Saturday, February 16, 2019

Volume 70 - Stephen Bonilla

 Stephen Bonilla

They say speed kills. But in music, speed thrills. Now add hard and loud to the mixture and you've got a helluva drummer. I always marvel at these katz bcuz I can't do what they do, lol! It's nice to be able to get some Metal drummers in the mix and I was glad I came across Stephen. A man with a band, a dream and determination. Grab a hold of seats and pop in your ear plugs, we're taking a trip to the DFW area to Talk Chop with Stephen Bonilla.


Where are you from? 
I'm from Austin Texas, but live in Fort Worth, Texas. 

How long have you been playing? 
I've been playing since 2013, but my first year was just a practice pad and sticks. I got serious about practice in 2016. 

What made you want to play drums?
I was always fascinated with drums. My friend Sam played drums and turned me onto some new music. When I heard the self titled Slipknot album, I suddenly NEEDED to play. Haha. Sam pushes me to play and I haven't looked back since. 

I see you started off playing Sax. Do you still play on the side? 
Unfortunately, no. I haven't played in an ensemble since 2012. I pick it up every once in awhile, but never with a group. I do miss it sometimes. 

How much of that education do you use now as a drummer? 
I never really took any drum lessons. I'm self taught. However, I do use some of the music theory I took in college. Whenever the writing process gets stuck, I try to incorporate key changes or suggesting some metric modulation by keeping the subdivision but changing the "1". 

How would you describe your drumming style?
I like to think my drumming style is unique, but that's pretty presumptuous. Haha. 
I come from a background in metal but became engrossed in the "gospel chops" style of playing. So there's lots double bass and fast playing mixed with ghost notes and linear fills. I like to play with the music and vocals to add to it without throwing in unnecessary fills. 

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks...ect? 
I currently have 2 Yamaha kits. 1 birch stage custom. 1 custom oak kit. 10", 12", 14" toms and 20" kick. 13" Pork Pie little squealer maple snare. I use the Axis longboard double pedal. My gig cymbals are Soultone. 14" extreme hats, 19" extreme crash, 8" custom splash, 18" explosion crash, 23" Custom AR crash/ride, and 18" explosion China. I'm still trying to find the right stick for me. I'm currently using 5B Promark sticks and trying out 5B Scorpion drum sticks. I use Evans drumheads. Genera HD dry snare batter head, hydraulic for the toms and heavyweight Emad for the kick. 

How were you introduced to Soultone Cymbals? I found out about Soultone cymbals through YouTube videos. I saw a video of Nick Smith playing a song called "Rebirth" and LOVED the sound. I finally got my hands on some with the help of Yannick Sastre. He has been a big help.

What is it about the cymbals that made you choose them over other brands? 

Soultone cymbals have had such an interesting sound to me since I heard them on YouTube. There's just something about them that appeals to me. The dark trashy sound, but still cuts through of the Gospel series is one of my favorites. Unfortunately they're a little too thin for my playing. The main reason I like them so much is that I have a unique sound with them. I love the sound and aesthetic of them, plus I get to add my personal logo to each one which really makes it my own. 

Your in a band called Bad Blood. What kind of band is this?

Bad Blood is a metal band that is heavily influenced by Slipknot, Sepultura, Marilyn Manson, and Gojira. We keep it simple with no sampling, fancy light shows, or anything. We just bring raw energy and intense music. Bad Blood wants the music and performance to be something you want to experience over and over again. 

How did it come about? 
The guitarist, Tony, and I worked at a warehouse together. As we started talking more, we noticed we had a lot in common and both played instruments. It took MULTIPLE attempts to bring him into the practice space but when he did get there we wrote two songs and new we had to start a band. The vocalist, Talmage, and I were in an indie band together and I knew he had a metal background so I asked him to join us for a practice and see if we had something. Similar to the time with Tony, Talmage came up with lyrics almost instantly and was happy to join. We've gone through a couple bassists, but had Dustin join us from a project Talmage and Tony were doing with him. The energy he brought instantly changed our live performances and we haven't looked back. 

You guys are working on a new project? 
YES! We have completed the first stages of pre-production. We have a couple studios in mind, but we are narrowing it down soon. It'll be a 5 song EP with some of the fastest and in aggressive music we've done. We are hoping to bring on a friend, Los Pulido from Born and Raised, to be featured on a song as well. 

Bad Blood - "Kill, Kill" (live at GMBG)

Has the band done any touring?
Unfortunately, no. We've done some excursions through Texas and played Oklahoma a couple times. We are looking to start expanding our reach this summer by branching out and playing different states. 

Being that you're playing fast a lot, what do you do to maintain your speed, accuracy and endurance? 
I practice almost every day. Haha. It's the only real way to maintain and improve upon the speed I have. I focus on playing consistently for long periods of time to maintain my endurance. 

How much time do you practice? 
I try to practice a minimum hour a day. I will usually practice 1-3 hours when I sit down and focus. I'm definitely not naturally gifted, so I have had to practice a lot to get where I am. Even still, I have SO MUCH more to grow. 

Is there a different approach to your playing from studio to live? 
Most definitely! Live, I try to make it more of a show by exaggerating hits, being organic by playing without a click, and playing things a certain way you'll only see live. Studio playing is something I'm still working on. I'm very particular when it comes to recording. I play to a click a month or more before we go to the studio to make sure tempos are right and that my hits line up. I like to make things uniform so each take is the same, minus mistakes, unlike live playing where I change fills each show. 

Bad Blood - "P.O.S." (Live)

Being an Indie band, do you guys feel like you've got a good plan for success? 
Talmage and I like to think so, Haha. We've got a plan for this upcoming EP to shop around to labels for distribution and are working to get on major festivals. We talk about things frequently to brain storm ideas for promo, who to reach out to, and what we need to work on as a band to help boost our performance and reach. It'll definitely be a lot of hard work, but I think we can do it with our current goals and plan.

How has drumming impacted or changed your life? 
It has! Both for good and bad. The main draw back is the amount of money it takes and playing gigs takes time away from my 3 children and wife. It has had a huge impact on my social life. I've gained some amazing friends and acquaintances. I've befriended some amazing drummers and musicians throughout this journey. Jerrin Castillo, from Renatus, and Joey Gonzalez, from Phil Anselmo's projects, are amazing drummers I've had the privilege of getting to know and help me progress. I was never social in high school and barely talked to anyone. Through the years of promoting and talking to people, I've finally started to be more personable.

How do you balance being in a band and family life? 
This is still a struggle for me. I use to be in 2 bands and work on projects, but it left no time for my family. So, I cut down and focused on Bad Blood. We practice once a week and play 1-2 shows a month. With keeping gigs spread out, it gives us a chance to really promote and allows me to spend more weekends at home. It helps that when I practice on my own, I'm at home too. 

Do you have any specific goals for your drumming career? 
Other than making music my career, my main goal is to either open for Slipknot or play Knotfest the same day/stage as Slipknot. Haha

What's the live music scene like in your hometown? 
The DFW music scene is overflowing with talent. From jazz to R&B and Pop to Metal, there is always a good show close to you. In the metal scene it seems to be more metalcore/breakdown music or death/tech metal. So Bad Blood doesn't really fit in and tends to get overlooked. However, being the odd one out can have its benefits too. It's a little saturated but it only pushes others to make better music and perfect their craft to stand out. 

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?
Mike Johnston-He is one of the best YouTube drum instructors I've seen. He's very musical and helps bring things into perspective. 
Gavin Harrison - the precision and subtlety he brings into his music is so crazy to me. I love the ghost notes and the way he "manipulates" time. 
Jerrin Castillo - while he's not well known, he should be, Jerrin in a crazy talented drummer. He's a humble guy who works hard and is talented. Since knowing him I've pushed myself to get to his level. 
Dan Presland - I came across Dan through Jerrin. Once I watched his playthrough videos, I couldn't stop. Haha. His playing looks so effortless and is so tasteful. It's a little busy but always suits the song so well. 
Eloy Casagrande - Eloy is a powerhouse drummer. The energy he brings to the stage blows me away. He's 100% all the time. I want to bring that kind of intensity to Bad Blood shows. 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?
My first Slipknot concert on Halloween with Korn was so inspiring. It just made me want music as a career even more! The entire car ride home I just wanted to go to the practice space and play until I couldn't play anymore. 

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has it helped you? 
I record videos of myself all the time. I record practices, ideas, and gigs. It's helped quite a bit in pin pointing where I need to improve and helped me see some of my mistakes weren't as bad as I thought. Haha. I post things on my Instagram mainly, @sbonilla46, and ask for constructive criticism from anyone. 

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? 
I've had a few gigs that I'll never forget, but the one that surprised me the most was a show at Curtain Club in Deep Ellum. The venue was double booked with a pop show first and then a metal show afterwards. When I got there for load in, it was PACKED with teenage girls going crazy over this boy pop band with unbuttoned shirts and pandering lyrics. After they finished we got on stage and expected everyone to clear out. Curtains open and we see everyone has stayed. We open with our song "Chicken Nuggets" and these teenagers are "woo"ing and moshing. We get to "Kill Kill" and the crowd has grown. The moshing continued through our whole set. One of the best crowds we had and it was left over from a pop show. Haha 

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there? 
I think the best advice I could give is the same I heard from Mike Johnston. Stop comparing yourself to all these amazing drummers out there. You see the final product of all their practices. They don't show you the struggle and the hard work. This plagued me for so long. We all struggle and we can all achieve the aptitude we desire. It just takes work. Lots of work. 

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You's??? 
Be sure to follow my band Bad Blood on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. If you go to the band website you can get to all of the social media sites as well as download 2 covers, "Roots Bloody Roots" and "Surfacing". Thank you to my family for all the support. Especially my Mother, Vicki for everything she's done to help me get to where I am, and my wife, Tori for putting up with me and my crazy schedule. Thank you DeHaven for having me for this interview!

Band Instagram - @badbloodtx  

#badbloodband #areyoureadyforawar
Personal Instagram - @sbonilla46 


Yo Stephen, thx so much for sharing your drum life with us. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and your band Bad Blood. I wish you, your family and band success. Keep doing your thing.
I hope all of you reading this interview had a good time. Please make sure you stop by Stephen's soc med pages and say 'hello'. That's what we do here in the TC fam..Support.

If you or someone you know should be interviewed for Talkin' Chop. Please contact me and let's make it happen.

DeHaven -

I would like to thank all of my supporters and drum companies...

#TalkinChop #DrummersSupportDrummers #DrumLife


Monday, February 4, 2019

Volume 69 - Ryan J.



Where are you from?
I was born in Visalia, CA but now live in Las Vegas, NV. I've been in Vegas 20 years now.

How long have you been playing?

That's a tough one. I've been playing pretty much my whole life. I think I really actually started playing around 10y/o. I had a snare drum and started learning rudiments and playing along with my mom while she played the piano.

Do you have a favorite genre to play?
Rock and Punk are my main genres I play, but I like a lot of genres. It really depends on the song. I really like funk, fusion, and blues but rarely get to play those.

You started playing when you were pretty young, how did that happen?
My family comes from a long line of musicians. My grandparents were musicians, my mom is, my sister, my aunts and uncles, etc. so it was just in the blood I guess. When I was young my parents managed a music store and they would bring home all sorts of instruments for me to mess around with but I always seemed to just want to bang on overturned trash cans or pots and pans, and my parents recognized that and kinda encouraged me to become a percussionist/drummer.

Did you know in those early years, you wanted to do this as a career?
Hm? I'm not sure. I think as a little kid, I just wanted to play drums. I don't think I ever thought about it as a job or career until I was around 12 or so. I got a paid studio gig recording some songs for a local singer and I thought, wow I can make money from doing this. I think that was really the first time I ever thought about it as a job/career. 

Now, you also studied and took things seriously. What were some of the things you learned that you still count on today?
I did. I was in marching band and drum corps and not only does it teach you how to shred, it teaches work ethic, discipline, and playing with a group. I count on all those things every time I play. It's definitely the only things I learned in school I actually still use.

So, was there a favorite band you wish you could have been the drummer for back in the day?
One of my first introductions to rock music was Journey, quickly followed by Rush. I just wanted to be as good as Steve Smith and Neil Peart but I don't think I ever thought about being in those bands, but I sure would have if given the chance.

Forward to now, you got a couple of projects happening. Let's dive in to Crimson Riot first. Tell us about the band and its unique line up...
Crimson Riot is a fairly new band. We've been a band about a year and a half now, although the three of us have been playing together for over 8 years. The band is made up of my daughter Roxy Gunn on guitar and lead vocals, her husband Chris Reject on bass, and myself on drums. It kinda happened overnight. Our other band of seven years, The Roxy Gunn Project, lost our guitar player due to some medical issues so we didn't know what to do to move forward as a band. We decided instead of replacing him, we would just create something new. We all have punk roots so we thought doing a pop punk type band would be the answer.

Were there any 2nd thoughts about having a band where you're the father and the drummer in the band? 
Not really, there are lot of family bands out there though mostly siblings or couples. It is rare I guess to have father and daughter in a band. I actually know a guy that is a dad drummer and plays in a band with two of his daughters.

Crimson Riot is kind of a Pop/Punk band but with some kool twist & turns. How would you describe your music?
We definitely fit in that pop punk genre. Roxy has written so many songs over the years and has influences of all kinds, so it really makes for some unique catchy tunes. Our old Gibson rep used to call her a tackle box because she was so full of hooks. The main goal for Crimson Riot was to have fun. Our past band was a lot more serious and technical so I'm really enjoying just playing simpler parts and just having fun.

You guys won a big contest not long ago, tell us about that...

Yes, the Topgolf company has been making a series of TV shows and they created a new one called Who Will Rock You which is a music competition show much like Idol, The Voice, but with bands. We did an audition in Vegas and they chose us to be on the show. We didn't even think we would be picked for it. We filmed over a few days winning the first, second, and final rounds that sent us to Nashville to compete in the finals against the winner of the east coast. At that point we were shocked always thinking, well at least we get a free trip to Nashville. In Nashville we threw down like it was our last show ever, and while the audience voted for the home town band, both judges picked us for the win. It was surreal. We couldn't believe we went that far much less winning the whole thing. It was a pretty amazing day.

"Hurt" - Live from Who Will Rock You

Aside from winning the contest, what did you guys gain from that experience that you can use for your future?

Being a fairly new band, I feel it gave us confirmation that we went the right direction with the band and that the songs and our writing style is well received. We made a lot of new fans, new friends, and contacts.

What's next for this band?
Well, we've played a few different shows for Topgolf around the US and have been working on our first album and playing shows in Vegas. We just recently played with punk icons, The Dickies and then a really fun show with Buck-O-Nine. We have a few small tours slated for this year starting in the spring. In the meantime, we're just writing songs and working on our album.

What is the big plan for Crimson Riot?
Release our first album ASAP and tour as much as possible, hopefully getting on some bigger tours and festivals.

How is tour life for you guys?
It's great! I love being on the road. Not only seeing all the great places, but spending time with my daughter. We have a huge RV named "Lola" that we tour in. It's basically a rolling apartment so we're totally self contained which is nice to have the comforts of home while touring and it cuts the expense of hotel rooms. Roxy is a great tour cook too. We have a great time.

What is the local scene like in the Vegas area for original bands?
It's a little weird. Vegas is a very different place as I'm sure you know. Every night there are a million things to do so sometimes the local scene gets over-shadowed. Imagine playing a show and 3 major national acts are playing that same night. We played a show once when Metallica and GnR were playing the same night. That makes for tough However, we still had a cool crowd. There are a lot of people in Vegas that really love the local scene and support it to the max despite the major acts being in town. Overall it's a great local scene. The people and venues that are in it and support it are awesome.

Are you still doing the Roxy Gunn Project?

Yes! The Roxy Gunn Project is now our working cover band. It used to be our original band as well, but once we created Crimson Riot, RGP turned into just a cover band. That's kind of our "day job". We added Vegas rock veteran Randy LeDuc as the new lead guitar player to that band. We play all around Vegas in the casino lounges, Fremont St., and a few small bars every week.

The Roxy Gunn Project - "I love Rock N Roll" and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"

Doing the cover band gig, how do you keep it fresh and fun, night after night?

We add songs frequently so there's always something new to work on and perform. I just try to have fun with the audience and my band mates. I'll find new spots to do a stick trick or add a little extra flair to a fill. 

Describe your current set up & gear - kit, heads and sticks...ect:
I have three kits right now.

My Crimson Riot kit is a Mapex Mars series 5 piece with one rack tom and two floor toms. It's birch as has a nice bite to it which works great for fast punk tunes. The kit I use for RGP is a 6 piece DW Concept Maple series. Two rack toms and two floor toms. I use a Tama Babinga snare drum for both kits with the Creative Percussion Drum Taco instead of traditional gels. For cymbals I use a variation of Meinl's. 14" Fusion hi-hats, 16" Classic Crash, 18" Byzance Crash, 19" Byzance Crash, 22" Fusion Ride, 10" Classic Splash. I use DW hardware and pedals on both kits with Creative Percussion Cork Hammer bass drum beaters for RGP and a Creative Percussion Elite Black Window beater for Crimson Riot. Just recently I did an endorsement with CooperGroove sticks and will soon have my signature model made. Right now I'm using the Evans UV1 heads on my toms on both kits. Remo coated Ambassador on my snare. Evans Superkick 2 on my kick. I also have an Alesis Crimson II electronic kit that I use for practice and small bar gigs.

How do you like those CooperGroove sticks? Have you noticed a difference from the traditional sticks?
I love them! When I first saw them, I hated everything about them I didn't like hickory, nylon tip, or anything on the grip side. However, I'm pretty open-minded and always give new ideas a try. The owner Carlo, sent me out a couple pairs. I took them through a test drive with both bands and went HOLY CRAP these feel awesome. I was really shocked. I recently finalized an endorsement deal with them. I highly recommend giving them a try.

Do you have a "Dream Kit"?
Not really. I really like maple though. So maybe a nice custom maple kit one day for the studio. I use less expensive kits at the moment to gig with so if they get thrashed, it's not a big deal and they sound pretty decent. I'm not really a brand guy, so I couldn't even name a specific company I would go with if I was going to make a custom kit. There's a lot of smaller "boutique" companies out there making some really nice sounding drums. If I had to choose a "that kit", I think it would be awesome to own Neil Peart's kit from the 2112 days. That would be fun to play.

How would you describe your drumming style?
Well, I'm actually left handed playing right handed so I think it gives me a little more creativity in my playing. I love rudiments on the kit. I try to utilize drum corps licks in certain spots where they make musical sense. I've had a lot of very different teachers over the years and I never stop learning. I just try to apply different ideas into songs and see what works best, whether it's a funky hi-hat lick or a crazy tom pattern. I play strong yet very dynamically which I think has become a lost technique for younger drummers that just bash. It has it's place and sometimes looks cool in certain situations. However, timing is everything as they say, and that's really what's most important. That's really our job as drummers. I use the Mike Mangini Tempo Advanced app, which I HIGHLY recommend, for practice and even live to keep my bands tight.

Being lefty, why not play a lefty kit? And what was the adjustment like?
When I started playing I didn't know any better. I was just watching the guys I listened to and thought that's how you do it. Also, most of the rudiment exercises I learned when I was young always started off on the right hand and in drum corps most parts start right handed, so I just kind of went with that. I tried playing open handed a few times to see if I had any advantage, but it really didn't change anything. I've heard once that Ringo was a lefty and it's noted by the lick he plays in Come Together. 

If you weren't playing drums, what would you be doing?
I'd probably work in a recording studio. I love the recording process. If I wasn't in music at all, I'd like to work at a marketing firm. I like coming up with logos and slogans. I was a big fan of the Mad Men show.

How has drumming impacted or changed your life?

It's given me some incredible opportunities to play some great venues that I never thought I'd play. Traveling has been fun and the people I've met over the years is definitely a cool aspect of what I do. Music has given me the freedom to do what I love for a living with some amazing experiences along the way that I'm sharing with my daughter.

Crimson Riot: In Focus - A Topgolf Rockumentary

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?

Steve Smith: He was the first drummer I heard that inspired me to play rock drums. Something about his sound and the way they produced their songs really grabbed me. They sounded so big and powerful.
Neil Peart: He was the one that introduced me to more technical, progressive drumming styles.
Buddy Rich: I saw him live when I was young and I really noticed his feel and 
groove which really impressed me, even at the young age.
Dave Weckl: I saw his client once and was blown away at how he could 
manipulate time and play within all those crazy time signatures.
EVERY DRUMMER: I'm influenced daily with the amazing invention that is the 
internet. I learn from every drummer I watch. There's always something you 
can learn from everyone. Might be a very subtle element, a huge lick or even 
a technique. I've even learned from my students on occasion.

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?
Wasn't really a concert, but I went to a clinic when I was 15 and saw Sonny Emory and Terry Bozzio. The next day I rode my bike to the record store and bought every cassette tape I could find with Terry playing on it. I played along to some Zappa stuff and the whole Spring Session M album by Missing Persons. I later found a Sonny Emory album and bought that.

How much time do you practice?
Not as much as I'd like to. I'm super busy playing out or rehearsing 4-5 nights a week between both bands but I have an extensive rudiment workout I do almost everyday just to keep my chops hot. It's about a 20 minute session.

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions?
When I do sit behind the kit, I usually work on new beats, usually from some other genre I don't normally play. I'll watch African tribal drum groups and develop beats over their rhythms or I'll find some crazy funk tune and groove over that. I also find myself creating weird licks for future solo parts or song endings. Playing so much with both bands, my timing is kind of practiced constantly. As I'm answering these questions, I'm in the middle of a four day gig playing 16 one hour sets.

The last 5+ years there has been a rise in the "shred culture" what is your take on drummers and the constant drum vids of katz just soloing?
People are gonna hate me for answering I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand I love that people are taking drumming to such a high level. I appreciate those guys out there shredding and it has it's place for sure. I have a lot of buddies that are in bands like that. My son is actually one too. He's 24 and rips it up. Now, the thing that drives me crazy, and I in no way wanna come off as some old bitter dude. Just my honest feelings on this. I see videos of people playing cover tunes with millions of views and all the drum companies throw product at them, yet some of these people have never played outside their bedroom. Or it's some super cute "bouncy" 20 y/o girl playing some tune I play 50 times a week and she gets millions of views and major endorsement deals without leaving the house. Don't get me wrong though. I love that people are drumming and having success in their own way. I'll always support any drummer having fun and accomplishing their goals.

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? many. The most recent one was we were hired for a private party out in the desert. It was a friend of a guy we know. It's basically a huge desert party with ATV's, dune buggies, bon fires, etc. We played a few sets and then hung out with the party goers. Lots of drinking ensues and probably some drugs smoked so it's getting a little wild. Tops are coming off and whatnot. In the middle of the area there is this massive bon fire that started with about 20-30 wooden pallets. This fire was huge! Tons of people are gathered around having a good time sharing stories, jokes, etc. Then this guy thought it would be funny to throw a few Roman candles into the fire. Next thing we know there are fire balls flying at a million miles per hour in every direction. It was like being in a war zone. We hauled ass towards our RV and ducked for cover. People we're screaming, kids crying, just a total freak out everywhere. This big guy shows up and asked who did that and a few people pointed out the jokester. The big guy walks up to this guy and slugs him dead square in the face. They were both pretty big guys. The guy runs away for a second and then returns with a gun and starts shooting. Someone tackles the guy from the back and they get the gun away from him. The whole event settles down and every goes to their camps to sleep. A few hours later the cops show up and bang on our RV door and wake us from our sleep. They question us about the incident as we are standing outside in the freezing desert night. We told them what happened, got back in our RV and drove home. What a crazy night.

What's the best compliment someone has given you about your drumming?
I usually get compliments about my timing and feel. I just actually had a fellow drummer tell me my groove was ridiculous at my last Crimson Riot show a week ago. People also say I'm really friendly and approachable, which is true. I'm a chill person and I'm very supportive of my fellow musicians.

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?
I'd like to leave you with a simple quote I learned from my most inspirational teacher. "Your worst day of playing drums is better than your best day of digging ditches" I always keep that in mind when I'm playing Sweet Child O' Mine for the billionth time.

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You's???I'd like to thank Talking Chop for having me. All my teachers over the years, my family for always being supportive in my crazy career, and all the great musicians I've had the pleasure of playing with.


Hey Ryan, keep doing your thing man! I dig what you're doing and I support you and the both bands.
I am a staunch supporter of Indie Bands.
Thanks so much for sharing your drum life with us.

I think we have learned some valuable bits to carry with us on our journey.
If you wish to connect with Ryan J. please follow him and his band on soc. med.
Make sure you drop a "Hello" on him.


As always my peeps, if you or someone you know would like to be interviewed for Talkin' Chop...
Contact me:

DeHaven -

I would like to thank all of my sponsors & supporters:

SJC Drums - Soultone Cymbals 
CooperGroove Drumsticks - Cympad
Cymbag - Phatfoot Drum Harness
Woodshed Stage Art - SledgePad 
Sweet Spots - Kickport


#DrummersSupportDrummers #TalkinChop


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Volume 68 - Tim Penska


Once again, I bring you another drummer from the Pittsburgh, PA area. It's such a kool thing to come across all of these players from all over the country and the world. You never know what you're gonna get.  So, that brings me to our guest for this edition of TC. A kat who's doing some kool music with his band and working hard around town and the region. This is a resilient drummer, who has had some speed bumps in his path but still has the burn to play and create some great art. So let's get down to business and get in to some Trucker Rock with Tim Penska. 


Name or Stage Name:
Tim Penska 

Where are you from? 

How long have you been playing? 
30 years and counting

How did you get started playing drums?
My dad was a drummer turned bassist and when I was like 5 or 6 and I would tell him how I always wanted to play drums. He had a pair of sticks laying around, they were JoJo sticks. Can't believe I remembered that after all these years. But, I would pound on anything with them from magazines to Tupperware.

How do you describe your drumming style?
I'm a metal head at heart and that influence totally shines through with almost anything I do. I also like to have an actual groove to my playing. Once I find that perfect tempo and groove for a song I then tastefully throw in some double bass patterns. 

What are your aspirations for your drumming career? 
I would like at some point be either a studio drummer or a touring drummer. It doesn't really matter as long as I'm playing. 

Your in a band called East Coast Turnaround, how did that come about? 
Well I was actually went to school and were friends with the singer and bassist. They would come out and see some of my other bands before they started ECT. I had just quit a band and their drummer was on his way out. So I was asked to try out and if worse came to worse at least we got to jam together. My first show show was for a Pittsburgh 
Pirates block party. I got the call the day of to play. That was 8 years ago. 

East Coast Turnaround - "Where's My Sunshine" (official video)

Describe "Trucker Rock": 
It's a mixture of Rock, Blues, Outlaw Country and metal. And some how it just works. That name was actually coined by a fan trying to describe us. 
What's the writing process with the band? Are you one of the songwriters?
The process we have is that the singer/guitarist starts with a a lyric. He then puts its to a melody and then to music. Other times the music comes first but. It very often. From there the other guys will add an idea that they had or a riff they came up right there on the spot. I'm not so much a writer but I have been known to come with things a time or two. I'm more the arranging side. I like things to flow naturally. That's definitely my forte.

Is there an overall theme for the bands music? What types of things do you guys like to write about?
The theme of the bands music is a Trucker Rock / Outlaw Country vibe mixed with blues.
The things we write about extend from drugs,alcohol, to cars, daily life, dying, taking what's yours, amongst other things. It boils down to nothing is off limits really. It's the way art should be.
So, what's the scene like in your hometown? 
The scene is actually decent around Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. National acts come through a good bit and a local band usually has a great chance to open up for them. There are bands that play 2 to 3 times a week and some that play 2 times a month and anywhere in between. Definitely no shortage of venues. 

You guys do any touring?
We're doing the regional circuit right now in the Winter. When Summer comes that's when we go to upstate PA and get a show or two near central and eastern PA 

You played the CMA Fanfest, what was that experience like? 
It is music overload, lol. We did 2 days of music showcases The first time we were there and it was just crazy fun. From the traveling to playing to going out and about Nashville. It was a blast. Nashville is one of my favorite cities for music. 

Are you guys working on a new album project?
We are always working on material. I believe we have 3 to 4 songs completed so far. We are taking our time with the material this time around. Every now and then if people are at our shows early enough they can catch us sound checking with one of the new songs or new ideas we're just kicking around. 

East Coast Turnaround - "Say Yeah"

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks…ect:
I am currently using a PDP X7 maple. Sizes are 8", 10", 12", 14", 16", 22" and a 14" snare. Sometimes I'll substitute the stock snare for my Yamaha Maple Custom or my Pearl Piccolo. My kick drum is fitted with a
SledgePad and The Kelly Shu System. I'm currently rocking Evans drumheads. They can take a beating literally and figuratively. For sticks I use CooperGroove 5B dipped. I currently use the Tama Speed Cobra bass drum pedal and the Speed Cobra Hi hat pedal. My stands are a mixture of PDP and Pearl. The cymbals I use may surprise some people
but I actually use Wuhan cymbals. I have two 14" crashes, two 16" crashes, 20" ride, 14" hi hat, 10" splash, 12" china and 18" china.  And I'm usually wearing something from Pray With Drums

How did you get drawn in to playing Wuhan cymbals? That is not something we see everyday
People are always shocked when they come up to me, ask about my cymbals and find out they're Wuhan. I was looking for a cymbal that would just cut through any live show situation. I've played all the major brands and they just didn't please my ears. I was seeing a lot of people loving the Wuhan China cymbals so I decided to try out their crashes, hi hats and splashes. They sounded like they were already EQed and they have a very bright sound. Those two things sold me on them. I've been using them for 8 years now and and even though they are a thin cymbal they have actually held up over the years. It's probably due to them being so bright you don't have to hit hard to project.

You're playing CooperGroove Sticks, how do you like them?
They are amazing! I kept on getting hand cramps towards the end of my shows because I found myself gripping my sticks harder to keep from slipping. One of the drummer groups I belong to Carlo Cooper (owner/inventor of CooperGroove) was posting about these sticks that had grooves cut into the stick. Me and him started chatting about them and he asked if I wanted to try them out. When I received the sticks I took them to my first show and I started warming up with them. The amount of relaxation that came through my hands was amazing. Even when I switched over to a regular stick that same relaxation carried over. From that point on I was fan. The durability these sticks have is insane as well. I have a pair of sticks from last year that I'm still using at shows and when I'm practicing.

Another thing that is great about these sticks is when I had my stroke I lost the use of my right side temporarily. Building the ability to use my hand was a struggle. I was doing hand exercises to building LEGO sets. My grip was completely gone. They were the only sticks I could grip at the time were my CooperGroove marching sticks. With the physical and occupational therapy going on, in between those days I would grab my CooperGroove marching sticks and start practicing rudiments. The grooves kept the sticks from slipping out which was encouraging. I have regular marching sticks as well but they were discouraging because I couldn't grip them hard enough to keep them from slipping. CooperGroove sticks gave me the determination to keep going. I honestly think if I didn't have those sticks I wouldn't of bounced back as quick as I did.
They definitely have a special place in my heart.

Do you have a “Dream Kit”? 

I do and it would just stay home. It would consist of 27 drums. An 11 piece kit with two sets of 8 octobans. Cymbals count is yet to be determined. 

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing? 
I'd like to think i would still be doing something in or with music. Maybe a Producer/Engineer or maybe a Manager. 

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why? 
Dave Lomabardo from Slayer. I never heard anything like what he was doing. To be able to go that quick and be that precise it was just mind blowing. 
Mitch Mitchell from Jimi Hendrix Experience. The organized chaos of what he did was awesome. 
Ringo Starr from The Beatles. His in the pocket playing and just playing what needed to be played no matter how simple was an eye opener. 
Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. All the odd time signatures that he can play and process. It was a "You can do that?" moment for me and it was something I had to dabble in. 
Tim Alexander from Primus. That guy is a beast on the drums. His technical side of things is what I really dug about him.
I'm throwing in a bonus: Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative. Just an all around solid player. If you want a tempo work out I suggest picking up an album and have fun playing slow to playing fast. 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding? 
There isn't just one concert that I've been to that makes me inspired. Every concert I attend I take something away from it. From Eddie Money to Suffocation there's always something that just sticks with me and pushes me to be a better drummer.

How much time do you practice?
Around 2 hours a day. I just bring up something that I heard on Pandora, Spotify or Youtube that interested me and just go to town. I just rediscovered Coal Chamber and just heard an old Hank III song. So that's what I'll play along to. 

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions? 
Lately I've been focusing on strength, stamina, slower and faster tempos. 

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has it helped you?
I think I have just 2 or 3 that I did. It was more for how my drums sounded. Some venues we'd get a video of the performance or fans will post live footage and I go through it see to if I did something cringe worthy that I can change or if I did something that I liked or an idea that I liked but wasn't quite there and refine it.

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? 
One year we played outside down in Ocean City, Maryland. We were an hour and a half into our set and a tornado touched down about 2 miles away from us. It was pretty crazy to think how close we were to danger.

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?
Never give up your dream and learn as many different styles as you can.

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s??? 
Visit East Coast Turnaround at: Our FaceBook and Twitter pages are there to follow. 

My drum page: 

I would like to thank my wife, kids, parents, friends and the fans for their support. 
My sponsors Jeffery Kelly, Carlo Cooper, Mike and Michelle Vermillion 
and Jeffrey J. Neal for having faith in me. And thanks to DeHaven for the interview.


Hey Tim, thx so much for taking the time to share your story and your drum life. And thx for exposing us to Trucker Rock. Kool band and great drumming man. I wish you and the band nothing but success.

I hope you all enjoyed this interview and show some love to Tim. Make sure you visit Tim's pages and drop a "hello" on him. Check out more of the bands music and support Indie Artists!

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