Sick Drummer Magazine

Off-Beat Interview With Chris Coleman
Thursday, 24 September 2009 03:16

Off-Beat Interview with Chris Coleman - 9/09
By: Craig Sternberg


SDM: Are you familiar with the lengths that extreme metal drumming is being taken to today? Are you familiar with some metal drummers at all?

Chris: I have a friend of mine whos name is Derek Roddy. He's a fellow Sonor guy, so as far as people who are current and someone I can relate to it's probably Derek. Virgil Donati is another guy I know of although he’s not really heavy metal. Those two guys right off the bat! There's Thomas Haake too, from Meshuggah! Lately from that genre, the respect I have is for those guys!

SDM: Do you consider yourself a gospel drummer?

Chris: Well gospel is my roots. I don’t necessarily consider myself just a gospel drummer. My hero is Vinnie Colaiuta. He taught me just through being himself that you have to be able to play everything and be open minded to everything, if you're going to make a career out of this.

SDM: Do you think Gospel drumming gets the praise it deserves?

Chris: Yes and no. Yes because of what Youtube has done for it and no because that’s not what gospel drumming truly is. Gospel drumming is about music, not about chops. The thing that blew up is how we practice. A lot of us didn’t know what a Sambo was or a reggae groove was, so for us it was about getting together and practicing, pushing ourselves. Then all of a sudden it showed up on Youtube and that’s when people started labeling it Gospel drumming. A lot of Gospel music has some of those elements, but the majority of Gospel music is not just that, that’s the sad part about it. There are positives though... The title of Gospel drummer or Gospel drumming is popular! It's in peoples mouths! That’s a Blessing! But at the same time that’s not what it is. I’m not knocking it because that’s the way I came up but I want people to understand where we are coming from.

SDM: Could you explain to us what Gospel drumming and Gospel music is then?

Chris: Gospel music to me, we have to go back. I’m 30 and grew up in Detroit, so I’ll say what I know. There's much more I grew up with: The Hawkins, Wynans etc. I could name a ton! The list goes on! The purpose of Gospel music is about spreading a message and the love of jesus Christ. What he did for us whether you believe it or not is okay! That’s what we choose to believe, no disrespect to anyones' belief system or anything like that. It was to spread the good news. That’s why the songs had feeling, they're about passion and they have heart. It was about love, it was about connection with people, it was about life and faith, that’s what Gospel music is about. So there would be moments where you get happy and you splurge off of it in what is now known today as chops. Which turned into what it turned into over time. To me, that is the foundation of what Gospel is, just spreading the message. We are writing songs and creating songs from the heart for faith and love and hope for life, the world, anything in your past I hope it gets better! No one wants to just dwell in evil.

SDM: What do you think Gospel music does completely different from rock drumming? What are the biggest differences in your mind?

Chris: One thing they have in common is passion. There’s some music that at the end of the day just isn’t driven or based from passion or from the heart. To me, a lot of old school rock was based off passion. I’m a teacher, I teach it all! Theres no disrespect to any genre! The thing about metal drumming is it's a lot more technical, guys are thinking. Theres some heart and drive in there, but it’s a lot more thinking. One thing that Gospel and just rock drumming have in common is the heart and the passion. But also what Gopsel drumming has in common with say metal drumming is the thinking. A well thought out, well planned out part. Old school rock was just more about I was singing the song and it meant something to me, it was something that spoke to the world, it was a heart thing. Now it's like I want to write this song in 11/8 ad you gotta hit this part like this, not that it's bad! It's just different.

SDM: Can you shed some light on your education in drumming?

Chris: I started off in elementary school 5th and 6th grade playing snare drum. So I did band in school and started the foundation as early as possible. I played in high school and from high school I did Sax, bass trumpet and drums. From there I did a year at a community college for piano with general studies. Then I moved to New York to go through the collective for drums. Graduated from there, then I went to the Atlanta school of music for bass guitar. I also ended up teaching drums at the Atlanta school of music. I have my own drum school now, a music school, I’m just getting everything together. I’m big on education but I’m also big on playing. They go hand in hand together. What's the point of being educated if you aren’t going to use it?

SDM: A lot of people wonder why a guy of your caliber would teach kids when they obviously don’t need it for monetary reasons. I think the biggest misconception is that you don’t learn anything from your students, do you agree?

Chris: I have a passion for teaching because I love to overcome the statement of I’ll never be able to do that. That’s part of my drive. I get joy out of watching people finally get it. Sometimes it takes a short time, sometimes it takes a little longer, but it blows me away when someone says “Yeah I got it!” That right there, that moment right there is life changing. They can apply that to drums, they can apply that to anything. You’d be surprised how many people walk around with a defeated mentality. If you are to overcome life just by getting this paradiddle then great! Somebody it might be surfing, some might be crochet, who knows. Teaching is a passion of mine and I do learn from my students. It's two fold. I love to learn, I love to grow, I love to stay current. The only way to do that is to give. Through giving you can seize. A student came in and played me a song I was like “I never heard of this!” I didn’t know that style of music and now I do so I’m growing! So was he! He got a lesson! It’s a give and take. I get joy out of it, I do teach right now at my drum studio. Eventually when things come together financially, we will start the bass and keyboards, guitar section, horns etc. You gotta do everything in order. That’s where I am right now with that.

SDM: Do you think because you are also a bass player, when you jam with other bass players you’re a little more critical of their playing?

Chris: Nah, I try to stay away from being judgmental. My teaching style is this: I’m not going to give you a fish because tomorrow you are going to come back and ask for another one. The problem with that is what if I’m not there the next day, do you go hungry? For me I want to teach you how to fish. So you can be able to eat for a lifetime and eat on your own. Thats the way I teach, so I can't be biased to someones' vocabulary or their expressions because I’m trying to help them be confident in their own voice, so they become themselves and not a copy of someone else.

SDM: Did you enter the Guitar Center Drum Off expecting to win or did you just enter with the mentality that whatever happens happens?

Chris: I got into it because I happened to be in a music store at the time, all my homies went to guitar center and were just hanging out. They were having the drum off finals going on and they were like, “You should get in this!”. I was like “Nah, I’m not a competition kind of dude”. Someone signed me up for the thing and they called me and were like “Yeah so we’ll see you tomorrow!” The guys at guitar center knew me personally and one of them called like “Yo you coming tomorrow!?” So I just did it. The first one, I was listening to everyone else play but I was confused as to what I should play. I had a lot of stuff but I didn’t know where to start. It was crazy. It wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting to win, it was more the way I got in it. I played four times total including the grand finals. The second time I won, I was like wow this is big. So I started taking it a bit more serious and I was like I need to go all the way!

SDM: You just got off tour with New Kids on the Block, can you run down a list of some of the people you have played with?

Chris: New Kids on the Block, Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls, Rachelle Ferrell, Chaka Khan, The Paradigm, Creflo Dollar Ministries, Israel Houghton, Bishop Eddie Long, William Murphy Ministries, Isreal and New Breed

SDM: Out of all the bands and projects you’ve played in which one do you think catered the most to your drumming style?

Chris: You know what bro I’ve never even thought about that. I’ve always been because of the way I grew up, through my training, my grandfather was a pastor. He put ten kids through college and was a pastor at a church full time, his thing was be a leader! My dad used to say leaders don’t have limits! My mentality was always to serve the music. If this is as high as we can go in the music or as far as we can go in this music, if it's all that this music requires then that’s it. I just love to play because I love to play it. I like being in new situations where I have to apply different things. Like “Ok we have to mix country and reggae! Ok let's sit down and work it out!” That’s the type of guy I am. So it’s a hard question for me, it's like I don’t even really have an answer for that.

SDM: Your drum kit is built kind of like a big rock drum set. Is that something that’s pretty standard for you, playing on big drum kits?

Chris: Yeah. It's really a seven piece with two extra snares. It ended up being two cymbals more then what I played on my normal set up on the New Kids tour. Sometimes I play on like a four piece, whether it's for rock or some punk rock stuff. Four piece, a crash, and a ride is fine for me! For me and my lifestyle it's all about the music, so if that’s what the music requires then that’s all I need. I’ll make the best with whatever I have.

SDM: What’s unique about your DVD "Dynamic Drumming" and why should our readers go and pick it up? What does your DVD have that others don’t?

Chris: Applicable practice methods. The thing about it is it's designed for every musician, period. Not just drummers. It's designed that no matter what instrument you play you can apply these practice methods to your regimine, your life, your music style, your genre, your whatever and it’ll work. I have been using it now at least 12 years and I have seen nothing but good results. I have past students that still call me to this day and go, "Man! I’m digging this method its ridiculous! I’ve grown so much, my mind is open! As far as just understanding, it just puts everything in perspective for you". Another thing about the discipline factor is the focus factor which a lot of that is mental nowadays. I just get a lot of kids who are undisciplined or unfocused. It's like, dude! you got all this talent! It's like having a Ferrari with no brakes! You got all this talent and all these goods but you have no control!

SDM: Who else in your family was musical and how did your background effect your music?

Chris: My dad plays saxaphone and sings, my sister sings and is getting ready to go to school for it. Out of 22 cousins, I have about three that are playing. That’s on one side of the family. Then on my Moms' side of the family there's another three or four doing it professionally. My Dads' Brother was a drummer too. The day I was born he brought a snare drum and sticks to the hospital. My Grandmother on my Dads' side played piano. Pretty much my entire Family! I had relatives who played the Memphis blues too.



-1 # 2010-11-30 10:42
This man is gifted, but please! remember Cobaham.
+1 # 2011-01-27 16:49
Chris Coleman is one bad dude and he surprises me every time I watch him play!! ;-)

Thanks for putting this interview together - great read!
+1 # 2011-03-16 18:55
amazing drum solo... cool sonor artis...
-1 # 2013-02-27 02:21
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