Keep up with Justin here:
Justin Tvetan has been playing drums since he was 13 years old. Now, at 25, he is unleashing his style and creativity on the metal arena as the drummer of the progressive math metal band Journal. His drive to implement several musical genres into his playing is a great asset when it comes to pushing metal to dimensions untouched. Time will tell where music will take him. But no matter the direction, he hopes his passion will inspire and influence new generations of musicians to carry the torch.
Justin Tvetan Interview:
SDM: How old were you when you started playing?
Justin: When I was 12, I got my first pair of sticks from a friend and then proceeded to beat on textbooks and chairs or whatever I could find. I got my first drumset when I was 13 and started to play in my garage for hours at a time almost every day. I'd just set up a boombox with headphones and play along to all the music I liked. I could play with any band I wanted!
SDM: Did you play in a school band or any drum corps?
Justin: I played in the high school band my freshman and sophomore year. It opened my eyes to many different instruments and styles. Being in the band gave me the tools I needed at that point to build up my chops and get a bit of background in reading music and understanding rhythm. I was part of the drum line during that time also. Seeing some of the players do the amazing things they do was a great inspiration to me. The music program kinda fell apart during my sophomore year so that was the end of my high school band career. I did play for a couple semesters in a junior college concert band though.
SDM: Who are your top 5 metal influences?
Justin: Mike Portnoy, Chris Pennie, Dan “Lord” Foord, Blake Richardson and Alex “Grind” Pelletier are the ones that are probably the standouts. Each of these guys really pushed the envelope when it comes to technicality, creativity, speed, and innovation in their respective bands.
SDM: Who are some other of your favorites?
Justin: Nick D'Virgillio from Spock's Beard immediately comes to mind. Carl King, who was the mastermind behind the Sir Millard Mulch and Dr. Zoltan releases. Chad Smith, Lars Ulrich, Tim Alexander were three big influences in the beginning as well.
SDM: Let us know 5 CD's that are in your current rotation
Justin: Honestly, I've mostly been listening to podcasts lately! But the music I've been listening to most lately is:
1. The Ronnie James Dio Anthology
2. Conducting From The Grave
3. Mutiny Within
4. Them Crooked Vultures
5. Frances and the Machine
SDM: What do you do to warm up before a show?
Justin: I'll do pad work for ideally at least 20 minutes a night. Single/double stroke rolls, paradiddles, flams. Anything to get me loosened up. I'll get my feet going on the floor as well. I'll try to hook-up with my bandmates also before our set to silent practice some songs with them playing their guitars unplugged and me just using a pad. I'll also stretch my arms legs and core in the last couple minutes just before we go on so the last minute tightness can be worked out.
SDM: Do you read music? Regardless of answering yes or no, please tell us how it might have effected your playing?
Justin: I've read music mostly only in concert band and while going through practice books. I'm not very good with identifying note pitches on a staff, but I read rhythms well enough to understand whats going and to site read some intermediate percussion pieces. It has really helped to give me a vocabulary to communicate with other musicians. Instead of saying, “you know that part you play really fast?”, I can actually verbalize what I'm thinking to them.
SDM: Can you tell us about the gear you use?
Justin: I use (and love) my Mapex Orion Birdseye Maple set.
Shells are 8" 10" 12" and 14" with a 16" that I don't use in my setup, Gibraltar Rack, Mapex Falcon Double Pedal, I use an Evans EC1 Reverse Dot on my snare, Evans Clear G2s on my toms and an Aquarian Powerkick 2 on my kick. I use cheapo sticks from wherever I can find…Usually 5A size
My cymbals left to right:
06" Zildjian Zilbel
16" Soultone Extreme China
13" Zildjan A Mastersound Hihats
10" Paiste Twenty Splash
16" Paiste Signature Fast Crash
10" Paiste Prototype Splash
20" Zildjian A Medium Ride
16" Paiste Twenty Crash
12" Soultone Custom China
18" Soultone Extreme China
SDM: If you could give one piece of advice to young drummers, it would be…
Justin: Don't limit your playing to just one genre or sub-genre of music. You're doing a disservice to your evolution as a drummer and musician. All genres (Yes, ALL!) have things that you can pick up that will add colors to your style.
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
Justin: I really have seen so many bands that just blew me away(Dream Theater, Hunab Ku, Between the Buried and Me just to name a few). But seeing Metallica on their most recent Sacramento stop (Dec '09) was probably the best show I've ever seen. The energy and feeling and emotion that those guys put out there is really indescribable. And it doesn't hurt that they played classic song after classic song all night. Say what you want about them, they are the biggest metal band in the galaxy for good reason.
SDM: Aside from drumming, what else do you like to do?
Justin: I enjoy video games, reading, and cycling. I also really enjoy talking to our fans through Facebook and the like.