Keep up with John here:
I got a practice pad set when i was 12 and messed around on it every once and a while. My dad is a guitarist and I was lucky enough to go to a lot of jam parties where I got to play real drums with an array of different musicians. This taught me a lot about ther styles of music, other then metal, and a good approach to playing a drum set in general. I definitely learned a lot from the other drummers both through questions and visually watching them play. Basically being self taught I did most of my learning hrough watching any drummer I could.
I continued to mess around with the drums in some bands, more like jokes, for a few years and stepped away from playing when I was 15. I got back into playing right around 18. I spent a few years playing in bands that practiced 4 or 5 hours a week, not a hole lot. Around 20 I stepped it up and was playing 10 to 20 hours a week. I studied with a great local drummer for a few months and learned about other styles and techniques, probably one of the best things I ever did. After joining Cephalic Carnage my playing began to take me around the world and has always challenged my playing. I’ve since recorded several Cd’s with Cephalic, a few Cd’s with my dad, and a few Cd’s with Secret Chiefs 3.
John Merryman Interview:
SD.com: When did you start playing drums?
John: I started playing when I was 12, quit for a few years from 15 to 18 and then got serious about my playing around 20 or so.
SD.com: Do you play in a school band or any drum corps?
John: I played trumpet for four years throughout elementary school and played orchestral percussion in my school bands in middle school and my freshman year of high school.
SD.com: Have you ever taken any lessons?
John: I learned to read and understand notation in elementary school with the trumpet. As far as drums I considered going to college for jazz and commercial music at around age 22. In preparation for this, trying to get a scholarship through my playing, I
studied with a great local drummer for about 8 months. He taught me the basics about most other styles of music, other than metal, and brought me back to learning and teaching myself again. Probably one of the best things I’ve done for my playing.
SD.com: What album do you think best represents your playing?
John: I’ve been lucky enough to have recorded several styles of music, both with all the variety of Cephalic Carnage to working with my dad and Tres Spruance. I always strive to improve my playing with every Cephalic album, so our latest release,
“Xenosapien”, probably has some of my best playing. The new Secret Chiefs 3 CD, hopefully out in early 2008, also has some of my most challenging performances.
SD.com: Who are your top 5 influences?
John: My favorite drummer for the last 8 or 9 years is by far Carter Beauford from The Dave Mathews Band. The band might not be your thing but his drumming techniques and tastefulness is incredible and inspiring. Some more drummers on my list would have to be Sean Reinert, Dave Weckl, Stewart Copeland and Gene Hoglan.
SD.com: Assuming that influences doesn’t mean favorites, who are your favorites?
John: I love listening to anything Steve Gadd has recorded, he so plays for the music. For variety and amazing musical expression I also love listening to Billy Cobham, Tim Alexander, Danny Carey, Phil Collins, Josh Freese, Gavin Harrison, Mike Bordlin, Johnny Rabb and Brann Dailor. Thats just a few off the top of my head.
SD.com: Let us know 3 Cd’s that are in your current personal rotation
John: Porcupine Tree – I Absentia, A Perfect Circle – Thirteenth Step & any Dave Matthews Cd
SD.com: Do you practice any specific rudiments or combo’s regularly?
John: I practice different combos of singles, doubles, paradidles and flam’s. In creating between those 4 rudiments you can pretty much create any other rudiment combo.
SD.com: What is your favorite part of your drum kit?
John: That’s a hard question, without one part the other just isn’t as cool. If I had to choose I would have to go with my cymbals. I just signed with Meinl and now have a new and incredibly fun cymbal set up to play around with. I love getting all the different
expressions and sounds from each cymbal.
SD.com: If you could give one piece of advice to younger drummers, it would be…
John: Learn what techniques work best for you and commit to practice, starting at the beginning. You need to learn through your patience, and starting at the beginning and not taking shortcuts will make you ten times the drummer ten times faster.
SD.com: Who gave the best live performance you’ve ever seen?
John: Pink Floyd, Momentary Lapse of Reason tour 1987.
SD.com: If you had to stop drumming, what else do you want to do with your life?
John: Spend more time with my family, work more on my house and just enjoy the things I miss out on being on the road all the time.
SD.com: Do you play or teach any other styles of drumming in you spare time?
John: I teach a few students here in Denver, working with them on techniques, other styles and generally all the basics they’ve jumped past in their playing. I also hope to put together an instructional dvd soon