Me, Music & I – Part 2 “If you can say it, you can play it”

Posted on October 2, 2013


It was a small room, not much bigger than a bathroom.  It housed a Remo modular practice pad kit and a pair of Vic Firth Metal drum sticks that had splits in the belly of sticks from constant rim shots.  The book, “The Ultimate Realistic Rock Drumming Method” by Carmine Appice.  Full of basic rock rhythms, poly rhythms, linear rudiments, shuffle rhythms and double bass exercises amongst basic fill patterns.  Probably the best put together book for rock drumming Id ever used up to that point.  Before private lessons and playing in school I was mostly self taught.  Playing along to songs from my walkman and mimicking drummers I saw on MTV.  (Back when MTV actually played music videos of course.)  But learning to read from all kinds of different books and exercises was definitely a new learning curve.  It taught you not only to read music, but to adapt to certain styles and create more complex grooves from very basic grooves.  Some of the grooves were quite hard to play for my skill level at the time.  But there was one rule Luca taught me that still stick with me to this day.  “If you can say it, you can play it.”  Meaning that if you can count out and play the groove using your voice than the rhythm is yours to own and you can transfer it to your hands.  Its still the best piece of advice on playing I ever received.  Another great thing about Luca’s teaching style was that he would push me to improvise on the fly.  To always be thinking one measure ahead.  He’d tell me to play a groove and then at a random moment say, “1, 2, ready, FILL!”  He never had a preference on what type of fill.  Fills are part of a drummer’s personality.  They are unique to every player.  I think every drummer should have their own personality that reflects in their playing.  Its what you could define as style. photo 3 (1)

 I got my first real drumkit in 2001.  A 5-Piece Tama Starclassic in silver laquor.  Before that I had been through two other kits but were used.  This one was brand spanken new.  It was cherry.   I now had a mini studio in my basement and I proposed to Luca the idea of him coming to my house once a week for lessons instead of going through Music & Arts.  So thats what we did. photo 2 (1)  From then on, every week Id be receiving private lessons from Luca, and every day Id be practicing on my own.  Sometimes 8 hours a day.  Id play in school, Id stay after school and play in our band room and immediately got home and played at home.  I was obsessed as I have said before.

photo 4For those of you who know the band THRILL, these were the early days.  It was 2001 and this was when the scene was still highly active.  Up to this point I had not seen Luca play outside of our lessons.  That is until I was on vacation in Ocean City and learned that THRILL was playing at “The Hurricane” which just so happened to be one of the biggest clubs in OC at the time. (Before Seacrets was a thing)  Now I was only 15 years old so I was way underage and it was a 21+ club.  But luckily with the help of my parents and the club owners, I was allowed in to see him play.  They were covering the song “Kryptonite” from 3 Doors Down as I walked into the club.  Luca was rocking tight leather pants and a cropped black t-shirt along side his bandmates who were wearing leather pants and silk button downs.  I would later become good friends with all of these guys.  Seeing Luca play out in his element was utterly amazing.  He had a unique style that was a cross between the hard hitting grooves of Matt Sorum and the style and antics of Tommy Lee.  He had a fluidity to his playing.  I had been to many shows up to this point, from the HFSestival to smaller shows at the Recher Theater but this was different.  There was something about it that truly caught my full attention.  At the end of their set, Luca of course pulled me on stage to glance at his kit.  A 5-Piece DW Collector’s Series in black laquor with a full line of Zildjian Cymbals.  (The one he still uses to this day)  That marked the first time I had sat behind a professional kit on a stage.  I was hooked. photo 5

After that I didnt even care that I was in Ocean City.  I wanted to get home and play.  I had seen a world that had me hook, line and sinker.  I was gonna be apart of that come hell or high water!

To be continued…

Posted in: Music, My Life