Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Volume 23 - Carlos Solorzano
Volume 23 - CARLOS SOLORZANO
Some deserts are full of color, much to the surprise of the admirer. The Desert Drummer is no different. Bringing his wonderful pallet of rhythms and vibe to an untouched canvas of music. Carlos is an accomplished musician who is constantly working things out, looking for the next groove. His extensive knowledge and skill puts him in a great position to do what he loves play music...play drums in diverse situations.
I caught up with Carlos to see if he could give us a little taste of his drum life and his vision of colors, as we Talked Chop.
Name or Stage Name: Carlos Solorzano: Desert Drummer
Where are you from? Sahuarita, AZ...originally from Carson, CA
How long have you been playing? 34 years
What is or are your main genre of playing?
I play mostly Rock and Country when I work with bands. I play a lot of world rhythms in my solo drum set work and when I compose my original tribal drumming compositions.
How did you get where you are now?
I always kept moving forward in a changing music industry and was open to learning anything I could as long as I liked the music that I was playing. I am honest with what I am doing and realize that what I like to do might not be to everyone's liking. Therefore, I am also willing to face any obstacles or criticism as it comes with the territory.
What are your goals, short & long term?
To continue working with local bands who have a regular schedule while also writing and recording more original music in my home studio. I am slowly adding non-percussion instruments to my newest songs and am planning on releasing a new solo CD real soon. I would also like to collaborate with other musicians on some original project ideas I have with my first project idea being a power trio doing instrumental music similar to Ohm and The Aristocrats.I would also love to play at more music festivals and hopefully at some high profile drum festivals.
Artists you would like to play for?
I always wanted to work with Jack Bruce but he's now in the heavenly choir. I would love to jam with Chris DeGarmo of Queensryche or Don Felder from The Eagles as I love their guitar playing. If I could play in any famous band it would be Iron Maiden or Journey.
List some of your accomplishments.
I have earned multiple ASCAPLUS songwriting awards, had my music used for various television shows around the world including CSI: Special Victims Unit, America's Top Model, various shows on MTV Network, E! Entertainment Television, the BBC and many other networks around the world. I was featured in DRUM! Magazine in their New Blood section as they wrote about my solo drum set work and have also written for the magazine as I did a Groove Analysis article on Nicko McBrain. I have been honored to receive endorsement deals with Soultone Cymbals, Silverfox Sticks, Drum Dots and Hansenfutz Pedals. I have also had a great time performing my drum set solo in master class settings at colleges, high schools as well as the famous Music Instrument Museum in Phoenix and have performed multiple times on live television and on the radio.
Are you in a band or do you freelance?
I am part of the Jason Curtis Band and the Tony Corrales Band. Both bands are working country band from the Tucson area. I do freelance with all types of bands and do session work from time to time.
Tony Corrales Band: "She's Got One Hell Of A Memory"
Do you play any other instruments?
I also play guitar, bass guitar, some keyboards and sing background vocals in the bands that I work with.
Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks included and why you choose these items?
I play a black strata Pearl Vision SST kit: The dimensions are 12, 13 and 16 toms, 22 bass drum and a couple of 14 inch snares. I also have a 10 inch M-80 side snare. I use Pearl Eliminator pedals exclusively. I have a double pedal set up and set up my bass drum in an off center fashion in order to sit directly in front of the audience in a natural seated position. I also use a single pedal to the left of my hi-hat to mount at Gajate cowbell for my world rhythm grooves. I use Soultone Cymbals: 14 inch Custom Brilliant Hi-Hats, 12 inch Custom Crash, 16 inch Custom Crash, 16 inch Custom Brilliant Crash, 18 inch Extreme China and a 20 inch Custom Brilliant Ride. I use Silverfox 5B nylon tip hickory sticks and currently have Evans clear G2's on my toms, Evans Power Center Reverse Dots on my snares and an clear EMAD2's on my bass drum. I am planning on going back to single ply heads the next time I re-head my kit. I believe that Pearl makes the best drums in the world and absolutely love every product I own. My Silverfox sticks endure every musical setting and feel so good in my hands regardless of how I'm playing.
Do you have multiple kits and snares?
I use the same kit for all of my gigs but am currently building a small cocktail kit for rehearsals and small gigs. I use three different Pearl Sensitone snares depending on the gig. I have a 5.5 x 14 brass snare, a 5.5 x 14 steel snare and 5 x 14 aluminum snare.
Which wood shells do you prefer?
Birch is my favorite because of the attack but I also like Mahogany. Most people like Maple and while it sounds great I stay away from it just to be different.
Do you have a “Dream Kit”?
As of now I don't but I do have some ideas on how my ultimate set up would look for solo drum set work. It would include both single and double headed drums along with various types of percussion sounds but it would have to be the right thing that can be used in diverse ways as I don't like having too much gear to play with.
How do you describe your drumming style?
I am right on the beat and I would say consistent and solid. I am not ashamed to say that I have a rock background and that has given me the ability to have a strong presence in my playing. I also love world drumming so you will also hear my groove in ways that go beyond a back beat.
Why the drums?
It is just something I have always felt a connection to and it has always given me a way of expressing myself to others.
If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing? Writing stories, blogs and commentaries, which I do when I need to be away from music yet feel the urge to be creative.
How has drumming impacted or changed your life?
It has given me confidence and has taught me the importance of supporting others. It has also taught me how to communicate without words with my focus being on the universal language of rhythm.
Is the music business your career?
No and I am not sure it ever could be because I am more than a musician and enjoy doing the other things I do including my day job. I don't define myself as a musician exclusively but don't deny the fact that it is a big part of who I am.
Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown?
Yes as I perform regularly and am involved with session work.
You are very diverse in your projects, how do you attribute this range of drumming?
The most important thing is to know what hat to wear depending on the project. Prior to that you have to do your work in order to learn how to play each type of music because once the work comes it will snowball and in most cases, you won't have the time to go back into the woodshed and learn what you should have done when you were younger and had time to do it.
Do you think you have a unique sound when playing rock and country because of your world rhythm playing? I have had people tell me that they can hear a difference in my playing with some of them saying that can hear the world influence in my playing. I do know that it affects my approach at times as I like to try things aside from a simple back beat without overplaying. The most obvious thing would be rhythms that I play on the hi-hat or ride cymbal that might imitate a world bell pattern that weaves through the music. I never try to force it and have no problem playing things straight but the musicians I play with like it a lot.
Carlos on The Morning Blend
Working with a Country artists as well as writing & Producing World Music and Latin music, you really keep yourself busy....
Can you describe your solo project?
The solo drum set project is a celebration of the drum set by showing the how one person can imitate the sound of a percussion combo thanks to the orchestral possibilities that the drum set offers. Aside from the fact that we can use each of our limbs it also shows the artistry of our set ups as well since we have the freedom to add whatever we want to our set ups. It also celebrates the beauty of world rhythms as I adapt them to the drum set rather than play them in a percussion group on the traditional instruments. My multi-tracked drumming compositions are similar in that I take percussion sounds and create songs but in that case it's about what I put down on tape with a focus on getting them in films rather than performing them for a live audience. I would like to do that one day in a percussion combo setting but my schedule is just too crazy right now.
Do you use a click when recording your World music? Or do you like it to have a more natural feel?
It makes it easier to have a guide but I don't use a simple click. Since I don't own every percussion instrument out there I prefer to program certain bell or shaker parts and play along to that rather than a click. Then I just leave it on the recording. I find that the rest of the stuff that I overdub sounds fine. Plus, if you program something with the right sound and at the right tempo it can actually groove more than you realize.
Speaking of the "Universal Language" as someone who plays a nice variety of genres, do you really see that "language dynamic" when going from style to style?
I do and it's great because it's like meeting different people from different cultures at one of their cultural celebrations. You get to immerse yourself in their customs, food, art, mindset and so much more. It's nice to immerse yourself in different environments as it always keep things fresh.
Carlos The Desert Drummer: "Sidewinder" 12/8 African Rhythms
What kind of music journey are taking us on?
I have never really thought about such a question but I do like to give the audience solos and songs in traditional songwriting formats in order to show the world that drummers and percussionists don't have to play in bands or with other instrumentalists in order to play legitimate music.
Name 5 of your drumming influences? Why?
That's so hard to answer because it will force me to leave so many great drummers out.
Billy Cobham: A true master of the instrument. He can thrown down with the best of them but also groove with some serious soul. He can play any musical style yet writes his own music that has a style all its own. He handles odd meters like no one else yet has a delicate touch in a simple setting. His style is also so unique because he is more than a drummer; he is a composer so he hears music in ways that some drummers will never understand because they know nothing about writing music and/or playing other types of instruments.
Nicko McBrain: If want to know how important a drummer is to a band check out Iron Maiden. They were already a super group before getting Nicko in the band and then became better because he pushed them in ways that they had never been pushed before. He was able to do this because he is more than just a heavy metal drummer. He is a diverse drummer who plays any style out there and you can hear that in his groove even though he's playing metal music.
Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez: I I would have no solo drum set act if it wasn't for Horacio because he let me see how one makes the drum set sing on its own. No one solos like this guy and no one grooves like this guy because no one orchestrates rhythms around the kit they way he does. He really knows what it means to speak a language on the drum set and I have never seen a drummer enjoy playing the drum set more than he does.
Mike Mangini: I have so much respect for this guy because he dares to do it. He created his own unique set up, which makes the most sense of any kit I have ever seen. He also challenges himself to play rhythmic figures that very few people on the planet can play and does all of this under the microscope since so many drummers love to criticize all that he does. The fact that he does all that he does so consistently really amazes me yet he is always quick to remind us of the fact that he can do all that he does thanks to the work that he did in the woodshed.
Mamady Keita: He is not a drum set player but is a true master of African drumming. Everything he does just moves me because it's so beautiful. When he plays the traditional African songs it inspires me to see how there is fact harmony within a drumming ensemble. His solos are unique as they tell a powerful story over the grooves that they color. The sound he gets out of his drums is also amazing as I have never heard anything like it.
Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?
There hasn't been one particular concert because I find inspiration every time I hear live music. I have been inspired by the great ones but also love watching some local players here in town who are also some of my favorite musicians. Fame means nothing to me when it comes to feeling inspired.
How much time do you practice?
I try to do a little bit of something every day but with my work schedule it's really hard to spend hours on end practicing. If I'm gigging a lot I tend to use time away from the stage to rest and, most importantly, to spend time with my family.
What types of things do you like to work on?
Keeping up my chops, accuracy and endurance. A lot of times I prefer to use that time to work on new compositions so I wouldn't really call that practice.
Carlos: Flash Flood
Do you record drum videos of yourself? Why?
Not as much as I should. I like to watch videos of my live performances but I need to start recording my practice sessions.
I see you're into electronic drums and programming...
Oh yes. It's an asset in so many ways. As as they keep improving the sound of electronics I suggest that prideful traditionalists get over themselves. I love to program loops and overdub other ideas with my electronic set. It's amazing how real these grooves can sound when you you mix the two together.
Do you sing and play?
Yes. I sing background vocals in the bands I work with.
Do you prefer studio sessions or local live gigs?
Live gigs is where it's at. I like session work and delivering the goods for those who hire me but I prefer to work on my own music as I enjoy the process of seeing how the songs come together.
Do you prefer being in a band (artist) or being a sideman?
Now when I work with people I prefer to just work as a sideman. It's so much easier to just show up, play the gig and get paid. I prefer working alone when it comes to being creative because I don't have the patience I used to have when it comes to compromising with others.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I want people to see that I really cared about all that I did with the artists I worked with and for my audience and a true honesty in all of the music that I created.
Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us?
Years ago when I played a gig at The Viper Room in Hollywood when the artist who hired me wanted to shake things up a bit onstage that night by hiring a stripper to dance along to our tunes. She never stripped down to her birthday suit but she certainly got the attention of the audience. I haven't been back to that part of the world since.
What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?
Learn everything you can. Dabble in all musical styles and do it while you're young because you won't have time once you start working and/or when you have other adult obligations. Learn the business of music as it is never smart to rely on someone to do all of the business for you. On top of everything else, be a good person. You need confidence along with thick skin but don't be arrogant. No one owes you a thing so make sure you are worth all that you ask for or expect from others. And, be grateful for everything.
Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s???
You can follow me on Twitter @csolorzano18, on Facebook at CarlosSolorzano:DesertDrummer, hear samples of my playing and watch videos at: www.reverbnation.om/carlossolorzano #DesertDrummer...Big thanks to for the interview, to my parents for their belief & support, everyone at Soultone Cymbals, Drum Dots, Silverfox Sticks and Hansenfutz Pedals and to everyone who gave me a chance to show the world what I can do on the drums.
Thanks again for having me. I really appreciate it!
As you can see Carlos is a pretty fascinating guy. I'm really impressed with his discipline and how he works from genre to genre. It's not always easy to do that. Whether it's country, world music or music for tv/film, He's got a handle on it and I know we'll be hearing a lot more from Carlos and his variety of projects.
Thank You Carlos for sharing your gifts and talents with us.
Keep doing what you do man!
Remember, if you or someone you know would like to be interviewed & featured on Talkin' Chop.
Contact me: DeHaven email@example.com