[Left: Interviewer and Interviewee at the House of Blues studio in Nashville]
Recently I had the pleasure, and privilege, to be interviewed by my close friend Rich Redmond. It was a lot of fun to be on the other side of the table so to speak…
RR: As my friend and co-author Michael Aubrecht has interviewed so many drummers, (me included) I thought it might be neat to interview him for a change. Michael took some time out of his busy blogging schedule to answer a few questions.
RR: Tell us why and how you started drumming.
MA: I started playing drums earlier than some and later than others. I began showing an interest in music in the 6th and 7th grade. That was when I started paying attention to bands and buying albums and cassettes. I had always liked music and I had a bunch of hit 45s, but I was never serious about it. My first album purchased was AC/DC’s Back in Black which is still one of my Top-3 albums of all-time. In the 7th grade I started showing an interest in the drums. Like many drummers I started banging on Tupperware and then moved up to a drum pad. My parents even bought me one of those Synsonic Drum machines.
Shortly thereafter I started taking lessons. I was all in and 100% devoted to it. I got my first drum kit in 8th grade. It was a beautiful Pearl Export kit and I still regret selling it years later. In school I started getting involved in the music programs that I would participate in until graduation. I played in the choir band, marching band, symphonic band, stage band and percussion ensemble. I was fortunate to have great teachers over the years and I still follow their guidance to this day. I also played in several garage bands. We did some gigs and battle of the bands. All of those guys went off to record CDs with their own groups. I’m the only one yet to be captured on a recording.
RR: Tell us about your drumming heroes.
MA: I can answer that easily because I was very focused on three “heroes” from specific genres. In the hair-metal world it was Frankie Banali. My first concert was Quiet Riot and I remember his immense black and white striped drum kit hovering on the stage. It was on their Condition Critical Tour and that song still remains a favorite of mine. Looking back, Frankie had (and has) a heavy hitting style similar to John Bonham. Years later I was very lucky to have interviewed Frankie for Off Beat.
In the pop world I was enamored by Bobby Z of Prince and The Revolution. His ability to combine electronics and acoustic drums in order to fulfill Prince’s vision was extraordinary. Purple Rain is one of my Top-3 albums of all-time and Bobby’s live performances of those songs still resonate with me. Like Frankie Banali, I was lucky to have interviewed Bobby Z for Off Beat.
My third hero in the pop-rock world is Jon Farris of INXS. His creative drum parts and groove within a song structure are second-to-none. INXS had a string of hits in the 80’s and 90’s and Jon’s contribution on the drums was a big part of that. His live performances captured on INXS’s Live Baby Live album show how a drummer can still jam while sitting within the structure of a song. I would say Jon is my #1 favorite.
RR: What music have you contributed to?
MA: I’ve been interested in composing electronic music and loops for quite some time. My friend, an accomplished musician, producer and film composer named Attila Domos has asked me on more than one occasion to provide him with drum parts. I really enjoy the flexibility he gives me and he has even fashioned songs around the drum parts that I’ve provided. Some of it is industrial and others are what I’d call “avante-guard.”
When I create these pieces I’m very much into layering. I like to add percussion behind the drum track. Sometimes I’ll start out with something simple like a ride pattern. Then I’ll add toms, and finally the snare. It’s a back-ward way of sorts but it seems to work for me. Attila is always creating music so I am grateful for the opportunities he’s given me to contribute. I also love sitting in and jamming with my friends from The Drowning. I played with the band’s founding members years ago and it’s been great to reconnect with them. Their CD Every Hour Wounds is amazing. I don’t have the free time to play as much as I’d like but when I do I love making music with friends.
RR: Tell our readers a little about our project.
MA: It’s been what…six years now? As you know my son Jackson showed a casual interest in playing my drums. Seeing an opportunity to pass on my interest I began looking for teaching aids in print and online. As Jackson was going on five at the time I was hoping to find something for his age group. I did not. In fact I was unable to find anything even close to a five year-old’s comprehension level. During my research I came upon a YouTube video of you giving a drum clinic. I think I remember that you were playing along to “She’s Country.”
At the time I had absolutely no idea who Rich Redmond was but the song was vaguely familiar. Seeing that you were an educator I decided to reach out. I sent you a short message that described my dilemma and asked if you were aware of any teaching tools for younger kids. You were not. During our conversation it came up that I was a writer. Ever the entrepreneur you saw an opportunity. The result was “FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids.” Who knew that it would be published by Modern Drummer, win an award at NAMM, become an Amazon Best-Seller and now be in its third printing? Like you I am very proud of that project. Let’s do it again! [laughs]
RR: What gear do you play?
MA: I play a mix of gear spread between two drum sets. My primary kit is a PDP mahogany kit. It consists of an 18” bass drum, 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom and usually a 14×5 ½” snare that switches between wood and brass. It is wrapped in a pink oyster wrap that I helped to design. My second kit is a black sparkle Ludwig Breakbeats kit that consists of a 16” bass drum, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom and a 14×5 ½ wooden snare. I also use a variety of electronics from time to time that consist of two Alesis Sample Pads and four ddrum Red Shot Triggers.
RR: What are you working on and where are you going?
MA: The Off Beat blog continues to grow. I average thousands of hits across twenty countries. My plan is to incorporate more live Facebook chats on the blog. I’m continuing to do exclusive interviews and the list is growing. I’ve done over 20 interviews to date. Names like Steve Smith and Danny Seraphine top the roster. Of course so do you! [laughs] Next up is David Abbruzzese. I hope to see our book reach its fourth printing. I’ve created training aids and a course syllabus for teaching the “FUNdamentals” way and we are getting good feedback.
I maintain our Facebook page and I will continue to do so. I’m hoping to find more time to practice. I’m not writing books or doing speaking engagements at the moment as my family takes my attention. Unfortunately I sacrificed a lot of time with them to pursue my projects and I’ve shifted my focus as it should be. I still contribute articles to an online and print publication. That allows me to keep my writing chops. Who knows? Maybe someday you and I will get around to publishing the follow-up to FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids? Maybe we can do FUNdamentals of Drumming for Adults?
RR: What are the ways people can see your work and get in touch with you?
My blog is at: https://maubrecht.wordpress.com/
My website is at: www.pinstripepress.net
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org