Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Volume 34 - Veronica Bellino


This next artist is someone I have been paying attention to ever since I joined the Soultone Cymbals family, about 6yrs ago. I would always see her pic or vid on the website and I started watching some of her know how we drummers like to do?! lol.
Fast fwd to last December and I was attending the Soultone 10th Anniversary, where a number of the artists played with with their projects. Veronica was one of them and I was excited, I would get to see her live. More interesting to me was she was playing with her band Halo Circus, which I am a big fan of Allison Iraheta(singer) and wanted to see what this new project was all about. Well, they were great and Veronica was very impressive. I was so glad I got to witness her and the band throw down.
When I started this project she was def one of the drummers I wanted to get to interview because I knew she had a lot going on in her drum life and is a very talented musician. We finally got connected and she's her to give us a little insight into the world of Veronica Bellino. Right Here on Talkin' Chop!

Name or Stage Name: 
Veronica Bellino.. most people call me V. 

Where are you from? 
Long Island, New York 

How long have you been playing? 
About 20 years 

What is or are your main genre of playing? 
Most of the genres I play are rock, pop and some hip hop 

How did your drumming career unfold?, are there some specific events that led you to where you are now?
Cool question... aside from practicing and perfecting your craft as much as possible, there are little things we do that have a huge impact on where we are today and what direction our life goes. The universe will take you places and give you choices. Something that you did can seem so in significant at the time, but could actually change your life or take you on a path you would have never been on if you didn't do that thing. When I was 15 I went with my friend who had a car, to Tower Records. I picked up a drum magazine and an ad fell right out of it. I picked it up, looked at the ad and it said " Looking for drummer for band, influences - Korn, Sepultura, Pantera, The Deftones" - I said to myself - woah cool, I love all those bands! I took the number down and called them when I got home. I ended up going to meet them at Lyric Studios in Long Island for an audition. Long story short, they wanted me in the band, and I played with them for a few years. Being in that band led me to meet other musicians and friends (who I still hang with today) who by hanging with them, led me to meet someone who told me Carmine Appice was looking for drummers for a new drum group called SLAMM!!. I ended up being a member of SLAMM!!, and the video audition I made for it was seen by Jeff Beck on YouTube which is how he discovered me and we ended up working together. Of course there was many other timelines and branches to this, but the short version is.. If I never went to Tower Records that day, maybe none of this would have ever happened?? 

What are your goals, short & long term? 
I have a few goals.. I would love to have a song placed as a theme song for a TV show, I have been close! Also a goal is for a major artist to record a song I had written and have it go number 1! 

You have already played for some Big names in music, are there any other artists you would like to play for? 
Sure, plenty. I would love to work with Lady Gaga. Imogen Heap is one of my favorite artists. It would be a dream to play for Sia.

Speaking of Big names, you worked with a legend in Jeff Beck. How did that come about? 
Jeff had actually come across one of my drum videos on YouTube and had his management email me. I was living in New York at the time and working in an office for my Father's company. I saw the email and thought it was a joke... so I replied with my cell number and asked if Jeff could give me a call ( to see if it was real).. and sure enough he did! He said he was very impressed by my video and wanted to work on a new album with me. Of course I accepted :) Some time later we ended up working together in the studio and playing shows. 

Veronica, Jeff Beck & Rhonda Smith

What were some of the things that you learned working with Jeff? 
One thing I learned for sure was to overcome insecurity and be more sure of myself. Obviously I am no Vinnie Coliauta LOL... nobody is Vinnie but Vinnie, so I had to just do what I do and think "You would not be here if you weren't good." It was also very cool that Jeff is so down to earth..there is sort of this stigma attached to people who are considered legendary and you expect them to be a certain way. I will admit I was pretty nervous to meet Jeff for the first time, but he was very easy going, funny and made me feel comfortable. It's always cool to work with people like that. 

You're in a band called Halo Circus and you guys have album coming out in June, i believe? 

Will you guys do a National Tour? 
Yes.. we are working on dates for a west coast run starting in August, and I believe late September we will do the rest of the dates. 30 cites total. 

Do you enjoy touring? 
I do. I lose track of time and it can be exhausting but its fun. 

Being in Halo Circus, is this a project where you can really express yourself as a drummer and musician? 
There is freedom for me to express myself as a drummer.. I have fun, I may do some flashy stuff with my sticks and move around, that's just me and the band appreciates that. I definitely add my own flare to the songs.

Halo Circus - "Do You Believe In Shame?" 

Tell us about the songwriting process, is it collaborative or is there a central writer? 
Matthew ( bass player) and Allison ( singer) mostly wrote the songs on the album. Those songs were pre-existing when I joined the band.. but some of the arrangements we modified together as a band, such as the song "Yo Me Voy" 

What kind of band is Halo Circus? What kind of musical journey are you guys taking us on? 
Halo Circus is a bilingual, alternative rock band with an electric, compelling stage presence. I think the type of journey the audience experiences at our shows and with our music is that of an Alice In Wonderland vibe.. Halo Circus represents the "beauty and the chaos".. that's what Allison sings about and the music represents that balance. 

Halo Circus @ Soultone 10th Anniversary

How did the band form? 
The band formed in 2012, after Allison (Iraheta) had her solo release from her success of being top 4 on season 8 of American Idol. She had taken a hiatus from music and had met producer, Matthew Hager, and starting writing with him. I think they both realized they were writing "different" type of songs and had to form a band. I had heard the band was looking for a drummer. I heard Allison's voice and was blown away. I didn't realize until after the fact that she was even on Idol.. I don't watch the show really, but the bits that I have seen I did remember her and she stuck out to me. I remember thinking to myself at the time something like "that girl is freakin' awesome".. who knew later on that I would be in a band with her! ( that sort of thing has happened to me a bunch actually! ) 

As Indie bands, you have to hustle to make things happen... do you find it more rewarding when the band accomplishes one of the goals you guys set? 
Yes definitely... actually this tour that we are doing is from a completely new platform. We teamed up with Road Nation to make it happen. Basically all through social media and word of mouth. No booking agencies, no labels, no mangers.. just the band and the fans. Fans actually pick the cities they want us to play and contribute to get us there! I was shocked when we had 30 cities confirmed. For an indie band to accomplish that is incredible. 

Do you play any other instruments? 
yes I sing, play piano, guitar and bass. 

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks...ect? 
My current set up is a Yamaha Stage Custom Birch kit.. lately I have been playing a 5 piece - 22" kick with a KickPort, 12" rack tom, 14" and 16" floor toms with a 13" Oak Musashi snare. I use Evans heads, I like the clear EC2s on my toms and the coated G2s on my snare. Always played Vic Firth 5A American Classics. Soultone Cymbals - 14" hi hats ( sometimes 13") 17" and 18" crash, 21" ride and a 12 FXO splash. I also use the Porter and Davies throne with vibration monitor from the kick drum. 

Veronica Bellino - Soultone Artist

VIC FIRTH: Performance Spotlight feat. Veronica

Do you have multiple kits and snares? 
I have 2 other drum kits and some gear from other companies that I have accumulated over the years before but because I'm endorsed... I should probably only list the Yamaha items though haha - I have a 14" Yamaha Birch snare as well, and a 10" rack tom that I add to my kit sometimes when I want more toms. 

Which wood shells do you prefer? 
My birch kit always sounded great... lately I have been into the Oak drums that Yamaha put out. Very deep, full sound but still good attach. They sound awesome. 

Do you have a “Dream Kit”? 
Not really... I was never one for big and flashy drum kits.. I'll add different sounds and colors depending on what I am playing, however I wouldn't mind having crazy looking chrome hardware like octopus tentacles swirling around the kit!

How do you describe your drumming style? 
This is a tough question for me! I try to play whatever the music calls for, but if I was just going to jam and do my own style, I probably mix funk with rock.. so lets call it Runk :) 

Why the drums? 
I actually started off on the guitar. I had a few friends that played the drums and when I went to their house I would sit at their kit and mess around. I could play beats right away, it just felt cool and natural. Just one of those things, you don't really know why, it just is. 

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing? 
If you are asking what my alternative career would be if I wasn't a musician - not an easy answer, but there are things that could possibly satisfy that question. Actress, Chef, astrophysicist, fitness instructor, video editor possibly. 

How has drumming impacted or changed your life? 
I started so young.. when I first started knowing who I was and what I wanted, I realized I wanted to be a drummer and be on stage. That was pretty much it for me. I never stopped. It was always something that gave me hope, especially when people could see that I had talent and it wasn't just a phase or something dumb to do. There was always something to look forward to.. a show or writing new songs with my band, or recording songs on my own. I think it kept me in place.. I never did hard drugs or felt like I needed a crutch if there was something negative going on, because I guess music was that crutch and that therapy. It is such a huge part of my life now and I'm always looking to grow and improve.

Are you involved in the local music scene in your hometown, other than just playing in your band? 
Yes. I always try to support my friends, either going to the shows or jamming and playing with them spontaneously. There are plenty of jam nights in LA that have a huge following and are great to meet people, network or just hang and have a good time. 

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why? 
Dave Weckl - He is one of those guys I can watch play on his own all day. I love his dynamics, syncopation and finesse. 
Carter Beauford - LOVE his use of the hi hat. He won't just play the 8th notes or the 16ths, he breaks it up in a way that's just so groovy. 
David Silveria - Korn was one of my favorite bands growing up. David brought more to that band than just hard rock drums.. sometimes his drums sounded small, he used piccolo snare drums in certain songs.. for metal!! I had never heard that type of drum sound in a heavy rock band. It was so cool to me... a bunch of my drummer friends in high school would try to sound like David and tune their drums like his.. including me haha, I loved his little nuances with the cymbals and splashes as well. 
Sammy Watson - The Apex Theory was a huge influence.. the whole band had an interesting perspective on rhythm. Sometimes what what you thought was the downbeat was actually the upbeat. The guitar player would play polyrhythms over Sammy's grooves, all being super melodic at the same time. Sammy is just a beast haha.. what more can I say... he sort of has a "break beat' style, its very unique. I actually had the pleasure of meeting him at an event a few years ago.. super nice guy. Believe we had a 20 minute conversation before I even knew who I was talking to! I asked him what band he was in and when he said "oh it was called The Apex Theory"... my jaw dropped to the floor.. I felt so stupid, and he was surprised that I was a big fan of the band, I don't know why.. they were underrated I guess. 
Benny Greb - smooth as butter that guy 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding? 
I was very inspired by Blue Man Group, I loved everything about it

Would you say, sometimes we forget about these types of musical experiences because they're not the "mainstream"?
I can't speak for others, but I definitely don't rule anything out. Sometimes I get inspiration when I am driving. Everybody is different and get inspired by different means.. but I appreciate every kind of music or performance art. Just because something is not considered "mainstream" doesn't mean anything, really. 

How much time do you practice? 
It varies.. if I go practice at my drum studio I'm usually behind the kit for a few hours.. maybe 2- 3 hours at a time a few times a week, plus I keep a practice pad and foot pedal in my living room in case I get bored I'll start noodling with rudiments.

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions? 
If there is new music I have to learn for a gig then I will practice the material over and over. If I am just practicing on my own, I will play along with new music or songs that I like, practice different pocket grooves, and linear patterns between hands and foot. All different things. 

What other projects do you have going on? 
I have been working with Darryl McDaniels ( DMC of RunDMC) for a few years on his solo rock project. I play drums and sing. We also play all the RunDMC hits as a full on rock band! I have had a few cool new gigs this year such as playing a cruise with Orianthi. She's is freakin' awesome.. I hope to play more with her in the future. I am also playing in and producing a visual performance drum/cirque group. It includes 2 drummers, a fire breather, LED technology, and an aerialist. We will be launching the social media and a launch party in LA this summer. Also I am always working on songwriting projects, either for TV/Film or for artists. 

Darryl McDaniels (DMC) & Veronica

"Give Into Me" with Orianthi on the Rock Legends Cruise 4

Do you record drum videos of yourself? if so, how has it helped you? 
Sometimes. If there is a groove I want to remember then I will video myself playing it, or if I am preparing for a gig I may record myself playing the material to get a new perspective. 

I heard you sing on the track "My Tiled White Floor" which is on Jeff Beck's Live album (2015) 
Great Voice btw! Do you plan on doing some more projects showcasing your vocals skills? 
Thank you for the compliment! I have written and sang songs for DMC's solo rock band. I play drums and sing the hooks in the songs we write. I sing them live at the shows as well, hopfully at some point there will be a release with the songs. My voice will be showcased on those for sure. I do have a song currently on itunes called "Under Water" that I released in 2011. Also I have a soundcloud page with a few songs that I wrote and produced. That link is

"My Tiled White Floor" (studio) by Jeff Beck

Do you prefer studio sessions, local live gigs or touring? 
I like them all! I do enjoy traveling to different places so touring might be number 1. 

Do you prefer being in a band (artist) or being a hired gun? 
Depends on the situation.. I only join bands if I really love the music and the people. Hired gigs are great if the budget is good and can be a lot of fun. I also enjoy playing with different artists and different styles so its cool to vibe with people you haven't played with before. 

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us? 
One that definitely comes to mind is an EDM/Drumming group called Rhythm Monks that I did a few years ago. The audition was the most physically demanding experience I've ever had. It was a very high-energy show with 3 drummers
(it started with 2 drummers and a DJ). Anyway, the first day of auditions was the drumming day.. then the next day was the choreography day. So when I went through the choreography day.. who knew we would basically be mixing P90X with drumming! They actually told us during the audition that if we needed to take a break to throw up we can do so, then to make sure we come back to the audition room! We ran one of the songs over and over as they watch all of use thoroughly, there was about 10 of us all in the room performing the routine. We ran the routine as a group of 10, then they broke us up into groups on 2, and ran the routine again. I am in pretty good shape and am used to performance type drumming, which throws basic playing technique out the window because you have to use your arms more dramatically and raise them high in the air so people can see from a distance.. we call it "big arms." So, I am used to this type of playing, but let me tell you, I was sweating hard... there were a few bigger dudes at the audition that you could tell were having a bit of a hard time. So long story short, I made the group.. not only was the routine strenuous as hell, but on top of that, for the show we had to wear heavy masks! The front of the masks have LED technology and light up with different patterns... so they were about 5 pounds in the front, then we had to have a counter weight behind our heads that was a few more pounds so the mask wouldn't fall forward from its own weight. The show was about 45 minutes long.. and the first show I did there were problems with the power, so the show actually stopped during almost the end of the set. We were told that if there was any issues to just stand in a certain pose and wait for the sound to start again.. well when that happened it felt like an eternity. It was almost worse to stand there and do nothing in a costume and heavy ass mask rather than be mobile and playing the show.. at least your mind is focused on the show, and not how shitty you feel. Yeah so that ended up happening twice in the set, and the first time when it came back on, it brought us back to the beginning of the last track the we played! So we ended up being on stage for over an hour. I was so close to throwing in the towel and getting out of there, but didn't want to look like a wimp, especially on the first gig. I stuck it out and finally the show was over. I contemplated quitting the group after that, but the good thing is, after that, the production crew ended up reconstructing the masks so they were way more comfortable, and the show was diminished to 2 15 minute sets. Way better for the performers! The show was actually super fun when that happened haha!

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there? 
Stay true to yourself and be real. Be professional and respectful, be on time, practice hard, don't be a diva. You will get more work and recommendations if you are a likable person as well as a great player. 

Any Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s??? 
Thanks for reading! Anyone who would like to follow me on social media! -- 

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Big Thx to Veronica for doing this interview!
For a busy person like her to take the time and share with all us, it is very appreciated.
This is a very accomplished musician and a very inspiring one as well. As you can see, if you want a result of success, you must put in the hard work to go along with the talent.
You can tell that V has a tenacity when it comes to her career but she also knows how to embrace the moments and have some fun. Much respect to her and the musicians like her, who don't just sit around waiting for opportunities...they create them.

Now, I need you guys to hook up with Veronica on her soc. med. pages as well as Halo Circus. Pre-order their new album and go see them on tour this Summer!
This is another band that is making some noise and is going to do some things, don't be left out!

Are you in a band? Are you a drum educator? Maybe a studio session player? or you do the "weekend warrior" thing?
Whatever your drumming situation...Talkin' Chop wants to interview you.
Contact: DeHaven


**On May 21st, 2016 we lost another great musician. 
Nick Menza - A drummer best known for his work with Megadeth. He also had a very kool project called OHM.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nick a couple of times via our relationship with Soultone Cymbals. I also got a chance to see & hear him play with Megadeth and OHM. All I can say is he was a really kool guy and very gracious with his time. He will be missed but his mark has been left and we are all appreciative of his work and influence. Prayers for his family at this time.
Rest Well my brother.

Nick @ Soultone 10th Anniversary with his band OHM.

I asked Veronica if she would like to say a few words about Nick and she offered this sentiment...
I would just like to say that the music industry has suffered great losses this year. Yet another has been taken just recently, Nick Menza. I did not know Nick well, but we had met a few times at shows and events. He was a super cool guy, my cousin actually used to work with Megadeth so he knew Nick pretty well. The Soultone Cymbals community is tight knit, so it definitely hits home. My condolences go out to his family and I know that his drumming resonated and influenced many people. Rest in peace, Nick Menza.

Thank you guys for reading and supporting this project!

#DrummersSupportDrummers  #TalkinChop  #DrumLife


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