Hal Aponte ["Ice Age"]
How to did it happen that you started playing drums?
C the earliest years I wanted to play on any musical tool. Somewhere around four or five years old. I started playing drums, although if for some reason it was impossible, I would play piano, guitar or anything else. Music captivated me, I felt my kinship with her. My parents then decided that I was still too young, so I started playing drums only after entering Junior High school. Before I sat down at the drum kit, I had a long wait. But it was worth it. The turning point for me was Neil Peart's performance at "Exit Stage Left"... After I heard his solo in "YYZ", I firmly decided that I would play it on drums.
When you decided to become a drummer, you found yourself any teachers?
I was looking for them. But, unfortunately, everything to whom I addressed with a similar proposal, they referred to the fact that they already busy, either due to lack of time, or simply did not want to contact me. This made me very sad. My parents hoped that, without meeting support, sooner or later I will throw this "stupid" occupation. Therefore, they did not interfere with me and did not interfere. They are, in fact In fact, they absolutely didn't want me to play drums. I, on the contrary, I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I was absolutely serious I want to become a drummer. If no one wants to teach me how to play drums, well, I'll have to learn on my own. Self-learning required a lot of time, effort, patience and self-sacrifice, and I do not advise anyone to engage in self-study. No matter how much you want it, you still won't be able to learn right away. to play on drums. Everything is achieved only by long years painstaking exercises.
How much time did you give drums at the initial stage?
I worked very hard on developing a sense of time. At the very beginning, I did about 4-5 hours daily (on weekdays), and on weekends this time increased. You may think that this is a lot, but for a child who perceives classes not as classes, but as exciting the game is quite a bit. I spent most of my time arranging different racks, hanging cymbals, tuning drums, trying various plastics, etc... I really liked it. Lessons were for me something reminiscent of putting puzzles together: whenever when I managed to correctly fold the next part of these "puzzles", I received great moral satisfaction and an incentive to further promotion. I tried to watch the game as much as possible more other drummers, and also read everything dedicated to drums that just caught my eye. That was very special time in my life.
Who originally had the your biggest influence musically?
Many people/groups. I enjoyed listening to different styles of music. "The Commodores", Rick James, Billy Joel, Tito Puente, "Men at Work", "The J Geils Band", "Danny and the Juniors", Joan Jett, John Cougar, Buddy Rich, "KC and the Sunshine Band", Prince, "Journey" - I could listen to them all day long. Hope you got the impression about what I was listening to. It was great music for a guy like me, who was interested in playing the drums, this music opened me eyes and ears. After listening to some drummer, I sat down for installation and tried to copy his playing style - in this way I how to learn from each of them. The best thing I did “shoot” if I could see exactly how the drummer plays their "chips". It was a great opportunity for self-learning.
Tell us about the first projects you participated.
After 5 or 6 months since I just started drumming, my best friend heard me play. He said that two of our mutual acquaintances were gathering a group and that I should have called them. I strongly doubted. I did play on drums for a very short time and was very unsure of his abilities. Friend dispelled my doubts, saying: “Yes, do not be afraid! they are not exactly the same can play just like you. Okay then, let's try this one. group. But I forgot to pre-set one simple question: what kind of music are these guys going to play? Not that this question interested me too much, but why not was it not to ask? It turned out that both of them are cousins and both play the guitars, which their fathers taught them both. Everything seems to be good, no trick, right? However, it turned out that they were playing exclusively Spanish folk songs. O.K. - wait a minute, don't hang up the phone... “Didn't you hear me play?! I would like to play in a rock band, where I could "turn around to the fullest" - play loud and make the audience shake their heads and jump in tact ... "We decided that in this case I do not have to choose, and I agreed to play with these guys. I reported it all parents - they were in seventh heaven with happiness. They probably decided that now, when I play in a band, I will move my drums from our house to the place where we will rehearse. They are were gravely mistaken. After all, it's much easier than me to carry drums somewhere, it turned out to come to my house these two guys with guitars! They were easy to lift. I thought that since we are all Spaniards, then guys this in my game will certainly hear something close. Probably them I felt like I was perfectly aware of what I was playing. Ta the group did not last long, but I quickly hacked myself on the nose, how important it is to be able to listen to what other instruments are playing. I started doing even more.
What at that time is the most caused problems?
I'm afraid the most problems for all of us delivered by our inexperience and inexperience as musicians. It was easier for us from the knowledge that we are on the same level with each other - we all do not know how to play the same way. It pleased. it helped out in those cases when one of us made blunders, in other words - "crap" - the rest could not seriously reproach, because they messed up all the time. Therefore, our relationship was very friendly and warm, no pressure. However, few others bands dared to perform with us in a joint concert, none of we have never been invited to play in other bands - with us it's just no one wanted to play, it was "in the bastard." Therefore, our second we created a group together with one of the comrades in the first group. He had already learned to play a few rock things and tried hard to transfer what he learned on guitar to bass. The guitarists there were already five of us, so he willy-nilly had to play bass. We filmed the songs "The Stones", "Beatles", "Led Zep, Ozzy, The Kinks, etc. etc... Finally we started compose their own songs and the three of us stayed together. We had a good time time, I'll tell you.
Please tell us how looks like your routine, if any.
I don't even know if this can be called a routine procedure or not. But every time before we start rehearsing with the band, I get a little I warm up my hands by playing a few elementary rudiments. To concerts / recordings, of course, I prepare more thoroughly, I try to relax as much as possible, both physically and mentally. mental plane. Before rehearsals, I usually warm up by playing fractions with single blows and deuces, as well as paradidles. No way case is not fast. In this case, I'm not interested at all. speed. I start at a slow pace and work my way up to average. To warm up my legs, I play some triplets and sixteenths on my two barrels. The whole warm-up procedure takes approximately 8 - 10 minutes. I know for sure that when playing on drums, there are many opportunities to injure yourself physically - in First of all, it concerns the hands. You can get injured as cause of equipment malfunction, as well as due to neglect warm-up exercises before the game. Therefore, there is no need to chase speed - you go quieter, you will be farther. Otherwise, you can simply "rip off" hands. Before I start playing, I always take a quick look around. my instrument. Once a plate fell off the counter (because the fixing screw loosened on the rack) and, falling, it pretty much crushed my forehead. She fell at the very beginning - I just started warm up before the next rehearsal. I thought with horror that could have happened if she had fallen at the concert. Since before before sitting down to install, I always carefully check everything: everything racks, mounts, etc. Live a century - learn a century.
Is there Any notable advances in your technique?
I think so. I hope anyone who heard our first album, The Great Divide, feel the difference in my playing by listening to our latest album Liberation. My technique has become more sophisticated and, fortunately, it continues to grow because I am constantly playing. However, on my look, much more significant changes for the better have occurred not actually in my technique, but in my approach to songs. I became more sophisticated in this matter, and whenever we learning some new "confusing" song, I say that I It takes time to really understand it. Is not quite natural for me. At the core of my drumming style there was always a heavy backbeat, all the breaks I play confidently, in advance having worked them out, trying not to fall out of the “kach” and, as it were, “wrap” breaks music. I'm sure the drummer can play musically and without constantly "pulling the blanket over yourself" with super-technical breaks and twists. Everything has its time and place, as they say. On the on our last album, I tried to play the songs in such a way that they acquired the most natural mood. Think my drums began to sound more comfortable with the song, because I began to play in a more open style. Some songs on the album quite long, requiring a fair amount of sophistication in execution, however, I tried to make them as large as possible natural sounding. I hope I succeeded.
Whatever did you yourself want to improve in your game?
Well... there is no such things that could not be improved. I have never been satisfied the level of your game. If we talk about any specific moment, I would like to improve the uncoordination. Since recording "Liberation" I have acquired many new "toys" in my drum kit. When soloing, I like to go to independent rhythms. Therefore, at the moment I need to thoroughly work on uncoordination. Terry Bozzio brought out decoordination to a whole new level. He's incredibly cool.
Do you play (or want to learn how to play) any other musical instruments besides drums?
Alas, no. I'm purely amateurish strumming on the phono: you can't talk about it seriously. I would like to learn how to play the piano. It seems to be my favorite instrument, I mean, when I listen to music. I consider it to be the main musical instrument. In the end album "Liberation" our keyboard player/lead vocalist Josh Pincus plays a magnificent piece "Tong - Len". It's kind of a mixture of textures. and the sounds of keyboard instruments, resulting in an exciting piano piece. Amazing. This thing lasts less than two minutes, however, it seems that without her the album would not have been finished.
What is most important to you when you choose your instrument and which companies - manufacturers of drums Do you currently advertise instruments?
Currently time no one from our group advertises any products. A good product does not need advertising. During the concert the most last thing, if your tool delivers you any Problems. The instrument I play should not, in the first place, give me no trouble either during concerts or during recording in the studio, not during rehearsals. If anything in my equipment gives me problems, my reaction is very simple: I I don't use this anymore. Why play an instrument with which constantly have to literally fight? In general, it is possible to say that each of us is ready to advertise any product. But only as long as this product meets our requirements.
Tell us about the setup you're on right now playing.
For the recording of the Liberation album, I used 8",10",12" mounted toms, 14"floor (on the left side), 16" floor (with right side), 20" Gong Bass Drum, two 24" kicks, 14" small drum, wind chimes, four cowbells, bell tree, tambourine. Ever since Since then, additional tools have appeared in my "kitchen": 6 "& 8" mini timbales, 7" & 9" bongs, four more cowbells, set granite blocks, a pair of ago-go bells, two "gajate brackets" with two cowbells, vibraslap, etc... I want more attention in musically give percussion. I hope with this with additional equipment I succeed more successfully.
A what mindset did you have when you first started playing drums and what led you to use those instruments on who are you playing now?
I started with, so to speak, "motley" installation: various parts from "Ludwig", "Gretsch", "Tama", "Stewart", etc... The funny thing is that all the drums were different colors. Subsequently, I happened to play the drums of the most different brands, so now I know very well all the advantages and the disadvantages of each. As with any other purchase, Choosing a tool is all about the price-quality ratio. On the today drum manufacturing technology is so developed that I can bet you just won't be able to buy into a bad drum set these days. You can of course replace heads or pedals, but, nevertheless, in most cases and supplied "by default" accessories are of excellent quality. Never buy anything just because it costs more Total. Buy only what you like.
Who are you with working now?
I work with a group from Long Island, it's called Ice Age. This month marks exactly eight years since we play together. We have a contract with record company "Magna Carta records" and recently we released our second album with them. "The Great Divide" and Liberation is our second and first album respectively. AT I would like to work in the fusion style in the future. I would now enjoyed playing in a fusion band, but my current the schedule just doesn't leave me time for that. I'm very little free time.
Which of the musicians do you prefer just like to work and why?
I can say that I enjoyed (for various reasons, of course) the joint working with every one of the musicians I played with. I feel strongly lucky in that sense. I have had the pleasure of working with a number of extraordinarily talented people. I have learned something from each of them. Some of them had a truly transcendent professional level. Throughout my professional career, I have taken (and given) many private lessons. But the most important lesson for me, I think collaboration with Ice Age. Eight years of working together is sufficient time for any business. We walked through the fire together water and copper pipes. I am proud and admire these guys as in musically, and in terms of purely human relationships. We understand each other so much that we can often communicate in literally without saying a word. It's just kind of mystical. AT in our band now: guitarist Jimmy Pappas (who unique melody and subtlety of performance modern musical dubbed "the god of the guitar" by the press), Josh Pincus - keyboards / lead vocal (possessor of an exceptionally rare musical talent, combining virtuoso piano skills with excellent powerful voice) and recently arrived bassist Doug Odell (in addition to being a master bass player, he is also a great vocalist). Why does being a member of this group give me such pleasure? We all work extremely hard and with full dedication. That's probably why I'm so proud to play in this group.
What factors are decisive for you when choosing a project in which you will play?
I like take part in projects that are somewhat beyond generally accepted framework. The routine is depressing. Sometimes it takes a little break established rules in order to get satisfaction as a performer. The most important thing is dedication. If I I get involved in any project, then I do it seriously. For me not it is important at the same time how large and significant this project is. Obviously, you have to be realistic. I've always been worried about phrases like: "I guarantee that in a couple of months we will be rock stars." Dreaming and setting goals for yourself is great, but The point is that goals should be set realistic and achievable. Give yourself enough time to develop and grow and "jump from stoves”, do not try to “climb onto the roof along the fire escape, if in the house has an elevator. Anyone in show business will surely say you that in this business all the places under the sun have long been clogged and you no chance. Forget it, don't think about being a star, uh just do your homework, study hard and enjoy it. Satisfy first your own needs, and others will appreciate you.
Are there any any projects from your past that you would like to to participate again?
There are some. When I played at school jazz orchestra, we had Winter and Spring festivals. Twice in the academic year, our school orchestra gave demonstration performances, on which students demonstrated their musical achievements. The concert hall was filled to capacity and we had a real feeling the importance of what is happening. These were amazing performances. I have had the opportunity to play solo in public. It was a great experience for a teenager. Also I would love to play that concert again at the Queens Day Festival at Flushing Meadow Park. I was then studying at school and me as part of the Stages group, in which I was playing at the time, had the opportunity to perform on this huge stage. We played original and cover versions of AC/DC, Triumph, Dio and Gods of Prog" - "Rush". The stage was the size of two baseball fields. It was so many people that nowhere was a piece of green grass to be seen lawn. We were so worried then!
do you do anything other than drumming?
Yes, everyone little by little. I love sports: both as a fan and as a active participant. I like doing things like this not too much popular sports like golf and bowling. I have a big a collection of sports memorabilia that I have been collecting for a lot years. I have a collection of racing cars - from manufactured late 60s to mid 80s. My favorite model is 1969. The car of the mid-80s completes my collection. no more pleasant sound to my ears than the roar of a powerful engine. I also I love watching movies, especially on DVD. Now I'm just doing active replenishment of its video library. I love collecting crossword puzzles. puzzles, play chess, but my biggest weakness is computer games. Don't even let me get close to yours computer.
In addition to playing the drums, you also any kind of art?
I like fine art art. I can draw graphics, but I can't draw with paints I can. In my opinion, between music and visual arts there is much in common. Both of these creative activities require you to dedication, imagination, and in return give an excellent opportunity for self-expression. I really like both of these types equally. art. I find both of them to be very relaxing. Someday I I’ll take up drawing more seriously and then we’ll see how much far I will be able to advance in this field.
What can you tell by looking at the younger generation of drummers?
In my opinion, young drummers will never miss their chances. They take drumming to a whole new level. it just some fantasy. I see a lot of young drummers who seriously learn to play the drums, perform homework tasks on your instrument. It's nice to see that. I'm sure that someday the drums will no longer be seen as just accompanying instrument. Now there are many talents growing and it gives me real pleasure to see positive changes in approach to drumming and hear new musical ideas.
What advice would you give to young people?
Don't miss your chance!!! I mean - first make yourself as musicians, and then as businessmen. Yes, playing in a band is great, but for some reason people tend to forget that it was always a job first, business. Every person - be it a lawyer, a manager, a club owner and even a musician wants to get paid for his work. And where in money comes into play, you need to be prepared for anything. Do not let exploit yourself, don't work for your uncle.
You can Recommend any learning materials?
For today day there are so many different books and video schools ... I can only advise you to purchase those books / videos that match your specific level at the moment. Don't try to jump above the head. Some books/videos are only for advanced performers. You should get information from the school and apply the acquired knowledge in practice. If you don't understand, oh what this school is talking about, then what is the use of it to you then? Also I advise you to buy books / videos only of those artists that you really like it. In this case, the learning process will go where nicer for you. In addition, in this case, it will be much clearer to you, what you can achieve by studying at this particular school. There is a myriad of all kinds of books/videos regarding rudiments, double-barrel playing, soloing, percussion and etc. etc... If you are at the very beginning of the path, I recommend you do not immediately buy a bunch of all sorts of schools, but buy one, most interesting to you, and carefully study it, especially while focusing on developing a good sense of "time". it a good way to start without being overwhelmed by tons information. My other advice to you: go your own way and how you can try to study more.
Can you now remember and tell us a funny story from your career?
I can only think of a couple of such cases. Once I played in one club and spotlights to illuminate the stage hung very low there. So that's when I went on stage to start the concert, I hit my head the bottom of the ramp. The beams of searchlights began to sway at all sides and I heard laughter in the crowd in the hall. I am very confused then. Another incident happened when I was still a teenager. I played solo and in the heat of the "battle" ripped one of my crash cymbals that literally fell to pieces. So, in at the end of my solo there should have been a powerful finishing blow precisely in this plate. So, when the solo came to an end, I automatically swung to strike - but there were no cymbals! I hesitated for some a moment, but the swing was already made and the wand slipped out of my hands and, having flown a certain distance, hit exactly on the back our keyboardist. Then I was also quite embarrassed.
How do you rehearse a lot?
With "Ice Age" we tend to We rehearse 3-4 times a week to keep fit. Before performances or recording, this schedule changes slightly.
How much of your live performances are improvised and how much is pre-rehearsed?
95% of all our shows rehearsed in advance. The only opportunity for improvisation opens only during the solo.
And how are you, in fact, met and started working with Ice Age?
Absolutely by chance. After learning three of their songs, I went to an audition. Group on By that time, it was already almost fully formed. They were only looking for drummer and lead vocalist. After two years of continuous searching vocalist Josh (our keyboardist) decided to sing himself. What happened next, you already know.
You have worked with various performers in a wide range of musical styles. With which of these artists, in your opinion, you managed to achieve the greatest growth as a drummer?
I can definitely say: this is Ice Age. I have learned a lot from working with other bands and musicians, but the opportunity to grow as a musician and as a person I acquired only in this group. As I said, we have been together for eight years now - this is quite solid period. All of us during this time have grown musically and we hope to grow further.
What degree of freedom do you have during the studio recording? In other words, do you decide what, for example, microphones, heads, cymbals you should use when records?
In the studio, we do everything ourselves 100%. Above no producer hangs over our heads. Both of our albums recorded by Jimmy, our guitarist. As for the microphones - this is a question to him. He knows exactly what sound we need to achieve and I'm talking about it I'm not worried, or, to put it another way, I don't want to get involved in this side of the recording process. Which heads and cymbals should I use? when recording - that's what I decide for myself. However, I am always open to new ideas or suggestions. Let's say if one of our guys the band recommends that I take another plastic or cymbal for recording - if it really sounds better, then why not?