Friday, October 14, 2016

Volume 51 - Josh Thieler


 photo by Chris Smith

TC #51 Takes us to a favorite city of mine. Pittsburgh, PA
We find a young kat who is making his way in the heavy music world. Josh has his own band and works with some other projects as well. He also does PR work for artists. This guy is really doing things his way and making a name for himself. It's always a good thing when you see drummers who are leading the way in projects yet also know how to be a side man. So, if you like it metal and hardcore or maybe you like to grind and sludge, maybe just straight up death! This is what Josh is all about and his band proves it.
Let's see what all the TALKin' Chop is about....


Name or Stage Name:
Josh Thieler

Where are you from?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

So, how long have you been playing and Why the drums?
My parents had a band since before I was born. They did not have a drummer for the longest time so it was kind of expected that I learn to play the drums. They gave me piano lessons starting at age 7, and I hated it. When I was 11, I got to start taking drum lessons briefly. I started performing with my parents’ band (Remnant) 6 months later. I played with them until I was 15, and I had hundreds of shows with them. By that time, I started playing for four different churches, so I stuck with drums.

You have been and are involved in some pretty hardcore bands, is that your primary genre?
My Dad got me into metal when I was 3 years old by giving me Vengeance Rising’s “Released Upon the Earth” and Tourniquet’s “Stop the Bleeding” on cassette tape. I loved it instantly, and I have spent my whole life finding new subgenres and artists to feed my need for more. Metal will always be my first love and primary genre. 

I am interested in writing with a dark folk/indie/postpunk something or other. I have wanted to do something in the strain of Sufjan Stevens, Chelsea Wolfe, or the Avett Brothers for a long time. I’ll do it eventually, but I am doing what I really want to do right now.

How did you get where you are now?
Practicing a lot, saying “yes” to things, and being nice to people. 

What are your goals, short & long term?
Goals. I always have goals. I’m always working on something. My goals are to stay active, record more (for everyone), and to continuously grow as a drummer.

Artists you would like to play for, if you had the chance?
I think it would be a lot of fun to play drums for Norma Jean or Zao. If Spitfire ever got back together, I would drop everything to play with them.

List some of your accomplishments:
I have recorded multiple releases for Slaves BC, an as-of-yet unreleased album for Twilight Fauna, done a short tour with Grave Robber, and recorded for a secret also unreleased collaboration between an American acoustic/spoken word artist and a Ukrainian noise artist. Other things in the works, but I’m not allowed to talk about them.

Playing in multiple projects, how do you manage that?
Slaves BC is my baby. I started that band with my two best friends, so that band will always come first. Anything else that I participate in, I make sure that they know that Slaves comes first. I mostly like to record for other bands. That way, I can set that time aside and do it, but I have no future obligations weighing me down.

Tell me about the band SLAVES BC?
In Slaves BC, we are trying to write the music that I want to hear. We mix a bunch of different subgenres like Grind, Black and Death Metal, Hardcore, Sludge, and Doom. I listen to a lot of different kinds of bands and I like to keep it interesting by blending the styles. 


How did you come up with the name Slaves BC & What does it mean?
I got it from 1st Corinthians 7:22 in the Bible. "For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave."
I wanted to just do "Slaves" but that was already taken. Slaves Before Christ is a more obvious nod to the verse so I went with that. 

Are you singing lead in this band as well?
I am. 

"Crawling Through Nothing to Nothing" drumcam

There aren't a lot of us that sing and play, was this born out of necessity or just something you always wanted to bring to the table?
When we started the band, it was just the three of us. I was always supposed to be the vocalist, but we did not have a drummer. We weren’t playing shows at first, so I just played drums. When we started playing shows, we had a drummer for a bit, but it didn’t work out. So since the end of 2012, I was doing drums and vocals at the same time. For about a year now we have had a friend filling in on live vocals which has been great.

Now, with the kind of music you're playing, it's very dynamic. Is it difficult working in the vocals?
Ha, it is terrible. I am out an out of shape smoker, so doing the kind of vocals I do with the kind of drums I do really takes it out of me. My wife said to me one night after a show, 

“Honey, why were you making those faces? It looked like you were tired and in pain the whole time.”

I explained that it was because I was tired and in pain the whole time.

"God Has Turned His Back" + "Crawling Through Nothing To Nothing" drumcam

As Indie bands, you have to hustle to make things happen... do you perform any other roles in the band, other than drummer?
You have to love the hustle, haha. I do all the album art, art for shirts, and some show posters. I handle all the social media, PR, management, and booking for the band. 

How did the PR thing happen?
I had been doing the PR for the band myself. When I was sending out the press release for our full length earlier this year, I was having trouble getting in contact with one site. So I asked someone who does PR, and they said, “Yeah, we don’t have that contact either but here is what we would charge you for PR”. I was seriously quoted thousands of dollars. I couldn’t believe it. It turned out that I actually had more contacts than the PR company charging thousands to these underground bands. So I decided to continue doing it myself and offer bands exposure at a much more reasonable rate.
*This is how you help the music community. Find a need and fill it.

What are your touring experiences, if any?
My touring experience is limited compared to a lot of my friends. I have noticed that when we play outside of Pittsburgh it always feels like a big deal. It seems like people take us much more seriously outside of our hometown. Part of that is probably just the amount of shows we have played in Pittsburgh. Everyone thinks “I’ll skip this show; I can always go to the next one”. We don’t tour much just because we have to play shows around the weekends. We all have full time jobs and wives/girlfriends that we don’t want to leave for long periods of time. With that said, we want to do more!

Describe your current set up & gear - heads and sticks...etc.?
I have a Yamaha Stage Custom Advantage kit that used to be an 11 piece that I have cut back to a 4 piece. 

I exclusively use Saluda Cymbals. Saluda customizes each cymbal according to what you want. They sound as gorgeous as they look and last me years, rather than months. My current setup is the following:

Diamond 6" bell

Earthworks 15" heavy hi-hats

Glory 14" inverted China

Glory 16" heavy crash

Glory 18" heavy crash

Glory 20" heavy rough bell ride

Glory 22" heavy china

I have a revolving roster of snare drums that I use depending on my mood or what project I am using them for.

I use Vic Firth 7A’s in my left hand and 5A’s in my right hand.

I use Evans Onyx heads for my 14” rack tom and my 16” floor tom.

I switch up my snare heads constantly, but I always use Evans heads on my snares.

I use the Aquarian Superkick III kick drum head. 
I use a DW 9000 double kick pedal.

photo by Amy Dawn

Do you have a “Dream Kit”? 
My “Dream Kit” would look pretty similar to my current kit. I have no desire to use any heads other than Evans, and I would never use anything other than my Saluda cymbals. I have been really interested in working with Mullins Custom Drums. Mullins does fantastic work: absolutely gorgeous drums both in look and sound.

When you sit behind your kit, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Zao’s “Five Year Winter” or Dillinger Escape Plan’s “Panasonic Youth”

I see you have played for a number of churches over the years, what kind of stuff are you doing, Christian Contemporary, Worship Music, Traditional?
No one has ever asked me about that, haha. It depended on the church mostly. Some of them were more traditional, some were mostly middle aged, and some were very young. So I did a lot of Christian Contemporary and Worship Music. We also did that thing that all churches do by trying to take pop culture songs and either recreate them or “find Christ” in the message of the songs. This led to a lot of things that make me glad YouTube wasn’t around at the time really.

Is it easy for you to switch gears, when you play with your band projects?
It is. I incorporate aspects from all the styles I play into everything I do. Whenever I’m playing with a different project, I just allow a little more of one influence or another to shine through a little more.

If you weren’t playing drums, what would you be doing?
There are other things to do? WHAT?! If you mean what would I be doing in a band, then I guess I would just be doing vocals. That is what I have done when I’m not playing drums in a band. I am trying to teach myself guitar though because I’ve always wanted to. Once I get that down more, I will be doing a bunch of solo stuff as time allows. One of those projects is pretty solid and just waiting on me to finish leveling up on guitar and I’ll have a place to put out the record.

How has drumming impacted or changed your life?
Not to get weird, but you asked. I had a rough patch a while back. I was an alcoholic for a couple of years, and I stopped doing music and art. I drank all day every day. I stopped talking to most people I knew. I stopped going to church. I would literally drink from the minute I woke up until the minute I passed out. There were a couple times I almost just ended it all. 

One of my best friends in the world came to me one day and was like “you have to stop all this”. He told me that I was going to start doing music again. He set up a tryout with a band called Inhale Exhale and said, “ok, you have a month. Get back into it.” So I did. I quit drinking. I played drums after work every day. Sometimes I would play until 4 in the morning for that month. I ended up not getting in Inhale Exhale, but by that time, I had recovered from alcohol and regained my hunger for music. I’ve been doing music again ever since. 

Well, not to keep it "weird" I think it's very kool to see how the power of music can help a person overcome a bad situation
Thx for sharing that. You never know who you can touch with that story.
That is my point for sharing it. I believe that there can be redemption in all things. The redemption that can be found in our darkness is by sharing that story with others that are living in that darkness right now. If I can make it out, you can make it. 

Are you playing music full time?
I am not. I have an awesome day job working for a medical software company. If you tally up all the time I spend writing, playing, doing art, PR, writing for different music sites, doing band management and label management, and everything else I do, it would be a full time job.

photo by Chris Smith

Name 5 of your drumming influences? why?
Ted Kirpatrick from Tourniquet. That was the band that got me into metal and got me interested in drums. Ted wrote and recorded most of the music/instruments on the Tourniquet albums. He is just an all-around musical genius. The stuff that he plays to this day blows me away sometimes.

Daniel Davison from Norma Jean. When I first heard “Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child” by Norma Jean, I had never heard anything like it. So chaotic and intense. The drums were so unconventional and fun to play. 

Frost from 1349. That dude is just nuts. The stuff that he does with that band is just impossible. Watching the drumcam videos of him is some of fastest and most intense drumming I’ve ever seen.

Ben Koller from Converge/Mutoid Man/All Pigs Must Die every other band ever. Ben Koller is all around insane. He plays it all. The intensity and subtle intricacies that he interweaves through all of his material just blows my mind. He always looks like he is having the best time.

Every drummer that the Dillinger Escape Plan has ever had: mostly Chris Pennie, Gil Sharone, and Billy Rymer. Anytime I would ever feel like I am getting too big of a head, I just listen to any of DEP’s records or watch videos of any of their drummers. This always shames me to the point of just crying on the floor vowing to never play drums again. Seriously. Where do people like that even come from? It makes no sense that they are real human beings. 

Name an inspiring concert that made you want to go home and start shedding?
Seeing Norma Jean or The Chariot live always made me want to go home and play. Those guys always looked like they had so much fun. 
Seeing dudes like Steve Schwegler from Pyrrhon or Josh Cohen from Die Choking do the opposite. Those guys are inhuman. They make me want to go home and give my drums away. 

How much time do you practice?
I try to practice every day.

What types of things do you work on, in those sessions?
I either work to improve songs that we are currently writing, jam along to my favorite records, or write drums for other bands I’m recording for. I like to watch drum workshops or drumcams on YouTube and try new techniques. I also like to go through snare drum teaching books, but I go through those using my feet to get better/faster at double pedal.

"God Has Turned His Back" drumcam (just drums)

You record drum videos of yourself, so how has this helped you?
 It helps in a bunch of ways. I can better see my mistakes and identify those problem areas so I can improve. Honestly, watching those drum cam videos has been a real confidence booster. I’m usually pretty down on myself with my ability and performance, so having that video actually helps build me up and let me know that I’m doing alright. 

Do you prefer studio sessions, local live gigs or touring?
I love touring, but I would definitely say studio sessions. I love pushing myself and seeing what can be created with passion and collaboration. Nothing beats the feeling of nailing a take or getting those first mixes back. 

Are you a Pittsburgh sports fan?
(we need to talk, lol)

Do you have a crazy or interesting gig you can share with us?
This is not a real gig, but I’ll tell it anyway. I was in college to be a youth pastor way back (that’s where I met my dudes in Slaves BC). As part of my college schedule, I had to volunteer at a church as a youth leader. A girl that I knew decided that I was going to work with her at her church. So I showed up and they were like “Oh, good, the drummer is here”. They asked me if I had brought my kit. I was very surprised and said no, since I had never met or talked to these people before. They said, “Oh well. We hear you are good, so you are playing drums with our worship team tonight. There is our drumset”. Now, I look at this kit, and it was the standard no-name donated kit that most “hip” churches had. They did not have a drum throne or a snare stand or drum sticks. So, I had to sit on a pew, with the snare drum on my lap, and use (no joke) wooden serving spoons to play with people I had never met before. That was a truly humbling and embarrassing experience. 

There is a picture, I’ll see if I can find it somewhere... (found it!)
(all of us church kats can relate bro, trust me!)

When it's all said and done, what do you want your legacy to be?
Now that is a loaded question that I could right thousands of words on. I suppose that I am true to my passions. I want to be known for grace, love, and black metal.

What are your words of wisdom for your fellow drummers out there?
Practice daily, always look for new music, you can always be better, put yourself out there, be nice, and only do this what you love. If you are doing it for any other reason, then stop.

Last Words, Links, Hashtags and Thank You’s???
This has been awesome, thank you for taking the time to interview me. 
As far as links, check out my main band, Slaves BC at (or Spotify/itunes)

Follow Slaves BC on YouTube for more drumcam videos. Follow me on Instagram (cvrsedbreath) for lots of pictures/videos of Boston Terriers, drum stuff, and beer. 

Talk to me on Twitter

Yo Josh, thx man for sharing your drum life with us. Big Thank You for your testimony, I believe there are others out there who needed to read that and they also need the support of others around them to help them get through those difficult times.
Wishing you, your band Slaves BC and all of your other projects nothing but success. Keep pushing and never stop!
btw- I won't hold it against you, that you're not a Steelers, Pirates or Penguins fan, lol.


I hope you all enjoyed Josh and his band.
Remember, you and your band can be profiled on TC.
Maybe you're a studio player or you play in different bands around town or on the road? It doesn't matter. Let's get your drum life out there. 
Contact me:

#DrummersSupportDrummers  #TalkinChop  #DrumLife


DeHaven is sponsored by:
Soultone Cymbals, SilverFox Drumsticks, Cympad, Cymbag, Phatfoot Drum Harness