ToofTaff Romanian Drummers:
Can you tell us a little about your history, how did you start playing drums?
I first saw Ringo Starr on television when I was about 2 years old. My mother would tell me this story all the time. I would run to the TV screen pointing at him and bouncing up and down… going a bit wild. My dad bought me a little red plastic marching drum for around my neck along with a mini 45 of „the little drummer boy”… history in the making I guess.
I went to a music and arts high school in NYC, then went on to Manhattan School of Music and then Berklee Collge of Music for my later studies.
After college I moved to San Francisco where I began my actual professional career (I would be in as many as 7 bands at one time in those earlier days). I did do quite a bit of playing and recording during my time in NYC and Miami, Florida (1976 to 1980), but I consider the San Francisco days the true beginning.
My first recording in San Francisco was with Bill Summers (of Herbie Hancok’s Head Hunters fame). After that I went on to record many albums begining about 1984, a lot of the well known ones were for Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records (Cacophony, Jason Becker, Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Tony MacAlpine, etc…)… but there were many other lables as well.
TRD: At what age did you get your first kit?
I begged my parents for a drum set at about age 10,
I got a set from a local shop known as Woolworth’s back in those days. It was a paper drum kit… but I did not realize that it was not a real set at the time. About a week later I did come to understand what I was banging away on… So I went back to asking for almost a year more. I finally did get my first 3 piece Stewart kit… Kick, Snare, Rack Tom. It also had 1 cymbal… I was very excited!
TRD: Have you had any hard times with working with people, or situations that made drumming difficult?
Working with people is the same in every profession, compassion, understanding and patience are always needed in order to come together for the greatest good in any situation.
Making music is a creative endeavour, so one’s openness and willingness to give one’s self over to the music in the moment, will determine the final out come. Playing an instrument is difficult if one is not prepared. Having knowledge of the role that your instrument plays in various musical styles, while having the personal chops on one’s instrument, is of ultimate importance.
TRD: What is your favourite groove or rudiment?
Well, I guess I can say that the Paradiddle is the
most important and all round drum rudiment for me, I’m not sure that I have a favourite one though. The Paradiddle incorporates some of the most widely used hand motions for a drummer, and gives rise to many grooves and fills. It is quite a complex set of motions really, and can be used in just about every possible style to create time feels and interesting poly-rhythmic ideas.
An example would be to take the basic paraddile sticking RLRR LRLL (which is inherently a siteenth noe or an eighth note sticking) and play that pattern as triplets, quintuplets, sexteuplets and the like. Tap your foot marking the down beat of the subdivision you are playing, while playing the paraddidle pattern with your hands… just one simple idea amongst many.
TRD: Tell us about what is your favourite song you play on drums, band you enjoy listening and drummer you like?
That could be a very long answer. I began playing along with record albums on the early 70’s (this was in fact my first teacher). I would play with The Beatles, Deep Purple, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gong and so many more. This continued till about 1989 (but I added actual teachers to my learning experience).
I’m not sure about a favourite, or at least I can’t remember. But those days playing along were great and very important to my development as a musician. Nowadays I do play along with things that I have to learn, but now it is to learn parts for gigs or recordings. I also play along with things that I have recorded in the past… sort of a refresher as to what I may have been thinking at some point in time.
I like listening to any great musician and take inspiration from many people, not only drummers. I get inspired by guitarists, violinists and sax players… a lot!
My favourite drummers would be Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Terry Bozzio, Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Bruford… and quite a few more. Let’s say people with very strong grooves, great chops and lots of personal style.
TRD: What is your biggest dream ?
Atma Anur, Peter Marrino, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman
In terms of music my dreams have always been the same, and I have been realising these dreams for almost 30 years now. They are to be constantly involved in the process of creativity and making music. To be related to as many other musicians from every style and age group as is possible. And to be who God made me to be with all my focus and energy. Being a musician, this is an on going way of life.
TDR: Tell us more about your gear. Do you have a particular part fo your kit that you like the most? Due to a particular sound or feel?
I have just very recently become a Pearl Drums endorser. I was with Pearl back in 1986 when I was in the rock band Journey. I then went with DW in 1991 and stayed with with them till 2012.
I was with Axis Pedals also from about 1989 to 2002 or so… then I rediscovered the DW 5002 pedal (later I moved on to the 9000 pedal). I think pedals and snare drums are my favourite parts of a drum kit (although I love drums in general). Right now I am having a great time with the new Pearl Demon Drive pedal… wow, what an incredible piece of technology!
I would say that this pedal incorporates the best of the DW 9000 and the Axis Long Board pedals.
My current set up is the Pearl Refference Series kit with 2 22×18 kick drums, 6 toms (4 racks and 2 floors) one of the rack toms is on the left side, just next to my snare drum. I play 13” snares. I have a beautiful 13×5 ½ TamoMaple (exotic wood) snare from the Pearl Masterworks Series, and 13×3 Brass piccolo snare mounted abouve the left side floor tom. There is a 20” Gong Bass Drum mounted over the right side floor toms as well.
I am currently with Sabian (have been for over 20 years now) and use a great many cymbals.
TRD: Have you had any funny or scary moments on stage?
Not that I can think of. The scariest thing might be being unprepared… but then that’s where faith and the true love of making music comes the most into play. If you are there for the sake of the music… all is well, just let it flow.
TRD: What message would you like to send to our Tooftaff drummers?
I guess I can say that I have found music to be the
most rewarding part of my life. I have seen how God’s hand has moved to guide me into many seemingly unusual situations through music and the talents he has blessed me with. I can say that trusting God and what one has been given, in general, is the way to live a full life… mostly free from fear and uncertainty.
As a drummer I feel that an open mind, the ability to focus and a respect for tradition will take you far. Confidence is also one of your greatest strengths… and that comes from the knowledge that God gave you whatever you may have and has placed you exactly where you are for a good purpose.
The dreams that one has are also for a reason and need to be respected… this will for sure take sacrifice… but well worth it all.
I will add that I am also offering on line drum lessons via Skype at my web site www.atmaanur.com
There is also much more information about me and my musical history there… including many videos and songs from over the 30 plus years I have been a professional musician.