Keep up with Michael here:
Melbourne-born Michael was introduced to the metal scene at the impressionable age of 14. It was then that he instantly developed a desire to explore the art of drumming. In doing so he harvested the ambitious mindset of mastering the craft with a dual underlying reason- to express himself with the upmost originality and the common dream of every budding musician, to form a rock band.
It wasn’t until late 2004 when Michael found his niche as a drummer in his current band 4arm. Michael brings to the band an intricate style of drumming that is frequently acknowledged among his musical peers as unique. With influences from Bay Area drummers such as Paul Bostaph, Lars Ulrich and Dave Lombardo, he has adopted a hard hitting and energetically aggressive approach to his technique, so don’t be fooled by his diminutive stature.
With several releases under their belt and extensive touring across the country, 4ARM have dominated the Australian metal scene. With the release of their third album titled “Submission For Liberty” in 2012, 4ARM are scheduled to set the rest of the world on fire with their hyper-charged brand of Thrash Metal.
Currently Michael’s successful career has seen him obtain endorsements with some of the most reputable drums companies – TAMA drums, Zildjian Cymbals and AHEAD sticks.
Michael Vafiotis Interview:
SDM: How old were you when you started playing?
Michael: I first started playing when I was 14 years old. My first drum kit was a $400 “Dolfin” brand kit that my parents bought me. It was very entry level, although at the time I remember being really happy and grateful to be playing on something other than my mum’s cookware”.
SDM: Did you play in a school band or any drum corps?
Michael: My first band experience began with Neglection, which was formed with fellow high school colleagues. The band played some covers and a few originals which offered me my first taste of music collaboration. Neglection disbanded in the late 90s prior to finishing my schooling years.
SDM: Who are your top 5 metal influences?
Michael: I would have to say Paul Bostaph, Dave Lombardo, Charlie Benante, Daniel Erlandsson and Dave Mcclain.
SDM: Who are some other of your favorites?
Michael: Both past and present drummers including Ken Owen, John Tempesta, Vinnie Paul, Nick Menza, Tomas Haake, Joey Jordison, also Jason Bittner to name a few. So many great drummers out there I could name probably another 500.
SDM: Let us know 5 CD's that are in your current rotation
Michael: Machine Head – Unto The Locust, Testament – The Formation Of Damnation, Slayer – Divine Intervention, Metallica – Master Of Puppets, Carcass- Heartwork
SDM: What do you do to warm up before a show?
Michael: Depending on the venue I sometimes take a practice kit backstage and have a warm-up on that for about ten minutes. Nothing too regimented just maybe go through a song or two. I try not to over work myself but try to get the blood flowing all over. I make sure I stretch about an hour prior to performing and stay well hydrated throughout the day. I also take a banana with me to every show and have that for some extra potassium to prevent cramping and also a source of energy.
SDM: Do you read music? Regardless of answering yes or no, please tell us how it might have effected your playing?
Michael: I do indeed read music and was one of the first things I was taught. I believe it’s very important when starting out as you learn all your rudiments and experiment with new beats and fills etc…. Learning how to read music is one way to increase your chances of being the best musician you can be. For me, It has helped me through the later stages of my career in my song writing approach. I would write music and then program it on the computer for pre production, getting everything right before entering the studio.
SDM: Can you tell us about the gear you use?
Michael: I currently use an 8-piece TAMA Starclassic Maple in cherry black, alternating between the Lars Ulrich Diamond Plate snare and Warlord Masai snare. I mainly use the Lars snare live as its so damn loud and cuts through nicely and the Masai for studio work as it has an overall warm sound with a nice crack to it. I have a mixture of Zildjian A Customs and Z cymbals with a Zildjian Oriental China Trash to add further creativity to the set-up. I use Remo Pinstripes for the toms (batter side) and Ebonys for the bottoms. Coated Controlled Sound for the snare and Powerstroke 3 heads for both bass drums.
SDM: If you could give one piece of advice to young drummers, it would be…
Michael: Open your mind to all aspects of drumming and don’t just single out yourself to one style. Listen to all different styles of music for inspiration and this will help you become more creative and unique.
SDM: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
Michael: I have witnessed some great performances over the years, although probably Paul Bostaph's show with Testament on The Damnation tour would be the best Ive seen. I have also seen Derek Roddy perform one of the most amazing clinics in Melbourne a few years back which was so impressive.
SDM: Aside from drumming, what else do you like to do?
Michael: I really enjoy playing and watching sports especially football and tennis. The whole health and fitness thing keeps me in good shape for drumming as well, as we all know how physically demanding it can be.
Carnal Drum Cam:
TAMA Starclassic Maple (Cherry Black)
* 22”x16” Bass Drum x 2
* 10”x9” Tom
* 12”x10” Tom
* 14”x11” Tom
* 16”x16” Floor Tom
* 18”x16” Floor Tom
* 14”x6.5”Steel snare
* 14”x6” Masai Warlord Snare
* 19” A Custom Projection Crash
* 14” Z Custom Dyno Beat Hats
* 18” Oriental China Trash
* 18” Z Custom China
* 18” A Custom Projection Crash
* 17” A Custom Projection Crash x 2
* 10” A Custom Splash
* 21” Z Custom Mega Bell Ride
* 18” K Custom Crash
* IronCobra Power-Glide Single Pedal (×2)
* IronCobra Velo-Glide Hi-Hat Stand
* Titan Stilt Cymbal Stands (5)
* Roadpro Cymbal Stand
* Multi-Clamp w/boom arm
* Universal Clamp w/boom arm (2)
* Tama Hi-Hat Attachment
* Titan Stilt Double Tom Stand
* HT530 1st Chair Drum Throne
* Ahead Signature Series JJ-1
* Ahead 5A