John Boecklin of DevilDriver – Updates Interview November 2013
By: Noel Smart
SDM: What are the next tour plans for Winter Kills?
John: We just finished 2 months with After The Burial and Sylosis and are going out November 5th – December 14th with Trivium, After The Burial and Thy Will Be Done.
SDM: Where did you record Winter Kills?
John: Audio Hammer Studios, Florida.
SDM: How long did it take to record the drums?
John: It took me 6 days to track the drums. Mark Lewis produced, mixed and mastered Winter Kills all together. Mark has come into a zone and he is what I consider to be the new Colin Richardson or Andy Sneap. Pro as fuck!
SDM: Do you use triggers in the studio or live? What’s your opinion about using triggers and drum modules?
John: No, I do not use triggers live, but I do use sound replacement in the studio on parts where it feels needed.
SDM: What band or drummer may have influenced you on your latest recording?
John: What a great question, because they are on in the same. Gojira and Mario Duplantier is and have been my biggest influence in the past 10 years. I believe Mario to be the link between jazz, groove, and death metal.
SDM: Who are some of your main drumming influences today and back when you first started? Do you listen to different styles of music outside of the metal realm?
John: Mario is my main influence today, along with Lars Ulrich, Tim Alexander, Raymond Herrera, Gene Hoglan, and David Silvera were amongst the few that I considered as a major influence. The list could literally go on and on.
Outside of the metal realm I still listen to a lot of my childhood music: Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Huey Lewis, and a huge pop 80's catalog to boot. I am a big fan of Mumford and Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews, and that is just the beginning of my outside influences on a major level. Everything from old DJ Shadow to a new band Twisted Tounges, the acts I listed are pretty major, but I keep my ear to the ground.
SDM: Did you record the drums to a click? Do you find playing to a click challenging?
John: I play this album to a click, as well as every DevilDriver album. Since day one playing to a click has never been a problem for me… I love it!
SDM: How were the drums recorded in the studio and with what kind of gear?
John: When it comes to drum sounds and capturing them on tape, that has nothing to do with me. I pick a producer that believes in a drum room and we roll with it. I would rather trust my producer when it comes to recording techniques.
SDM: What blast beat method do you use?
John: I for the most part find personal strength in the bomb blast, feet equally matched or double timed.
SDM: Do you blast with one foot? If so, how did you learn this technique?
John: Good question! I used to blast with one foot, it was strengthening yet difficult and found I was smoother all together using two feet. However, if you wish to hang with George Kollias and Tim Young I highly suggest sticking with this technique and mastering it.
SDM: What kind of double bass technique(s) do you use? Such as swivel etc?
John: I use heel toe doing triplet feel fills against 4/4 beats. Such as "Driving Down the Darkness," "Hardened," and many others. All other double bass is all leg. If it gets fast tempo for DD my heels are totally to the ground and my toes are 3/4 off the plate. Swivel technique and beyond is not what I do.
SDM: How do you recommend drummers build up endurance and speed? What did you do personally to enhance both of these areas?
John: If you want to play at 300BPM, PRACTICE IT! You'll eventually get there. Does that make you a good drummer? No. You can reach whatever BPM you want, if that's your goal. You're going to miss out on a lot if fast is all you want. If there is a song that is out of my range speed-wise, but written by me and must be played live, I will prepare to play it the same way I prepared to recorded it – as much practice as it takes. At this moment speed has been boring me, John Bohnam is blowing my mind again.
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(s)? What sizes do you play?
John: Unfortunately, my sound guy Leonard Contreas loves a loose snare sound that resinates with him, which is well bellow the tension I like, but the snare sounds great and it makes me blast like a man. Yes, I use Moongel all the time and my snare sizes are 14"x16.5", 14"x7" and 13"x7". I use any size given how I feel that day.
SDM: Do you think the size of your snare affects the velocity of your blast beats?
John: Yes, but not for a drummer like me.
SDM: What sort of gripping technique do you use?
John: None, I understand technique and practice it, but when I play live I never stick to one thing or anything. I'm a victim of overplaying.
SDM: How important are your kick pedals to your playing?
John: Kick pedals don't make or break me. Like every drummer, there is a pedal that hones in on your comfort zone. However, I do not play so fast that I need to be that picky. When push comes to shove I can play a Devil Driver set on any double kick pedal if I had to.
SDM: How do you prepare yourself before a show and recording?
John: For a show it 100% depends on my mood and feeling. If I feel slow and lethargic I will spend an extra couple minutes on warming up, but in general I feel the less I think about the show and stressing out the better I play. For recording, it is completely opposite. You are never prepared enough and could of put more thought into each fill. I hate to say it, but always have regret with each album on what I could of done, but didn't think of.
SDM: What kind of practice routines do you perform when you practice by yourself?
John: As much as I care about drumming as well as not being lazy, I don't find myself practicing that much due to the fact that we don't have a practice room. So my practice consists of a little bit of practice pad at home and a shit load of listening to what other bands are doing. I am no longer inspired by trying to get better by myself. Watching bands do what I can't makes me hit the drums in a different way when it's time to do a new record.
SDM: How often does the band practice?
John: Unfortunately, we do not have a practice room, nor do I have a place that I can play my drums on a daily basis. I just practice drums in my head, convey them on a computer, then record. The band as a whole practices 3 days before tour.
SDM: Did you ever take drum lessons? Do you play any other instrument? Can you read music like drum notation or guitar tab?
John: I took 8 months of drum lessons from the John Horrigan School of Drum when I got my first drum kit, that was it back then. Today I take lessons I can with anyone I'm on tour with, from Matt Helpern, to Chris Adler and James Payne. James Payne has done many projects and started a company called Drum Brother. James Payne is the new and youngest drummer I've ever met who has completely mastered technique of death metal drumming on ALL levels.
I started playing guitar before I started playing drums and to this day play guitar more than I play drums, however, I happen to be a better drummer than I am a guitar player. When it comes to reading music, I can read basic drum notation and mid-level tabliture on guitar.
SDM: What kind of gear do you use these days?
Pedals: Mapex Falcon Double Pedals
Sticks: Vic Firth Metal 5N Nylon Red Tip
Cymbals: Meinl MB 20 Series
November – December 2013 Tour Dates with Trivium, After The Burial and Thy Will Be Done.
11/5: Seattle, WA @ Showbox at the Market
11/6: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
11/7: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory
11/8: Salt Lake City, UT @ In the Venue
11/9: Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater & Club
11/11: Lawrence, KS @ Granada
11/12: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly's
11/13: Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theater
11/15: Lexington, KY @ Expo Five
11/16: Sauget, IL @ Pop's Nightclub
11/17: Tulsa, OK @ Brady Theater (Oklahoma Metal Fest)
11/18: Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
11/19: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
11/21: Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
11/22: Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
11/23: Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
11/24: Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
11/26: Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
11/27: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
11/29: Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
11/30: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
12/1: Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
12/2: Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
12/4: Buffalo, NY @ The Town Ballroom
12/5: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
12/6: Ft. Wayne, IN @ Piere's
12/7: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
12/8: Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
12/10: Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
12/11: San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit
12/13: Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee Theater
12/14: San Diego, CA @ Soma
12/15: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory