Anika Nilles | Drumming, composition and much more

anika nilles drummer

Anika Nilles has taken the drumming community by storm over the past 6 or so years. A true drumming powerhouse full of groove and chops no matter the time signature. It is easy to see why Anika Nilles has become a favourite drummer of many players.

Let’s find out more about Anika and her drumming career so far.

Who is Anika Nilles?

Anika Nilles is a professional drummer from Aschaffenburg, Germany born on the 29th of May 1983. Anika is best known for her drum performances and her original music.

Where did it all begin?

Anika first started playing the drums at the age of 6. Her father taught her a groove and that is where the passion began. Anika had a family full of drummers so she was surrounded by inspiration. 

Anika was determined to give becoming a musician a try when she finished school. 

A diversion from drumming

Like many people, Anika’s parents warned her about becoming a musician and to get a “real” job. Anika did this and studied social work for the next 5 years.

After her studies, she accepted a job at a preschool and soon when on to become the head of the preschool. 

Throughout this time Anika was still taking lessons and playing in bands. The passion was still there to become a musician. 

At this stage, she was in her mid-20s and started doing private drum tuition. Anika was lucky as she was one of the only private tutors in her area and soon took on enough students to go part-time with her preschool job. 

Further studies

Anika wanted to do further studies to help advance her playing. She auditioned for a place at a vocational music school. Underprepared for the audition Anika failed. 

Although this was a hit for her confidence, she started taking lessons from a nearby drummer, Claus Hessler. 

Claus greatly helped Anika improve her theory and skills as well as introduce her to a drumming program. 

This program was full of drum teachers and drummers and helped inspire her to continue her journey.

As well as private tuition, Anika managed to launch her workshops as well as starting to get some gigs. She was now a full-time drummer. 

This didn’t stop Anika from wanting to progress. Anika decided to apply for the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim to study popular music and music business. 

This time she was successful. 

This wasn’t an easy time for her as she was surrounded by incredible musicians that filled her with self-doubt. So much so, she also quit during the course but due to some encouragement from her parents.

Anika went onto complete the degree and proceed to do clinics.

When Anika started to perform clinics the self-doubt started to come back. Anika suffered badly from stagefright which would cause her to struggle to be present and fall back on what she practised. 

People still loved the performances but it left Anika feeling like she had just sucked and put on a poor performance. She was hard on herself.

To overcome the stagefright and doubt, Anika worked with Norbert Saemann from Meinl. Norbert would record the clinics, then after the performance with Anika, they would review the performances. 

Slowly but surely, the confidence came back.

This interesting technique is also used by other drummers. For example, the excellent Benny Greb.

Music releases

Anika Nilles is also a songwriter and has been releasing songs during her professional drumming career.

Anika first released the track “Wild Boy” in October 2013 on her YouTube channel. The follow-up song was “Alter Ego” released in February 2014.

The music videos for both of these tracks are of Anika playing the drums in the studio. Anika writes and produces the music with guest musicians playing the parts. 

These videos racked up millions of views and gained Anika recognition globally. This led to clinic performances across Europe, American and China in 2015.

Anika released her debut album “Pikalar” in 2017. The album consists of 10 instrumental tracks.

Have a look at this video of Pikalar performed with hand band Nevell. 

Most recently Anika released the album “For A Colorful Soul” in 2020. This album features her full time touring band Nevell. The group consists of Patrick Rugebregt on synth and key, Jonathan Ihlenfeld Cuñado on bass and Joachim Schneiss on guitar.

As well as performing her music they are also her full time touring band.

Anika Nilles educational releases

Anika Niles has released a few different products to help you improve your drumming or to learn her songs. 

Transcription Book

This book features several transcriptions of her solo releases. This includes Alter Ego, Wild Boy, Queenz and more. Anika’s songs are very complex so having a written transcription can certainly help make things easier.

View the book

Pad Book

This features several practice pad exercises for drummers who don’t have a huge amount of time to practice behind the kit and want to improve. Or for those drummers who want to dive deep into improving advanced hand technique. 

Anika Nilles setup

A few things make Anika Nilles drumset different to that of a standard kit.

anika nilles drum setup

Firstly you will notice that the cymbals lean away from the kit. Almost making them look like the stands are set up backwards. Because the cymbals are set up low this means that the cymbals are still getting hit correctly with the shoulder of the stick.

The second thing you will notice is the toms are reversed. So they go from low to high rather than high to low. Anika mostly plays the kit as a single tom setup but the extra high tom is there for more options. 

In some configurations of her setup, you will also notice that a second snare is used in place on the floor tom. This is tuned low and is being used as a snom drum. This gives you a floor toom or snare sound depending on if the wires are on.

Gear used:

Anika Nilles Signature products

As a very popular drummer, Anika has a few signature products worth checking out.

Promark Anika Niles Signature Drumsticks

Promark Anika Nilles signature drumsticks

These sticks are made from a lacquered hickory. They are based on a standard 7A but with a few tweaks.

  • Slight thicker diameter
  • Enhanced taper
  • Smaller tip

These tweaks help Anika sharpen up the sound she gets from the kit whilst allowing for control at higher tempos.

Meinl Split Tone Practice Pad

meinl split tone practice pad

Many drummers have signature practice pads but many just consist of a standard pad with custom graphics.

Not with this pad…

The Mein Split Tone Practice Pad from Anika Nilles features three different zones for different feels. 

This has been done so that you can hear what is happening between hands from the different tones. This is a great practice pad for drummers who tour a lot and don’t get as much time behind the kit as they would like.

Meinl Deep Hats

meinl deep hats

This is a unique sounding stack developed by Anika with Meinl Cymbals. It is 18″ and features two cymbals. A thin crash on the bottom and an 18″ trash crash on the top.

When closed tight it gives you a deep hi-hat sound to add contrast to your main hi-hat. When lose you get a deep trashy sound as you would expect from a large stack.

Find more of Anika

You can find Anika in several places on the internet! Check out the links below.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that Anika is an incredible player. I think her story is very inspiring. It shows you that passion and determination are incredibly important, but so is being able to see where you are weak and take the time to improve those aspects.

Anika has pushed through so many boundaries that would have stumped other drummers and it is great to see that she has succeeded. 

I can’t wait to see where Anika goes next on her drumming journey. 

Gabe Helguera | From YouTube covers to Drum Beats Online

Gabe Helguera drum beats online

Gabe Helguera has gone from creating a drumming fresh YouTube channel to launching the drum tuition website Drum Beats Online. This is no small feat.

Let’s find out more about Gabe Helguera and his drumming journey.

Who is Gabe Helguera?

Gabe Helguera is most well known for being the drummer for the band I Prevail and his website Drum Beats Online. 

But where did it all start?

Gabe first began drumming at the age of 12 when he got a drum kit for Christmas. This was a complete surprise but Gabe was stoked as you would expect. He started trying to figure things out by himself at first before starting lessons a few months later.

At the age of 13 things started to get more interesting for Gabe. This is when he started a band with his older brother called “Lookout Gabe”. The band got their name after Gabe managed to poke himself in the eye with a drumstick. Now that sounds painful!

Being in the band opened Gabe up to the world of playing with other musicians and performing on stage. This ignited his passion. 

Between the ages of 15 and 18, Gabe started performing with a variety of local bands of different genres.

Correcting early learning mistakes

Gabe fell into a trap that gets many drummers. 

At the start after a few lessons playing the drums came naturally with what seemed like little effort. This meant skipping many of the foundations drummers would learn such as rudiments and technique. 

At age 18 after being rejected for a church audition Gabe decided to go back and work on these foundations so he could progress his career. 

Been critical of yourself isn’t easy, but Gabe knew this is what he would have to do to have a career as a drummer. 

From the ages of 18-21, Gabe stepped up his practising dedicating as much time as he could to becoming a better drummer.

Gabe also didn’t go to college so he could work to fund his career path as a drummer.

These weren’t easy years though as manual labour jobs aren’t easy and most of his bands at the time broke up. Unfortunately, this happens as people go in different directions starting careers etc.

This made Gabe want to have something that was his to control.

Starting a YouTube channel

With bands coming and going starting a YouTube channel gave Gabe something, he could control. The channel was called Drum Beats Online and initially had a mix of covers and lessons for beginners. 

Although it was slow progress at the start, it was something that was his and continuously worked away on it. 

The YouTube channel later evolved to become more than just traditional drum lessons. The channel now covers a wide range of topics such as making progress in the music industry, a day in the life of a drummer and gear reviews.

In recent years the production value has increased drastically on his videos and they are some of the best on YouTube.

Take a look!

Performing in church

After originally being rejected for the church band at the age of 18, Gabe had now developed enough skills and got the gig. 

Like many drummers, Gabe Helguera got his break playing in a church band. Church bands have big production value and excellent musicians.

Gabe Helguera performing in church

This experience is invaluable for any drummer looking to become a professional. 

If you have experience in any big production on your CV, this is going to help you stand out when auditioning for gigs.

Gabe was also extremely smart and made the most out of the opportunity to network with other musicians. This is so valuable and important if you want to be considered for other gigs.

Becoming a full-time drummer

Gabe took a different approach to become a full-time professional drummer than a lot of people. Many drummers hope that one day an opportunity will come along and this will become their full-time gig. 

This isn’t what Gabe did…

Gabe worked out what he needs to cover his expenses and worked to cover all of that through drumming. Between church, YouTube, gigging with local bands and starting in-person lessons, Gabe achieved this.

It probably isn’t what most people would class as a professional drummer but he was making a living just from playing the drums. 

I think this is amazing and an incredible achievement. 

Joining I Prevail

For the next few years, this is how Gabe lived. Until he received a call to audition for I Prevail. The band had been recommended Gabe through the sound technician that worked at the church. 

Ah, the power of networking…

Gabe Helguera joins I Prevail

Since joining I Prevail Gabe has toured across the globe and recorded one album so far, “Trauma” that released in 2019. 

Currently, Gabe has two main focuses, I Prevail and Drum Beats Online. 

Drum Beats Online

Drum Beats Online began as Gabe Helguera’s YouTube channel but it quickly evolved into a full online instructional website for drummers.

DBO Academy focuses on 4 pillars of learning.

  • Courses – these are all the lessons from beginner through to advanced. Each course has a video and full notation. 
  • Progress tools – as you can view the courses you have completed and track your practice sessions.
  • Incredible community – get the support from other drummers going through the same journey as you.
  • Your drumming path – when you complete a course you are presented with the next course taking you on a logical path to improve your drumming. 

The main difference you get when you join the DBO Academy is that you are learning from Gabe’s methodology. 

DBO academy drum beats online

You are on a journey with Gabe to make you the best drummer you can be. 

When compared to sites at the other end of the spectrum, such as Drumeo where you are getting a series of masterclasses from different drummers, having one tutor can be extremely beneficial. 

This is especially important in the early days of your drumming. Learning from one tutor gives you the chance to build a solid foundation before looking into a wider spectrum of techniques and methodologies. 

The good news for you is that the DBO Academy has recently gone through a big refresh updating the website and its content.

There is currently a waiting list to join the site so make sure you go and sign up to the DBO Academy!

Gabe Helguera’s gear

As far as kit configuration Gabe can be seen often switching up his gear between I Prevail and Drum Beats Online.

Most of the kit formations do follow the setup of a modern rock kit. 1 tom, 1 floor and a selection of cymbals although he does sometimes use a larger kit as pictured below.

Gabe Helguera drum kit

Gear used: 

Signature products

Currently, Gabe has one signature product, his signature sticks. These sticks are a Vic Firth X55A stick with the I Prevail logo and Gabe’s signature.

DBO Apparel

Drum Beats Online does also offer a limited selection of apparel for drummers. 

The range currently includes a tank top, t-shirt, hoodie and cap. 

Although the selection is small currently, some of the designs are nice. I especially like the t-shirt!

Check out the Drum Beats Online store.

Find more of Gabe

Luckily for you, you can find Gabe all over the web! Check out his links below:

Final thoughts

I admire what Gabe Helguera has achieved so far in his drumming career.

He had a clear goal, practised hard and worked logically to achieve it. It is great to see a drummer be so honest with his journey and the steps it has taken to get to where it is.

There also has to be a special shoutout to the DBO Academy. Gabe has created a great service that drummers love. Not to mention the dedication and commitment Gabe put into this whilst touring with I Prevail is no small feature.

Gabe is a true hustler. 

I can’t wait to see what Gabe gets up to next in his drumming career.

Okay, I’m off to join the waiting list for the DBO Academy… 

George Kollias | Pushing the boundaries of death metal drumming

George Kollias

If you are into death metal you have likely heard of George Kollias. His drumming is pushing the boundaries of blast beats and double kick to new levels of speed. 

Let’s find out more about George Kollias and his drumming career. 

Who is George Kollias?

George Kollias is an extreme metal drummer born on the 30th of August 1977 in Korinthos, Greece.

Before George started the drums, he did play the guitar for two years. This is something that will help him later in his career.

At the age of 12, George got his first drum kit. In 1990, he began taking lessons with Vasilis Baxevanakis and then learning from the jazz drummer Yannis Stavropoulos in 1999. 

In the late 90’s George joined his first band Extremity Obsession. Like most musicians first bands, they played some local shows and recorded some demos but had no great success. 

Joining Nightfall

Nightfall allowed George to get some great experience under his belt. During his time in Nightfall, he recorded the albums “I Am Jesus” and “Lyssa – Rural Gods And Astonish Punishments”.

Nightfall also played a lot of shows around Europe including one of the worlds biggest metal festivals, Wacken Open Air. 

Forming Sickening Horror and session work

Sickening Horror was formed by George and was his first extreme metal band. The band recorded a promo CD in 2003 with the debut album “When Landscapes Bled Backward” coming out in 2007.

During this period Goerge also took on select session work from several projects across musical genres. George was selective during this period though, only taking on projects he had an interest in. 

Taking on a selection of projects during this period grew George’s reputation as a drummer. 

Joining Nile

In 2004, Nile found themselves without a drummer after Tony Laureano quit the band. To help find the new drummer they called on extreme metal drumming heavyweight Derek Roddy for some help.

Derek sent the band some videos of George Kollias and recommended they reach out to him. The band did and in August 2004, George Kollias joined Nile.

Nile promo

At the time Nile was a very well established band and had already released three albums and was keen to get working on the next one.

George flew out to America and worked with the band for two months writing Annihilation Of The Wicked before heading to the studio to record.

Straight after this, the band headed out on a world tour that covered many of the largest metal festivals. This included Wacken Open Air, Graspop Metal Meeting and Hellfest in Europe as well as Japan’s Loudpark and the legendary Ozzfest in the US.

George Kollias went on to record five more albums with the band so far including Ithyphallic (2007), Those Whom the Gods Detest (2009), At the Gate of Sethu (2012), What Should Not Be Unearthed (2015) and Vile Nilotic Rites (2019).

Being a part of Nile has increased the profile of George Kollias allowing him to do drum clinics and festivals around the world as well as successful instructional DVDs. 

George Kollias instructional DVDs

In 2008 George Kollias released his first instructional DVD, Intense Metal Drumming. As you can imagine from the name of the DVD and George’s playing, this shows you everything you need to become an extreme metal drummer.

The DVD was very successful and was quickly followed up by Intense Metal Drumming II in 2012 that featured even more in-depth advanced metal drumming. 

As well as being a great player, George is an excellent instructor making even the most complicated exercises easy to follow.

George also released his first book in 2014 called The Odyssey Of Double Bass Drumming. This is set to be a trilogy all focused on double bass drumming. Each book released will go into more complex details than the previous.

George also offers online lessons and private lessons via Skype. You can find all the information you need for these on his website.

Solo music

In 2015 George Kollias released a solo album “Invictus”. On this album, George recorded every instrument allowing him to showcase his talents on the guitar from his pre-drumming days. 

The album was received well among the metal community and Kollias has hinted on his Instagram that he is working on new music. 

What is unique about his playing?

If you have listened to George Kollias playing the first thing you will notice is the mind-blowing speed. His hands and feet are blisteringly fast and extremely precise. 

When you see George’s feet you will quickly notice that he is using the swivel technique and he is a master at it. The tip of his feet remains on the pedals with the speed coming from the left and right ankle motion over the pedal.

For those that are blast beat aficionados, you will see George always does a single foot blast. This is the preferred method of old school death metal drummer but is becoming less popular as younger drummers are emerging.

studio lessons

Using a single foot bast does give Kollias some room to be creative. Even whilst blasting at extreme tempos, the left foot is free to play unique patterns and ostinatos. 

This gives a lot of George’s parts a unique feel which can be difficult to come across in extreme metal.

George takes this a step further with his handwork. Whilst some parts need a straight-up blast beat, George creates various beats that sit over the main blast beat. 

An example of this is playing a blast beat on a secondary snare and using the main snare to hold a backbeat. 

George Kollias’s drum kit

George Kollias has a massive drum kit. It features multiples of everything you would expect on a drum kit. 

The size of the kit does serve a purpose allowing George to add as much flavour into his blast beats as he wants. 

George Kollias drum kit

Gear used:

George Kollias signature products

Due to his global popularity, George also has some signature products. 

Vic Firth Signature Series George Kollias drumsticks

These sticks sit in the spectrum between a 5A and a 5B. These sticks also feature a barrel tip for extra cymbals definition and drum tone. 

Axis George Kollias Signature Edition pedals

Axis pedals are known for their speed and are a perfect match for George’s playing style. 

George has created his beater with Axis and these are featured on this signature pedal. The pedal also comes equipped with all the premium upgrades offered by Axis. 

Keep up to date with Kollias

The are multiple places you can follow George online. Check out the links below:

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that George Kollias has had a great impact on what extreme metal drumming can be. The combination of speed and creativity has given Kollias a unique voice behind the kit.

George has taken extreme drumming from something metal fans are into, to the global drumming mainstream with his clinics and festival appearances.

So many of the younger metal drummers have been inspired by George Kollias and it is great to see extreme forms of playing becoming more common. 

I can’t wait to see what George Kollias gets up to next and how else he can push the boundaries of extreme metal drumming. 

Aquiles Priester | An icon of power metal drumming

Aquiles Priester drummer

If you are interested in metal drumming it is highly likely that at some point you will have come across Aquiles Priester. His playing is flawless and he makes it look easy. It is a sight to behold.

Let’s find out more about Aquiles Priester and his drumming career so far.

Who is Aquiles Priester?

Aquiles Priester is a Brazilian drummer born on the 25th of June 1971. Although Brazilian, Aquiles was born in Outjo, South West Africa (now Namibia) to Brazilian parents before moving to Brazil in 1977. 

Aquiles was originally introduced to music at the young age of four in the form of a jazz ensemble that performed on television. It wasn’t until 1985, where he attended Rock In Rio that he decided he wanted to become a drummer. 

In the early days, Aquiles didn’t have much to work with as he learned. He had a small kit that consisted of a snare, bass drum, hi-hat, cymbal mounted that he mounted from his roof and a tom that he borrowed from his school. If that doesn’t scream dedication and passion I don’t know what does!

The early days

Aquiles got his first break when he was discovered dubbing drums on a local TV broadcast. The group Tropical Band were impressed with his performance, even though it was mined, and offered him the chance to come and perform with them. Aquiles accepted the gig and was thrown in at the deep end having to play a show on his first time meeting the band.

This pattern formed the very early days of Aquiles drumming journey. Being discovered performing with one act and being asked to join another. Things weren’t easy for Aquiles though as it was hard to find a band committed enough or making any serious progress.

One thing was certain during this time though. That was his love for the band Iron Maiden and Nicko McBrian becoming his biggest influence.  

Taking drum lessons late

During this period whilst trying to make it as a musician Aquiles decided it was time to take some lessons seven years after starting to play the drums.  

This isn’t common as most musicians will start with lessons and then proceed to pursue drums as a profession. Professional drummers do take lessons though but this is more often in the form of a coach who helps you push your learning.

Aquiles Priester took lessons from Mimo Aires, Thabba and Kiko Freitas. As well as teaching him the technique behind the kit, they taught him what it was to be a professional musician. This is often overlooked when learning an instrument. 

Making music a hobby

At the age of 24, Aquiles faced something that most musicians face in their career. You know you have the passion and drive but you haven’t had your break yet. You can’t afford to keep up the lifestyle you are living so you have to make the tough decision to get a “reel” job. 

Aquiles made this choice and put drums on the back burner making it his hobby. This is what he did for a couple of years and was happy during this period, although something was missing from his life.

Forming Hangar

In 1997 Aquiles formed Hanger. Originally they were a metal cover band but proceed to write original songs. Something was different with this band though. Each member was dedicated and they had a vision of where they wanted to go. This could be a big opportunity.

Hangar proceeded to build up a good local following and had the opportunity to open up for Brazilian melodic metal band Angra. This was the bands biggest show to date. After this, they went on to record their debut album “Last Time” which was released in May 1999.

Aquiles Priester joins Angra

In late 2000, talks begin on the chance for Aquiles to audition for Angra. The band that inspired him and that he has previously supported with Hangar. 

After much back and forth and some tests to ensure he was a good fit, Aquiles was in.

Angra was the big break Aquiles Priester was looking for. Aquiles recorded 5 albums during his time in the band and toured the world. Aquiles was a member of Angra up until their hiatus in 2007.

Releasing instructional material 

In between touring with Angra Aquiles found the time to work on his drumming profile. He released his first drum DVD in 2004 entitled “Inside My Drums” and held over 100 workshops. 

When in a successful band, it can become common for drummers to forget to raise their profile. Performing workshops and creating a DVD was a very smart step for Aquiles. 

Aquiles Priester drumming dvd

Aquiles then went on to create his first book “Inside My Psychobook – 100 Double Bass Patterns” in 2007. This book focused on developing double bass. 

By raising his profile, Aquiles got the opportunity to perform at the Drummer Live Festival in London and host workshops across Europe and South America. 

Getting back on the road

After his time with Angra, Aquiles went back to work with Hangar as well as taking on many other musical projects. This includes:

  • Almah (2007)
  • Tony MacAlpine (2012–present)
  • Vinnie Moore (2013)
  • Primal Fear (2014–2015)
  • WASP (2017–present)
  • Edu Falaschi (2017–present)
  • DragonForce (2020)

Aquiles Priester was also invited to audition for Dream Theater upon the departure of Mike Portnoy. Unfortunately on this occasion, Aquiles wasn’t chosen and the band went with Mike Mangini.

What is unique about Aquiles Priester’s drumming?

Aquiles Priester has a few distinct characteristics in his drumming. 

The first thing you will notice is how relaxed he is looking. He never seems to be straining himself whilst playing and he will normally be chewing gum. He is comfortable and in the zone.

Secondly, you will notice how tight his playing is. He has extreme precision even when playing complex double bass patterns at high tempos. A lot of practice must go into everything he performs to be this precise and relaxed. 

Aquiles also fits a lot of open-handed patterns into his parts. Either this is between his two rides, various toms or effects cymbals. Sonically, this is what makes him stand out from other drummers.

Aquiles Priester’s drum kit

As soon as you see a picture of his kit, you instantly know it belongs to Aquiles Priester. 

Besides it being massive it has a few distinguishing features. 

The cymbals are almost symmetrical and are set up in layers. At the top, you have all the cymbals for the big hits. The chinas and crashes. You then have an effects layer full of splashes and mini chinas. And at the bottom, you have the “beat” layer which consists of a hi-hat and ride each side.

There is also some symmetry to the tom setup. There are floor toms and gong drums on each side of the kit. The toms aren’t symmetrical in sizes as they go smallest to largest left to right but there are fairly symmetrical in placement.

When I look at Aquiles Priester’s drum setup it makes me think of a modern version of Nicko McBrian’s setup from Iron Maiden. You can tell this is one of his inspirations.

The latest version of his kit also has some stunning colour combinations going on. Vibrant red cymbals and red drumheads against a silver sparkle finish kit. Beautiful. 

Aquiles Priester drum kit

Let’s look at the gear he uses:

  • Mapex 
  • Paiste
  • Roland
  • Gibraltar
  • Evan Drumheads
  • Promark Drumsticks
  • LP Percussion
  • DW Pedals

That is an impressive list. It is interesting to see that although he uses Mapex drums he doesn’t use the hardware, instead opting for Gibraltar and DW Pedals. I guess if you find something you like you stick with it. 

Aquiles Priester signature products

Like most successful drummers Aquiles has had the chance to work with manufacturers to create some signature products. Let’s have a look.

Paiste 18″ 2002 Giga Bell Ride

Aquiles is known for his open-handed ride patterns. If you want to get the same sound as him you are in luck. Aquiles worked with Paiste to create the 18″ 2002 Giga Bell Ride. Although smaller than the average ride these feature a large bell and have a great ping sound. It also has a unique black dipped finish.

Paiste 18" 2002 Giga Bell Ride

Follow Aquiles Priester

Aquiles can be found in several places across the web. More sure you check out the links below to find out more.

Final thoughts

Aquiles Priester has had an inspirational journey. Once full of highs and lows, passion and determination.

He has achieved what most professional drummers aim to achieve and more. He is known as one of the worlds best metal drummers as well as being an accomplished instructor. What else could a drummer ask for?

I am a big fan of his style of drumming. The combination of fast double bass, big tom fills and interesting grooves are always exciting to watch.

I can’t wait to see what Aquiles Priester gets up to next.

Chris Turner | The inhuman metal drumming machine

chris turner drummer

Chris Turner is a professional drummer known for his insane accuracy and power at the drum kit. Chris makes complex metal drumming parts seem simple with his flawless playing. 

Let’s find out more about the drummer, Chris Turner.

Who is Chris Turner?

Chris Turner is a drummer from Birmingham, United Kingdom born on the 26th September 1993. Chris first discovered the drums at the young age of 4 at the first concert he went to. The drummer that night was his dad. He instantly decided he wanted to become a drummer. 

As Chris’s dad played the drums he initially tutored him for the first few years. This worked fine at the early stages but when learning from a family member there is no structure to what you work on. To help improve his drumming he Chris took lesson for three years at the local drum centre in Birmingham before stopping at the age of ten. 

Chris’s dad wasn’t the only musical member of the family though. Almost all members of his family played some form of instrument and this allowed him to gain a strong understanding of music, not just the drums. Something that would benefit him in the long run.

One of the benefits of being from a musical family was the ability to jam with other musicians at such a young age. Something that many other musicians don’t experience until their teen years.

And with having a musical family, they were of course very supportive of Chris actively pursuing drumming. 

More than just a metal drummer

Growing up Chris mostly listened to groove focused music as that is what his dad played. Bands such as The Matthews Band, Sting and The Police.

It wasn’t until his later year Chris discovered heavier music with the stand out being Linkin Park. But this was just the start of the rabbit hole. 

Chris Turner later came across the band “Between The Buried And Me”. They play progressive metal music that is technical and full of drumming Chris has never heard before. Although not initially a fan of the vocals he pushed through to pursue the challenging drumming he hadn’t heard before. Blast beats, breakdown and double kick patterns. 

These became new parts he wanted to learn and master before discovering the next more challenging metal band.

Although that became an obsession Chris doesn’t consider himself just a metal drummer. He lists his top influences as drummers such as Chris Coleman and Jojo Mayer. When he’s at home he rarely listens to metal and mostly listens to jazz or chill out music.

Starting Oceans Ate Alaska 

Chris Turner is a founding member of the band Oceans Ate Alaska along with four other friends at Birmingham University. Although the band was formed in 2010 it has been around since approximately 2007 under a different name on the local scene with members coming and going before the decision to change the name and take the band seriously. 

Chris Turner performing with Oceans Ate Alaska

The band initially released two single “Taming Lions” and “Clocks” which gathered almost overnight traction receiving millions of plays and plenty of media attention. The band used this momentum to release EPs “Taming Lions” in 2011 and “Into The Deep” in 2012.

The success of these EPs gained them interest from Fearless Records, signing with them in 2014 and releasing the debut album “Lost Isles” on the 24th February 2015. 

From here the band went on to tour across the USA and Europe to support the album.

On the 28th of July 2017, the band released the sophomore album “Hikari”. This album was heavily inspired by Japanese culture and saw the band go in some unexpected music directions. This gave Chris the chance to use brushes and jazz drums on certain sections. Something was not often seen on metal albums.

One of the main things to note about Chris’s role in Oceans Ate Aleska is that is more than just the drummer in the band. He does all of the pre-production and engineering on the music they release. As the band is also very drum focused, Chris writes the majority of the rhythms on the songs. The writing process is still very collaborative but he likes to class himself as the primary composer. 

Chris Turner Drummer – solo music

As well as working on Oceans Ate Aleska Chris has taken on a brand new project. His solo album “Steezy”. This is described as a unique and daring album for heavy music lovers. 

Chris used the platform Indigogo to fund the project smashing his goals and successfully funding the project. Chris states that the album “Steezy” will first be released as an instrumental album with a version featuring vocals to follow in the future. So far Chris has released two tracks. “40 Roll” and “Triggered” featuring Thomas Lang

Check them out here

Chris Turner – 40 Roll

Chris Turner – Triggered featuring Thomas Lang

The reaction to these songs has been huge with them receiving hundreds of thousands of plays already. 

It has also been interesting to see the drumming community reacting to the videos. The tracks have become a must-have video on the “drummer reaction” style videos that are popular at the moment. These have without doubt helped spread the popularity of the tracks. 

Chris has also been smart with the release of the track Triggered. He gave pre-access to select YouTubers so they could drop their reaction videos at the same time as the main video. This helps spread the hype and interest in the new release with very little time and effort needed from Chris. This is a very smart move and I am intrigued to see if more people follow this trend going forward.

Other projects

Chris Turner has also performed on other tracks and albums, most notably for I Am Abomination. 

Chris also does engineering for other bands when he isn’t on the road.

What is unique about Chris Turner’s drumming?

When you first see Chris Turner play the drums you are going to notice that his style is unique. When you watch him play it is like watching a robot and he does look a little awkward. 

He has a pure concentration on what he is doing and has a death stare focused on what needs hitting next. He also looks a bit stiff and tilts his head to the side. You have to see it to appreciate it. 

When you get past how he looks at the kit you will start to appreciate the extreme accuracy of everything he is playing. The notes are almost perfectly placed, you would have to slow down his playing to notice any inaccuracy. It is impressive.

You will then notice how smooth and consistent his dynamics are. They are so consistent Chris seems to be constantly defending himself again the use of triggers and sampling his drums. Chris himself isn’t a fan of triggers and likes the natural sound of the drums. It is easy to see why drummers may think he is using something to enhance his sound as it is that good.

When you watch Chris play you can see the power he is hitting his kit with. Especially the bass drum. In the fast sections, you can see him pushing himself off his throne from the downwards force. 

To see how Chris Turner develops his bass drum speed and power watch this clip from his Instagram. 

When he practices on a pad he doesn’t use any pedals. He just uses his feet. This way he isn’t dependent on a pedal. All the power and accuracy is coming directly from him.

Chris Turner’s drum kit

Chris Turner has a fairly minimal drum set when it comes to the drums. One tom, one floor tom, one snare and one bass drum. The cymbal selection is more elaborate and does vary between projects.

When you see Chris’s setup you will notice that everything on the kit is very low and Chris sits very high. He likes to sit high to make playing the kick easier. When sitting high he can focus more on the downwards motion rather than having to raise his leg for each note.

Because he is sitting so high you will also notice that some of the cymbals are facing away from him. This is so that when he strikes he is still hitting the cymbals correctly. If the cymbals were flat he would be hitting them with the tip of the stick rather than the shoulder of the stick.

Chris Turner drum kit

Gear used:

Follow Chris Turner

You can find Chris in several places. Check out the link below:

Final thoughts

Chris Turner is an extremely impressive drummer. You know you are doing something pretty special when people can’t believe what you are doing is real. His power and accuracy is something every metal drummer wants.

I can’t wait for the release of “Steezy”. I’m looking forward to seeing what other drummers feature and how crazy the drumming gets. Hopefully, the release of this solo album will give Chris the chance to perform it and appear at more drum festivals and clinics. 

We can’t wait to see what comes next for Chris Turner.

Arin Ilejay | Filling some of the biggest shoes in metal drumming history

Arin Ilejay drummer

Arin Ilejay has been on a rollercoaster ride in his drumming career so far. From breakout scene band Confide to globe touring giants Avenged Sevenfold and everything between. 

Let’s find out more about Arin Ilejay has his drumming journey so far.

Who is Arin Ilejay?

Arin Ilejay (Richard Arin Ilejay) is a drummer born on the 17th February 1988 in Palmdale, California, USA. Arin is most recognised for his time in the band Avenged Sevenfold. 

At a young age, Arin was introduced to music by his father who was a session guitarist. At age 10 Arin began to learn the drums at his local church where he progressed to play worship services. This introduced him to playing with other musicians at a young age. 

In school, Ariv did join the jazz band and marching band. Although his real passion did lie behind the drum kit. Luckily his father did own a music store and was kind enough to create a small space for Arin to practice. This small space became the place where Arin would practice, develop as a drummer and play along to bands that inspired him. Arin learned “Unholy Confessions” by Avenged Sevenfold in this space unaware he would one day be playing with them. 

Professional drumming career

Arin Ilejay has had a varied career since his days of playing in his practice space. 

Joining Confide

At the age of 19, Arin joined the band Confide through mutual friends. Arin recorded drums on the debut album “Shout The Truth” that released in 2008. The remainder of 2008 was spent touring with Confide to promote the album.

In January 2009 the bands recorded label Science Records was eliminated by its parent company, Warner Bros. Records. This left the band without a label and an uncertain future.

Arin wanted to become a family man and an uncertain future with the band wouldn’t be able to support these aspirations. Arin decided to leave the Confide in 2009.

Changing career to TRX Cymbals

As an artist for TRX Cymbals during his time in Confide he had an in with them for a position. Arin became Artist Relations Manager in February 2009. 

Arin loved the products and knew a lot of artists through his time on the road. It was a perfect match and a great move for Arin and TRX. 

Arin seemed to be happy with this role until a bigger opportunity came knocking. 

Joining Avenged Sevenfold

In 2010, Arin was approached by Mike Fasano with an opportunity. Arin knew Mike through recording the Confide debut album. Mike was the drum tech for the album to help Arin get the best sounds possible. 

When Mike originally reached out, he explained to Arin he had a great opportunity for Arin to audition for a band. Arin was happy at TRX at the time so declined the audition. 

Things went quiet over the coming months until Mike got back in touch again to try and persuade Arin to audition again. This time around he mentioned the audition was to join Avenged Sevenfold. 

Arin decided that if he was going to give up his career at TRX for anything, Avenged Sevenfold was big enough. So Arin took the audition and got the job.

It was announced in January 2011 that Arin would be touring with the band from that point. In 2013 Arin was confirmed as a full-time member.  

Arin Ilejay playing drums for Avenged Sevenfold

Arin recorded drums for the album “Hail to the King” which was released on 27th August 2013. The album was the first to be released without any contribution from The Rev. The album went to number one in the USA, UK and many other countries. 

The band proceed to tour the world headlining festivals and arena headline shows. 

After this, the band planned to create another album but decided Arin would not be the drummer. Arin was fired by the band and this was announced in July 2015. Avenged Sevenfold cited the reason as creative differences. Brooks Wackerman was later announced as the new drummer and full-time member of Avenged Sevenfold. 

Life after Avenged Sevenfold

After Avenged Arin quickly joined the band, Islander. At the time Islander has gone through a major lineup change and upon seeing the news of Arin becoming available they knew they wanted him in the band.

Arin recorded one album with the band, “Power and Control” which released in 2016. Arin was only a member of Islander for a couple of years departing in 2017. 

Since Islander Arin has been very quiet on the band and drumming front. As Arin has already wanted to be a family man it seems he has stepped away from touring and is focusing on that. 

Looking at his Instagram he seems to have become an apprentice at Tuttle Handcrafted Guitars.

What gear does Arin Ilejay use?

As he toured with one of the biggest metal bands in the world he has a pretty good list of sponsors. Let’s have a look!

  • Zildjian Cymbals
  • DW Drums
  • Remo Heads
  • Promark Sticks

Arin has mentioned in interviews that he likes to have a symmetrical setup to allow him to perform cross-handed playing to enhance the live performance. This is visible in his cymbal set up on the kit.

Arin Ilejay drum kit

Find out more about Arin Ilejay

Arin is on most social platforms although he is very quiet and not posting often. To keep up to date with what he is up to check out the links below.

Final thoughts

Arin Ilejay is a great drummer who was faced with one of the biggest challenges in metal drumming. Filling the shoes of the much-beloved Rev. Almost an impossible task. 

I think his live performances were full of energy with extremely tight playing. I enjoyed his drumming on “Hail to the King” but it was a shame Arin didn’t get to put more of himself into that album. From the outside, it seemed more like he was a session drummer there with a job to deliver rather than having creative input. 

What do you think? Do you think Arin could have done anything differently? 

Whatever Arin does next we are excited to see. Hopefully, he will get behind the kit again but who knows. 

66Samus | Metal drumming entertainment at its best

66samus Samus Paulicelli drummer

If you are on YouTube and are a metal drummer you have likely come across Samus Paulicelli AKA 66Samus. He is known for his blast beats, sense of humour and his… catchphrases. 

66Samus is a great drummer and incredibly entertaining. Let’s find out more about his drumming career so far. 

Who is 66Samus?

66Samus (Samus Paulicelli) is a professional drummer born on 14th September 1987 in Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA. Samus began drumming at the age of 3 when his parents bought him a junior drum kit. After a few years of playing, he took up private lessons. 

At the age of 14, Samus gained an interest in metal music and double bass drumming. At that time he realised it was time to quit private tuition and progress his learning himself. Mike Portnoy’s Liquid Drum Theater VHS tape became his blueprint for improving his drumming.

Samus isn’t just a drummer. He has taught himself the guitar and bass by ear playing along to cover songs. 

66Samus on YouTube

66Samus has been a YouTube content creator for a long time as far as YouTube channels go. He began his channel back in 2006 although the first few years were a bit sporadic with what was getting released and when. It was in 2015 the content became consistent and the channel started to become what we know and love today.

What content does 66Samus create?

Samus covers a range of different content on his channel. These include:

  • Drum covers
  • Original songs
  • FAQs
  • Tutorial videos
  • Gear reviews
  • Reaction videos

Samus also makes videos that are a little bit harder to explain. I guess you would class them as a comedy/ viral videos. You have to see them to understand them.

For example, Blast beats but the snares are farts.

So stupid but yet so funny.

Becoming a full-time content creator

In 2020 Samus leapt taking his music career full time. This isn’t easy a choice to make, as well all know, life has responsibilities and bills etc. 

Samus did it as smart as possible by minimising the risk.

He established a large audience over several years whilst working full time. Although this isn’t easy, it has meant he has been stable financially whilst he grew on what he loves doing.

Samus has also been smart with monetising his audience. Building an audience is incredibly hard but sometimes turning that audience into money to live off can be harder.

Samus has been smart and done this in many different ways.

How Samus monetizes his audience

  • YouTube ads. By creating original songs as well as videos without licensed music allows him to keep the ad revenue made from those videos. If you have a massive YouTube channel with just drum covers, you aren’t going to make any ad revenue as that money goes straight into the pocket of the original artist.
  • Video sponsors. Most of his videos have an introduction at the start. This allows him a chance to feature a sponsor before the main video begins. This means that even videos with licensed music still make some money. Either by paying for the placement or by an affiliate link giving a share of purchases made to Samus. Special shout out to Raid: Shadow Legends…
  • Patreon. Having a Patreon is a great way of allowing your top fans to get more from you. By including some perks this has become a consistent stream of income. 
  • Amazon Affiliate. By becoming an Amazon Associate Samus earns revenue by promoting the gear he uses. When you click one of his gear links you will get redirected to Amazon. If you buy something, he gets a small percentage of the sale.
  • Merchandise. Samus also has a line of merch available. He works with a company called Teespring. They make it incredibly simple to create your merch line. You just need to create the designs and choose the items you want to print them on. Teespring then handles the printing, shipping and customer service. You keep your share of the sale.
  • Hire Samus to drum on your music. You can hire 66Samus to perform drum tracks for your band. He has his basement home studio and his rates can be found on his website.

66Samus is a prime example of how to use your audience to take your passion full time. If you are looking for someone to follow in the footsteps of, look no further. 

Who has Samus performed with?

Samus has toured and recorded for many well-known metal musicians including Decrepit Birth, Devin Townsend, Goatwhore, and Abigail Williams.

Samus also releases his music under the 66Samus name.

Music releases

66Samus has multiple music releases. These are mostly singles and they are released infrequently. You can find these tracks on all good streaming platforms.

If you are looking for a standout track we highly recommend “Fart Metal“.

What gear does 66Samus use?

66Samus has a monster drum kit! Four toms up top, two rides and a lot of other gear! For a full gear list, you can check out his website.

Here is a list of the different companies used:

Another thing that gives 66Samus his unique sound is that his full kit is triggered. He is very open about this and uses Toontrack to do his drum replacement. Triggering the drums can be a touchy subject with some drummers but Samus is honest and transparent with what he does. 

Find more of 66Samus

You can find 66Samus all over the web! Check out the links below:

Final thoughts

66Samus is a hell of a drummer and is a breath of fresh air in the YouTube content creator scene. He is genuinely entertaining and I can’t wait to see what crazy ideas he comes up with next! 

If you are looking for another great YouTube drummer to keep you entertained, check out rDavidr.

Thomas Lang | Superhuman drumming

Thomas Lang drummer

If you have been a drummer for a couple of years you have likely come across the name Thomas Lang. He is a household name in the drumming community. That is for good reason. 

Thomas Lang is a prime example of how dedication and hard work can lead to you becoming a master of your craft.

Let’s find out more about Thomas Lang and what makes him such a great player.

Who is Thomas Lang?

Thomas Lang is a professional drummer from Vienna, Austria born on 5th August 1967. Thomas started playing the drums at the age of five he took a combination of lessons at his school and private tuition. Thomas later went on to study at the Vienna Conservatory of Music. 

From then it was time to go from studying to creating a career. Thomas began working with various artists in Europe in the 1980s recording and touring. He later moved his base of operations to London, UK as his career grew and became global.  

Thomas is still touring and recording with musicians internationally as is currently based in California, USA. 

Artists Thomas Lang has played for

Thomas Lang has worked with an astonishing amount of artists over his career. Here is a list of people he has worked with. 

  • Paul Gilbert (Racer X/Mr. Big)
  • John Wetton (Asia/King Crimson)
  • Robert Fripp
  • Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)
  • UK
  • Eddie Jobson
  • Robbie Williams
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Sugababes
  • Geri Halliwell
  • Emma Burton (“Baby Spice”)
  • Victoria Beckham (“Posh Spice”)
  • Ronan Keating
  • Steve Hackett (Genesis)
  • Boyzone
  • 911
  • Falco
  • Nina Hagen
  • Steve Jones
  • Mick Jones (The Clash)
  • The Commodores
  • George Michael
  • Doogie White (Rainbow)
  • Bill Liesegang
  • The Blockheads
  • Gianna Nannini
  • Sertab Erener
  • Jens Lindemann
  • Vienna Art Orchestra
  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Save The Robots
  • StOrk
  • Terabite
  • Schwarzenator
  • Vinnie Valentino
  • Gregg Howe
  • Page Hamilton (Helmet)
  • Mark Bonilla (Montrose)
  • Many many more

Music releases

As well as working with an impressive amount of artists, Thomas Lang has also released several solo albums and collaborations. 

Solo releases:

  • Mediator (1995)
  • Something Along The Lines (2002)
  • Progpop (2019)

Collaborations:

  • Thomas Lang & Conrad Schenk – Yumaflex (2008)
  • StOrk – Self Titled (2009)
  • StOrk – Broken Pieces (2013)
  • Terabite (2010)
  • Robo Sapiens (2018)

Thomas Langs latest solo release, Progpop, shows some of some his incredibly creative playing. The album combines intricate drum patterns combined with many different genres covering and not limited to pop, rock, prog and fusion.

As well as listening to this album I also suggest watching some of Thomas’s playthrough videos. You don’t quite realize the complexity of the parts until you see them.

Here is the playthrough of Time from Progpop.

Awards 

Thomas Lang has been winning drum awards since the 1990s. He has won them from the largest global drum magazines including Drum Magazine, Rhythm magazine, Modern Drummer Magazine and many many more. 

Here are some of the awards he has won. 

  • 1999, 2001: Best Studio Drummer (Rhythm magazine)
  • 2002: Best Pop Drummer, Best All-Around Drummer (Rhythm Magazine) 
  • 2002: Best Drummer (Drums And Percussion Magazine)
  • 2003: Best Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine)
  • 2004: best DVD, Best Clinician runner Up, best Drummer runner up (Modern Drummer Magazine)
  • 2004: Best DVD, Best signature product, Best Drummer (Drummer Magazine) Best Studio Drummer (Rhythm Magazine), Best Recorded Drum Performance (Sticks Magazine),
  • 2005: Best Pop Drummer, Best Clinician, Best Solo SDrum performance (Rhythm magician), Best DVD, best All-Around Drummer, Best Drum Event (Drummer magazine), Best Drum Clinician (DRUM Magazine), Best Drumming Video/DVD (DRUM Magazine)
  • 2006: Best DVD, Best Drummer (Rhythm Magazine)
  • 2007: best DVD, Best Drummer (Rhythm Magazine, Modern Drummer Magazine) Aurora Gold Award
  • 2007 (Best Video Production), Best Clinician 2007 (Modern Drummer Magazine).
  • 2008: Best Educator/Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine), Best Clinician (DRUM Magazine)
  • 2015: Best Educator/Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine)
  • 2016: Best Educator/Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine)
  • 2017: Best Educator/Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine, Rhythm magazine)
  • 2018: Best Educator/Clinician (Modern Drummer Magazine)

What is unique about Thomas Langs playing?

I remember the first time I saw Thomas Lang perform a clinic back in the early 2000s. I was blown away by his playing. Immense power, speed, dynamics and limb independence. It is hard to take it all in and without seeing it you would struggle to believe it is one person behind the kit.

Thomas Lang is an advocate for being able to play everything he can with his hands with his feet. This is no easy job and has taken many hours, day and years to get to his level. This does put Thomas in a league of his own when it comes to the variety of things he can do behind the kit. He has more limbs and sound choices than most professional drummers.

Thomas Lang bass drum pedal setup

From this image here you can see there are a lot of pedals compared to the average drum kit. On the left side he will typically have a snare sound, a crasher sound, hi hat and bass drum.

Having all the chops doesn’t mean Thomas doesn’t have the groove. Like all pro drummers, Thomas knows the groove pays the bills. That is a drummer’s key job and he certainly delivers. 

Learn how to play the drums like Thomas Lang

Thomas Lang has a collection of learning resources that are worth looking into. As Thomas is a very advanced player, his DVDs are pretty intimidating at first. The DVDs are broken up nicely to not overwhelm you though. They are broken up into music performances, drum solos and interviews. It is unlikely you will learn everything on these resources but there are some great nuggets to take away.

They helped me immensely in my earlier days of double bass playing and they are very inspiring to see where you can get if you put in the hard work.

Thomas Lang DVDs

  • Ultimatives Schlagzeug Part I and II (1995)
  • Creative Control (2003) See on Amazon
  • Creative Coordination And Advanced Foot Techniques (2006) See on Amazon

Thomas also has a dedicated online school at www.thomaslangsdrumuniverse.com and often appears on other online drum tuition websites. Check out this lesson he did for Drumeo. In this 1 hour lesson, you will pick up days of things to work on to improve your drumming.

Drumming Bootcamps & The Big Drum Bonanza

In 2007 Thomas introduced the “Drumming Bootcamps” which were the first of his kind. At these events, you attend a camp hosted by Thomas were you would learn from him and guest drummers. Over 120 of these in 35 different countries were hosted.

In 2011, Thomas launched The Big Drum Bonanza. This event happens once a year in Los Angeles and each year some of the worlds best drummers appear alongside Thomas to teach you. 

Thomas Langs drumkit

If you have watched any of Thomas’s DVDs you will know that he has some monstrous drum kits. Although he doesn’t always play a kit this size, his endorsed brands are consistent. 

Thomas Lang drum kit

Endorsements

Wow. What a list!

Thomas Lang signature products

Thomas Lang has a range of signature products including sticks and a selection of Meinl cymbals. I don’t know any drummers that have released as many signature cymbals as Thomas. It is a real testament to his innovation with the instrument and drive to find his unique sound.

Meinl Filter Chinas

These are very fast chinas made out of a custom alloy. They are perfect for accents in fast fills and grooves.

Available in 8″, 10″, 12″, 14″, 16″ or as 10″, 12″, 14″ with jingles.

Meinl 18″ Super Stack

This is a fast cutting stack made with two B10 Classic Custom cymbals. It is made up of a china and a crash both with holes cut into the cymbals. It has a deeper sound as far as stacks go.

Meinl Byzance Brilliant Fast Hi-Hats

These are a great sounding pair of hi-hats. As mentioned in the title and like most of the Thomas Lang signature cymbals, these have a fast sound. They also have a nice clear stick definition. The hats are made of two different finish cymbals. A brilliant on the top and a dark finish on the bottom. Both the top and bottom cymbals also feature eight small holes around the edge of the cymbals. These are available as either 13″ or 14″.

Vic Firth Thomas Lang Signature Sticks

If you are looking for a fat and heavy stick, look no further. These signature sticks are fatter and heavier than the average stick. Almost a 2B on steroids. They also feature an overside tear drop tip for extra stick definition. The white finish also gives these sticks a great aesthetic. These sticks aren’t for the faint-hearted.

Meinl Thomas Lang Practice Pad

This is a great pad for on the road or for at home. It is the same as other practice pads offered by Meinl but it comes with the Thomas Lang graphics. The pad has a rubber bottom to stop it from moving on a flat surface or it can be mounted to any standard size cymbal stand. 

If you like this pad but are looking for an option with different graphics, we recommend checking out the Benny Greb practice pad from Meinl.

Where can I find more

Thomas is available all over the web! Make sure you check out more from him on the links below.

Final thoughts

Thomas Lang is a superhuman drummer. He seems to have it all and it is a sight to behold when you see him perform. The scary thing is that he still seems to be getting better. Can he not give us a chance to catch up? 😛

He has been a huge inspiration to me and thousands of drummers around the globe. A true ambassador for drumming and drummers. 

Luke Holland | From YouTube drummer to a world-touring pro

Luke Holland drummer

Luke Holland is arguably one of the biggest success stories of a drummer uploading videos to YouTube to becoming a full time professional. His journey has inspired countless others to follow his journey and attempt to replicate his success. 

Let’s find out more about Luke Holland and his journey to becoming a professional drummer.

Who is Luke Holland?

Luke Holland is a drummer from Peoria, Arizona, the USA born June 14, 1993. He has been playing since the age of 10 after been inspired by his neighbours playing. Luke is a self-taught drummer and played snare in his high school marching band.

At the age of 15, Luke played with a local band Oceans Will Part. Luke did one recording with the band called Obsidian Resolve, a self-release from 2010. 

The following year from joining Oceans Will Part, Luke decided to take to YouTube to promote his drumming. He started his channel in 2009 and called it LukeHollandDrumsAt this time YouTube was very popular among drummers but no one had leapt from a YouTube drummer to a full time professional. Luke would become one of the first to buck this trend.

Luke Holland on YouTube

The early days

In the early days, Luke Hollands YouTube channel consisted of drum covers and remix. A drum cover is a version that is as close as possible to the original where a remix is a version that elaborates from the original. A typical example of a remix is taking a pop song, adding more complex grooves and a lot of fills. Think, chops… chops everywhere. 

Apart from the tight playing, Luke had an extra element to get peoples attention. Stick tricks. And a lot of them. Stick tricks can be divisive among drummers but they helped Luke stand out from the crowd. And let’s be honest, fitting that many stick tricks into some of those metalcore songs aren’t easy. 

The first big break

In 2010, Luke Holland filled in on drums for the band Texas In July. A year after starting his YouTube channel, this must-have given Luke the drive to continue down this path. It was also around this time Lukes YouTube channel also gained traction going from 1,000 subscribers to a rate of growth in the 1000’s per month. 

Today the channel LukeHollanddrums has over 650K subscriber and over 104 million views!

Full-time gig with The Word Alive

After a few years of grinding Luke Holland landed his first full-time gig with the band The Word Alive. He joined the band in early 2012 as their full-time drummer. 

Luke Holland with The Word Alive

With The Word Alive, Luke did a lot of touring around the world and recorded two albums with the band. “Real” in 2014 and “Dark Matter” in 2016. 

This is an incredible experience for a drummer who had primarily focused on YouTube to that point. In late 2016, Luke decided it was time to leave the band to focus on session work (recording and live) as well his YouTube channel and teaching.

Becoming a session drummer

Since leaving The World Alive Luke has had a successful transition into a session player. Most notably, he has recorded for I See Stars on the album “Treehouse” and Jason Richardson on “I”. 

The Jason Richardson recording was especially influential on Luke going from a professional drummer to a standout. The album “I” is a technical metal masterpiece and is packed with intricate and complex drumming. Luke also toured with Jason around the globe and as well as performing on notable drum platforms such as “The Drum Channel”. 

The music recorded with Jason now forms part of Luke’s drum clinic performances. 

What is he up to today

Luke still uploads content to his YouTube channel and has become what I would class as a drum ambassador. His is a known name amongst almost all drummers, appears at drum clinics around the world and has his signature product lines. 

Luke has appeared on all the major drum tuition websites including The Drum Channel, Drumeo and 180 Drums. 

He is known as a drummer and isn’t just seen as a member of a band (not that there is anything wrong with this). This is something that isn’t easy to achieve and Luke Holland has achieved this in record time. 

Luke Holland music releases

Luke Holland has started releasing his own music in 2020. Currently he has two singles out “Katana” and “Who Can I Trust”. These songs are not what you might expect from him. The songs are hip hop and don’t focus on the drums as you might expect.

The songs are catchy and are worth checking out. It will be interesting to see where Luke takes this going forward.

What gear does Luke Holland use?

Luke has numerous endorsements from the top drum companies.

Here is a picture of a typical live setup.

Luke Holland drum kit

Brands used:

Luke Holland signature products

As a popular drummer, Luke has some signature products. Let’s take a look at what is currently available.

Meinl Bullet Stack

This stack is Lukes signature cymbal with Meinl. It is a combination of a 12″ Classics Custom B10 cymbal and a 16″ Byzance B20 cymbal both of which are vented. The stack has a very fast attack whilst still being musical. It is perfect for sharp accents in grooves or quick fills. 

Luke Holland Signature Drum Sticks

Luke’s signature sticks from Meinl Stick and Brush sit between a 5A and a 5B. We have a full article looking at these in-depth that you can check out here.

Luke Holland Merch

Luke also has a range of merch. This includes hoodies, shorts, sweatbands and more. To check these out you can visit his MerchNow site.

Find more of Luke Holland

Luckily you can find Luke all over the internet! Check out more of him on the links below.

Final thoughts

Luke is a prime example of how dedication and hard work can make you turn the drums from a passion to a full-time career. The best thing about it is that you put in the effort, this is something that anyone can achieve. Luke has created the template, you just need to follow it.

There is no doubt about it, Luke is a great player and has become a household name in the drumming community. We can’t wait to see his drumming improve even more and where his journey takes him next. 

Siros Vaziri | Drummer | Passion and tasty playing

Siros Vaziri drummer

Siros Vaziri is a drummer who has gained a strong online following. Once you see one of his videos you will understand why.

He is a great player who is always striving to be the best he can be and his passion is immense. You can feel it flowing through the web into you.

Let’s find out more about Siros Vaziri. 

Who is Siros Vaziri?

Siros Vaziri is an independent drummer from Mariestad, Sweden born in 1995. If you do recognise him, it will likely be from his Instagram or Facebook content creation. On these pages, Siros focuses on short and informative lessons. These are great and give you a little challenge every day to work on.

Siros has successfully used his social channels to launch his drumming career. Since launching his channels he has become endorsed by a range of top drum companies and has gone on to do session work, clinics and drum festival appearances. 

Siros also offers online drum lessons and offers his own “Daily Drum Bites” subscription service. With this, you get access to a short drum lesson every day or all of his content with the premium version. If you are looking for some daily inspiration to push your drumming this is a great resource. 

Siros Vaziri on YouTube

If you are looking for some in-depth content from Siros his YouTube channel is the place to look. Although his YouTube following isn’t as strong as his other channels it is worth checking out. His past videos are primarily compilations of his Instagram content, some gear features and vlogs. 

His new content is what I am enjoying the most though. Drummer reaction videos are growing in popularity but Siros has taken a different approach. Most of these type of videos are just drummers being stunned by other drummers playing. That is great and very entertaining but Siros doesn’t just react, he breaks down what the drummers are doing and helps you understand what they are doing. It is great to see the passion and enjoyment Siros get from drummers. It is infectious, entertaining and informative. 

Here is a great example of his reaction series.

And one of his drum compilations.

Siros is such a tasteful player and a pleasure to watch. 

What gear does Siros Vaziri use?

Siros if often changing his setup to keep his playing fresh. That being said, he has a strong selection of companies he endorses. 

Here is a pic of one of the setups Siros has used over the years.

Siros Vaziri drum kit

Gear used:

  • Meinl Cymbals
  • Tama Drums
  • Evans Drumheads
  • Promark Drumsticks
  • ACD Unlimited Pedals
  • sE Electronics Microphones
  • Porter & Davies Thrones
  • Low Boy Custom Beaters
  • Drumtacs Dampeners
  • Sound & Communication In-Ears
  • Big Fat Snare Drum

Wow. What a list! For an in-depth look at the gear he uses, check out the gear list on his website.

Where can I find more?

As a primarily online-based player, you can find Siros in a range of places.

Make sure you check him at the places below:

Final thoughts

Siros is a very tasty player who oozes passion for the drums. I remember first coming across his content in 2017. It is amazing to see how far he has come since then. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next in his drumming journey.