One of rock’s most welcome reunions of 2005 was the triumphant return of Vancouver’s notorious, leather-clad quintet, The Black Halos. With two new members, guitarist Adam Becvare and bassist Denyss McKnight joining the core trio of vocalist Billy Hopeless, guitarist Jay Millette and drummer Rob Zgaljic, The Halos stayed true to their explosive amalgam of metal, punk, glam and vintage, guitar-fueled garage rock with the release of their third album, Alive Without Control. A series of worldwide tours kept the band on the road for most of the year, but Rob Zgaljic stepped away from his kit long enough to answer a few questions for Metal Edge.
Metal Edge: You’ve said that the way you learned to play drums was “more about feel instead of all theory.” Can you elaborate on that?
Rob Zgaljic: I can read music and I know my rudiments so I can play just about anything, but approaching drums based on musical theory is a little foreign to me, because I never really studied that way. Now I want to go back and take lessons because I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t really teach myself anymore. I’m a rock drummer and I want to be able to expand the way I play. I’d like to learn a jazz approach in order to incorporate other feels into my playing. Then again it’s like going back to school: the thought of it scares me. I see all of these guys who are such amazing drummers and I get a little intimidated by them.
Metal Edge: You spent a few years playing with the band Sparkmarker. Did you have to change your drumming approach to play with The Black Halos?
Rob Zgaljic: For The Black Halos I had to change my style and concentrate on accenting the song instead of throwing in lots of fills. Sparkmarker was a hardcore band so I was a much ‘busier’ drummer, since that music was more technical. For a while, it was hard for me to adjust because I find that playing a straight four/four beat is harder than it sounds. Going from playing all of this off time to playing straight ahead was an adjustment for me.
Metal Edge: What impresses you when you listen to other drummers?
Rob Zgaljic: I listen to lots of new death metal bands and the drumming on those records blows me away. It’s awesome, but I can’t understand how guys play like that (laughs). It sounds like a machine to me. But I love listening to drums – from metal to jazz. Even if I don’t care to play in that style, when I listen I get inspired to be the best player that I can be. When I see a band with a drummer who tends to overplay, it’s frustrating for me. I know that sometimes drummers feel they’re in the background and they want to be more in the spotlight, but I don’t think that drums should be like the lead guitar. Drums and bass are the backbone of the music and…you couldn’t have music without them. I love players who are solid and throw in the right fills. That brings a band together.
Metal Edge: The Black Halos are known for touring almost non-stop. How has touring so much made you a better player?
Rob Zgaljic: If you don’t become better from playing night after night, then there’s something wrong (laughs). I can play these songs now with my eyes closed and the way we feed off each other, it’s like clockwork. I don’t even have to have a monitor. I know exactly what everyone’s playing and exactly where I should be. You don’t need to have all that fancy gear; you should just know the songs. We play twenty nights in a row without a day off, so you just get to know the songs like the back of your hand.
Metal Edge: What’s your main strength as a drummer?
Rob Zgaljic: The most important thing for me is keeping it locked down and just being a rock behind the kit. I really concentrate on keeping that tightness. I get the most compliments from fans along the lines of how tight my playing is, and I pride myself on that because I can’t handle hearing other drummers being sloppy. It doesn’t work for me.
Sizes: 16”X24” Kick drum, 12”X14” Rack Tom, 16”X18” Floor Tom, 14”x4” Pearl Marching Snare
Hardware: Pearl Hardware, DW 5000 Drum Pedal
Sticks: Vic Firth American Classic Rock
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackHalos/
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.