Monday, October 5, 2015

Volume 1 - Stephanie Snyder

 #1 - Welcome to the very first Blog for Talkin' Chop!
I am so excited to be able to bring some very talented drummers to your attention.
They come from all walks of life, genres and experiences. This should be really fun getting to share some kool drum talk as well as music and the industry as a whole.


Since this is the first edition, I thought it was only fitting to have a lady go first.
This young lady is someone I met via Facebook and I think Myspace (before the void)
her name is Stephanie Snyder and she is a drummer with the skills to pay the bills.
She comes from good stock and is currently playing with her partner and sister (Sarah) in their band Deer Park Avenue. Their new album Kicks Butt! Edgy with some great Pop/Rock songs and played with excellence.
I am a big fan of their band and I have all of their releases. I def suggest you check them out and support a kool indie project. I am a huge supporter of Indie Artists, so you will hear me say this often.

I sent Stephanie some questions for the interview and this is what happened.....
BTW- She was in Germany doing her thing with DPA, so that shows you the type of person she is.

photo by: Rob Shanahan Photography  

Name or Stage Name:

Stephanie Snyder // Deer Park Avenue

Where are you from?
All over! I've lived and performed all over California, New York, and in Europe. The name Deer Park Avenue actually comes from a street we lived off of on Long Island.

How long have you been playing?
I have been playing drums since I was 7 - I got my first drum lesson from my cousin Gregg Bissonette! He gave me a snare drum and taught me and my sister Sarah, who was learning guitar, to play Eight Days a Week for family and friends. After that, we started playing in church and later formed a cover band (the Bandits!) that played at festivals and parties. And from there we formed Deer Park Avenue. So drums have been a part of my life for...most of my life!

What is or are your main genre of playing?
I love all kinds of music, but the main genre I play is rock with some punk edge, influenced by the kinds of music I listened to growing up. When I was growing up, we always had music in the house, everything from Beatles and Beach Boys, to Green Day, the Doors, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Bollywood hits…

How did you get where you are now?
I took the scenic route! I actually went to school for journalism. I've been an editor since I can remember and was headed into writing. But at the same time, music and drums have always been a big part of my life. So this one time, Sarah and I were hanging with Gregg and he asked us if we ever recorded any original songs together. We hadn't, so he said his brother Matt had a studio and we should record something! Our first project was really just a couple songs we did for fun. We learned a lot from that recording session, and we loved it so much, we decided a few years ago to start our own band. And it's been incredible! Lots of hard work, lots of practice and patience, but always an adventure.

What are your goals, short & long term?
I'm realizing that the more I learn as a musician and a person, the more my goals have changed and are changing. It's really a constant process. For the time being, our goals as a band are to play in Europe - we're actually in Germany right now! We'd love to get on the European festival scene, and to tour with the Foo Fighters - and honestly I don't know who wouldn't! We're huge football fans too, so playing at the Super Bowl would be amazing, or hearing our music played during a game.

Beyond that, we're also music teachers and love working with kids. We did a high school tour a couple years ago that was one of our favorite tours. It was amazing to hear kids say, "You guys inspired me to play music again!" Or to have someone come up on stage and play tambourine or shakers for the first time. I think music is at its best when it brings people together. Music, just listening to it, writing it, playing instruments, has made such a huge difference in our lives, and to be able to share that with other people, for us is one of the most exciting, fulfilling things we can do.

Artists you would like to play for?
There's a bunch! But I'll keep it to 5. Or 6...

Foo Fighters! I'll probably mention them a few more times because, really, I can't stop…

Twenty One Pilots. They work hard and seem like genuine, fun people.
Metric, one of our inspirations.
Arctic Monkeys. They rock hard.

Jimmy Eat World, one of the bands that influenced me most in high school.

And one of our favorite German bands, Wir Sind Helden. 

List some of your accomplishments
We've had the chance to play in some really cool venues!

A few of those are the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco, and also on their sponsored stage at the Uncorked Wine Festival in Ghirardelli Square.
Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood.
We were regional winners of the Hard Rock Cafe Battle of the Bands in Washington, DC.
We're voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMYs), DC Chapter.
We get to work with and endorse some amazing gear companies like Audix microphones, DW/PDP drums, TRX cymbals and KickPort.
And I recently was in an ad for the Hit Like a Girl Contest with DW/PDP in DRUM! magazine.

Do you have your own band? genre? Details….
I have a rock band (Deer Park Avenue) with my sister Sarah, who plays guitar and sings leads, and I sing backing vocals. We've released two EPs and are releasing our first full album this fall, which we're very excited about!

Do you play any other instruments? level?

My first instrument was actually piano. And I think that's a great instrument to start on, no matter what other instruments you want to play. I learned a lot of the basics of rhythm and reading notes from piano. I also play percussion, including cajon, which never ceases to amaze me with how many sounds and styles of music you can create with it.

What are your touring experiences, if any?
DPA has taken me to a lot of places in the world - I've had the chance to play all over California, on the East Coast in Washington, DC, Maryland, and New York, and in Switzerland, France, and Germany. One of my favorite tours was the high school tour we did through California. We were also invited to play at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt this year, one of the biggest trade shows in the industry. One of my favorite jobs on tour is being DJ on the road, and also a professional snack taster. And a staple of any trip through California is In 'n' Out!

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks included and why you choose these items?
My current setup is a four-piece PDP Concept Series with Remo heads, DW 3000 hardware, and TRX cymbals, which I endorse. I've been playing PDP/DW for the past three years and just got a second kit - I love them! They have great tone, travel well, and are gorgeous drums. Their hardware is sturdy and responsive, it gives you a lot of control and stability, and DW is also just a great company to work with - they have so much to offer drummers through their gear, services, and resources like We actually just got to do a show with Gregg Bissonette for Drum Channel. I also use a KickPort for my bass drum, another great product that I endorse. It gives the kick that extra boost.
I heard TRX cymbals for the first time at NAMM this year and was amazed! They're a young company, genuine Turkish-made cymbals with all kinds of finishes. You can also mix and match hi-hats, so I play a BRT (bright) hi-hat on top, and a DRK (dark) on bottom - or I'll switch it up and put the DRK on top and BRT on bottom. So you get this whole mix of light and dark that gives the cymbals a lot of texture and character.
I play Vic Firth sticks, including my cousin Gregg's signature sticks with VF - the brand I've been playing since I started drums.
For Cajon, I play an LP Americana Groove Cajon (which I love!!) – it's light, sleek, and has amazing resonance – with a Cajon Throne, Foot Tambourine and Cajon Castanet. To mic up my drums, I use the Audix DP7 drum pack with their D6 on kick, which is in my opinion world's greatest kick mic, and the i5 on snare, D2s on rack tom, D4 on floor tom, and ADX51s on overheads. The D series is the best for miking live drums and I think is a must for any drummer's arsenal! For live vocals we use Audix OM6 mics - they really do an excellent job of isolating vocals without picking up stage noise (which is pretty big, we are a loud band!). And for videos, we also just started using the Audix CX212B condenser mics for getting great audio, along with the Tascam DR-60DMKII digital recorder, which we just got from Tascam

Do you have multiple kits and snares?
Yes!! At one time I had five drum sets in various places in the world. At the moment I have two PDPs, and the first drum set I ever bought, which is a cherry red Revere, and I just can't let go of it. It's pieced together with second-hand cymbals and hardware that were passed on to me by drum teachers through the years, so that kit has a lot of sentimental value to me. And it still has the original heads!

Which wood shells do you prefer?

Maple and birch both sound good in different settings. Right now I'm playing birch, and for the style of music I play most, I think the brightness is perfect.

What would be your ideal gear setup?  list manufacturers and items
I'm really lucky I get to play my ideal setup! My PDP Concept Series, DW 3000 hardware, with double pedal, TRX cymbals, and I just got a Roc-N-Soc throne. It's such a comfortable setup and feels like my own little spaceship. I couldn't be happier with it.

How do you describe your drumming style?
Attitude with a sense of humor!

That's a difficult question to answer... I've been influenced by the drummers I've loved growing up. When I'm writing a drum part, I try to play for the song, whether that means something more effervescent, or just really simple. I lean towards playing things more simply, kind of the way I'd write a sentence. Pretty clean, straightforward, and then throw in an exclamation point! Or lots of them!!! Wherever the lyrics or the musical phrasing lead.

And some of the stuff I play, sometimes it just hits me as funny. One of the fills I play on our song "Hey Maria" makes me think of the Flintstones, when they're getting their car started with their feet and it makes that sound, and I always kind of laugh when I play it. And when you play a lot of live shows, inevitably there are some things that happen on stage that you just have to laugh about! I think it's important to be confident but not to take yourself too seriously.

Why the drums?

I woke up one day when I was a kid and decided I wanted to play them! I'm not sure what exactly led to drums, but I remember hearing the Beatles for the first time and announcing to my family that I wanted to play drums like Ringo. 
Also, I didn't know at the time that my dad had wanted to play drums when he was growing up, but his parents said no because of the noise. Maybe drums were just in my genes.
photo by: Rob Shanahan Photography

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing?
Another hard question! It's hard to imagine life without music, so if I weren't playing drums I would probably still be involved in music in some way. But one of my hobbies throughout school was nutrition and health research, especially mind/body science - which, when you think about it, could also involve music! For me, it's so interesting the way your mind and body work together and affect each other and everything in life, whether it's health, music, relationships.

So I guess I would be something like a mind/body food/music therapist - if that even exists!
I could make it exist.

How has drumming impacted or changed your life?
Drums have made a bigger difference in my life than I could have ever imagined. From starting as a hobby, to playing in a band as something I want to do for the rest of my life, drums have always been there for me, in good times and bad. Playing drums continues to challenge me and keep me in shape mentally, physically, and emotionally. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love mind/body science so much - because drums involve both mind and body. Also, I was pretty shy growing up, so playing drums gave me a way to vocalize all the things I felt inside, which I sometimes felt very loudly! And it helped to give me more confidence.
But I think one of the biggest ways playing drums has changed my life is that it has opened up doors for me to see places I would never have seen and meet people I would never have met. It has strengthened connections with other people and helped me make new connections across cultures, language barriers, and age groups in the way that only music can. And I think it's those relationships developed through music that have made learning and practicing and playing drums that much more worth it.

Is the music business your career?
It's a very big part of my career! My sister and I also own a media business called Flying Ace Media. We design websites for clients in all kinds of industries, and also run social media and PR campaigns. It's a really cool job! We've made some great connections through that as well - and it keeps us on the road!

Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown?
Since I've lived in a lot of places, I consider everywhere my hometown! But we have gotten involved in the music scene in every place we've lived, and each town has something unique to offer and to learn from.

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?
So many drumming influences, probably even more than I realize! I'll give it a shot in no particular order....
Gregg Bissonette and Matt Bissonette

Gregg and Matt are two of the best musicians I've ever heard and truly some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Their talent, personality, work ethic, and character are a daily inspiration.

When it comes to drums, playing double drums with Gregg feels like flying. It's just so much fun. Gregg can play any style, any time, and he's always got something encouraging and funny to say. We were really lucky to have him play a drum solo on one of our tracks off the new album. 
We're also really fortunate to be able to work with Matt Bissonette as our co-producer! We record at his studio, and he plays bass on all our tracks, as well as some keys. He and Gregg had a band together several years ago called the Mustard Seeds, and I remember hearing their songs as a teenager and being so struck with their songwriting, and the arrangements and harmonies. I think they were the first band I couldn't wait to tell my friends about!
Both of them are just amazing people who have mentored us through everything musical, even before we officially had our own band.

Ringo Starr
Ringo is one of the first drummers I ever heard and is still an inspiration to me. I think he isn't just a great drummer, but also a great drum writer - he always wrote the perfect drum part for every song, sometimes parts that are brilliantly simple. So many of the Beatles' songs are like puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly, each instrument complementing the other, and I think a large part of that unity is what Ringo brought to every song on the drums.
Dave Grohl
Dave just really cool. His hair, his style...totally comfortable with himself. I love his drumming style because it's so precise. Every note, every beat, he knows exactly what he wants to play and plays it so exactly. It's something I hear from Taylor Hawkins too - strong and unapologetic. 
My dad is a pastor, so Sarah and I grew up listening to and playing lots of worship songs in church. Our first band was drums, electric guitar, and organ! So some of the songs I listened to and played along to the most were songs by Hillsong from Australia. They have different drummers for different tracks, but the overall sound and feel from all the drum parts and the songs was a sense of freedom - to be creative and play what you feel and be in the moment. It wasn't just playing the verse groove and then a fill and then a chorus groove, which is a lot of what you learn in lessons when you're first starting was fluid and playful and alive. Just really expressive and dynamic, and more about the feeling of drums than the technicality. 
My Family
My mum, dad, and sister have inspired me in more ways than I count, and since I wouldn't be playing drums without them, they are my drumming influences!

My parents loved music and surrounded us with great music right from the start. They were really supportive when I first started learning drums, which is not an easy time for people around who have to listen. At one point, they let me have my drums in the dining room so we could have more room for band practices! Later on, our mom learned to play bass guitar, so we get to jam together, and sometimes our dad would join in on tambourine.

Sarah started learning to play guitar the same time I started learning drums, so music has always been something we do together. She is so fun to jam with and one of the most creative, talented people I know. Sarah has always inspired me with her ideas, with how hard she works for what she believes in, and her energy. And she helps me remember what making music is all about.

My whole family has always encouraged me and lugged gear around for me! It's really special getting to make music with family.
photo by Rob Shanahan Photography

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?

Every concert I've seen has inspired me in one way or another, but two stand out:

Gregg Bissonette plays drums with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, so to watch two of my influences play double drums and sing some of my favorite songs of all time by the just doesn't get much better than that. They always look like they are having the best time on stage.

Another was Green Day in Las Vegas. There was so much energy in that show. TrĂ© Cool and all his attitude, and there was a t-shirt gun that shot out Green Day t-shirts to the audience, and Billie Joe brought one of the people in the crowd up on stage to play guitar with them. Everyone was having such a great time.

When you see great drummers and what they bring to the world through their talent and personality, you can't help but be inspired to go home and do more!

How much time do you practice?
I've gone anywhere from half an hour a day to several hours a day. Right now, what works best for me is 30 – 60 minutes on my own most days of the week (working on all kinds of stuff from practice pad, to grooving, song analysis, singing, and work on other percussion like cajon) alternating with full band practices. But even when I'm not at my drums, I'm always listening to music and picking out drum parts. I can't help it! And I love analyzing stuff. 

Are you involved in local Shedding sessions? what do you get out of those sessions?
Being on the road so much, I don't get a chance to shed much with other drummers, but Sarah and I play double drums sometimes. Maybe we'll do a shed session one of these days!

Describe your current gig(s)
Right now, DPA is in Europe! We'll be playing music here for a while in support of our new album, as well as doing music at a church in Germany. (here is a kool lyric video of a great cover. "My Generation" by The Who.

Do you record drum videos of yourself? why? how has it helped you?

I think recording is one of the best ways to improve. I haven't done many videos, but I have recorded practices on whatever equipment I have available -

GarageBand, iPhone, tape recorder. And it's amazing what you'll hear on playback. Things you like and things you hate! It always sounds different on playback than it does in your head. But once you get used to it, recording is great for practicing and for getting creative, especially before heading in to the studio - to work out fills for songs, to help iron out kinks in a groove, or sometimes even come up with an entirely new drum part for a song.

Do you concentrate on Chops or Grooves?
Both at different times. They're both important and hold each other in balance. I love rudiments and try to incorporate them into every practice, and I like to keep challenging myself. But I think sometimes drummers can focus so much on chops that they don't learn how to groove with other musicians. I was at a drum workshop once where the guest speaker was talking about a time he invited drummers at his clinic up on stage to play a basic rock groove for four bars. And not one of them could do it. So I realized that it takes as much discipline and practice to play something simple as it does to tear up a solo.
photo by: Gary Duane Buth Photography

Are you into electronic drums at all?

I have played electronic drums for gigs in the past but prefer to play acoustic drums. You wouldn't think the feel would be that different, but I always notice a change switching between electronic and acoustic drums. It's almost like two different instruments! The sticks respond differently and it does change the way you play and how you feel when you play.

Do you program drums?
I haven't gotten in to programming drums - I'm pretty old school! But there are a few bands I love who create some impressive sounds with programming.

Are you a songwriter as well?

I am a songwriter, and I love writing songs with my sister. Songwriting has been as much a part of my life as drums. Sometimes a song will come from a groove - and sometimes I'll finish a song and realize it doesn't really need drums. And it makes me sad. So I write a drum part just in case! Because you never know...

Do you sing and play?
Yes! First starting out it was difficult for me to keep time and sing in pitch - it's still a challenge! But Gregg sings and plays drums too, and he told me once, "Just keep doing it!" So I did, and I do. Although sometimes in live performances I still catch myself favoring one or the other…

Do you prefer studio sessions, local live gigs or touring?


They are all cool gigs, each with their own perks and challenges. There's something magical about being in the studio and hearing things come to life that you've only had in your head. But you can start to get really picky too - drummers tend to be perfectionists, I think, so hearing yourself on playback again and again, you can start to lose the energy and enthusiasm of playing something just once like you would in a live setting. That's one of the things we did differently on our new album - we live tracked the rhythm section to try to capture that live feel and sound we have at our shows. I love the energy of playing live, that you get from the audience, whether it's local or on tour. And playing local shows, you also get to catch up with friends and hang out after the show!

Do you prefer being in a band (artist) or being a sideman?
I love being in a band, and being part of a team. It's great to be able to write songs and perform and make creative decisions for the band, but also to be able to share all those rights and responsibilities with someone (Sarah!) who can give you honest feedback and make your work stronger and bring out the best in you.

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us?
We've had some pretty crazy experiences on the road... One of the most interesting was getting to play a private party at Madame Tussaud's in Washington, DC. They set up a stage for us in the corner of the museum where all the wax celebrities are. So we spent the night playing for a pretty mixed crowd - Elton John was there, and Johnny Depp, and Rihanna. The presidents were right down the hall. Some of the wax figures look so human! It's a pretty strange feeling, and something you don't get to do too often.

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?

Love your drums! And love life and people. They're all intertwined. Sometimes making music can start to feel like a competition - but don't let it. Keep learning new things, play with other musicians, and don't give up.

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s???
Thank you, DeHaven, for the interview!! Great questions, and it's been a lot of fun talkin' chop! 
Our self-titled album is out this fall, available through iTunes, Amazon, and our website,
Twitter: @deerparkavenue
Instagram: deerparkavenue

Thank you Stephanie, for sharing your drum life with us.

continued success in all your endeavors!