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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Modern Drummer

Date: April, 1998

Transcribed by
Jason (

  page: 30
 title: Ask A Pro
author: Danny Carrey

Q:I've been a huge fan of yours since I got Tool's nima.  Your 
drumming is incredible!  What did you practice to get your feet so 
strong and smooth?  Are ther any exercises you can recommend?  Who are 
your favorite bands and/or drummers, past and present?  And how do you 
go about creating some of your amazing polyrhythims?

Spencer Vliet
Northampton, PA

Q:I took great intrest in what you said in your [Modern Drummer] cover 
story about the mechanics of your setup.  Many people have told me the 
"right" way to arrange my instrument, but I still feel that I'm not 
using it's/my full potential (in terms of fluidity, volume, and 
energy).  Could you please explain how you came to utilize your set 
properly for yourself?

Robert Bane
Tustin, CA

Q:I understand that you have a background in marching percussion, 
along with some "traditional" percussion training.  How has that 
background helped you in your current playing?

Derek Lee
via Internet

A:First of all, thanks to everybody for their support and 
complimentary words!  Now to the answers.
Spencer:  I seem to get the best results on double bass by treating by 
feet the same as my hands.  I do dexterity exercises, like playing the 
twenty-six rudiments, working on simple snare drum solos, and breaking 
up sticking patterns (like single and double paradiddles) between my 
feet and hands.
     My favorite bands include Yes, Skinny Puppy, Led Zepplin, King 
Crimson, Weather Report, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, Kraftwerk, XTC, the 
Police, Orbital, Laibach, and Yellow Magic Orchestra.  My favorite 
drummers include Paco SÈry, Steve Jensen, Terry Bozzio, Barriemore 
Barlow, Alan White (of Yes), cEVIN Key, Bill Bruford, Zakir Hussain, 
Lenny White, Martin Atkins, Fish (of Fishbone), Aloke Dutta, Elvin 
Jones, Kirk Covington, Vinnie Colaiuta, Sim Cain, and Tony Williams.
     There are lots of good books on polyrhythms available.  If 
reading gets you down, listen to West African music and interpret the 
different parts with your different limbs.  That should be enough to 
keep you busy for a while.
     Robert: Every so often I tear my kit down to nothing and start 
from scratch.  When I set it up, I do so in order of instrument 
importance (to me and the music I'm playing).  For example, in rock I 
start with the throne, then the kick, the snare, the hi-hat, etc. 
--one peice at a time, making sure I'm comfortable with each 
instruments position along the way.  Take your time and do what really 
feels good to you, even if it's very unortodox.  If your setup is 
unique mabye you'll play something unique.
     Derek: My marching experience was limited to school band where I 
played snare and tri-toms for eight years.  It wasn't really an 
official drum corps, but the rudimental training did help my hand 
developmant a lot.  Later, I attended th University of Missouri at 
Kansas City conservatory of music, where I studied classical and 
contemporary percussion, along with some jazz.  My traditional 
training on timpani, mallets, and even in classical composition and 
arranging has come in handy more than one might think in the rock 'n' 
roll world.  I highly recommend it.

Posted to t.d.n: 04/29/98 02:55:03