moon, I don’t care how good your band is, I don’t care if your rhythm is as amazing as Eddie Van Halen’s or Pete Townshend’s, I don’t care if your bass player is as solid as Michael Anthony and John Paul Jones, I don’t care. If the drummer is not there, those guys aren’t going to be able to keep it together. If the band is lagging a bit behind, if the guys on the other instruments might be having not 100%, as long as that backbeat is there and the drummer is driving the band, then you can get away with it. But you need that foundation, you need the drummer. You can have David Lee Roth, you can have Mick Jagger, you can have Rod Stewart, but if that drummer is not keeping it together, the singer is not going to be able to do what he is supposed to do.
Have you ever felt insecure behind the drums?
I don’t know, there is stage fright, there is nervous energy. If I am on my drums doing my job, hopefully I am prepared enough to have enough confidence to go up there every night and have fun with it because life is short and this is what I’ve worked my whole life to do. And that also goes with excuses. Nobody wants to hear it, the audience is never going to care about an excuse. If something is not going right onstage, they’re like, “We paid money to be here, what’s the problem up there with you guys? Give us what we want because that is why we’re here.” So, “Oh, I didn’t get enough sleep” or “Oh I’m jetlagged, da da da da.” It’s like, nobody cares man. And that’s what’s amazing about artists who go on for decade after decade. They get up there and they still have that focus and that talent to get up there no matter what’s going on. People have things that go on in their lives but no matter what it is, you’ve got to get onstage and do what it is you’re supposed to be doing up there without fail, without excuses.
But man, I’ve been nervous, yeah. Having to play the Queensryche Operation: Mindcrime set, that was a lot of drumming and a lot of songs and a lot of parts. And I wanted to keep it true to the original. I didn’t want to just blow by the drumming on those records because to me it’s sort of disrespectful to Scott Rockenfield and Queensryche because they are too big of a band. They’ve affected millions of people to not respect what it is that people dig about it. But there’s a lot of stuff to remember and yeah, I’ve been in positions where I had to get up and remember a bunch of stuff. Whether it’s the first show of a tour, and usually that’s what it is, and it’s like, here we go, we haven’t done this yet, you better not forget this stuff. But once you’re in the middle of it, it’s kind of second nature and you’re just trying to make it better every night. I mean, I’m trying to make my playing better every day. I wish I had more time to practice. And I say that stuff and I’m like, well, if I really wanted to get better, I’d practice more (laughs). But I hope that every day I sit down and do it all better than I ever did before; regardless of excuses, regardless of practicing or not practicing. I know I can but there’s never a day where I go, “Oh, that was it. I’ll never top that.” Every day I go, “Great, I’ll do it better tomorrow.”
But getting nervous, I’ve been in so many positions with so many different artists either I’m a fan of or that I respect or it’s somebody I don’t know that well, I want them to be happy with me being the drummer. Whether it’s playing Marshall’s 50th anniversary with Joe Satriani and Yngwie and Kerry King and I knew some of the guys. I knew Zakk and Glenn Hughes but I didn’t know Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Billy Duffy. And I’m sitting up there and I’m their drummer. And with Yngwie? That’s crazy stuff, when you sit there and we had a rehearsal but it’s a lot of information. I’m jumping from playing a couple of songs with Zakk and Kerry King to three songs with Yngwie and three songs with Satriani. But I live for that, you know. That’s what makes you better at what you do, those experiences. So hell yeah I’m nervous (laughs)
And with performers like Yngwie and Satriani who are so-called perfectionists, you almost want to be the best you can be because they will probably call you out on it.
Yeah, it’s not like somebody woke me up and said go up here and do this. I knew I was doing it, I knew I had to learn new songs, I knew I had to rehearse and do the show and blah, blah, blah. So I had time to prepare. But when you sit down with these people, you just hope that the way you play gels with how they play and what you’re giving them they can have fun with. Like when Yngwie does his thing, it’s insanity. I have been a fan since he came out when I was in high school. Just to play with him, and the same with Satriani, you just want to make them happy. I played with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry and we had a day to rehearse and Steven actually called me and asked me to do it, the John Varvatos Benefit Show. We had a day to rehearse but man, I grew up on Aerosmith so it’s like I know these songs inside and outside but who cares, I’m sitting in a room with Joe and Steven and I’m about to play their songs that they wrote in the seventies, like a forty-five minute set with these guys, and I have to make them feel good about who is behind them on drums. These songs were played with Joey Kramer, another legend, another idol of mine, a hero I learned so much from. So yeah, there is that crazy nervousness of hoping that Joe and Steven doesn’t kind of get on you because maybe you didn’t do something the way they wanted.
I don’t know, anything could happen. That’s like a nightmare, cause the trick is you want to go in any situation and be in the room with them on the same level; not meaning the same level of writing stuff and financially (laughs). I’m not talking about. I’m talking musically. I’m saying, when I do my job in their world, I want to make them happy. I should be able to do that cause I’ve had enough time on this planet to do it. It shouldn’t be brain surgery. It shouldn’t be anything painful. It should be pain free and fun and bad ass because I don’t do too many other things except for this (laughs). So there is no excuse. But sure, I’m nervous as shit when I’m sitting there setting up my drums and it’s like we’re the kids, we’re the kids that bought the records (laughs).
Has there been a song that completely wears you out when you play it?
No, you just pace yourself. It’s like anything. If you have a job to do and you know you’ve got to go from here to here, you don’t want to go full steam ahead. I mean, it might look like that, people might say how does Keith Moon do it or something like that, or Tommy Lee, but this is what they have been doing their whole lives and you have to be smart about it. It may look like, oh my God, they’re going to burn out or something like that but a lot of it is just the image, like you’re swinging your arms around hitting things and it looks like it takes a lot of energy but at the same time you always get a break between songs. And, well, we are sitting down. I’ve been on the other side of the stage playing guitar and go try and hang around with Ted Nugent or Pete Townshend or Angus Young. THAT is insanity, you know what I’m saying. That’s non-stop energy. It’s singers too. Having to sing and control your breathing while you’re running around stage like Mick Jagger, all that stuff. It’s not just you’re over there doing windmills and shit, it’s not just that. It’s being entertaining on the stage while you’re being musical and playing an instrument or singing. But I don’t really burn out and I never will (laughs). Not until I fall down and pass out. That doesn’t really enter my mind. There’s no getting tired. That’s the last place I will ever feel tired is onstage. There’s too much awesome shit going on to ever worry about burning out. So no, haven’t done it.
What do you actually see from your drum kit? I’ve talked to drummers before and some say they don’t see anything because they are lost in the music and some say they can see everything.
I see a lot of hot asses on guys on stage (laughs). Especially Doug Aldrich (laughs). No, I would agree with both those answers. Sometimes you see everything and sometimes you see nothing. Depends on where your focus is at the moment. Some people go, “Oh, remember when that happened?” And I’m like, “No, I didn’t see that happen.” And other times I check everything out. It really depends on the song and what I’m doing on drums. I mean, I pay attention to probably the singer mostly. I pay attention to everybody but I would say the singer is front and center of everything going on. Generally, there is a leader of the band and you just really want to make that person feel comfortable. You’re also asking a person who has been in a lot of different bands so I might have a different attitude if I was like only in one band, like the guys I grew up with, the guys I had been through everything with, in one band, I might have a different way of thinking about things. But I can’t speak about that stuff because I really only know what it’s like to be in a ton of bands where you get a call and you jump in there and hope you make everyone happy and get the job done. With that, you’re always learning new things. You can’t just go in there and go, “This is me and this is how I do it.” That’s not how I play at all. I’d love to, I would love to just play how I want to play but there’s no way I would play in Billy Idol that I played in Ozzy. And Foreigner wouldn’t want me to play the way I played with Billy Idol. They’re different bands, different styles, different attitude. So I do have to pay attention a lot, more often than not.
Out of all the songs that you’ve ever heard, what song just boggles your mind in terms of the drums?
That would be outside of the world of rock, getting into other stuff whether it be Terry Bozzio or Frank Zappa or Tony Williams with Miles Davis, that side of things. I don’t want to say nothing boggles my mind, I don’t want to say it like that, but like in the world of rock Rush came out and it was so involved. There’s some tracks that Rush has that were pretty mind boggling when you consider it against all the other things in rock & roll. For me, I’m more boggled by songwriting, like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” any of the epics. They were such amazing songs. That stuff boggles me.
I think I would be more mind-boggled by some of the extreme metal drummers out there now cause they have insane speed and that type of drumming I think is amazing. I love it. I can’t play it, I don’t practice it, but I do love it and have so much respect for it. Or you know what, Meshuggah. I’m going to give it to Meshuggah cause they deserve credit. If you haven’t heard of the band Meshuggah, they’re my favorite metal band, they’re apocalyptic metal but their spin on their style is unto themselves. When I first heard them it was like, my God, they have everything I’ve heard in my head, this extreme rhythmic and brutal sound and the riffs are like so beyond the normal riff, they twist and turn, you can’t hear where the beat is. I love it. I love everything about them. They boggle my mind cause I’m like, these guys from Sweden got it together and have that sound together that nobody else ever did quite like this and now as soon as you hear other bands do it, you go, “Oh yeah, sounds like Mesuggah.” Which is just like when Pantera came out. You hear that sound and you go, yeah, sounds like Pantera. They’ve just hit on something that nobody else has.
You play Natal Drums. Why do you like them the most?
I was made aware of them a few years ago right before going out with Whitesnake and actually Doug Aldrich was a Marshall guy and said, “Hey, they have some drums and the guys at Marshall have some great stuff going on with them.” They sent over a kit to me and I checked it out and got to talking with them and saw what the big picture was and they were excited to have me aboard and they wanted to get their kit out there on a big tour, like a Whitesnake world tour with a new record out and all that stuff. So it worked out where Marshall was already all over the Whitesnake stage so I checked into Natal and thought it was cool. A lot of it was that I could see they were really conscious of the quality. I’m not so concerned about the type of wood and all that stuff. It’s more like the hardware and what’s going on around the wood. Cause the last thing you want is these things breaking down on the road where things don’t tear down and set up smoothly, cause that’s where your time is. To me, that’s where you start getting frustrated, trying to get stuff done. But if you have a great drum set with great hardware, the pedals and the stand and the seats, all that junk, that’s where the durability comes into play.
And they were a new company, that’s another thing. I’m kind of like starting from the ground up with them, which to me, I’m establishing a real good relationship and I wouldn’t be going with these guys if they didn’t have some really good stuff going on. We did the whole Whitesnake tour and then I suggested to them that rather than use Ludwig Drums at the Bonzo Bash, “Why don’t I support you guys and you make a Bonzo replica kit and we’ll use that, so you can use that forum to get recognition and brand awareness going.” And it worked out. They made me a couple custom kits and I’ve taken some of their drum kits and put designs on them for the Ox & The Loon kit. I got the artwork from the estate and took the Natal kit and made it like “Pictures Of Lily” and the same thing for the Dead Daisies kit. It’s really cool. And I like the fact that they were also owned by Marshall, cause I’ve played Marshall my whole life.
Who was the first real rock star you ever met?
Well, I think there was a time where I went to a NAMM show in LA, and I was probably like nineteen or twenty or something and I think I was in Berklee at the time. I just went to the NAMM show to check it out. I had a couple friends who had moved to LA and somehow I got a way to get in there and I went and I met a couple of people just from walking around there. At the first NAMM I remember seeing Peter Criss walking somewhere and I was like, “Holy shit, it’s Peter Criss” and I had a camera. “Is it fine if I take a picture?” I took a picture and walked away and that was it. So technically I did meet him back then. I know I still have the picture somewhere but it wasn’t, yeah I met him but it’s way different than like meeting him where you have a show where you’re giving him a Legend award. It’s a whole different thing. So I met some guys back then, in the eighties. Through the years I’ve met a hundred different people but who was the first? I don’t know man. I mean, Zakk Wylde was a rock star when I met him. He had played with Ozzy for a bunch of years by the time I met him. Shit, I met Terry Bozzio and he’s a rock star. At a NAMM show I’ve met Fred Coury. He’s made a bunch of records and videos so he’s a rock star.
Are you going to be doing any new music with Sass and S.U.N.?
We have like half a new record sitting there. I know we could finish up a second record and I’d love to. But I’m so bummed that you just need money behind you. Somebody has to have something to get behind you with cause if you don’t have the budget it’s just hard to sustain it, to tour, unless you have a big single or something. I just wish the first record would get a little more attention and if we could get out there and get it exposed more, that would be awesome. But we tried.
It was really cool to do the acoustic stomp thing opening for Queensryche. I just wish we could have done more of it. We did another run, like a week or something with Queensryche earlier this year, but Sass, her voice was trashed. She got sick and her voice went and she could barely sing the Queensryche set, the couple songs in there. So we couldn’t open up, we couldn’t play, the whole tour. Then I started doing other stuff. When we started talking again about what should we do next, it was like there was no solid time that the two of us have to get together. Generally, when we get together, it’s like her life is in Toronto and I’m in Los Angeles and we stay at my house where we can write and record. With her at the house we can kind of work around our schedules. But for that to happen she’s got to get out to LA and that has to be within a period I’m home and free. Right now, I don’t know.
But I hope we figure it out. It would also be great if we can get some kind of touring together. There’s no formula I know of what makes something work or not work. That’s why we just do the best we can and see what happens. I would love to see the first record get more exposure but you can’t sit on things forever and maybe we put something else out and something happens with that. You just throw the dice and see what comes out of it. I love playing guitar, I love the band with her and I love getting behind stuff that we came up with together so it would be really cool to see it happening. It would be great to see it grow more than where it is. It’s just exposure.