Keep up with Craig here:
I would say I am best known for my drumming with Immolation on their classic-debut "Dawn of Possession" in 1991, released on Roadrunner/RC records. Followed by a European tour spanning ten countries, and a U.S. tour in the summer of 1992. Between Dawn of Possession and Immolation’s equally intense follow-up "Here in After" (released by Metal Blade) I was also touring South America, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Prior to the request to become a member of Immolation, I was drumming for Goreaphobia from 90 to 91 and participated in the bands original member reunion; including recording with the band for the Necroharmonic release.
During mid 2006 through late 2007, I was a Session drummer for "Rise To Offend" founded by guitarist and songwriting master John Plumley of Anvil Bitch. I was also a live session drummer for Incantation throughout September, October and November 2007, along with Funerus during the bands European/Japanese tour.
My influences are numerous and have inspired all aspects of my playing. Part of a past review describes my playing on one particular release as follows: "Percussion to have a free jazz flavor, with a great deal of Lombardoesque-fills and incorporates sort of a running multi-textured blast, with heavy emphasis on hypnotic cymbal rhythms".
Craig Smilowski Interview:
SDM: How old were you when you started playing?
Craig: I was about 8 years old when I got my 1st kit, a 3 piece jet kit,…remember Jet drums!
SDM: Did ever take lessons or play in a school band / drum corps?
Craig: No School band, but I took lessons in 3rd grade. I still remember Mr. James for rudiments. About the time I was like 12 or 13, when I met Charles Leinhauser, he was attending the same School as I and he was a very skilled drummer, so I asked if he would give me lessons and We became very good friends. He showed me how to approach the kit, and he showed me 3 basic beats. From this I could expand on what I was wanting to play.
SDM: Who are your top 5 influences?
Craig: John Bonham, Clive Burr, Kim Ruzz, Dave Lombardo, Mikkey Dee
SDM: Assuming that influences doesn’t mean favorites, who are some other favorites?
Craig: Reed St. Mark, Nicko McBrain, Danny Carey, Neil Peart, Pete Sandoval, Sean Reinert, Darek “Daray” Brzozowski, Max Kolesne, Olly – Destruction. I really could go on & on, as there are so many amazing drummers out there.
SDM: Let us know 5 CD’s that are in your current rotation
The Devil You know – Heaven & Hell
World Painted Blood – Slayer
Evangelion – Behemoth
Black & Roll – Black River
Don’t Break The Oath – Mercyful Fate
SDM: Do you practice any specific rudiments or combo’s regularly?
Craig: My routine is varied by the areas I feel I need to work on. Generally though I practice the basic rudiments to stay limber wrist-wise and work my ankles by keeping my heels to the ground while doing general basic single / double bass exercises.
SDM: What is your favorite part of your drum kit?
Craig: I would have to say my favorite part of my kit is hard to answer… It’s a 3 way split: The design and versatility is incredible, the sound is just amazing, not to mention my snare drum! It’s all so well designed. My entire kit provides me with all I need. Amazing sound, endless versatility, and ground breaking design / craftsmanship / strength.
SDM: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Craig: I will stretch my wrists with my sticks in crossover patterns, and I will stretch my ankles, do leg stretches and sometimes run in place.
SDM: If you could give one piece of advice to young drummers, it would be…
Craig: Don’t get frustrated while learning new techniques. Start slow and over time, gradually increase your tempo. (crawl before you walk) Visualize what you want to play, visualize the drum kit in your mind and visualize doing what you physically hear. Associate the drums you hear, with the drum set in your mind. I found that listening intensely and visualizing was very helpful for me to learn how songs were played, before trying to physically play them. Most importantly, never give up and practice practice practice and practice again.
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you’ve ever seen?
Craig: That’s a hard one to answer, as there are so many great performances I have seen. I really can’t break it down to just one.
SDM: If you had to stop drumming, what else would you want to do with your life?
Craig: I would most likely get back into art (drawing/painting), but drums are really all I know, so I dread the thought of such a scenario.