Keep up with Brian here:
Brian’s true start in the metal world of drumming began in 1989, at the ripe age of 16 when he started a band with good friend, and bassist, Randy Gaines. This band was called DECAY. Decay’s style was a unique blend of death metal, thrash and progressive metal. Decay had label interest, but never did sign with anyone before their demise in 1996.
In 1995, however, Brian flew out to Oakland CA to try out for Machine Head, shortly after Chris Kontos was ousted. Although Robb and the boys were impressed with his ability to pull off all the great Kontos drumming, at that point they hadn't tried out Dave McClain just yet. A month later, Dave got the gig.
Brian then joined Louisville Kentucky’s My Own Victim shortly after their “Burning Inside” album, their first full length on Century Media, was released and their original drummer quit. Less than 5 months later, he found himself on tour with the band in Europe for 3 months. Deciding that the “road life” really wasn't for him, with a wife and kid at home and the lack of “road income”, he decided to quit the band and move back up to Dayton OH after the tour. But after MOV’s original drummer came back, recorded a new album and toured Europe again, that same drummer quit again. Once again, Brian came back to record their final album for Century Media, called “The Weapon” which was recorded, produced and mixed by Jaime Locke (Obituary, Madball, Judge, Vision of Disorder, Gang Green, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags).
From that point on (1997-98), Brian started a string of session work, the first being with guitar shredder David Chastain and his own shredding brother, Michael Harris on a project called Zanister. Zanister put out 2 albums under the Chastain owned label, Leviathan Records. Brian was then asked to track drums on Finland’s Kenziner album “The Prophecies”, which quickly led to him tracking drums for the first Firewind album “Between Heaven & Hell”, the brainchild band of Gus G, who now plays for Ozzy. The session work continued with Atlanta’s Vainglory, and a project of Cincinnati guitarist Andrew Szucs, called Seven Seraphim.
In 2005 the newly reformed Foul Stench asked Brian to track drums for them, which led to him joining the band permanently. The band then released “The Bone” on Ukraugh Productions in 2006 and “Eternal Rot” on Sevared/Butchered Records in 2010. At the time of this writing, the band is working on the release of "Blood Orgy”, planned to be released in early 2014.
In 2006, Darkology was formed with his brother Michael Harris on guitar. Bassist Mike Neal was brought into the band and they began their search for a vocalist. Soon after, Kelly "Sundown" Carpenter (Beyond Twilight, Outworld) was hired. And "Altered Reflections" was released in 2009 on Rockaholic Records. The band has recorded their sophomore album "Fated to Burn" and is set to be released on Prime Eon Media in early 2014.
Also in 2006, Brian was called upon to track drums for Structure of Inhumanity. The album was recorded at the studio of James Murphy (Death, Testament, Obituary, Cancer, Disincarnate) and was finally released, digitally, July 2013.
Later that year in 2006, Brian was called back down to James Murphy's studio to record for Levitation. This album has yet to see the light of day.
In 2009 Brian was contacted by Dennis Munoz, guitarist for the band Solstice, to record their new album, “To Dust”. They had been disbanded, but had been sitting on an album’s worth of material for many years. They just wanted to get it recorded and out to the masses. You can hear some of Brian’s best drumming on that album!
In 2011, The Reefer Hut (a band that Brian was a part of from 2000-2003) reformed, have played a few shows and are currently working on new material.
2014 marks the year that the sophomore album from Darkology will be release, titled “Fated to Burn”. Look for that mid-year.
Brian also, from time to time, plays big band jazz with his father, a trombonist who has led his own orchestra for about 60 years. While others his age grew up listening to Kiss, Judas Priest and the like, Brian’s upbringing was in a house full of greats like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw, just to name a few. It wasn’t until his early teen years that Brian was introduced to metal. But when it happened, it was something that he knew would be a part of him for the rest of his life. And that my friends, is his story.
Brian Harris Interview:
SDM: How old were you when you started playing?
Brian: My dad introduced me to the snare drum at around age 2… literally. By age 3 I had my first Remo practice pad kit, supplemented with cardboard boxes and old plastic peanut butter tubs! Haha And by age 7, I had my first real drum kit, a blue Slingerland kit, which I still have!
SDM: Did you play in a school band or any drum corps?
Brian: I started school band in 5th grade. But here’s the thing, school started in late August or early September, and band started right away. But for some stupid reason they didn’t start drums until January. And for a 5th grader that felt like it was a million years away! So I decided to try trumpet in the meantime. I stayed with that through 8th grade, but I also played drums when the song called for it. And of course, drums was really my focus. And once I went to high school I joined every band they offered (Marching, Concert, Pep, Jazz). I did that for 9th & 10th grade, and then transferred to a vocational school in my junior year, and unfortunately that school didn’t offer a band, simply because their focus was on a career choice that would hopefully place you in a job after graduation. And everyone knows it’s hard to make money playing metal! LOL
SDM: Who are your top 5 metal influences?
Brian: When I first got into metal the drummers that influenced me were Nicko McBrain, Dave Lombardo, and Charlie Benante. But other guys throughout the years that have influenced me are Gene Hoglan, Sean Reinert, early Igor Cavalera and Pete Sandoval (for the sheer speed of drumming) and Chris Nail. Ok that’s more than 5, but you get my point. I’m a little more old school. After all, it’s 2014 and I’m 40 years old.
SDM: Who are some other of your favorites?
Brian: I listen to a wide variety of music, so I love the playing from guys like Dave Weckl, Chris Coleman, Neil Peart, Alex Rudinger, Inferno, the great late Buddy Rich, Billy Cobham, man I could go on. So many great players out there. I could easily name 20 greats in every genre.
SDM: Let us know 5 CD's that are in your current rotation
Brian: Bad Religion “True North”, Dying Fetus “Reign Supreme”, Revocation “Revocation”, Fleshgod Apocalypse “Labyrinth”, Deicide “In the Minds of Evil”.
SDM: What do you do to warm up before a show?
Brian: Mostly stretches. But I do grab the sticks and do rudiments on a bar stool or something with minimal rebound that makes me have to work harder and really warm up the forearms. My stretching consists of spreading my legs wide and leaning to each leg, to stretch out the hamstrings. I also put my feet together and while keeping my legs straight, I bend down and touch my toes or the floor, and just hold it for 5-10 seconds (no bouncing). And even more important than leg stretching for me is forearm stretching (for blasting looseness). I slowly pull back on my fingers all together, and then individually too. I do that with my arm straight and my hand at my crotch, and then I also do that with my arm straight out in front of me with fingers pointing up. This really stretches those forearm muscles. I do all the stretches first and wrap up with rudiments, consisting of a lot of single stroke rolls (slow to fast) and flam taps (also slow to fast). I try to do this 30 mins before I hit the stage.
SDM: Do you read music? Regardless of answering yes or no, please tell us how it might have effected your playing?
Brian: Yes I do. I’m not necessarily the best “site-reader” but I can look at music and understand it. I have been teaching private lessons since 2002, so I teach my students how to read. It has definitely helped me understand rhythms and just music in general. I prefer to teach students how to read music, but the older ones sometimes come to me to just “learn beats” or help them with fills, etc… so I don’t force it on them.
SDM: Can you tell us about the gear you use?
Brian: My current drum kit is a Mapex Saturn Pro (as you see in the pictures). Big boomy phat tones. I recorded a few albums on this kit including the Darkology albums “Altered Reflections” & “Fated to Burn” and the Foul Stench “Blood Orgy” album. I also have Gretsch Catalina Ash kit, a Sonor Force 3000 kit (from 1992) that I keep set up in my jam room studio and that I use with my Iron Maiden tribute band Aces High. I also have a lower end Premier kit that I have stripped down and plan to refinish one of these days (first “project” that I have ever done with a kit. It was one of those "projects" that I got so far with and then put to the side, with the intent of coming back to it later). And I have a Roland TD-10 electric kit (for soft quiet practices!). Oh yeah, I also have one of those RIMS Headset (fold up kits). Remember those? They came out around the mid-80s.
As far as cymbals go, I use mostly Paiste cymbals (3000, 2002, Sound Formula, & Signature), but also have a couple Wuhans just because for their price, they actually sound really good.
I have been using Vic Firth American Classic Metal sticks (with the red tip) since 1996. I love the weight, diameter and length. Most drummers that grab my sticks quickly say “damn, you use some big ol’ logs!” Haha! I just need the weight and diameter for playing metal with power.
I use Tama Iron Cobra pedals, and currently using Evan’s EC2 on the toms and Super Tough (ST) on the snare. But I use Aquarian Super Kick 1 on the kick drum. And for my ass and back, it deserves nothing but the best! a Roc-n-Soc with a back rest.
SDM: If you could give one piece of advice to young drummers, it would be…
Brian: Practice doesn’t make perfect (because no one is perfect, not even Neil Peart LOL). My motto has always been “Practice makes BETTER”. The more you dedicate yourself behind the kit, the better you WILL get. That’s a promise. Hell, I need to follow my own motto! ;o)
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
Brian: Man, that is a very hard question. Never seen a bad performance from Gene Hoglan. Same can be said about Dave Weckl (even though he’s not a “sick drummer” in the metal world… but he’s still sick!). Trey Williams from Dying Fetus plays just as amazing live, as on album. Here lately I have been diggin’ on Alex Rudinger’s playing. Been watching all his YouTube videos. He’s such an accurate and consistent player with tasty chops and amazing feet. And I saw him with The Faceless in Columbus OH. He was a machine. Lyle Cooper (ex-The Faceless) plays everything just as tight live, as he does on album.
SDM: Aside from drumming, what else do you like to do?
Brian: Well, since right now playing drums doesn’t “pay the bills” (only supplements my full time income), what I've been doing for a living the last 17 years is I run my own wedding MC/DJ business. That keeps me busy during wedding season (May-Oct the busiest). So yes, believe it or not, I throw on the tuxedo on most Saturday nights and facilitate a wedding reception! LOL I love it actually. It’s the entertainer in me, and maybe the fact that as a drummer I cannot be mobile on stage. But as an MC & DJ, I can be!
I also have a family so I spend as much time with them as I can. They certainly understand my passion for music and playing in multiple bands (I’m a self proclaimed “drum whore” haha). My kids are currently 15 and 19 years old, at the time of this interview (Feb 2014).