An Interview with Billy Idol Drummer Brian Tichy

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When Brain Tichy was a kid, he thought everyone wanted to play drums. Brian got his first drumset at age ten and took private lessons while also learning the drums licks on all his favorite records by Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and AC/DC. “Kiss was the first major band for me,” the drummer admits. “My friends had the Kiss Alive albums and I’d listen to the drum solos and think, ‘Oh my god, Peter Criss! That’s untouchable!’ Then my dad took me to see Kiss at Madison Square Garden on the Destroyer tour and that changed everything right there.”

Today Brian Tichy is one of the most in-demand working rock drummers in Los Angeles. In 2001, Brian joined the touring band for punk rock legend Billy Idol and has since become Idol’s songwriting partner, having co-authored eight of the songs on 2005’s Devil’s Playground (including the single “Scream”). “Songwriting is mostly about Billy and me sitting around with a couple of guitars throwing riffs at each other, adding melody and chords and putting it together. Writing the album was great and totally painless. We came up with a couple records [worth of songs] and have new stuff already demo-ed for the next CD!” Brian Spoke to Metal Edge the night before departing on a two month European tour with Idol.

Metal Edge: You have over ten years of experience touring and recording with artists like Ozzy, Foreigner, Slash’s Snakepit and Zakk Wylde. How do you take all that hard rock and metal and make it work for the Billy Idol gig?

Brian Tichy: Interesting question. The more experience you have, the easier is it to figure out the situation. When you audition for somebody like Billy, a million different things run through your mind on what to do or what not to do. I’ve heard funny stories about people who come in to audition for Ozzy or Billy with these ideas of how they have to get their image together or bring in their own lights, thinking that will help them get the gig. I figure that the first thing the artist cares about is the drums. I just keep my mouth shut until I know that my drumming has spoken for itself and figure the rest out after that. Nothing matters until they tell you that you’ve got the gig. The bottom line is, it’s all hard-hitting, aggressive rock drumming regardless of whether it’s “Eyes Without a Face” or “War Pigs.”

Metal Edge: When you toured with guitarist Vinnie Moore, the band had the opportunity to open a few arena dates for Rush. What was that like?

Brian Tichy: That was one of the coolest things that could have happened. We were in a van playing clubs and having a great time, and then we got word that we were going to be doing two weeks opening for Rush in Arenas on the east coast. That was like, “Are you kidding me?” I found out I’d be playing at Madison Square Garden on the same stage as Neil Peart. We were all fans so it was great! At a sound check one night, Neil and I were talking and I asked him a question about his drums. He asked, “Have you played them yet?” And I was like “No…I’m not going to go up and start bashing on your drums.” But he said, “Go ahead.” I had about twenty minutes to just cut loose and it was totally cool. That’s in the top ten memories of whatever I’ve done for the past fifteen years.

Metal Edge: I understand that you use in ear monitors. What do you like about those?

Brian Tichy: I prefer to have a big, monster PA and monitors behind me. But that creates a lot more volume on stage, which bleeds into all the other mikes and causes problems live. The in-ears are cool because they give me the exact amount of level I want from every instrument on stage, without any feedback. It also makes the world of the singer easier because you don’t have the PA volume blasting into his mike and corrupting his mix. It’s good for everybody in the band, really.

Metal Edge: What is your main strength as a drummer?

Brian Tichy: My strength is consistency. No matter how I feel or who I’m playing for, what I’m doing is going to be done 100 percent. Actually, I think the common characteristic of some of the best drummers is consistency. If I go see Vinnie Paul play with Pantera or Damage Plan, it doesn’t matter if I saw him in 1992 or 2000, in a club or in an arena. Vinnie Paul is on it 100 percent no matter what else is going on. I’m also good at adapting to the situation. I’m not going to play like Neil Peart if I’m in an AC/DC tribute band. As far as my signature chops, they’re all just Bonham and Alex Van Halen rip offs (laughs). In the big picture of everything, I’m glad that I’m making a living doing what I love.

Brian’s Gear:
Drums: TAMA
Sizes: 24” kick drum, 14”, 16”, 18” Toms, 6 1/2” x 14” Snare
Cymbals: Zildjian
Heads: Remo
Sticks: Vater

Official Website: http://www.briantichy.com/

billy idol drummeer brian tichy

This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

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