Keep up with Jean Phillipe here:
SDM: How important are your kick pedals to your playing?
It's probably the more accurate, constant and precise part of my playing. When I first started playing drums, I quickly introduce double-pedal in punk music and it remained my main focus for 8 years. Just wanting to put in more and more double-pedal, because I didn't have any wish to get serious with drumming until I met Unbeing.
SDM: How do you prepare yourself before a show and recording?
A very basic warm-up including single and double-stroke, flams and acappela. Yes, we sing our parts for a whole song together as a group warm-up. It's a synergy of sorts.
SDM: What kind of practice routines do you work on?
For a year and a half, back in 2008 I was practicing 20/25 hours per week after work with a progression chart of all the songs we have, because I wasn't able to play the Unbeing material properly. We then participated in a battle of the bands (Metal Academie 2010). We won the competition and I personally won the ''Best Drummer Contest'' which turned out to be my personal reward for all these efforts. They gave me a Black Panther 13'' made of Cherry! I used it for few years, but got tired of its mid-high pitch.
SDM: Did you ever take drum lessons? If so, who some of your instructors? Do you play any other instruments and do you read music?
I'm currently taking drum lessons with Mathieu Groulx, a very talented Montreal drummer who is helping me getting rid of old and bad habits. So I basically got back to very basic beats, watching how I strike and sit. Making sure that my grip is good and the correct muscles and articulations are carried out. I played french grip for a long time and now switching to Moeller technique. Exaggerating movements in order to fully understand the repercussion (recoil). Philippe Landry from ''Unexpect'' has also been a great teacher. I do write my own drum tabs for Unbeing and I'm able to read them. I've been using Guitar Pro only since I'm with Unbeing, learning complex patterns from some of my extravagant creations and sometimes realizing that it's just unplayable. I push my own boundries with it. Guitar Pro is a great learning tool.
SDM: What kind of gear do you use these days?
I have one of the last Premier Jazz 22 Artist Series made of maple and wood finish. Three toms, 2 floor toms and one bass drum (8'', 10'', 12'', 14'', 16'', 22''). I currently switch between a piccolo and the original snare that comes with my drum set. It has an awesome sound! Sticks are Pro Mark 5B Hickory. Pedals are Pearl Demon Drive and Eliminator (remote Hi-Hat). Cymbals are mainly composed of Zildjian, with some Sabian HHX and two Ice bells. Hardware is all Gibraltar.
SDM: Do you have any touring planned for your latest release and if so with who and where?
We are currently in discussion for planning a tour following the official release of our remastered version at Foufounes Electrique on September 27, 2013. Keep yourself posted on our website www.unbeingmusic.com. We'll try to cover all the Canadian East Coast and maybe few dates in the US.
SDM: Where did you record the latest album "Unbeing-S/t?"
In our own studio. This album was recorded by us and mixing/mastering was done by Martin Albert. In the remastered version, Martin improved his mix and Ryan Morey did the remastering.
SDM: Do you use triggers in the studio or live? What’s your opinion about using triggers and drum modules?
The truth is, on this album, it's a drum machine. I accepted to go with this solution because it was cheap and faster, having to tab my parts and play with the velocity. I'm not very happy about it, but anyway… first album, no budget. I'm not a big fan of triggers. Since I'm more into grooves than extreme playing, there's a lot of subtleties in my playing and triggers wouldn't pick up on them clearly. I basically don't blast or go to very high speed.
SDM: What band or drummer might have influenced you before the latest recording?
At that period of time I was mostly influenced by Opeth, The Faceless and a lot of Phil Landry's patterns in Unexpect. Realizing that grooving is more natural to me than blast beats and high speeds, I took another direction. Now it's Gavin Harrison type of drumming! I'm also trying to get into Latin patterns and Jazz.
SDM: Who are some of your main influences today and back when you first started? What kinds of stuff do you like to listen to?
Like I said previously, Gavin Harrison is my main influence as for today. The more it goes, the less I listen to metal. Not that I don't like it anymore but redundancy more than creativity seems to prevail, and so far, Gojira remain one of the metal bands I still listen to on a regular basis.
My listening goes from Loreena Mckenitt, to Bonobo, to Hans Zimmer, to Gojira, to Vinnie Paz or whatever pleases my ears!
SDM: Do you find playing to a click track challenging?
Guitar Pro is pretty tight on click, I never saw it fail so far! I now play with the track in my ears when we practice, which brings the exercise very close to a click. It was hard at the beginning but it really brought my performance straight.
SDM: How often does the band practice?
We actually practice twice a week plus I have one drum lesson. We use to play much more. We technically got better and now focus on the launch and next release.
SDM: What blast beat method do you use?
Since I dont really blast and my left hand is weak (part of my drum lessons), when a very rare moment of blast beat occur, I go french grip on right (snare) and left hand strike on the second and fourth time, which is like the cheapest way of blasting! XD
SDM: What's your approach to playing double bass?
I'm actually trying to gain more control and speed from the swiveling technique, which is new for me. I always played the way I felt comfortable. In other terms, no precise techniques.
SDM: How do you advise drummers build up their endurance and speed? What did you do personally for yourself to enhance both of these areas?
Endurance came from the very fast punk songs I played during 7 years. After that, Unbeing brought endurance and speed to a higher level mostly because of the metal aspect of the project. A lot of practicing really improved both areas. In retrospect, I could determine that my increase of endurance and speed came from a new challenge to be accomplished, always pushing my own limits. But by doing so, I learned bad habits that I'm now trying to get rid of. I would suggest a periodic evaluation by a professional to break potential bad habits.
SDM: What sort of tension do you have on your snare? Do you leave it loose or do you tighten it all the way? Do you use anything like Moongel or anything else on your snare?
A tight tension, high pitch, dry sound. No moongel on my snare. I have a Piccolo, my 16'' Premier Maple and a 13'' Black Panther.
SDM: What sort of gripping works best for you?
I played french grip for a long time. I had wrist issues from it because of the incompatibility of both styles and techniques used. Now, I'm slowly getting rid of it and learning the moeller technique. No more issues! Much more appropriate to my playing and aspirations.
SDM: Do you have any plans in the future to add a vocalist to Unbeing?
Well, the thing is, we want vocals at some point, we're just very very picky. We will probably do featuring on the next album.
SDM: Who are some of your favorite Canadian metal bands these days?
There's a lot of talent on the Canadian scene. Pomegranate Tiger and Beyond Creation are two very good prog and technical metal bands.
SDM: Are you a big fan of Death or Cynic ?
Cynic more than Death. Love the ''jazzy'' touch of Sean Reinert. In fact, he's one of my favorites.
SDM: Do you think your music belongs with such technical metal groups like Unexpect, Quo Vadis, and Martyr from Quebec?
I will leave this analysis to the public! We've played few times with Unexpect, they're great friends and they're awesome musicians and human beings. As for Martyr, I booked a show in collaboration with Red Death Prod a couple of years ago, bringing them, Beyond Creation and Us on the same stage. That was in Laval and I think was the last show of Martyr. Memorable!
SDM: Do you ever play in any of the Montreal Drum festivals they have there?
Nope. I'm not there yet. I need to bring my playing to another level and then, I hope to have the honor of playing one of these festivals.
SDM: What was it like opening for Mouth of the Architect, Scale the Summit & Intronaut on June 17th at the Il Motore in Montreal?
That was one of the best shows we did so far! Compatibility of style and ambiances; Awesome! Thanks to Dave Boucher from Extensive Enterprise!
SDM: What was the experience like playing the En Route Vers HEAVY MTL" finals? What did one of the judges think of your drumming such as James Labrie of Dream Theatre fame?
When James Labrie judged us, it was like a blessing from the giant of the industry. He was really impressed and loved the material. He did a few comments on my playing that made me smile for hours and hours after the show was done! That was the best part of the whole competition. We did win our progressive/power night, but not the final. It doesn't matter, one way or another, we'll play on the HEAVY MTL!