Monday, March 28, 2016

Volume 19 - Gabe Helguera

Volume 19 - Gabe Helguera

Man, what can I say about this young man?
He's got that boy next door thing going on but he's a quiet assassin on the kit. Whether it's playing in a band, teaching students on or off line or just being a really kool uncle, this kid has a solid foundation of drums and for life. He's doing things his way but he doesn't for get those who came before him and uses those lessons and experiences to give us his brand of drumming. When you come from one of the most influential music cities in America, you better know how to throw down. I can we're in good hands with Gabe and so are his sticks. Let's see what happens when we Talk Chop....

Name or Stage Name: Gabe Helguera (Drum Beats Online)

Where are you from? Detroit, Michigan.

How long have you been playing? 11 Years

What is or are your main genre of playing? 
My main genre is definitely Rock/Pop music. I grew up playing to Blink 182 and Green Day so that style has definitely stuck with me over the years.

How did you get where you are now? 
Ha that’s an interesting question. I never really think of myself as being in one place, but rather constantly on a journey. The short version of my story is that when I was 12 years old I got a drum set for Christmas and never stopped playing. By age 13 I started playing in a band that was actually gaining some traction, but then people went to college and we broke up. Then I was out of the scene until I was about 19 and tried to get back out playing shows again. But of course, the band broke up again. At that time I had a roommate who was teaching ukulele on the internet and I just thought that was the craziest thing that he could make a living doing that. I had thrown the idea around about creating my own drumming website and YouTube channel, but I felt like there were already so many people doing that. Plus I had literally never taught a drum lesson in my life. After a lot of convincing from my roommate I decided to built a website and start making drums lessons, covers, and other drum videos on YouTube. And I’ve been working on that ever since! 

What are your goals, short & long term? 
Honestly, as long as I can continue to have a career playing drums and helping others I’ll be happy!

Artists you would like to play for? 
I think it would be fun to play with any DJ, Hip Hop artist, or 21 Pilots.

List some of your accomplishments: 
16,000 Subscribers on YouTube, Touring drummer for Flint Eastwood &

Do you have your own band? 
 I play drums for a band called Flint Eastwood. We play all over Detroit as well as the U.S.

So, tell me about Flint Eastwood. What kind of musical situation is it?
Flint Eastwood is a band that plays high energy electronic/rock/pop music and they are known for their live show. They have made a great name for themselves in Detroit and just released and EP called "Small Victories.” I’ve really enjoyed playing for them. The high energy performance piece is right up my alley.

With Flint Eastwood

Do you play any other instruments? 
 I have a rough understanding of guitar, bass, and piano. I’m not great at any of them, but I love writing and recording music using the little knowledge that I have.

What are your touring experiences, if any? 
A lot of small 4-5 day tours, but nothing extensive at this point. We are playing at SXSW this year so I’m looking forward to that!

What is your current set up & gear - heads and sticks included and why you choose these items? 
I have an Ayotte drum kit with 8x10 rack, 16x16 floor tom, and a 22x18 kick drum. I use a 14x6.5 Ludwig supraphonic snare. I use an Evans HD Dry head on the snare. Evans G2 or Remo Emperor on the toms. And I use a Remo coated power stroke on the kick. I have a 15” Zildjian K hats, 18” Meinl Dual Crash, 21” Meinl Transition Ride, 20” Meinl Byzance crash, and an old stack of an 18” Zildjian Edge China and a 14” Peavy cymbal on top. And I use Vic Firth Extreme 5A’s.

I love dark and warm tones from my drums. The dark/dry Meinl cymbals are so expressive which is why I love using them. And I pretty much always use coated heads to get that warm/deep tone from my drums. I generally tune everything very low.

Do you have multiple kits and snares? 
I have a 1924 Vintage Ludwig kit that I seriously love! It’s like an artifact. I’m super lucky to have that thing.

Which wood shells do you prefer? 
Haha I have no idea honestly. My knowledge of different wood and shells is pretty much nothing.

Do you have a “Dream Kit”? 
I’ve always loved Ludwig kits. It would be a dream to be sponsored by them. But I don’t necessarily have an Ideal dream kit at this point. I’m so used to simple setups so it wouldn’t be anything crazy.

How do you describe your drumming style? 
High energy rock chops while maintaining a clean pocket.

Why the drums? 
They kinda just fell on my lap honestly! I feel like I never really had a choice in the matter.

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing? 
Maybe some type of video editing? Or music producing. If not something creative like that, maybe just something super active. I grew up competing in gymnastics so I love flipping around and climbing stuff.

How has drumming impacted or changed your life? 
Well it has given me a career path to strive for since a very young age. Also, playing music is literally how I have met and bonded with all of my closest friends today.

Is the music business your career? 

Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown? Very much so through the number of bands that I’ve played with over the years.

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why? 
Darren King, Benny Greb, Matt Garstka, Luke Holland, JoJo Mayer. All of these guys are so creative which I love. I’m very drawn towards creativity. But other than that, they are just some of the sickest players out there. (Also, Chris Coleman and Mark Guiliana are insane players.)

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding? 
Whenever I see MuteMath I’m always inspired. They have such a sick live show where the drummer literally does all of the craziest things you could think of.

Are you involved in local Shedding sessions? 
 I wish! We don’t really have any around Detroit. At least not that I’m aware of.

You are doing a lot via the Video realm, with Educating drummers, especially beginners.
How and Why did you get in to this? Like I said a little bit earlier, I had a roommate who was teaching beginners how to play the ukulele online and I just thought that was so cool! So I decided to try it out for myself!
Twenty One Pilots "Stressed Out" Drum Cover

So you have one of the absolute best drum videos out there right now. You and your two year old nephew. It's so good, in a number of ways.
How did that project come about? and how long did it take to put it together? 
Haha thank you! I’m so glad you like it! Well my nephew (Jonathan) has been into the drums since he came out of the womb. My brother (his father) is a musician as well so Jonathan has been exposed to drums and music in general a ton. I’m always playing drums with him and he LOVES watching my videos. So I just thought it would be so cool to put him in a video so he could see himself playing the drums. I’ve actually had the idea in the back of my mind for quite some time and I was finally able to shoot it.

Filming took awhile because I had to drag all of my gear to my brothers house and getting Jonathan to sit still was the hardest part. The editing surprisingly didn’t take that long! Maybe 4-5 hours? I had a blast making it though and I’m glad people are enjoying it!
Drum Battle with 2yr old nephew.

As an educator, have you noticed a change in your own playing? 
Absolutely! I’m the type of person who grew up not understanding the type of grooves and fills I was playing. So if you asked my to play a triplet based fill I would have no idea what to do. it’s not that I didn’t have the ability, It’s just that I didn’t know the names of anything I was playing. But when you are teaching other people how to play certain grooves or fills it’s very important to have a full grasp and understanding of all literally everything you are doing. So teaching has really helped grow my overall drum knowledge in a huge way!

In your practice sessions, what things do you like to work on? Oh man, It totally depends on the day! I’d say right now I’m just trying to focus on my weaknesses. Such as timing, chops, rudiments, and foot control. I’ve really enjoyed Benny Greb’s newest lesson course, although I haven’t finished it yet.
Zayn "Pillow Talk" Drum Cover

Are you into electronics and programming at all? If you are referring to electronic music then yes! If you are referring to hard wiring electronics and programming as in computer coding then no haha.

Are you a songwriter as well? 
Yes! I love writing music. I haven’t had much time lately to write because I’ve been focusing hard on Drum Beats Online. But I’m working on a solo EP right now so I’m excited about that!

Tell us about this solo EP, where are you taking us musically? The solo EP is surprisingly not super drum heavy. There are definitely drums in the album, but they definitely stick to the pocket. Overall the EP has a mid tempo electronic vibe with fat chorus’ and some really fun instrumental moments. I love just big instrumentals, so I made sure to put some cool ones in there. I hoping to release it this summer. 

Do you prefer studio sessions, local live gigs or touring? 
I definitely prefer local live gigs. There’s something so nice about playing a show with other bands from your area and giving that show all you’ve got, and then coming home and sleeping in your own bed. I’d say performing live is one of my biggest strengths as a drummer.

Do you prefer being in a band (artist) or being a sideman? That’s a tough call. They both have a lot of pros and cons. I like being an artist because you are really able to pour out all of your creative energy and passion into a project which is great. But with that also comes a lot of pressure with the success of that band which can be so stressful. 
But when you are just a hired gun you are able to just show up and play your parts without any of the pressure of something being successful. You know beforehand what you are getting paid so it doesn’t matter if there is 1 person in the room or 1,000.
I really enjoy both is my final answer!

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? Well I got to open up for the Beach Boys in front of about 10,000 people. So that was pretty insane! The craziest part of that gig was just how cool the guys from the Beach Boys were. I was expecting them to not say a word to us. But they invited us on stage to sing a few songs with them (so surreal) and at the end of the night we talked for like an hour over a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That was one of those nights where I just knew I would probably never play a better gig than that one.

What would you like your legacy to be? 
I just want to love and support other people. Whether in drumming or just life in general.

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there? 
Have fun and work hard! Drumming is so much fun, so keep it that way. But always be continuing to grow in your craft. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need to get any better because the better you get at drums, the more fun they become. And also, expose yourself to a wide range of amazing drummers. Don’t just stick to one. The more styles that you expose yourself to, the more you will pickup!

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s??? 
Thanks so much for the interview! I had a lot of fun! Feel free to check out my videos and other things at: 

Instagram: @DrumBeatsOnline

I really want to thank Gabe for taking the time to share his drum life with us.
Continued success my brother!
I dig when you see young katz doing it right and have a good head on their shoulders. They can even teach some old heads a thing or two.
Make sure you reach out to Gabe and help support DrumBeatsOnline if you can.

If you're a drummer and you would like to be featured on Talkin' Chop, just hit me up:

#DrummersSupportDrummers  #TalkinChop


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