An Interview with Gil Sharone of Stolen Babies

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When drummer Chris Pennie left Dillinger Escape Plan to join Coheed and Cambria, both Dillinger and its fans were overjoyed with Pennie’s replacement, Gil Sharone of LA’s Stolen Babies. Says Gil, “I was thrilled to play on Dillinger’s Ire Works CD and to do the tour. We had this ridiculous chemistry that was both personal and musical. When we played together for the first time, the room lit up.” Towards the end of the touring cycle however, the drummer reveals that, “it got to the point where Dillinger was becoming my life, and my first commitment has always been to Stolen Babies, because that’s my band.

Stolen Babies kept getting offers for things that I wanted us to do and I had to choose one or the other. I really couldn’t give Dillinger the level of commitment they needed, so I had to step down as their drummer. There’s definitely no bad blood, though” he continues. “My departure was just about timing and commitments. Working with Dillinger was an amazing experience and the door is definitely open to do something again in the future.”

Gil is currently working on an instructional DVD covering the history and fundamentals of Reggae drumming, a style that he admits, “turned me into the kind of player I am.” He’ll complete production on the DVD around Stolen Babies’ tour schedule. Gil and his twin brother, Rani (Stolen Babies’ bassist) are also gearing up to record and tour with Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer project.

Metal Edge: Regarding how you adapt to different gigs, what’s the best way for a drummer to approach music that has a lot of meter and tempo changes?

Gil Sharone: With styles comparable to Dillinger – very fast and intense – it’s important to not get overwhelmed with where you want to take it. It’s music, it’s not an Olympic event. I’m not trying to play this extreme music with Dillinger to see how many BPM I can squeeze out of a blast beat. I approach things in a musical way. If I’m writing from the ground up and something happens to be a weird meter, it’s because that’s how I want to express it. Some people like to count and others write things down. I say there are no rules. Whatever you need to do to learn something, that’s what you’re going to do. If you try different avenues, you’ll see what kind of groove suits you the best. Luckily, I have a good ear and a good memory, so I hear things and they start to soak in. Then it’s just like – boom, I’m programmed!

Metal Edge: How did your set up change between Dillinger and Stolen Babies?

Gil Sharone: For Dillinger I kept the traditional set up that Chris used: a four-piece kit with just one rack tom, which is rare for me. I keep a very traditional ’50 or ‘60s type of set up, but I’ve always had at least two rack and two floor toms. I’d do fills and I’d miss the really big bottom end when I got to the end of a fill, so I added a second floor tom. With Stolen Babies I’ll play a five-piece kit because it’s simple to take with me, but ideally I’ll add a gong bass drum and another floor tom. It’s dependent on how much room there is on the stage and if I have a tech or not (laughs). I just decide musically what I need, rather than what I can do to be like Neil Peart. I think of what I need musically to get through all of the songs, and what makes sense to bring with me.

Metal Edge: How is a Gong Bass different from a traditional Bass Drum?

Gil Sharone: A gong drum is usually the size of a bass drum – say, 20 or 22-inches – but instead of having both a front and batter head with hoops on both sides, it’s just got one head. It’s open on the bottom and unlike a traditional kick it’s usually not very deep. You can strike it with your hand instead of a foot pedal, or hit it with the stick. It has a very powerful low end like a floor tom but it also sounds very tight and fast like a bass drum.

Gil’s Gear:
Drums: Orange County
Sizes: 8×10” and 9×12” Rack Toms, 14×16” Floor Tom, 20×22” Kick Drum, 7×13” Snare, 13×20” custom Gong Bass Drum
Heads: Remo
Cymbals: Zildjian
Sticks: Promark

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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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