Tag Archives: Interviews

Check Out This Rad New Interview With The WorleyGig!

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Did you ever wonder what I was like when I was five years old, how I got started writing, how many Rock Stars I’m friends with, and how The WorleyGig brand came to be? Wonder no longer, because these mysteries and more have been revealed in an exclusive, in-depth interview I recently did with writer and artist Megan J. Meehan for the Medium.com blogging platform. Check it out now at This Link!

Recommended Reading: Shootin’ The Shit, Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons and Metal Gods By Vinny Cecolini

Shootin the Shit Cover

Way, way back, when I used to interview Famous People for a (meager) living, I acquired a valued reputation as a bit of a Rock Star Whisperer for my ability to get musicians to open up and talk about anything — even subjects or revelations that they had never made before to another journalist. This happened all the time. And while I take full credit for honing this skill through interviews with members of bands like Motley Crue, Duran Duran, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols and Led Zeppelin, I did have a couple of valuable mentors in fellow rock journalist friends who showed me the ropes when I was just an egg, and who taught me to me fearless. One of those friends was veteran rock journalist Vincent “Vinny” Cecolini, a Metal God in his own right, whom I have been friends with for twenty years. Vinny is the bomb.

Vinny has just published his first book of his collected interviews with some of the biggest names in metal and extreme rock, which is called Shootin’ the Sh*t — Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti- Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Unlike typical collections of rock star interviews,  Vinny’s first eBook is a compendium of conversations with artists  that were conducted during pivotal moments in each of their careers. Plans for pop culture domination; The truths behind long-debated rock ‘n’ roll legends; the inspirations for — and true meanings of — classic song lyrics; the decisions for leaving and returning to major bands; the struggles with such un-rock ‘n’ roll experiences as fatherhood and maturity: these are just a few of the revelations contained within the pages of Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Each conversation focuses on the artist and not the writer. This is a must read book!

“Fans want to read the artist’s words,” Vinny explains. “They want to read exact, contextual quotes. They don’t care about a journalist’s musings and meanderings. If they did, they would immediately flip over to a magazine’s reviews or editorial section.” As the title suggests, the author never treats his artist chats as paint-by-numbers question and answer sessions, but as friendly, naturally flowing conversations.

“Straight-forward interviews are the kiss of death,” Vinny continues. “When promoting something new, most artists are subjected to a cattle call of interviews. And nothing will bore an artist quicker than hearing the same sterile questions over and over again; nothing will frustrate or turn them off quicker than watching a ‘hack’ journalist stammering as he or she fumbles with a list of questions.

“If a journalist lets the conversation flow naturally, it may take him or her in a different direction than intended, but that is fine. Even if given an agenda by a publication (to talk about a new album, DVD or tour), eventually, the conversation will find its way back to topic.” This practice has resulted in a number of amazing chats with artists such as Neil Young, Meat Loaf, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Metal!

During his 25-year career, Vinny’s work has appeared in dozens of publications including Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs and Bikini. He was also the head writer for cable network VH1 Classic during the short window when that station actually played music videos. Like many veteran journalists, Vinny accumulated conversations that, for a variety of reasons, had never been published. Shooting the Sh*t is Vinny’s opportunity to help these amazing and often highly candid conversations  a new audience. The idea was born as the author lamented over an unpublished chat with a pre-American Nightmare Marilyn Manson.

Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods is available now an e-book on Kindle now and will be available on other formats this week! Get it on Amazon right now atThis Link!

Happy Birthday, Paul Barker!

One of my favorite people in the world, former Ministry bassist Paul Barker, celebrates his Birthday today, February 8th. Please enjoy reading my 2003 interview with Paul and the always amusing Al Jourgensen at This Link. Happy Birthday, Paul!

Happy Birthday, Ian Hunter!

Ian Hunter, Mott The Hoople

Ian Hunter, Singer for Mott The Hoople, was born on this day, June 3rd, in 1939, wow! Read my awesome interview with Ian from way back in the year 2000 at This Link. Happy Birthday, Ian!

An Interview with Travis Smith of Trivium

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When Florida’s premier Thrash/Metalcore band, Trivium, released The Crusade in 2006, drummer Travis Smith felt he’d “broken out of the box” – surpassing his previous recorded performances exponentially. With the release of the band’s fourth CD, Shogun, however, he thinks he may have “jumped the gun” with that claim. “That quote would apply 100 percent right now,” says the drummer. “This record really has the Travis Smith stamp on it. It shows my true identity behind the kit. I did some really cool stuff on Shogun that I’ve never done on any previous record; cool little tricks that you can’t plan. I was in the right headspace and the right environment, working with the right people. I felt good about going in there and laying down my drum tracks. Among our other records, this record totally stands out. Shogun will be the challenge for me to out-do myself for the next record.” Catch Travis and Trivium on tour now with Slipknot and Coheed & Cambria.

Metal Edge: The drums on Shogun sound great. Did you use any special studio micing?

Travis Smith: There were mics everywhere (laughs). I recorded drums in a 3,000 square foot room at The Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville. Nick Raskulinecz, who produced the record, has interesting micing techniques. He had about seventy mics on the drums and ten room mics alone. We had two mics for every tom, top and bottom, three mics on the snare, and four mics in each kick drum. All the cymbals had their own mics. There were mics behind me and in the ceiling; you name the place and there was a mic. The drums are so full because he literally captured every sound.

Metal Edge: Do you have a favorite part of your kit?

Travis Smith: My favorite drum is always the snare drum. There’s something about the snare: I can tune them and they just make me smile. I guess it’s how loud they are; like a gun blast. When choosing snares I’m very picky about them and the way they’re tuned. I’m a drummer that tunes the snare differently in the studio than I do live. For Shogun, I tuned it a little lower than I usually do, so it’s got more body, which is what I was going for. So the main difference between my recording snares and my live snares is that I lose the body live and go for more ear-piercing attack. The snare drum [sound] on Shogun is way different than any snare drum that I’ve used on other recordings. I wanted it to have a punch and to rattle your speakers whenever I hit it!

Metal Edge: Did you record with the DW snare?

Travis Smith: For Shogun, I actually used a TAMA Bell Brass snare. Sometimes I try using different rims because often you can get different sounds just by swapping out the rim. I tried several different rims on the snare but I ended up using the factory rim that came with it, which is really fat and heavy duty. When it comes to my snare drum I’m a super heavy hitter. I hit the snare differently than I do any other drum and I have my own technique, which consists of [hitting] half rim and half head. It’s a technique that I’ve picked up over the years of playing so much and it’s what I think hitting the snare drum should sound like. I just detune the top head a little bit and wail the f*ck out of it (laughs).

Metal Edge: The Slipknot tour includes dates at huge places like Madison Square Garden. Have you yet played a venue of that size in the States?

Travis Smith: We haven’t done a tour like this in the States ever, and we are so looking forward to it. Growing up, you dream of playing [at MSG] and now we’re getting that opportunity to show people what Trivium is all about. That’s what we live for – to play live and be out there on that stage. We’ve played arenas with Slayer on the Unholy Alliance tour over in Europe, but now Slipknot is giving us that opportunity to really try to win over new fans here. We have a thirty-five minute set, which will be thirty-five minutes of complete chaos. We’re going out there to kill.

Travis’s Gear:
Drums: DW
Sizes: 8, 9, 10 and 12-inch Rack Toms, (2) 16×18-inch Floor Toms, 21-inch Gong Drum (used as additional Floor Tom), 7×14-inch Snare, 20×24-inch Kick
Cymbals: Sabian
Heads: Aquarian
Sticks: Ahead Travis Smith Signature Sticks

Official Website: https://www.trivium.org/

Travis Smith of Trivium

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.

An Interview with Jimmy DeGrasso of F5

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In a career spanning over twenty years, drummer Jimmy DeGrasso has toured and recorded with some of the biggest acts in classic hard rock and metal, including Ozzy, Megadeth, David Lee Roth and Alice Cooper. So when his former Megadeth rhythm section partner, David Ellefson needed a drummer to record the sophomore album by his band F5, DeGrasso was his only choice. While Jimmy lays down some brutal double bass on The Reckoning he resists being labeled a “metal drummer” and reveals that the direction of his career was somewhat of a lucky accident. “When I moved to LA twenty-five years ago I wanted to be a fusion jazz drummer,” Jimmy admits. “But when I got the gig doing sessions for Ozzy I thought, ‘Oh, cool! I’ll try that too!’ Suddenly I was pigeonholed as a rock drummer, then a metal drummer, a thrash drummer, and now I’m back to being a ‘classic rock’ guy. I always laugh because you know what? I’m a musician. I like to play different things and I just try to keep my options open.”

Metal Edge: Speaking about the evolution of your playing, one interviewer recently remarked that you’ve moved on to what he called “The Morgan Rose Style” of playing. What are your thoughts on that?

Jimmy DeGrasso: That’s cool, because Morgan is a great drummer and a nice guy. But the funny thing is, my work on The Reckoning is more reminiscent of the Suicidal Tendencies record I made in 1994. It was about me stepping back in time and taking the same approach I did then, because that’s what the music dictated. When I played with Megadeth there was really nothing reminiscent of Suicidal Tendencies, and when I play with Alice Cooper there’s nothing similar to either of those bands. And David Lee Roth, that’s a totally different approach. I just want to create the best track and the best song. If the song works, then my job is done.

Metal Edge: I like your tom patterns on “Love is Dead.” What exactly is going on between your toms and your double bass work?

Jimmy DeGrasso: Most of the fills on that particular song were what I call a press quad, which is almost like a triplet, because everything is a swing or a triplet pattern. Most of them are where your hands and your feet counter each other, where you play something with your hands and then match it with your feet and go back and forth – hands feet, hands feet, hands feet. So, it’s like a flam, and then a triplet on the left and right bass drum.

Metal Edge: You co-own and operate a drum shop, San Jose Pro Drums. Has selling many different manufacturers influenced the type of drums you want to play yourself?

Jimmy DeGrasso: Whether you get a DW, Pearl, Tama, Gretsch or whatever, most of the companies make a good quality product and drums do sound different. It’s like the difference between a Fender and a Gibson guitar. There are different tones and sonic qualities. It takes years to understand, but when you hear little nuances here and there, that’s what draws you to an instrument. I’ve been playing Pearl drums for years because they have the certain ring, tone and warmth that I like to hear in a drum. It’s a very balanced sound. I have a lot of different kits for different situations and I often record with a Pearl mahogany kit that I got ten years ago. Pearl is actually the only company that makes a mahogany shell. It’s not a real popular shell, but the people in the know have them because it’s such a good sounding drum.

Metal Edge: Your drums are very prominent in the mix on The Reckoning. Did you have any input on that?

Jimmy DeGrasso: Our producer Ryan Greene is also a drummer and that was all his doing. He mixed it how he thought it was appropriate, but with this type of music the drums are a prominent instrument. I’ve always been a bit put off when, considering the drums are your foundation, some producers tend to mix the drums way back and you can barely hear the toms. I don’t understand that. If you’re going to play it, you’d better be able hear it. I’ve done records where you hear the rough mixes at the end of the day and go, ‘wow this is killer!’ Then it gets mixed, remixed and mastered for radio where it’s all squashed together. The drums are very soft and compressed and you’re like, ‘Man, the rough mixes sound way better than the final mixes!’

Jimmy’s Gear:
Drums: Pearl
Sizes: (2) 18” x 22” Kick Drums, 10”, 12” and 13” Rack Toms, 14” and 16” Floor Toms, 14” x 5 ½” Jimmy DeGrasso Signature Brass Snare.
Cymbals: Sabian
Sticks: Promark Jimmy DeGrasso Model
Heads: Evans

Jimmy DeGrasso

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.

An Interview with Shawn Drover of Megadeth

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Shawn Drover had been drumming professionally for over ten years when was invited to sit behind the drum throne in Dave Mustaine’s 2004 resurrection of the mighty Megadeth, a band he’d been a fan of since 1985’s Killing is My Business. With his experience and knowledge of Megadeth’s catalog, Shawn was a perfect fit, and the drummer admits he added a very important tool to his drumming arsenal shortly after joining the band. “One thing that Dave taught me early on is to play for and stay true to the song,” he offers. “That’s the approach we took for the latest studio album, United Abominations.” Shawn says Mustaine’s advice really took hold in his three years of touring with Megadeth prior to recording United Abominations. “I could understand the tendency to want to really cut loose and think, ‘this is my first big Megadeth record and I’m going to show you people all of my chops,” he explains. “But I learned to sit back, listen and recognize what might be self indulgent and not really not suiting the song that well. I didn’t cut loose as much as I probably would have if we’d recorded the disc in 2004, when I joined, so it worked out really well to have that live experience before we cut our first studio album together. I learned so much in that time that it didn’t freak me out going into the studio. Like ‘Oh my god, I’m making a Megadeth record!’ I was completely calm about it.”

Metal Edge: What’s your favorite story from the recording sessions for United Abominations?

Shawn Drover: One of the coolest things was that we recorded all of my drum tracks in (Pink Floyd guitarist) David Gilmour’s old house in the middle of nowhere in England. It’s a fifteenth century mansion with a studio detached from it. When we got there I had my kit set up in the studio, but then Dave says, ‘I’ve got a little surprise for you. We’ve got another kit.’ It was one of John Bonham’s old Ludwig kits; the only kit that his estate allows to be rented for sessions. It was a 1975 standard four-piece Ludwig kit with a black and white pinstripe finish – one rack tom, one 20-inch floor tom that I used for the whole record, the snare and a monstrous 26-inch bass drum. I said, ‘I’m using this thing as much as possible!’ I incorporated Bonham’s kit into the kit that I had and played it on quite a few parts on the record; it was fantastic sounding. Thinking back now, that whole experience was extremely positive and fun, so I really enjoyed it.

Metal Edge: In your playing, the role of each hand is reversed in that you keep time with your left and use your right hand for the snare. Do you think this technique helps your drumming stand out as unique among your peers?

Shawn Drover: It’s definitely something I do that an extremely high percentage of drummers don’t, because most drummers play cross-handed. I learned the way I did because kits I learned on when I started playing were set up for right handed drummers, and I’m left handed. It does have some advantages, because there’s nothing keeping me from hitting the snare with full force. With the restriction of the right hand crossing over the left, your mobility is not as open as it is playing openhanded, like I do. It also has disadvantages but I’ve been doing it for so long that I just make it work for me. I figure if Simon Phillips can do it, I shouldn’t have a problem either!

Metal Edge: Your drums are set up on a replica of the Voelker Rack System previously used by Nick Menza. What do you like about that rack?

Shawn Drover: It was actually Dave’s idea, when he resurrected the band, to make an upgraded version of that. Of course, I was all about it! A fabricator in Tempe, Arizona put it together based off the old design and I think it’s fantastic! It’s hydraulic driven and it’s all cranked up. My tech loves it because it’s easy to break apart and assemble. It splits right in the middle and the drums stay on the riser for the entire tour. Every night when I walk onstage I know my drums are exactly the same because they’re all in position and held there. It’s visually very cool and very dependable. It was quite costly but it’s an investment: I’ve had it for almost four years now and it should last for fifteen to twenty, easy.

Shawn’s Gear:
Drums: Ddrum
Sizes: (2) 22” x 20” Bass Drums, 10”, 12”, 13” and 14” Rack Toms, 16” and 18” Floor Toms, 14” x 7” Snare
Cymbals: Sabian
Sticks: Vic Firth
Heads: Remo Black Suede

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

shawn drover megadeth
Image Courtesy of Shawn’s Facebook Page

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.