About The Torch: A monthly series, The Torch aims to help musicians of all ages and talent levels learn more about their respective instruments. Each issue features band members from around the world discussing their craft. They provide our readers with advice and insight towards their person experiences, as well as talking about the tool of their livelihood. Whether you’re an aspiring musician, beginner, fan, or expert, there’s something here for everyone. I truly believe it takes one generation to inspire another. With each issue, I hope we can motivate more and more readers to become the forces they admire.
Written & Produced by Meryl "LJ" DeWitt | Edited by Rachel Rosell | Photos by Misty Sprouse, Mira Live Photography, Michael Iwamoto
Shock and sexy describes the sound of Colorado's Seven Days Lost and Australia's Symphony of the Sun. Meanwhile, Los Angeles natives RVLS comes in with alternative pop anthems to contrast. Today, the drummers of these three amazing visually pleasing bands have come to our pages to tell tales of destruction and trail blazing. Enjoy Danny Rival, Johny Rock, and Christian Lee discussing their drums, and much more...
Meryl "LJ" DeWitt: How old were you when you first started playing? / What was your first drum kit?
Christian Lee: I first touched a drum when I was about 9 months old because my dad was a producer and musician. I didn't get to pursue it early on because we moved around so much when I was a kid but on December 27th, 2007, we set up the big, ugly, yellow 'Peavey Radial' drum kit (look it up if you haven't heard of Peavey drums) and I haven't stopped drumming almost 9 years later.
Johny Rock: I’ve been playing since I can remember, My uncle had this really old drum kit, which was falling to pieces, the hi-hats were an old biscuit tin, and the kick drum beater was some scrunched up foil made into a ball and stuck on the beater shaft. The skins were just tape over the shells, but I used to beat on it for hours. I loved it. After that, both my mum and dad had bought me a drum kit (at separate houses). At dads, I had a pearl kit, which was 1 up, 1 down kick, and snare. At mums I had a piece kit, which was 2 up, 1 down kick, and snare.
Danny Rival: I had to have been seven; I first started playing the way many do. My school offered a musical program in the 3rd grade and I really wanted to learn how to play the marching snare. My town always had parades and the drum line was where the heart of the parade was. So my mum went to a local music store and got me my first drum. A PEACE snare with a stand, case and a horrible pair of plastic drum sticks, haha. I remember at the time thinking they were “cool” when they really were horrid to play with. A couple years later I wanted to get a full kit. So we went off to another local dealer and I got my first kit which I still practice, write, record and do selective shows with. A five piece TAMA Swing Star. It was a beautiful Midnight Blue. At this time I believe I was ten, honestly I really don’t remember but I remember that day in the store looking at all the different kits and picking that one out.
LJ: Through trial & error in your career, are there any mistakes you would warn young Drummers to be cautious of?
Christian: The biggest mistake you can make as a musician is being scared to make mistakes. You don't know what you're doing right unless you know what you're doing wrong so just take chances. Also, don't get caught up in the practice room. You gotta play out with other people and break the comfort zone. Playing music by yourself is like masturbating; yeah, you know how you like it and you know what gets you there but it's a lot more fun with someone else. It's musical fucking, I guess.
Danny: In all honesty, never be afraid to do what you feel is right. Play loud, play hard, try new things always try and go out. With time anyone can become so much more then they think they can. Never doubt yourself and be open to any feedback, negative and positive. Aside from that, play to a click all the time. It will help you become such a solid artist you will thank yourself years from now.
Johny: Be selective with your drumming, serve the music and not your ego. Save the crazy stuff for your solo. The drummer can make or break a song. When I hear a drummer doing too much in a song, it kills it straight away for me.
LJ: Biggest stage nightmare you've had so far?
Danny: I had just wrapped up a Halloween tour that ended with back to back shows at the Whisky A GO GO in Hollywood, California with Dope on their last date of their DIE MOTHERFUCKER DIE REUNION TOUR. Then on Halloween night with Wednesday 13 and Michale Graves. Two huge kick ass shows and the venue pull a “you have to use our gear” card on me and honestly I was pissed. I tried using my own set up that I only drove a thousand miles out here to play with but I was still denied using my gear. Cool, whatever I said. So we start, I use their gear and two songs in, the foot board to their pedals gets lose. GREAT, FUCKED UP PEDALS. By the end of our set I literally had broken their $1000 pedals. Not on purpose of course. I was pissed that I had to use their gear and not mine. My drum tech kept running over trying to do a quick fix and just tape them together to at least finish the show but the bolts on the pedals had broken completely off. Always sketchy using other gear that isn’t your own.
Johny: Splitting my knuckles on the drum rims. At first you don’t realize you have done it, and your fingers go numb; you look down and your snare has blood splatters over it and pretty soon the whole kit is covered. It’s always handy to have a roll of tape handy.
Christian: Oh fuck... biggest nightmare is when your click track goes out during a song. I've had a guitarist stop what he was doing, go over to the laptop with the tracks, pause them then play them again a few seconds later because "he thought he heard something" and I'm the only one with tracks in my ears so it gets me fifty shades of fucked up when my tracks go out.
LJ: What's your current stage set up?
Johny: 22×20 kick, 13×7 snare, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16 Toms, Paiste Alpha 16", 18" Crash's Alpha, 22" Ride PST8, 8" Splash, and 18" China. The shells are DDrum Diablos.
Christian: My current set-up is: Truth Custom Drums - Vintage Mahogany with maple re-rings, Sabian Cymbals - Mix of AAX and HHX, Promark sticks - 2B Wood Tip Hickory, Evans Drumheads - Coated G2s, EQ2, HD Dry Snare, DW Hardware and Pedals - 9000 series hardware, and Custom Beater from Knockout Beaters.
Danny: Currently I play a seven piece ddrum Hybrid Kit. With it being a seven piece it is the only kit out there with two kick drums. The drums have a built in trigger system. The drums are a beautiful matte black with red hardware. Two kicks, two mounted toms and two floor toms. My TAMA Black Chrome Snare is the only non ddrum drum that I use. All my drum heads are Evans Onyx heads. DW9002 double kick pedal, DW9000 hi hat stand and a DW9000 remote hi hat clutch stand. Cymbals are all Meinl Classic Custom Dark. Which are amazing and beautiful sounding cymbals.
LJ: Best Drums you've ever owned? / Worst Drums you've ever owned?
Christian: Best piece I own is my gold DW 9000 single pedal. Hands down. I found it in a pawn shop in Texas for $350 brand new in box and it has been the BEST pedal I have ever played on. If my future child was hanging from a cliff along side that pedal... I would ask my child to hand me the pedal before his weak little fingers gave out.
Danny: TAMA Black Chrome Snare! That snare cuts and is a firework when it comes to live shows. Aside from maybe using a marching snare live I doubt I would use another snare. As for my worst piece, let’s just say I am picky with what I use these days, cymbals being a huge part along with drum heads.
Johny: For me it’s actually my current kit for both answers. The shells sound amazing. They are so punchy with the perfect blend of attack and warmth, but the hardware it came with was awful. I had lugs busting on stage and kick drum legs breaking. I replaced all the hardware. I ended up buying a Pearl rack and Gibraltar cymbal stands. I got all new lugs and refit the kit. I also rewrapped the entire kit in matte black fabric.
LJ: Dream drums to own one day? (Collectors, customs, etc)
Johny: I’d love a custom DW collectors kit. I don't think there are better sounding drums on the market.
Danny: Dream piece eh? No lie, I would love to own the drum set that Joey Jordison played when he was playing for Rob Zombie. That has to be my favorite drum set I have ever seen.
Christian: I love designing shit so I have kit ideas lined up that would be dope as fuck. I have too many ideas in my head that I want to come to fruition. If I could just get a solid snare collection and a bunch of beautiful drums that I've designed then I would die a happy man.
LJ: Some Drummers think I'm crazy for asking this & others find it a perfectly normal question… Do you name your Drums? If so, what are their names?
Danny: HAHAHA I have never named any musical piece of equipment I have owned. Not a silly question at all, just never thought about it before.
Christian: Hahaha I don't have any formal nicknames for them but if you ever hear me try to mouth out a fill or beat then you know how dumb drummers love to sound.
Johny: Well normally you give things lady names right? If I were to give my drum kit a lady’s name that would make me a woman basher, so no haha.
LJ: Who's your personal drumming hero?
Christian: Damn, this is a tough one. My first drum influence ever was Tommy Lee (no relation) and seeing him twirl his stick in the Dr. Feelgood video fucked. me. up. as a kid. But as I've progressed my influences have changed but top 5 would be 1. Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), 2. Mike Fuentes (Pierce the Veil), 3. James "The Rev" Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold), 4. Aric Improta (Night Verses), and 5. Donovan Melero (Hail the Sun).
Johny: Randy Castillo, that man created magic behind the drum kit. His power and presence are second to none. He knew how to serve a song and create groove, and his dynamics are still unmatched to this day.
Danny: RACCI SHAY HART aka SHETCHY This dude is a drumming god! He may not be known to the world but he dude has taught Joey Jordison a thing or two. Drummer for MURDERDOLLS, Dope, Wednesday 13, and others who have hired him know he’s pure grade A American bad ass drumming god of the world. Easel Dope and Wednesday 13 have both said Racci is the most crazy and hardest hitting aside from being born to play drums bad ass out there.
LJ: What, for you, makes it worth it to keep playing? What's your favorite part about being a Drummer?
Danny: The people you meet on the road and at shows. You can have a bad night, feel like crap, just wanting to go home, got jacked of pay and then you go out and all it takes is one fan to come up to you, ask for a picture and just tell you that you were amazing. Smiling at you, nervous as hell, wanting to thank you. It means the world to us. To give back something like that is priceless. I got into touring and recording because I wanted to give back what music gave me and to be able to do that is the best feeling out there. I will never trade that in for anything this life has to offer.
Christian: Being a drummer is just fucking FUN. You get to hit shit with sticks and be loud and dictate the heartbeat of the song. It doesn't get any better than that! But honestly what keeps me going is the skill it takes to be a great drummer. The feel, the groove, the interaction with other instruments, and most importantly self control, make this instrument amazing. You have to make so many decisions while you play between 4 limbs and a brain that won't shut the fuck up so that controlled chaos is beautiful to be in. I just honestly go into a different universe when I'm behind the kit. All my anger, happiness, fear and frustration gets translated into this rhythmic beast that makes people move and feel and that's sick. It's super emotional for me. You'll never see a more pure version of Christian Lee until you see him behind the drums. Rhythm is where I come to life.
Johny: For me it’s the aggression. I’m not an aggressive person by nature, but when I’m on the drums, anything I have building up inside, I can unleash it on the drum kit and let it all out. The other thing would be the feeling of accomplishment, when you finish a track and are listening to it back, and it makes you smile. There’s no better feeling.
Seven Days Lost