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Born February 23, 1969, Chris Reifert is an American musician. He played drums on the Death debut album, Scream Bloody Gore and is one of the pioneers of the death/doom genre. Since he parted ways with Chuck Schuldiner in 1987 after Schuldiner moved back to Florida, Reifert decided to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in 1987 he formed his own band, Autopsy. In this band, he played not only drums but handled the vocals as well. After several albums, Autopsy split up in 1995 and Reifert and bandmate Danny Coralles began playing full-time in their side project, Abscess. After Abscess dissolved in 2010, Autopsy reformed and is currently planning to tour and record new material.
Chris Reifert is also known for his many side projects, including The Ravenous, Doomed, and Eat My Fuk. He also performed guest vocals on Machetazo’s Sinfonias del Terror Ciego and the Autopsy-inspired Murder Squad’s Ravenous, Murderous, with further guest appearances for Immortal Fate and Nuclear Death.
Chris Reifert Interview:
SDM: How old were you when you started playing?
Chris: I was always banging and crashing on stuff since I was a little squirt when my parents would sit me down with pots, pans and wooden spoons to keep me occupied. Can’t imagine what that damn racket must have sounded like. Brave souls that they were. I’ll bypass the part that comes up in the next question and just tell you I started actually learning patterns and how to hit drums when I was around twelve years old. This would have been 1981. To really get going, I used to play along to records with headphones on to get the hang of playing actual rhythms and attempting rolls and wanting to be crazier than I was capable of at the time.
SDM: Did you play in a school band or any drum corps?
Chris: Funny enough, I sort of forgot about this for the longest time, but when I was nine, my folks put my in the Blue Devils marching band, in which I played the bass drum. It was pretty boring, really. Walking in a straight line with that thing strapped to my shoulders….boom…boom…boom…boom. But it was experience, I guess and I vaguely remember playing in a march through Marriott’s Great America amusement park. Whheeeee!!!
SDM: Who are your top 5 metal influences?
Chris: Dave Lombardo is an obvious choice of course. Hhhmmm, Bill Ward is a no-brainer, Clive Burr was bloody great and rock solid with kick-ass feeling. Uuh, Mike Sus’ drumming with Possessed is great. So weird with rolls that make no sense whatsoever but sound like crazy magic. What’s that, four so far? I guess I’ll be a nut and list myself as one of my most critical influences, cause I don’t want to sound too much like anyone else, and if I’m not tough on myself I could probably be really lazy so I need to keep myself in check and keep on pushing as hard as I can.
SDM: Who are some other of your favorites?
Chris: I’ve made it no secret over the years that Keith Moon is my all-time favorite. It’s complete madness captured on a drum kit. Especially the earliest Who stuff, gawddamn it gets my filthy blood pumping. Rolls, rolls, rolls! They’re at right times and wrong times and sound great every time. Watch “The Kids Are Alright” and I rest my fuckin’ case! I also like Neil Smith, Tony Williams, Gene Krupa, Steve Gadd, Marky Ramone, Charlie Watts, Mick Avory, Zak Starkey is sorely underrated, fuck, I hate listing favorite anything. I always know I’m gonna forget something crucial. Now that I think about it, Animal from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band is pure dynamite!
SDM: Let us know 5 CD’s that are in your current rotation
Chris: The one on the top, the one at the bottom, and the three in the middle are all quite good.
SDM: What do you do to warm up before a show?
Chris: Smoke, drink, stretch out a bit and look really weird doing it, pace around, smoke some more, drink some more, pace around, smoke a bit more, grab three or four beers for the set and start punishing those damn drums for all they’re worth whilst screaming my guts out.
SDM: Do you read music? Regardless of answering yes or no, please tell us how it might have affected your playing?
Chris: There was a time when I took lessons for a few months when I was probably 13 or so and my teacher did teach me how to read drum music. It was fun for a while, but I soon lost interest and it’s all completely gone out the window now. I play strictly from memory and some very crude maps that I make when we first learn a new song if I need ’em.
SDM: Can you tell us about the gear you use?
Chris: I’ve got a black Premier Cabri kit that I’ve had for about 10 or 11 years. It’s a low-end kit for Premier, but they really don’t make bad stuff so it still sounds good. I do have my old Tama Rockstar kit still which I want to unearth and play again, but it’s so damn filthy I’d have to take a hammer and chisel to it to get the grime off. I mostly have Zildjian cymbals, and unless someone wants to give me shiny new gear, I’ll pretty much play whatever sounds good and is affordable.
SDM: If you could give one piece of advice to young drummers, it would be…
Chris: You better love playing these things, cause they’re a pain in the ass to set up and lug around. Haha! Besides that, if you have a full kit, use the damn thing! I don’t understand why some drummers have a nice big full kit and ignore the toms like they’re the plague. Also, if you’re gonna play hard rock or metal don’t romance the drums, hit ’em hard and hit ’em loud. They exist to be beaten and punished so take advantage of that wonderful opportunity. Hah! Also, on a personal note, stay the fuck away from triggers and samples and all that crap, as it sucks all the emotion out of the drums. Burn the safety net, take a chance and flail away. Hhhmmm, that appears to be more than one piece of advice, but feel free to chuck it all out the window anyway if it doesn’t work for you.
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you’ve ever seen?
Chris: I’m going to officially crap out on this one. There is a veritable blur of gigs that I’ve witnessed, some great, some not so great and I just can’t pinpoint any one defining moment. Bloody boring answer, eh?
SDM: Aside from drumming, what else do you like to do?
Chris: Answer delightful interviews like this of course!