Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Volume 24 - Sean Moriarty

 Volume 24 - Sean Moriarty

Let me just say, that this guys "Crazy story"..is so L.A. music scene. I'm sure it was an eye opener for this drummer from West Virginia. Thank goodness that didn't deter Sean from continuing his work in Los Angeles. He and his band Varna are making great music and he is giving us some very solid and passionate playing.
I definitely have to check these guys out live, their studio tracks are very well done and capture all the instruments vitality. So, with that being said...I had to get Sean in on the Talkin' Chop thing, so he could give us more insight on his drum life.

Name or Stage Name: 
My name is Sean Moriarty, some friends call me "Marioparty", I answer to both! Hahaha

Where are you from?
Well, I'm a bit of a mutt when it comes to where I'm from... I'm the son of two pastors, which means you're more than likely going to move around a lot. I was born in Wheeling, West Virginia and lived there until I was about 1 and a half, then my mom and I moved to Los Angeles (my current home) and lived there until I was four, then up to Santa Maria, CA in the central coast and lived there until I was eight, then up to Central Washington and lived there until I was 11, and finally moved back down to Los Angeles and I've lived here ever since. It's been about 10 years or so, so I think I can finally call myself an Angelino! 

How long have you been playing?
I've been beating the crap out of inanimate objects since I was a toddler, but since that "doesn't qualify as a musical education" :P, the actual number is 10 years as of this passed February! I've finally hit a decade!!! Many more years are to come too! 

What is or are your main genre of playing?
My main genre is hard rock/metal! I discovered metal before I went into high school and it will always have a special place in my heart! It's an exciting genre that is always evolving. If you want to hear what a MIDI controller sounds like with metal, it's out there. If you want to hear ancient Celtic and Scandinavian folk instruments with metal, that's out there too! I love it! 
I also play Blues, Folk, Indie, Funk, Reggae, Pop, Gospel, Americana, Country.
I'd love to do a session for a Hip-Hop artist someday! I can play it, but when you're known as the town metal head, people aren't exactly jumping all over you to lay down some beats! XD 
I also play Cajon for various acoustic gigs. 

How did you get where you are now?
A lot of drumming, a lot of listening, help from some great people along the way, and just getting out there and taking every opportunity given to me! It's as simple as that. If you stay in the garage or the practice space because you keep telling yourself that you need to be better before you take the risk of putting yourself out there, you'll never do it. You cannot be afraid to fail! 

What are your goals, short & long term?
My goals are to do whatever makes sense for me and my band at any given moment. I've only been a professional musician for a few years, but what I've learned is that making strict plans and goals for yourself will only result in unnecessary frustration. The business side of the music world is so spontaneous, things are subject to change at a moments notice and that's just the way it is. Often times you'll find yourself stuck in a gray area; a lot of possibilities will be thrown your way, only a couple of them actually turn into something, and most of those circumstances leading to that result will be completely out of your control. You need to allow for some fluidity in the way you approach things. Not everything you want will happen right this second, and that doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. Timing is everything! 

Artists you would like to play for?
I'll just list some dream gigs, whether the people are dead or alive lol.
Killswitch Engage, Galactic, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Roots, O.A.R, Plini, Periphery, The Meters, Toto, John Mayer, Meshuggah, Unearth, Testament, Trampled By Turtles, Jamiroquai, SRV, Jimi, Philip Sayce, Black Label Society....this list could go on and on for a long time! 

List some of your accomplishments:
Back in the high school drum line days, we went to the WGI World Championships in Dayton, OH during my Junior year; I was chosen as section leader my senior year; then after I graduated I was on the percussion staff for the following marching and indoor seasons.
In the professional world I've worked with great producers and engineers in the Los Angeles area such as Mitchell Froom, David Boucher, the staff at Gray Area Studios, and Dan Garcia, Greg Cortez, and Oliver Schnee while I was doing some tracking at New Monkey Studios.
I've frequented many venues in LA from restaurants, to bars, and music halls.
My band has received radio play, and attention from some local podcasts, and has received award nominations from Barebones Entertainment, the LA Music Awards, and the North American Independent Rock Music Awards. We received the People's Choice Award at the NAIRMA's.


In the last few months I've partnered up with a creative management company and will begin booking artists in several venues in and around LA, giving me a huge opportunity to learn about music business from a very successful group of people!
I have two young students that have entrusted me with teaching them how to play.
I'm also stoked that I became a Silverfox Drumsticks artist in January! 

You're in a band called Varna, tell us a bit about this project...
Varna is a 3 piece female fronted band from LA, and our sound has been described by several people as "Breaking Benjamin meets Kelly Clarkson", because of our heavy rock sound that we have paired with melodic vocals. Varna has been featured on Revolver Magazine, has played on Warped Tour, and like I mentioned above has received some award nominations, and has won a People's Choice award.


Do you play any other instruments? 
I suppose I could play any instrument you hand me....if you like the sound of nails on a chalk board, hit me up! My rate is $30/hour hahaha.
I've played a few different instruments, but Drums is the only instrument I've cared enough about to stick with.
My first instrument was my families kitchen island, a drummer friend of my grandpas gave me my first pair of sticks when I was 3 or 4 and I went to town all over that thing! There were cracks in the tile along the edge all the way around! 

Later on, my instrument choices became a bit more traditional, and I started with guitar. I dropped it pretty quickly due to the size of my eight year old hands being too small to do much on the fret board. I took up Piano shortly after that, but never quite loved it. After I moved back to LA my mom caught me shredding on my air guitar (custom made, bright red Flying V, humbuckers, Floyd Rose...it's got the works), she then asked me if my love for the guitar had come back and I looked right at her and said "Heck no! I wanna play drums!". Ten years later....here I am! I had a short period of saxophone lessons from my grandpa a couple years after I started drums, but nothing can really compete with drums if you ask me! 

What are your touring experiences, if any?
I have toured as far north as San Jose, CA, down to San Diego, CA and through the Southwest out to New Orleans. Varna just recently played in New Orleans at the Southport Music Hall as direct support for the band Drowning Pool. We've been friends with their guitar player CJ since we met at the NAIRMA awards earlier this year. We'll be back in NOLA this October as well!

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks included and why you choose these items?
My current set up is a Mapex Pro M series, which came with 3 rack toms, one floor tom, one kick. I only use one rack tom though; it makes set up so much easier, and using less can really be more effective for your sound in my opinion. I'm a big fan of Mapex. Great drums, they don't break the bank, and do exactly what you need them to do. Hardware is all Mapex, my Pedals are Tama Speed Cobras, you can't really get much better than those! They ought to be advertised as foot operated jack hammers!

I use 14" Zildjian A custom hats, a 17" A custom Crash, a 21" Meinl Transition Ride (which is my favorite cymbal ever), and an 18" Wuhan China. I use Zildjian for their reliability. When you buy a Zildjian cymbal, you know that you aren't bringing home a piece of crap. I love Meinl cymbals because they think outside the box, and they're a very innovative company. The Wuhan China is awesome because it's cheap, and CAH-RAP is it FRIGGIN LOUD! 

Right now I have all coated Evans heads (except for my Mapex snare, which has a Remo Black Suede since I couldn't find an Evans Onyx). G2's on the toms, an EMAD on the kick, and a Heavyweight on my brass snare. I prefer Evans heads because they're so easy to tune due to the "Level 360" concept; the drums breathe a lot more and stay in tune for much much longer.

My sticks are all Silverfox, I have an assortment of the basic 5a's and 5b's, to 1a's and Sweet Pea's. I also have their Swiskas (brushes), and Clawstix (rods). Silverfox sticks are a life saver because they're so reliable. They don't break! That's HUGE if your a gigging musician, but way more so if you're a hard hitter like I am/have to be. 

Do you have multiple kits and snares?
I do not have multiple kits, but I do have two snares. A maple Mapex snare that came with the kit, 14x5, and a TAMA SLP Black Brass 14x6.5.

Which wood shells do you prefer?
Well I suppose I can only have a true preference for Maple shells, since that's what my kit is made from. I just recently got a chance to use an old Yamaha Recording Custom with all Birch shells, which received rave reviews from the sound engineer! I also really like the old vintage Mahogany kits from the 70's. Any wood that is pretty transparent and doesn't mask the sound because it naturally adds a lot of overtones. The last thing I want is a kit telling ME what It's gonna sound like! 

Do you have a “Dream Kit”?
It's impossible for me to have a "dream kit" lol. I love everything from old Ludwig's, Gretsch Broadkaster's, Tama Starclassic's, Mapex Saturn's, Sonor SQ2's, and all the custom shops like SJC, Evetts, North, and Truth. So what I really need is a warehouse full of somewhere, but not limited to, around ten bazillion kits. XD (better start working on that! I still only have one!)

How do you describe your drumming style?
Well based off the band I'm in, it wouldn't necessarily be wrong to think that I'm a straight forward rock and metal drummer; however there are a lot of other styles that I'm influenced by. Normally what I tell people is that if you were to put me behind a kit all by myself and just have me play, I'd probably sound like a funk rock drummer. My favorite drummers are Stanton Moore, Matt Halpern, Benny Greb, Jeff Porcaro, Bernard Purdie, and Mike Johnston; so take those influences, and put them in a loud, hard rock setting. That's the sound that I like to create and will continue to develop and hear evolve for the rest of my life.

Why the drums?
Quite honestly, I've never actually had a choice! Like I said, I've been damaging objects around my house with sticks since I was a toddler, so it was only a matter of time before I started learning how to properly use them! 
There's something pure about the drums that I caught on to early on. Probably because they're the oldest instrument...the original intent of a drum was for basic communication from far distances. I think it's by far the most organic, the most true, and the most transparent instrument. 

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing?
Probably standin' around and eatin' gummy bears.

How has drumming impacted your life?
Drumming has given me a voice. Normally I'm fairly reserved, I prefer to stay quiet (unless I'm very comfortable with the people I'm around). So when people see me on stage pounding away at the kit with my rock band, it always comes off as a bit of a surprise, because all of a sudden I'm really intense! Overall I would say it facilitates emotional fluidity. It can convey anger, intensity, sadness, happiness, and everything in between in its rawest form, and I'm very appreciative really that it can help me do that because I'm not good at doing that on my own.

Is the music business your career?
It looks like it! My band is starting to tour, were writing new material, I've been hired for recording sessions independently, I'm partnered with a creative management company and learning/working on the business side of things. So I would say that the music business is absolutely my career! Got a LONG way to go...I'm only 22! 

Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown?
100%! When it comes to the underground LA scene, I'm hoping I can become someone who will help cultivate a healthy and vibrant scene, and get musicians of the same, and different styles to be in a friendly community, not a competition. 
Also on the business end, the harder you make it for musicians to just make a few bucks, you lose all sorts of great talent to other places...sometimes even other countries, and that's a crime! Not just for the musicians, but the culture of the area. Literally everything about an area suffers when you suppress its culture, because....no one will want to go there! 

Do you like playing in the LA/Hollywood Scene?
Yes and no. There's great opportunities in LA for musicians. However, it's overcrowded, and it's become a bit toxic. I think the scene here has some real laziness issues on all sides. A lot of venues are willing to sacrifice quality for quick and easy money (via Pay to Play and Pre sale shows). Too many bands who have money do the pre sale shows and don't bother actually having awesome material or a good show. The general public has noticed the mediocrity and has stopped paying attention to their local scene altogether, which has made upward mobility pretty difficult to attain since it's so hard to get people to come out to shows. 

There ARE great artists here in LA. There ARE good venues that pay attention to who they book and PAY. There ARE people who really care and pay attention. The issue is, all of those things I just mentioned are few and far between. It'll get better though, many people are beginning to wise up and realize that the scene is not serving the people that it should be. We just need to "family up" and fix it!

   Varna - "My Heart" 

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?
Stanton Moore (Galactic, Stanton Moore Trio), I love his vibe. You always know when it's him behind the kit. He doesn't sound like anyone else which is why he's my favorite! I can sit and watch him play for hours and hours and hours! 

Matt Halpern (Periphery), he's brought a whole new type of groove to metal. He hits hard, he's always right in the pocket, and he is able to make progressive metal sound fluid! 

Benny Greb (Independent, Moving Parts), his style is really innovative. His groove is incredible, and he has a great sense of dynamics!

Mike Johnston (Educator/Clinician), my grandpa was a music teacher so I admire people who have the ability to be to be "big time" professionals but choose to be educators instead. He's also greatly influenced my attitude towards playing because he's so vocal about drummers being positive toward themselves and one another. Ran into him at NAMM several times too, really awesome guy! 

Jeff Porcaro (Session Drummer, Toto), the perfect studio drummer! He was the definition of consistency, pocket, and detail. The Rosanna shuffle is my favorite beat to play, and I love teaching it to people! 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?
Probably when I saw Killswitch Engage play the Palladium! KsE always makes me wanna hit things hahaha! They bring a raw energy that is just infectious, and they play such a good show you can't help but get into it! 

How much time do you practice?
I practice quite a bit every day! I live in a fairly quiet residential area, so unfortunately getting a lot of set time just isn't an option (neighbors....). I play on my pad a lot (always to a click), going through rudiments (I still play a lot of the exercises that I learned in drum line, they're still VERY important!), working on my chops (particularly with my left hand....the weak hand is always a nuisance isn't it?), always paying attention to technique (traditional grip, matched grip, accent tap, moeller etc etc). I do all sorts of foot exercises to keep the shin muscles active and maintain stamina for the times I need to do some pretty fast double kick. I normally show up to rehearsals early and spend a lot of time warming up my feet! My band rehearses frequently, I teach lessons, and I spend a lot of time listening to music every day. Practice isn't only playing time. Practice is also a mind set.

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has this helped you?
I do! Nothing serious, I don't have a YouTube channel (although once I am able to get a decent space, and some mics that is definitely going to happen!), but I will do some random tutorials of some of my favorite rudiments, or a short 4 bar ram that I'll write (thank you for the reminder! I haven't done one in a while!). Everything is recorded on my iPhone/iPad....purely for fun, and I just throw them up on my personal Facebook page.

Do you concentrate on Chops or Grooves?
Well, both I guess. I concentrate on musical freedom while I play! My mindset is very fluid, so every time I get behind the kit, I play what comes to mind and focus on my phrasing, dynamics, chops, groove, timing, improvisation, subdividing, originality, sound quality etc etc all in the moment! I don't understand learning things in a systematic, one at a time process. You're separating things that are supposed to be done simultaneously! Which I feel helps a lot, because when I get introduced to new material, I'm able to focus on connecting with the song, and using my ears to make sure I'm connecting musically with the other players instead of the basic mechanics. 

Varna - "Down" lyric video

Are you into electronic drums or programming?
E-kits need to become much more realistic sounding, and the price of those things need to come down significantly before I'll even consider supporting them as a good option. I still don't feel that they're worth the money you need to shell out in order to get anything close to the capabilities that a real acoustic kit will give you. If you want one strictly for practicing, then I understand. I just feel so limited when I play on one, and 99% of the ten bazillion presets that they have are useless for any serious player. There's also limitations when it comes to set configuration that I find annoying too. All in all I give them a thumbs down. They most certainly should not be considered a good replacement for acoustic kits. 

I'm a fan of drum programming if you're a guitar player/singer/keys player etc etc who just wants to record a demo of something without having to set up for a full recording. Again, they most certainly are not a good replacement for a real kit played by a real drummer. They sound lifeless, and it's painfully obvious when someone is using programmed drums instead of a real drummer. The original selling point for programmed drums is that they would be a big time saver for producers in the studio, but what we've found is that programming a drum part for one song takes ridiculous amounts of time, and while you were programming the part for one song, you could've hired a group of good musicians to come in and have an album knocked out in just a few hours. 
There is no good replacement for real instruments! 

Are you a songwriter?
No, unfortunately. I have a good ear for flow, and can tell you when things work or don't work well together. If the ideas are good or if they're just lacking and need some work. If you have too much going on, or too little etc etc. I'm good for improvements, but in terms of writing my own material, I don't really have any way of doing that. 

Do you sing and play?
I have, but it's very rare. Always songs that are not too demanding with both vocals and drums lol Mostly the song Wagon Wheel when I'm at a party or something. 

Do you prefer studio sessions, local live gigs or touring?
I love it all! The studio I think is the most exciting for me personally because you get to trap yourself in your own creative/musical world for a while, try all sorts of crazy ideas to see if they'll sound cool, and record an awesome record! Playing live is always fun, but I love traveling, so touring is extremely exciting and I'm glad I'm getting some road time under my belt! 

Do you prefer being in a band (artist) or being a sideman?
Both of them have their benefits. Being in a band will allow for more individuality out of every member in order to create a unique sound, and you'll actually have a voice with the band and be visible to the fan base. A sideman gig is normally a "hired gun" situation (at least in my experience), so you learn some parts, you show up, and make your money...fairly simple. I prefer having the freedom to be myself with my instrument, and actually have a say in the group I play with though. I feel that I have valuable know how, and ideas to contribute with a group. I can be more than just a player.

Varna - "Running Away" lyric video

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us?
The situation Varna was in before our New Orleans show was crazy to say the least, but I'll share another story because the weirdness level of this one is waaaay up there! 

The guitar player of Varna, Eddie Haddad, and myself were in a band called "What's Up" for a hot second, it was a continuation of the band that the vocalist Chipper started while he was living over in Japan. So we spent a few weeks rehearsing and getting a setlist together, and we played a gig at a venue called "TRiP" in Santa Monica. We play, everything goes well, we load our gear into our cars, then go back and hang out with some of our friends who showed up to see us. I go outside the venue for a quick smoke, and notice a woman who I had seen walking up and down the block before we played (by this point she had probably been doing that for around an hour or so...). She stops just to the left of the venue door (so she is also right in front of me), she looks at me, and then looks around in every other direction. I thought something really sketchy was about to go down, but I couldn't quite figure out what since I wasn't getting the feeling like I was in any danger. Next thing I know, she looks right at me again, pulls her pants down and starts peeing..... Of all places, on the block of Lincoln and Pico in Santa Monica...not exactly a deserted area! I yelled "AWW HELL NO!" and ran back inside!

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?
Music is a fellowship, not a competition. Setting out to be the best drummer ever is a useless goal because you'll always think that someone is better than you, and other people will always like someone else's playing more than yours, get over it. Do your thing, play the way you want to play! Also, promote the music you love, instead of bringing attention to the music that you don't like. Trash talking other people's music is a waste of your time and makes you look like an ass. 

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s???
Thank you so much DeHaven for featuring me on your blog! This has been very cool! 

A big thank you to all the people at Silverfox sticks for supporting me and my band Varna! Thanks to the Varna fans, and friends and family who support what I do! 

Please check out my bands website: http://varnarocks.com

There are links to all our social media accounts where you can check out our music, see what's going on currently, and if you like what you hear you can get a copy of our EP "This Time It's Personal" on iTunes, and Amazon, if you're like me and prefer the physical copy please just shoot us a message and we will get one to you! We also are on Spotify if that is your streaming service of choice! 

We have a new EP coming out soon called #TheOnesInside! We are planning a surprise release date, so be sure to keep up with all our social media pages so you don't miss it! 

If you would like to keep in touch with me personally, I have a Facebook (Sean Moriarty) and a Snapchat account (seanbiscuit93), and I don't mind at all if you add me! 
Rock on! \m/

Rock on indeed! Thx Sean for giving a glimpse into your world.
I really enjoy your playing and Varna.
Everybody, Please go out and support this band and our fellow drummer. all the info is above.

Would you like to be interviewed on Talkin' Chop?
Maybe you know a drummer that should be?
Either way, hit me up and let's make it happen.

DeHaven  de@oliomusic.com

#DrummersSupportDrummers  #TalkinChop

I'm Out!

No comments:

Post a Comment