Mike Terrana: "It's never too late to learn!"
One of the most respected "heavy" drummers in the music world, American Mike is doing well in Germany, where he now works and lives. In the States, he played with Yngwie Malmsteen and Tony McAlpine. With the latter, he even recorded an instrumental album. In Europe, Mike joined the RAGE group, with whom he has already visited Russia twice, and also created several side projects: DRIVEN, TABOO VOODOO and others. This spring, Terrana will visit our country again, though in a slightly different form. After all, the musician, in addition to 15 albums recorded with his participation, has two well-known video schools in the circle of specialists, as well as about a hundred (!) master classes held, with which he traveled all over Europe and North America. And following Gregg Bissonette, who performed with great success as part of Zildjian Day, Mike Terrana will hold mastery lessons for the first time on May 17 at the Central House of Artists and thereby launch the first Premier DRUMMER DAY in Russia. On the eve of this significant event, we bring to your attention an interview with Mike, in which he spoke about his first steps in rock music, old and new projects, musical preferences and a look at modern show business.
Terrana as a Musician
— Perhaps, let's start with general questions, with "roots" ... Mike, from the height of your experience, can you say exactly what your "drumming" school was - which musicians influenced your style?
— Oh? K. When I was growing up and just beginning to understand something in music, I listened to very different drummers: Neil Peart, Buddy Rich, Ian Paice, Cozy Powell. Growing up, I became interested in musicians who play with double "bass", these are Tommy Aldridge (Tommy Aldridge), Terry Bozzio (Terry Bozzio), Simon Phillips (Simon Phillips) ... I want to say that I am not a musician of the "imitative" type, I study all the time myself and don’t really “attach” to a particular style. I listen to very different drummers - jazz, rock, fusion, whatever, even pop, if they are cool ...
— And when you started, didn't you have an idol that you would like to be like?..
— Well… I never idealized any particular drummer. I liked so many different musicians that it was really difficult for me to choose one. But I already knew for a long time ... maybe at 12-13 years old that I would be a rock drummer.
— At a fairly young age, you played in a huge number of projects. What was the most defining experience for you: when did you understand what it means to be a musician, get into music up to your ears and experience all the positive and negative aspects of drumming?
— I would answer that it was a group that I got into when I was 24 years old. My first studio recording took place with her... They were called HANOVER FIST and were from Toronto, Canada. They had their own real tour bus. We signed a recording contract. I got paid for the first time! It was interesting: you get paid money for music, it's a miracle... Upon returning, we found out that no one bought the album at all, and the label threw us to hell. That's how I learned how disgusting business can be! Ha ha ha!
— You are one of the most influential drummers, it's understandable. You probably have a lot of followers and fans... I know a few myself... and one of them really asked me to ask you: did you release something like a drumming school... or a video... well, something in "help for a beginner musician" < /EM>
— Yes, I have released two videos. One is in America, I'm not sure if it can be found in Russia... I also recorded a video instruction for playing on an installation with two "barrels", lasting about two and a half hours, there is a lot of useful information there. This video can be purchased through my website. I also released solo discs, which may also be of interest to those who are learning to play the drums. There is purely instrumental music recorded with different musicians.
— Have you ever composed music yourself, by the way?
— Well, yes... Recently, I have generally begun to get involved in this matter. Last year, I finally started learning how to play the piano. And I even mastered a few classical pieces, learned a little to understand the structure of chords and things like that. On the latest RAGE album, I also added something of my own ... For the new record, I even have a few "demos" with my own compositions in store, but I'm not sure if the band will want to ... ha! .. perform them! But even if they're not that cool... it's not scary, I'm just getting started. I think in the future I will write something worthy. Right now I'm still learning. Great advice for young drummers who want to achieve something: keep learning all the time! It's never too late to learn, especially if it helps your development... And most importantly, if you play drums, you definitely need to master another instrument, keys or guitar in order to understand the structure of a melody in order to be able to write music. Only then can you consider yourself a musician.
— And if someday you decide on an album consisting of your own songs, what style can it be? Metal? Or something new?
— Interesting. I don't know if I'll record a metal album. Because I have already recorded quite a lot of them. What kind of music will I compose? Now, for example, I write very ... how to put it mildly, ha-ha-ha! .. strange music, oh-oh-very strange. I don't think anyone will like it. And in the future - I don't know, maybe something heavy... but it's unlikely to be heavy metal. It is interesting to record music for very different people, because if you “blame” everything in the same style, few will hear you. I have always liked people who write in completely different styles - Robbie Williams, Sting ... And this music is popular everywhere. And she's just beautiful.
Terrana as part of RAGE
— When you got into RAGE, you moved to Germany. How did you end up in Europe in the first place - because of RAGE or for some other reason?
— Actually, I already lived in Germany before I joined RAGE. I moved to Europe about two and a half years ago. I lived in Holland for about six months - I had projects there, and then I had to move to Hamburg, Germany to work with Roland Grapow, the guitarist of HELLOWEEN. And I recorded with them... Before I got involved in all my projects, I played a few shows with GAMMA RAY. I drummed for them because their own drummer got into a motorcycle accident and injured his hand. Then, suddenly, the "old version" of RAGE suddenly broke up, many members of the group left, and their manager called me and asked if I would like to join them. I agreed.
— The current line-up of RAGE is quite international. How do you communicate, I wonder? Is it easy for you to learn German and how is the process going?
— I'll tell you honestly: I don't talk to them at all. Haha! No, I'm kidding.
- In fact, they are not talking to me! Ha ha ha! Well, maybe my German is not that good, and my Russian too - I don't know anything in Russian at all. Therefore, when they want to talk to me, they only have English. Although I already understand German quite tolerably. Perhaps in the future I will be good at scribbling German, but for now I communicate in my native language ... To the great regret of the rest of the guys. But it's not so bad. They speak excellent English. Well done!
- Based on your rich "touring" experience with RAGE, can you say what is the fundamental difference between the audience in Europe and the States?
— Yes, I feel a huge difference. Especially when it comes to hard rock and metal music. These styles are practically dead in America. If you paid attention, the DRIVEN project is designed in a more modern, "American" style, like modern metal. And it would probably roll in the States, where bands like RAGE and others that play traditional metal are no longer popular. I also noticed that the American audience is more ... how to choose the appropriate word ... more jaded ... That is, they have already seen and listened to a lot of things, and they are already bored, you see ... Europeans are more interested in seeing a "live" show, they like to participate in it. They get more pleasure from communicating with musicians. I say this not because I now live in Europe, I thought so even when I lived in the States.
— You recently participated in the recording of Viktor Smolsky's album, which he recorded together with the Belarusian Symphony Orchestra. As a hardened "heavy" drummer, aren't you squeamish at the prospect of doing something symphonic? In general, what were your impressions?
— It was very strange when Victor invited me to participate in this project, because I had never played with an orchestra before. It was a symphony by his father, the Belarusian composer Smolsky - and a very cool symphony, if I understood everything correctly. I think this project meant a lot to Victor, because, as far as I know, he has been writing similar music for a long time and was finally able to tie all his ideas into one concept. And one more thing - I liked working on the project - it was something completely new, and the concept itself was very interesting: about the burning of witches and all sorts of things from medieval Europe. Moreover, Victor allowed me to write some poetry for music - I not only played the drums, but also voiced something. Actually, it was interesting for me. An orchestra doesn't sound as directed as a rock band, the music just floats in the air, you have to be able to feel it. Very defiant, very non-standard, it was terribly fun for me to participate in the creation of this work of art.
— What is your opinion about "traditional" metal? Don't you think that traditionalism can ever play a negative role... and, in general, what is this style heading towards, should it, in your opinion, somehow change, or will it remain in demand anyway? P>
— In my opinion, this music will move in some new directions. Sometimes I think true, traditional metal is getting a little monotonous (to me, a lot of things sound the same), and the market itself is shrinking. But still, there are a lot of new bands that want to play whether their music is in demand or not. I can't say exactly where all this will lead. But I know that musicians have to give people what is expected of them. Think for yourself, if RAGE decides to sound "fashionable-modern" and give out an album in the spirit of LIMP BIZKIT, people will be terribly disappointed! Haha! We will lose all the fans! So with RAGE, we decided to move forward into the future, changing the sound a bit, but not shifting the fundamentals too much, without deviating from what the fans like about us… Because all they like about us is RAGE . In other projects, I want to step outside the box, looking into the future. Personally, I really like new metal bands like PAPA ROACH and KOßN, I think they are great.
Terrana as part of DRIVEN
— What can you tell us about your latest DRIVEN project?
- I lived in Germany... And about a year and a half ago, people from MTM Records, which is a company based in Germany, asked me if I would be interested in putting together a power metal band. I replied: "Yes, with great pleasure, it's cool!" I tried to involve European musicians of interest to me in the project, but as a result I couldn’t find anyone: some didn’t have time, others didn’t care about anything, some simply didn’t like the musical direction itself. Later, while on vacation in Los Angeles, I met up with a bassist friend of mine who used to play for Tony McAlpine, his name is Larry Dennison. Then he worked with DIO guitarist Tracy G, they played with DIO together and worked on their own project, and Larry also played in three or four other bands in Los Angeles. He turned to me: “Listen, me and Tracy and the rest of the guys have a cool demo, very cool music, only one problem is there is no drummer.” “Wow, this is interesting! I just have a recording contract, only there is no band!” When I heard their music, I thought it was very aggressive... and very modern. And I decided that it would be interesting to sign a contract with this group. I came back to Germany with a demo, put it to people with MTM and they liked it. A couple of months later I was already back in Los Angeles - and we recorded an album! I don't know if you like it? It doesn't look like RAGE. There is something reminiscent of young American heavy music, which is now terribly popular. But it's interesting to me. I always liked to experiment, I always wanted to move forward, try all styles of music.
— You have worked with many bands. And what is the main stimulus for your appearance in a particular team - the correspondence of their music to your tastes or the people themselves with whom you are just interested in working and communicating?
- Yes, rather, people... But I also have to like music, it's very important. I think a lot of people invite me just because I can play with two kicks and play pretty complex styles - half progressive, half metal. After I worked with Yngwie (Malmsteen), I made a name for myself in the music world, after which I started to get all kinds of offers, invitations to work as a studio drummer, and I am pleased, it is a great honor for me to know that I am someone needed. It's great and I enjoy working with different musicians, different styles. This is very interesting.
— Does this mean that you didn't have situations when you worked with a band that played music that made you wildly delighted, but at the same time did not get along very well with musicians as people? After all, the person himself and his work are not always the same...
… -Yes. This is an interesting question. All groups are different. Every musical situation is unique. And it's very difficult to squeeze only the best out of everything - human relationships, in general, a very complicated thing ... Sometimes music is brilliant, and people ... you don't get along very well with them. It happens that the music leaves much to be desired, but the people are too sincere, it’s a pity to part with them! Ha ha ha! And sometimes you play music that's amazingly cool and the record companies don't like it at all and no one gives you the money to record it. That is, there are different situations - sometimes it's cool, and sometimes it's not funny at all. Ha ha ha! See, now, for example, it's cool!
— Well, Mike, thanks for the interesting conversation and see you soon in Moscow for PREMIER DRUMMER DAY.