Machine Head and Revoker drummers talk gear and technique

26th Sep 2011 | 14:40

Jack Pritchard quizzes Dave McClain on the secrets of metal playing

Machine Head's Dave McClain.

Having spent fifteen years behind the kit for Californian metal icons Machine Head, there are few better people out there to quiz on the ins-and-outs of metal drumming than Dave McClain.

Evidently, it's not just us who thinks so. Our good friends at Roadrunner Records recently set up a rendezvous between McClain and Jack Pritchard, drummer with fast-rising Welsh rockers Revoker - who released their debut album on Roadrunner earlier this year.

Jack took the opportunity to pick-up some drumming tips from a veteran metal sticksman, and you can read the whole conversation below.

In related news, both bands have upcoming UK tours - check out a full list of dates after the interview. Also, our friends at Metal Hammer have just released an exclusive special-edition fanpack version of Machine Head's brand new album Unto The Locust. Check out full details and order the fanpack here.

Revoker's Jack Pritchard meets Machine Head's Dave McCain:

Jack: What drum equipment are you currently using?

Dave: Yamaha Oak Custom drums and Yamaha hardware and pedals. 2-22 kicks 14x7 snare 8x6 tom 10x6 tom 12x7 tom 16x16 floor 18x16 floor. All cymbals Zildjian. 2 sets 14-inch new beat hihats. 2-19" Z3 crashes. 1-18" Z3 crash. 6"&10" splash. 21"Mega Bell Ride. 2-19" Z3 chinas.

Jack: How do you prepare before a show?

Dave: Not a whole lot. I have an electronic kit backstage, but it's more of just something to have fun with, like playing along to my iPod. But I really don't have a warm up regiment that I do.

Jack: Do you use different stick techniques when playing? If so, which?

Dave: Just matched grip.

Jack: Do you play double kick with your heel down or up off the floor? Do you have a technique?

Dave: I play heel up. I always have as far as I can remember.

Jack: As you didn't play to a 'click' on the album; what are your tips for keeping good time and not getting carried away with the adrenaline rush when playing?

Dave: We don't use a click on recordings or live, but I think it's really important for drummers, or any musician, to be able to play along with a metronome. It's a good way to see when you're speeding up or slowing down on parts.

Also, just listening to live recordings of your band helps. It's hard to tell when you're doing a show and the adrenaline kicks in and you start speeding things up. So, listening back will show you the parts that you need to concentrate a little more on your tempos.

Jack: How hard is the drumming on the new album?

Dave: There is some stuff that was pretty challenging to do. I feel like, in the last 8 years or so, I've really come into my own as far as drumming. I feel like I finally 'get it' after playing for 35 years. So, pushing myself has been challenging and really fun.

Jack: When you're not on the road, how often do you practice?

Dave: I usually go play about 4 times a week. I'd say 1-3 hours when I go.

Jack: Who are your drumming idols?

Dave: Neil Peart, Tommy Aldridge, Peter Criss

Jack: Which recent metal bands have impressed you? (You don't have to say Revoker!)

Dave: Haha! I'm loving the Times of Grace album. Trivium - In Waves is in heavy rotation. And Ghost. Love this band!

Jack: Achieving all you have with Machine Head, what are your remaining ambitions?

Dave: My dream is to play music my whole life. It's always been and always will. There are so many more things for MH to achieve. I know this after touring with Metallica for a year!

Revoker and Machine Head's upcoming UK tour dates:

Machine Head tour dates:

03 December - Wembley Arena, London
04 December - NIA, Birmingham
05 December - SECC, Glasgow
06 December - Central, Manchester

Revoker tour dates:

28 October - Battersea Power Station, London
31 October - Rock City, Nottingham
01 November - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
02 November - Roadhouse, Manchester
03 November - Cathouse, Glasgow
04 November - O2 Academy 2, Birmingham
05 November - Underworld, London

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