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. 

Raja Meissner | Breaking boundaries with kick-ass metal drumming

Raja Meissner drummer

Raja Meissner has exploded on social media over the past year or so. Originally discovered from her Slipknot drum covers Raja has shown she is a future force of metal drumming.

Let’s find out more about Raja.

Who is Raja Meissner?

Raja Meissner is a metal drummer from Frankfurt, Germany born on 6th March 2000. At the age of 13, Raja took up the drums teaching her self how to play. Like most drummers, Raja joined a school band playing cover songs but quickly progress and played shows across Germany at the age of 17 with the band Psychovillage. 

In 2019 Raja took the move to start uploading her cover performances online. Instagram is her main channel but many of her videos can also be found on YouTube.

If you are a fan of metal music you will know the vast majority of metal drummers are males. It is no small feat to break the boundaries and grow as fast as Raja has. This is a true testament to her playing and passion.

Raja Meissner on Instagram

Raja has a massive following on Instagram sitting at 415,000 followers at the time of writing. And this is for good reason. She plays the drums with conviction, energy and passion. It is clear to see the Raja loves playing the drums. 

Most of her videos are drum covers of bands such as Slipknot, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold and various other metal band but you will come across lifestyle content as well. This allows Raja to break the boundaries and make a personal connection with her fans. Something that is often lacking from online drummer personalities. 

If you are looking for longer versions of Raja’s covers, check out her YouTube channel. Even though it isn’t her main focus she still has a staggering 172,000 subscriber and over 8.5 million views. 

Going professional

Now Raja has a large following she has taken to decision to go professional making drumming her full-time career. This is a big move and she is still very early into her journey. 

If you want to support Raja through the early days of her career check out her Patreon page. You can gain access to exclusive content and merch as well as get lessons from the songs she covers.

Currently, even though Raja has a large audience she is yet to leverage it in such a way that other drummers have like 66Samus for example. 

Bands played in

Raja Meissner is currently a member of the band Risen from Shadows. They are a metalcore band from Germany who is currently working on a cover album. As they would describe “the darkest covers of the sweetest songs.”

Check out “Sugar” from the upcoming album.

Raja has also been teasing another band for a long time but nothing seems to have been released yet. Keep an eye out for “Royce Millenium” on Instagram.


Raja is lucky enough to already be endorsed by an incredible lineup of companies.

Raja Meissner drum kit

Check them out:

  • Meinl Cymbals
  • Yamaha Drums
  • Promark Drumsticks
  • Evans Heads
  • sE Electronics

Find more from Raja Meissner

Raja is available on most of the social channels. Make sure you go and follow her on the links below:

Our thoughts

Raja Meissner has grown at such an incredible pace in such a short period. At the age of 21 at the time of writing, she still has her whole career ahead of her. 

It is going to be interesting how Raja users her large audience to grow her career. Will she become a long time band member, a session player, a tutor or a clinician? 

Who knows! It is going to be interesting to see how her career developers in the coming years and we can’t wait to follow her journey! 

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.

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. 

El Estepario Siberiano | The fastest-growing drum influencer?

El Estepario Siberiano drummer

El Estepario Siberiano is blowing up online. It is easy to see why with his incredible drumming and charisma. Let’s find out more about this incredible drummer.

Who is El Estepario Siberiano? 

Jorge Garrido “El Estepario Siberiano” is a 24-year-old drummer from Valencia, Spain. He creates incredible drum content across YouTube, Twitch and Instagram and his following is growing exponentially. Currently, he is one of the most popular Spanish drummers online.

He seems to have an endless supply of chops allowing him to create mind-blowing fills and beats. He also often uses a very minimalise kit but you struggle to notice, his dynamic range brings out the best of every single piece he uses. 

El Estepario Siberiano joined Saratoga as a full-time member of the band in late 2020. 

El Estepario Siberiano on YouTube

If you are looking for an entertaining drumming YouTube channel, El Estepario Siberiano’s channel is worth your time. Racking up over 230K subscribers and 22 million views you can see a lot of people also think so.

His videos mostly consist of covers injected with his unique style of playing, as well as some lessons and blog style videos. 

His recording setup is minimalist but the results are astounding. He only uses a Yamaha EAD10 to record the audio and a GoPro 7 for the video. This is a great example of how good the Yamaha EAD10 is.

There are so many incredible videos to see but here are some of our favourites.

Look at this incredible single pedal action. Many drummers can’t play this with a double pedal never mind going between a single pedal and a floor tom…

This cover shows his incredible playing style with a good look at his humour

Hopefully, this gives you a little taste of his content. Make sure you go and visit his channel for more.

What gear does El Estepario Siberiano use?

He uses a great selection of brands and is lucky enough to already have some of his own signature gear. His setup is changing constantly but this should give you a taste of his setup.

El Estepario Siberiano Drum Kit

Gear used:

Where can I find more?

Luckily you can find him all over the web. We recommend checking out his Instagram and YouTube most. You won’t regret it.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt about it, El Estepario Siberiano is a powerhouse of a drummer. The chops and feel are a standout in his playing. He is a joy to watch. 

We can’t wait to see what he gets up to going forward. Hopefully, he is going to transition from just online to do live shows and clinics when the world returns to some normality. We know he is certainly a drummer we would like to see live.

Alex Rüdinger | Metal drumming legend in the making?

Alex Rudinger drummer

Alex Rüdinger is a powerhouse in metal drumming. You rarely come across drummers with such power, accuracy and technical ability but Alex Rüdinger has it by the bucketload. 

Between his touring, studio work and YouTube channel, Alex is a very busy drummer than you need to know about. 

Who is Alex Rüdinger?

Born 18th November 1991 in Frederick, Maryland, Alex has been playing the drums since age 12. After playing on the local scene in his teen years he knew that he wanted to go professional.

The thing that separated Alex from many other drummers was his dedication and use of technology to make it happen. Starting his YouTube channel in 2006, this became his way to audition and be seen by bands potentially looking for a new drummer. This approach led to Alex achieving his first break filling in for Threat Signal when he was 18. He toured with them for a year and recorded their self-titled album before departing. Since then Alex has gone on to perform and record with a staggering amount of performers.

One of the most notable things about Alex Rüdinger’s playing is his open-handed style. This allows for some great beats across the kit as well as visually impressive fills that sweep from the rack toms, then between floor toms on either side.

Alex Rüdinger on YouTube

As mentioned previously, Alex Rüdinger has successfully used his YouTube channel to launch his professional drumming career. With his content creation, you will see it is primarily incredible drum covers. 

Alex shows off his incredible precision and chops throughout the videos which cover everything from death metal to extremely complex technical arrangements. 

Even though Alex is a mind-blowing drummer, he still seems to be getting with each video he is releasing. 

Who has Alex Rüdinger played the drums for?

Alex has played with a staggering amount of performers over his career since his first break in 2010 with Threat Signal. Since then he has recorded and performed with several different bands including:

  • Good Tiger
  • Whitechapel
  • The Faceless
  • The HAARP Machine
  • Conquering Dystopia (featuring Jeff Loomis, Alex Webster, & Keith Merrow),
  • Whitechapel
  • Intronaut
  • Revocation
  • Monuments
  • Evan Brewer
  • Ordinance
  • War Of Ages
  • Cognizance

What gear does Alex Rüdinger use?

Alex Rüdinger has an incredible selection of kits so it is hard to narrow this down to just one… but in general, here is the setup:

  • Tama Drums
  • 2Box DrumIt Three Sound Module w/ full 2Box Kit 
  • Tama hardware
  • Trick Bigfoot Pro-1V Pedals
  • Meinl Cymbals
  • Evans Heads
  • Alex Rudinger Tama Signature Sticks
  • In ears: 64 Ears – V6 (Main), V3 (Back-Up)
  • Gator Cases
  • Reflexx Practice Pads
  • Tunerfish Luglocks 

Where can I find more?

Luckily for you, Alex Rüdinger can be found at multiple places across the internet. Check him out on the links below:

Final thoughts

Alex Rüdinger is a beast of a drummer. He seems to be able to do it all and make it seem effortless. Even if you aren’t a fan of metal drumming we highly recommend taking some time to look through some of his performances. They are incredible but beware… they will either motivate you to want to get better or to just give up because you’ll never be this good. Jokes aside, make sure you check him out.