BORN TO SLAM is the brainchild of ex-Great White drummer GARY HOLLAND. Each month Gary will bring us a “conversation” with various working drummers to see what makes them tick. In addition, he and his guests will cover ALL topics of concern to drummers everywhere. And while their jargon may get a bit technical for us non-drummers, the conversations are sure to keep your interest.
GH: Today, I am with Jimmy D’Anda, original drummer of BulletBoys and current drummer for Lynch Mob. I haven’t seen you since your show with Lynch Mob at the San Diego House of Blues in September.
JD: Which was a lot of fun.
GH: That was fun for me too. Packed house and you guys rocked!
JD: That was the last show of a really difficult run that we had done and it wasn’t as simple or easy because one of things that I forgot is that on the road, they supply us [drum] techs. So I had to get a tech, which I didn’t do until the second show of the four show run. And so I was burned out. By that show, finally, it was time to get calm, my tech was taking care of everything, and it was a much better show for me than Pasadena. The Pasadena show, my lord, that was not a good show for me. We’d flown in from Las Vegas, landed, hauled ass home, threw all my drums into the van, got back in traffic on the 405 [Freeway] home, which is all traffic. Then breakdown drums, load up drums, get back in traffic to Pasadena, which is all traffic at 4:00 in the afternoon, and it was a really difficult show. I did not have a good time. So by San Diego was like [big sigh of relief] I can finally relax. So I’m really glad you got to see that show, and not the Pasadena show.
GH: I originally wanted to go to the [Agoura] Canyon Club show to see you guys. But I had to play that night up in Fresno.
JD: Oh, that’s right. Oni had told me that.
GH: So I didn’t get a chance to see that one and I heard that that one was like the “show of all shows.”
JD: [Laughter] Well, I don’t know about that. But I will say this. Again, I finally got a groove, for me personally. You know, drummers are very physical, at the minimum. But if we’re not prepared mentally as well as physically, we start to feel like, at least I do, like I’m just counting bars and beats, as opposed to just playing drums like we did when we were kids. Once you learn the part, now it’s just “have fun time”.When these 2 things are connected, my physicality, I’m eating right, sleeping right, and then I know my parts… If one of those is askew, then I don’t have as good a show as I would like to have. That show [in San Diego] finally everything… I slept well, ate well, a lot of high protein and then got to the show, and it was good.
GH: When you’re not in sync mentally and physically, and you’re having a bad night, do you sometimes feel like you’re playing outside of your body and you’re watching you self-destruct?
JD: Yeah! You know. It’s really really bad because now you’re fully aware of the mistakes, you’re aware that the groove isn’t there. At that point, all you do is throw in a bad monitor mix, and then you’re just thinking, “I can’t wait for this night to be over”, right? You’re just literally looking at the clock, like in school, [laughter] “How much longer have I gotta be here??” That’s how I get every now and again. but thank God, the older I get, the more I’ve come to learn some tricks here and there to help myself get back into the groove. It just takes some time to learn these lessons of life. Sometimes I get frustrated on stage and you get angry, and then people see that on stage. People forget. Musicians forget that fans work all year round. Then that day, you’re gig comes to town. They spend their hard earned money to come see you and have a good time, and you’re up there frowning, not having a good time. It’s really important for me to remember these things. I did that a couple years back. This is their night out. This is how they chose to spend their hard earned money, to come see me play. So I had to learn how to let it go, shake it off, take some deep breaths. Sometimes, even after a song, you might’ve seen it. I’ll walk off the drum riser, walk away from the drums for a second and just, kinda, get my groove, think about it, have a little talk with the man upstairs. Y’know, just to get my head straight and go, “Okay you are truly blessed to do this for a living. There are guys breaking bricks and tarring roofs for their living. You’re a rock and roll drummer, so get happy again.”
GH: Speaking from my own personal experience, I have no patience for whiny rock stars.
JD: Oh, it makes me crazy.
GH: And, of course, we know our share. Somebody will come up to me and start complaining. And I’m thinking of a couple of people right now who shall remain nameless. People who will say, “I’m so tired, and I just got in from New York last night. I have to go to Japan tomorrow, blah blah blah…”. My response to them is: “Quit. If you don’t dig the gig, get out. Go do something else. There’s plenty of cubicle jobs out there. There’s a lot of warehouse jobs out there waiting. There’s no need to be a martyr.”
JD: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. There are musicians out there that I’ve played with that, during soundcheck, will start having a meltdown. At soundcheck! That’s why we check the sound, my friend. That’s what this is about, so any problems we incur, we can fix them here and now. There’s no need to stress out right now. Let’s just figure out the problem and we’ll work on it. But yeah. You’re right anytime I hear a guy complaining about something, especially when I know guys that are playing, weekend warriors, playing for fifty bucks for the weekend, and they’re having the greatest time because they still gotta go to work at 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. They’ve got a great attitude. I learned a lot from those guys, yeah. When I see those guys do that stuff and they’re having a great time.
GH: The worst gig is better than the best day job.
JD: Like I said, I drive down the street, we see guys tarring roofs during summer out in the [San Fernando] Valley! That is no bueno, dude. We’re talking about 120 degrees, with tar under their feet and the hot sun above them. I mean, there are guys just working their buns off. So yeah, I now make a nice living doing this. I definitely get really excited about getting back out there and trying to improve my playing, and connecting with more people. That’s an important factor.
GH: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you play before the San Diego House of Blues. How would you say that your approach to live playing has evolved over the years?
JD: I don’t realize the evolutionary process until I look back at some of the video footage from back in the BulletBoys days. It’s a lot like what life is when you’re younger. Like, “let’s just go and rip the world in half. Let’s go out and just be a complete maniac about everything you do.” At least that’s what I was. I see the footage and I am just balls out the whole time. I’m just crazy, crazy. What I like in my evolution is being able to break things down, to get quiet, tighten up the high hats, get a little funkier. Because I grew up loving funk, in my family, growing up, playing a lot of funk music. Sly and the Family Stone…
GH: Oh, I love Sly and the Family Stone!
JD: Ohio Players…
GH: Oh, them too!
JD: I mean the list goes on and on. James Brown… But nowadays, when I’m able to break something down, I’m able to really enjoy that moment. Learning this from Ted Templeman, he had said one time after we played a song that was just all volume. It was to eleven! Then he made the analogy that you never know how fast you’re going in a vehicle until you slow down. The same is true with the groove. You never know the intensity of the groove until you bring it back down and tighten everything up. Then you can feel the energy shifting from gear to gear. So to be able to do that now, I can bring it down really low, and then have this build up process that really helps to make the song do what it’s suppose to do. And knowing how to expend energy was important because we know now, the older we get, it becomes more difficult to lift the baseball bats that we once used. When you’re a kid, in your twenties, you’re all, “I want the biggest stick they have!” Give me, what is it, eighteen inches? But it’s basically a marching stick.
GH: It’s lumber.
JD: Yeah, it’s lumber. It’s a baseball bat. And then nowadays, you get a little smarter and realize, well, I don’t need to, I’m not trying to impress anybody. I want to have a solid stick. So I came down on sizes in sticks. And then I learned that not every song has to be all elbows and cymbal crashes. You can tighten up and save your energy for the songs you’re gonna need it on.
GH: I’m still using baseball bats. With Dokken and Great White, I was using Pro-Mark DC-10s. Then with Blue Cheer, I moved to the Vic Firth American Classic Rock to the Pro-Mark 2S, then to the Vic Firth Thomas Lang signature stick. Now I use the Vater V-20s. That just covered about 36 years of drumming.
JD: The Vater Nightstick is actually what I practice with. But the V-10 model is actually what I perform with. They’re thinner than this, a little shorter than this (Nightstick), and like I said, not as heavy because 10 songs in, 12 songs in, you’re really starting to feel it. Yeah, I was with Vic Firth for a lotta lotta years and just unfortunately had a falling out with the A&R [Artist Relations] guy, and it was a bummer. I never got any calls back. I never got any love anymore, it felt like. And I’d signed with Vic Firth by Kelly Firth back in 1988. I was with them longer than any other company I’d ever endorsed. I just switched over to Vater in the last 6 months. And I’m liking it.
GH: I like Vater, too! I’m using ’em. Hey, speaking of Ted Templeman, was that the first big time producer or first producer that you’d ever worked with?
JD: It was the first producer and the first big producer, of course, that I’d ever worked with.
GH: That must’ve been nerve wracking.
JD: NO, no, no. It was mind boggling! Because I stared at the back of these records my whole life… Ted Templeman and Don Landee. Those were the names on all my favorite records, that were producing them. Dude, the story of BulletBoys getting signed was a really gnarly story, because we’d only been a band for about six months. There was such a buzz about the band. The manager, Dave Kaplan, who was.. is still one of the biggest managers in the world, had arranged in seven days, seven major labels, and Warner Bros was on the third or fourth day. It was Roberta Peterson who signed Jane’s Addiction, and signed tons of great artists. She came and saw us and said, “My brother needs to see you guys. I think I’m gonna bring my brother in.” I thought, “Your brother?” I wasn’t sure who her brother is. I thought maybe her brother was just a fan of rock or something. The next week, a white Rolls Royce pulls up to our rehearsal room, which was aptly named “The Piss Room” because it was right next to a train track where homeless people lived, and they would just pee on the walls. So walked into our rehearsal room, you literally got a whiff of… y’know…[laughter]
GH: Oh God! [laughter]
JD: It was the Piss Room! And Ted Templeman pulled up in a white Rolls Royce to the Piss Room, and walked in. And we were like, [whispering] “Holy shit…”. And we played. He said, ‘When I’ve heard enough of a song, I’m going to hold my hand up, and go to the next song.’ So we did a song. We got to the second verse, he held his hand up and just like [everyone nervously stops playing abruptly]… okay… uh…next… And we went to the next song, and after like seven songs, he stopped us, which was really a good thing because we had no more songs. We only had one more song. He said, “I want you guys to come down off the drum riser, ’cause we always had a drum riser at rehearsal. We all did back then.
JD: We sat down on the floor and he said the oddest thing. He said, “Here’s why you should sign with Warner Bros. Records…”. And we’re like, [in shock] “Wha… are you kidding me? Let’s do it! Let’s do it right now!” So, he signed us right there on the spot. It was a done deal and it was a monster deal. So [fast forward] we’re rehearsing, we’re prepping for it, writing songs. In the studio one day, there was an incident that happened. As drummers, we know, back in the 80s, drummers were being replaced on records by much more proficient, tech-savvy, metronome style drummers. The Alex Van Halens, the Bun E. Carloses, the Joey Kramers, those were set. Those were the guys. But, for the most part, bands were having hired guys come in to play the drum parts or guitar parts or something like that. So, we’re going over a song, and Ted hits the talkback button, which, of course, silences everything you’re hearing to just hear his voice, and he pressed “stop” [on the tape machine]. “Hold on, you guys. Stop. Hold on.” We’d fall apart. Then he goes, “Okay, let’s go again, from the top.” So, I count it off, we start playing the song. He hits the talkback again. He says, “Hold on a second.” And we can see him, ’cause you know, in the studio, they’re in this “fortress of solitude” where they can talk amongst themselves and all you see is [silent] mouths moving.
GH: Oh, I hate that!
JD: Y’ know?? [Laughter] And so, I’m behind the kit, (Oddly enough [pointing behind me], that’s the kit I did the first BulletBoys album with.) I’m looking inside [the control room] and he’s pointing at me! And the engineer, Jeff Hendrickson, who’s a really good friend of mine still, they’re pointing at me, and I’m like, “Holy shit. Oh my god, oh my god, they’re gonna replace me.” I’m just freaking out!
GH: Sweatin’ bullets…
JD: Oh, you have no idea. So then [Ted] hits the talkback and he says, “Hey everybody, why don’t you take 10, take 20. I’m just going to sit and talk to Jimmy for a minute.”
GH: Oh God!
JD: I’m literally feeling like I can throw up. That’s how bad I’m freaking out. So, he comes out of the control room, turns a piano chair around and sits next to me and says, “So, how are you doing?” I said, “I’m good. Is everything okay? Is there a problem?” He says, “No. There’s no problem. I just wanted to come out and talk to you for a second.” Then he says, “So, uh, did you have a lot of coffee today?” Uh, probably…like…two or three cups maybe, I don’t know. He goes, “Okay. Cool. So, where are you from?” And he just starts talking to me…”Where you from originally?” So, I start telling him, “Well, I’m born and raised in East Los Angeles, in Boyle Heights, and I’m very excited to be playing with you, Ted.” And we’re just rapping and a guy comes out with a 6-pack of Heineken. Ted pops one, hands it to me. I’m 19-20 years old. And Ted opens one, and we have a few beers. So, are you ready for this? There was a method to all of the madness. I found out after the fact that what happened was, my tempo was so above the beat, and he knew. He’d seen me play already so he knew what I could do. But he knew that I was nervous. So, he came out and leveled the playing field by becoming friends with me. He just talked to me like a normal person. I saw him as a normal person, not this thing above the sky that worked for Van Halen and Aerosmith and Doobie Brothers so on and so on. You hear a Ted Templeman song about every ten minutes on the radio today. Everyday, you hear a song from him, from Van Halen, Doobie Brothers, Nicolette Larson, down the line. It’s crazy. So, he calmed me down. The beer helped me to settle down a little bit, and by talking to me, he kind of took away this mystique. We got back in there, the guys came in, I count it off, I nailed the track in one take. And that basically was how the process was for that record then. The literally did the entire process of recording the record in two months. Mixing, mastering, everything, was done in two months.
GH: For a lot of us, BulletBoys seemed to go from 0-1000 in about ten seconds. Because you guys came of of nowhere…
GH: I don’t recall BulletBoys banging the [Sunset] Strip for five years before they got signed. There was this new band. Of course, the players, themselves, we knew everybody in the band already. But, wow, how did this all come together so fast? Like a bullet!
JD: [Laughter] It was a really odd experience because, as you said, Marq [Torien] had been playing around in a lot of different bands. Lonnie [Vincent] was in a lot of local bands. Then he had joined King Kobra. Then they got Marq in King Kobra. And then Mick [Sweda], the guitar player, was already in King Kobra. So, when Carmine [Appice] went back to play with Vanilla Fudge or do something, and the guys were waiting around for basically nothing. So they decided to put a band together. I always felt very blessed because initially, I didn’t want to join the band. I had my own band that was kind of Rage Against The Machine meets Van Halen… way before Rage Against The Machine.
Literally in ’86, ’87, I want to do this thing where it was heavy, rockish, Sabbath, Van Halen, but with a guy that raps. That’s what I wanted to do. But I had the hardest time finding a singer that could do that. But the guitar player I had was phenomenal! The bass player was great, too. When the guys [in BulletBoys] came to me, I was apprehensive. It wasn’t until Dave Kaplan, the manager, came and said, “Jimmy, what will it take to get you to join BulletBoys?” And I said, “I don’t know, Dave.” And he said, “How would you like free drums and free cymbals?” And I said, “I’m in.” I was a 19 year old kid. I knew what it cost to buy a crash cymbal. You have to cut yards of grass and do all kinds of stuff, and borrow money from girls…
GH: Speaking of crash cymbals, crash cymbals are expensive…
JD: Yeah! [Laughter]
GH: And drummers try to find ways to avoid breaking them.
JD: Uh huh.
GH: I myself, have developed a technique where I can use cymbals for ten years and not break ’em.
JD: You’ll have to show me them.
GH: I was going to ask you if you’ve developed any techniques to avoid cymbal breakage. Because if you’ve got an endorsement deal, it’s still a bummer to call up your rep and say, “I’ve got some broken cymbals and I need replacements.
JD: Look, unless you’re Frank Beard or Alex Van Halen or Bun E. Carlos or somebody, you’re not getting free free stuff. For the most part, you’re getting [an arrangement] where you can send them back and get some new ones that’ll last a couple or five years, and then…yeah., I gotta get some new stuff, and actually pay some money for it. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I get a cymbal from Paiste that’s very expensive for almost nothing. But I have come up with this thing where I hit flat on the cymbal. Guys like you and Tommy Lee when I was younger, that I saw, that did that. I remember seeing all you guys, and fuck, all you guys had gigantic 20” crash cymbals!
JD: When you’re a kid and you see a drummer who’s got a 20” or 22” crash, it doesn’t even look real! I looks like a prop or something. I remember seeing all you guys and I’m like, God, I gotta get a fuckin’ cymbal like that! But like you said, I couldn’t afford anything like that. So I could only afford 16″ and 17” crashes until I got endorsed. Then I got what you guys all had. But what I did is I figured a way to lower the cymbal and hit against the length of the cymbal, so the flat part of my stick hits the flat part of the cymbal.
GH: One trick I’ve used is to, first of all, have a lot of cymbals. Because when you hit a cymbal, I needs time to readjust. It’s going to go down, then it’s going to come back up, and if you need to go back to that particular crash cymbal before it’s had time to re-position itself, that’s the greatest opportunity to crack it. So, I know which one I just hit. If I need another accent before it repositions, I have another go-to cymbal, and I’m able to give that one time to settle. That’s trick #1.
JD: That’s very smart. I like that.
GH: I just use this glancing blow. It’s just a flick of the wrist. I can do it in either direction.
JD: You know that’s the proper way to hit cymbals though. I learned that from an old jazz cat years ago. But I didn’t like… I saw what he achieved by doing that. I’m like, hey that’s great. But like I said, seeing all you cats when I was growing up, you guys weren’t doing that shit. [Laughter] You guys were just…[laughter].
GH: Yeah yeah, I know.. These are the things we’ve learned over the course of time, after you break a thousand cymbals [Laughter] before you learn how to do it right!
GH: I don’t know if you realize how envious I am that you’re playing “Mr. Scary” with George Lynch, and I’m not.
JD: Hey, I’ll get up and let you sit down for that.
GH: That’s on my bucket list.
JD: Dude, we’ll make that happen.
GH: Oh man, would I love to play that with him.
JD: I gotta tell ya, that is one of those tracks that I had to sit down for a minute…because I had played along to it when I was a kid. But learning the parts proper, as you know… A lot of guys tend to think that they learn the basic of it, and then they play it and you go, wait a minute, you’re not playing that right. I’m not? No, there’s a whole thing you’re not doing. So, I really had to sit down with that. Mick Brown came up with a great drum line for that. There’s a lot of really interesting unique parts on there. There’s an overdub on there. Other than that, everything else is just Mick playing those parts, and there’s some really good drum fills. Playing with George, in general, is… Well, think about it. George is only 2nd to the Eddie Van Halens and Randy Rhoadses of the world. He’s in that upper echelon of phenomenal guitar players. Being able to play with him on a regular basis is a very cool thing. But, yeah, I’ll get you up. I’ll talk to him at soundcheck and say,”I’m going to surprise you tonight with ‘Mr. Scary‘.”
GH: Yeah, yeah. That’d be great! Now have you ever walked into a club and seen a BulletBoys tribute band playing…
JD: Yes. Yes.
GH: …and the drummer was just butchering the drum parts?
JD: Yes! Yes, yes, and yes.
JD: Well, thank God that they’re out there doing it, y’know? I mean, that’s nice! I wish they would take a little more time to figure the parts out. But I’m sure I’ve done that with cover songs [laughter]! I was in a cover band for a lot of years and if the guy from Green Day had come in and seen me, he probably would’ve said, “Dude, what’re you doing to my song??” It’s nice anytime I hear these cats doing that stuff, it’s a cool thing. My buddies will send me video links on YouTube of guys doing backyard parties, whenever they’re doing, like “Smooth Up”, that’s nice. I like that.
GH: Were you tempted to wait until the end of the night and pull the drummer aside and say, “Let me just help you tighten this up a little bit.”?
JD: On those, I think what ends up happening is they get really nervous and they really don’t want to “hang out”, per se. [Afterwards] I’ll go back and say, “Hey guys, what’s up?” And they’ll be like, “Hey dude, what’s up? It’s just “Hi” and “Okay, guys” and that’s it.
GH: Before we get off the topic of BulletBoys, I don’t know if you know this but, I actually played with Marq Turien back in, I want to say, ’79 or ’80.
JD: I think he told me that.
GH: What a monstrous singer.
GH: Probably one of the greatest voices in rock I’ve ever heard. This guy had a range that wouldn’t quit.
GH: He had that round sound to his voice… It was just… Guys like that don’t come around… Guys like Marq, guys like Jack Russell, guys like Don Dokken, actually, back in the day.
JD: Oh yeah. Amazing singer.
GH: I wish the people who are criticizing him now could’ve heard him back in the early days. Nobody could touch him [Don Dokken].
JD: The first time we’d ever seen Marq play, he was at a music store on Beverly Blvd in Montebello. I can’t remember the name of it. It hasn’t been there for many years. He was playing the Eddie Van Halen guitar, black with the yellow stripes on it. Me and my brother walked in, my brother was a guitar player…
GH: He was doing the whole Eddie Van Halen thing back then.
JD: Oh Dude, it was like spot on.
GH: He looked like him, even!
JD: It was crazy! We walked in and everyone just kinda stopped and went, “What the hell’s going on?”
JD: I don’t remember what he was playing. But I remember thinking, “Holy hell, this guy’s incredible!”
GH: And then he started singing!
JD: Well, hold on… So then, we find out who he is and we go back to Boyle Heights. About a month later, somebody says to me, “There’s a guy from Montebello who plays just like Eddie Van Halen.” I’m like, Oh my God, we saw that guy! They said, “Well, he’s doing some grand opening for some strip mall in Montebello. Do you guys want to go?” We’re like, “Absolutely!” So we went, and that’s when we heard him sing! So, he’s playing Journey songs, it’s a 3-piece, but his guitar tone is Eddie Van Halen, and he starts singing and it’s sounds exactly like…
GH: Steve Perry
JD: Mm-hm. And then he goes into the solo, and he sounds exactly like Eddie Van Halen, and we’re like, “This is unreal!” It was crazy! Then, lo and behold, we ended up becoming friends with him because our friend was his sister, and Marq started giving guitar lessons to my brother. So he’d come to our house and watch us rehearse. So, one day, I was 16 years old, he said, “Hey bro, you have the gift. I’m gonna come back and get you one day. You’re gonna play for me.” And I’m all, “Oh, cool!”. At the time, you’re thinking he’s maybe just talking shit. But, there I was, 19 years old. He’s calling me up and saying, “Dude, it’s time. You need to come play for me now.”
GH: What was the first concert you ever went to?
JD: We went to see Elvin Bishop open for ZZ Top in 1977. And that was mindboggling. I saw Nirvana right when they first came out, and prior to that, I’d never seen three guys on stage that filled the space in an arena more than five guys could’ve filled that space in an arena. And just the grooves and the hooks… I was a little kid. I was like 10 or 11 years old, maybe? I remember thinking, “This is fun and exciting, and there was this energy that I’d never experienced anywhere else in my short years of living. I will say that the following year was the year it all came together. 1978, we went and saw Van Halen on their second tour. We saw Queen that year as well, on the Jazz tour. Seeing those two, it changes you in a way you really never understand. Even as you get older, you look back at that event and it’s like it changes your DNA, or it does something to your body and your soul and your mind that, I couldn’t understand it.
GH: It’s an epiphany.
JD: I just knew that whatever I was going to do in my life, it had to be what those guys were doing on stage.
GH: I had that epiphany at 5 years old. I was sitting on the floor at my grandmother’s house and a Beatles song came on the radio.
JD: That’s it.
GH: It was, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. In my head, I went, “that’s what I’ve got to do. I have to do that.”
JD: I know a handful of people personally who’ve said that. Ozzy said that. He said, [Ozzy impersation]: I didn’t care about anything. I just wanted to be that. I wanted to be the Beatles. Cheap Trick, the same thing: “I just wanted to be The Beatles.” SO many bands. Even the Van Halen cats. That was the blueprint for most of the people that you and I, at least, looked at and said, “Holy Crap, that’s amazing!” But it was all derivative from The Beatles. It wasn’t until I got older that, you go back and listen to Rubber Soul and The White Album, Magical Mystery Tour, and you go, wait a second… They were a band for how long?? For six years. They did all that work in six years! There’s no band in the history of the world that could ever remotely…
GH: Those four guys changed the world.
JD: They really did.
GH: What rock band will ever change the world again?
JD: Nobody will ever do what The Beatles did. That’s why it’s always funny when we hear that someone like Rhianna “just broke some record” The Beatles had set. Alone? No, she didn’t. I’m sorry. Rhianna… God bless the girl. She’s talented. I love her. She’s great. But, she has this entity around her, just hundreds of people who are helping her to achieve goals that are set by a machine that’s even ten times bigger than those people. The Beatles had…The Beatles. It was four guys, they had a manager, a couple of cats at the label, and they did everything they did without 20 producers, without 15 song co-writes… You can never compare anything that any bands do today because it’s just a different world, in general. The Beatles, what they did, we’ll never see anything remotely close to that ever again.
GH: It’s my understanding that The Beatles got signed only because EMI wanted their songs. They didn’t care about the band themselves, and, in fact, George Martin was assigned to produce The Beatles as punishment for having dated the secretary of someone at the label, and was seen in public having a drink with her! It wasn’t like they had this big machine behind them.
JD: Right, exactly! The other one I heard was that they were turned down by every label two times! So they’d already went and come out with The Beatles, what were they originally, The Silver Beatles first.
GH: Right, yeah.
JD: And then they came out [as The Beatles] and they were passed on. Everybody heard the demos. Done! Passed! They did it again as The Beatles. Pass! And then the third time is when they got picked up. So, anytime a band gets discouraged that they didn’t happen overnight, or they didn’t happen within X amount of time, the best band in the world was passed on twice.
GH: All of those A&R guys, those scouts, they should’ve been fired! You had one job!
JD: Oh, I know! And that’s why I never liked American Idol or The Voice or these shows because they’re teaching kids a very bad lesson, in my opinion. What they’re teaching them is that if it doesn’t happen with us here and now, you can go and move on to the next dream you have. That’s not what it was for us. We had a dream, and nobody was going to tell us otherwise. I didn’t care if it was your parent, or your co-workers, or your friends at school, no. This is where I’m going. Period! Today, these kids get on these shows and they’re told no, and then they cry and they go off, and then they’re done. That, to me, is such a bad example for what you do with your life. I’m a firm believer in, I know that there are a lot of naysayers in this world, it’s tough enough as it is trying to achieve a goal and having people that tell you no. But the fact that these people are considered to be the ones in control now of the future of entertainment. It’s a bummer. I just get bummed out by that stuff.
GH: That’s where belief in self and perseverance will always come into play. That’s when they’ll discover whether or not they have any, and how much.
JD: But unfortunately, like I’m saying, these kids aren’t being taught that yet. What they’re being taught is, if it doesn’t happen [snaps fingers] like that, on this show, then they’re heartbroken and they move on. That’s the thing I don’t like. But you’re right! You and I grew up with that. You and I had the older cats that said, “No. Keep going. Keep Going. No, don’t give up.”
GH: Let me just float the theory that if these kids today who are told “No” by The Voice and American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and these types of shows, and they quit, those are people who would’ve quit anyway. Because I’ll never quit, and I don’t care who says otherwise.
JD: Again, I don’t know that personally. But what I do know is that these poor kids are being taught, if we tell you no, it’s a no. That’s what I don’t like. I just feel like there should be some shows or some type of alternate universe of that. Like, “Nope. You’re not ready yet. You need to go back and woodshed some more. Go listen to this. Go listen to some Janis Joplin and some Chicago for your songwriting ability, ’cause your songs are good. But they’re too linear. Go listen to blah, blah, blah.” Not everybody gets the golden spoon. Some people, it happens quickly. Some people, it takes some time and they have to work a little harder. I was really blessed as a drummer that within 6 months of picking up drumsticks, I was one of the best drummers in my area. I took to it. But I knew guys who were struggling for many years to get good. But they did. Hopefully those guys passed that information along to their kids that it doesn’t happen overnight for everybody. Some people have to work much harder for the dream to happen. My thing is, I just want other people saying, “Don’t give up. Just keep moving forward.”
GH: How’s your hearing?
JD: Bad! Tinnitus is getting really bad these days. I just got these a couple days ago, these high-end, in-ears dealies. But it’s bad. There are some days that I sit in front of the tv and I can’t hear a thing. And I’ll ask my wife, “Can you hear this?” and she’ll say, “Yeah.” And I’m like, all I hear is “Ooooooooooooo” full blast nowadays.
GH: What do you attribute that to?
JD: I was told by an ear specialist many, many moons ago that hi-hats are what are known as “perfect decibel hearing damage.” They are 315 decibels, hi-hats are, what they run, and that’s the exact number where hearing damage occurs.
GH: I have permanent high frequency hearing loss in my left ear, which of course is where my hi-hat cymbals line up.
JD: That’s what I’m saying! And guys like us… see Buddy Rich‘s hi-hats were like…right here, like, two inches above the snare drum. Guys like us, our hi-hats are almost at eye level. There were a lot of years where… I played bass in a band for a while ’cause I thought, “let me see what that’s like.” Save my ears for a while. But drumming is a loud sport. There’s no way around that one.
GH: I did start using those foam earplugs when I practice. And now, of course, onstage I use in-ear monitors so I can control the volume of everything I’m hearing. At least somewhat.
JD: When I practice, I use these guys. But I also use Shotgun Shells. So I cut low-end and high-end out.
GH: Kind of wish you’d started a little earlier?
JD: Oh my God, you have no idea.
GH: Oh yes, I do! [Laughter]
JD: Well, actually, yes, you do. Yeah, you’re right.
GH: Are you basically a self-taught drummer, or did you ever seek out instruction?
JD: Well, I had four lessons from Jim Volpe when I was a kid. I was about 13 years old.
GH: And even though nobody really, in the larger scheme of things, has heard of Jim Volpe, back in the day, he was legendary around here [in southern California].
JD: He was considered the best unsigned drummer in California.
GH: And when he was onstage with Eulogy, Axis, Grand Avenue, Warrior… When he went into a solo, you stopped whatever you were doing and listened and you watched.
JD: Yeah. Jim was, I’m telling you, I’ll never forget seeing him in Smile at the Troubadour, and he went into a solo, I remember thinking, “He’s gotta have two bass drum pedals, or something’s gotta be up there.” When I snuck my way around, that guy had one bass drum pedal, and that always tripped me out. That guy was amazing, man.
GH: Jim was very developed and very schooled at an early age. He was Southern California’s little “Keith Moon”.
GH: And he could sing, too!
JD: Oh, yeah!
GH: He was actually a better singer than a lot of singers.
JD: Dude, I’m telling ya. I went and saw him not too long ago with Chris Moore, remember Chris Moore from Rampage?
GH: Was he the drummer with V.V.S.I.?
JD: Yes. Yes. So Chris told me that Jim was a singer up in Pasadena or Altadena in this bar band. I was like, “No way!” So I met him out for dinner one night and we went and saw Jim. Jim could not remember me to save his life.
GH: He’s not going to remember me either. That’s too long ago.
JD: But I had four lessons with him in 1982 or something. Of course he’s not going to remember that. He was on stage, and he kept looking at me while he was singing, like, trying to figure out, “Do I know this guy?” I was really funny. He couldn’t remember me.
But I did a lot of learning from records. I learned simplistic, the value of simplicity from Phil Rudd [AD/DC]. That was something that I learned early on in how to play less and make it mean more, the whole “less is more” process. John Bonham, of course, is, to me, still the tastiest, most amazing rock drummer that ever lived. Alex Van Halen is up there, too, with me. There’s a lot of great drummers and I used to just sit there all day and learn them to the best of my ability. That helped me to know that, if I couldn’t sound like the record in rehearsal, then I didn’t have the part yet. That was something that my OCD or whatever it is I have, didn’t allow me to leave the practice room until, when I played the beginning of Living After Midnight, it sounded like the record. That was a part of the learning process. I wanted to sound exactly like the things I was listening to. So, listening to records, that was a big part of it.
GH: Most musicians understand the importance of practicing to get their technical proficiency where it needs to be so that if and when they get an opportunity with the big leagues, creatively, they’re prepared. But, one thing that the vast majority of musicians never discover is the critical importance of knowing the legal and business side of the music industry until they’re up to their necks in it, and then it’s too late. Then they learn the hard way. Do you have a story like that?
JD: Unfortunately, I don’t. I mean I…
GH: No, actually that’s fortunate!
JD: Well, yeah…[Laughter]
GH: I wouldn’t be happy to know you got screwed!
JD: I was very blessed in the sense that, Dave Kaplan, the manager for the BulletBoys, was just a straight shooter cat. He taught me a lot about the basic fundamentals of business. One of the things I learned even as a kid, and one of the oldest analogies in the world, is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some of the deals that we signed were some pretty big deals, and I’d say, “God, that’s a lot of money, Dave.” He’d say, “You owe it. It’s not your money. It’s just advanced against what they project that you’re going to be making, and if you don’t make that money, you’re going to have to pay it back.
GH: With interest.
JD: With interest. The thing that we’re teaching our son right now is that contracts need to be reviewed by attorneys. There’s so many cats out there that just get a contract and they go, “Yeah, Dude!”, and they sign it. Six months later, somebody says, “Hey you didn’t give us six songs or you didn’t give us ten songs. So you owe us an additional blahbitty-blah.” Where does it say that? “In the contract.” Or that you’re supposed to not do something. “You can’t go play with other musicians.” Where does it say that? “It’s in the contract. It says you cannot go and play blah, blah, blah.” There are all of these stipulations in contracts that…it’s legal jargon. Thank God that the attorney that represented BulletBoys, who was one of the biggest attorneys in the world at the time, and still is, Jay Cooper, his son is now our family attorney. He helps with my stuff and my son’s band. It’s nice to know we have people who can help us figure some of these things out, because as hard as you are trying to make your money, there’s somebody trying to get that money away from you as well.
GH: As somebody who’s been practicing their craft, and exploiting you for their own bottom line, for as long as you’ve been practicing your craft…
JD: Exactly, exactly…
GH: You’ve got to be knowledgeable in both areas.
JD: Thank God, with technology today, with the internet, you can look up some things, just quickly type some things in, and get some basic information. Contracts, to me, are always just so vague that they just seem to say something and nothing, and that’s why it’s important to have somebody that you trust, an attorney, someone with a legal background, that can say, “Okay, well here’s what’s happening. This means this, this mean this.” It may cost you a little money to have somebody look at it. But, like you said, it’ll save you a ton of heartache down the line.
GH: I’ve taught a course on the Business of Music and Entertainment. I’ve conducted seminars at music schools, high schools, colleges and universities. One thing that I try to impress upon people is the band attorney represents the band as an entity. He or she doesn’t represent you individually. He or she only represents the band collectively. So while your band may have an attorney, you still need to have your own attorney.
JD: Absolutely. Again, with my son’s band, they have a band attorney. And he advised him to sign a contract. And then we found out, down the line, that probably wasn’t the idea for him to sign, and we had told him prior, “please don’t sign it.” But, he did. But these are the lessons of life. I know he learned a valuable lesson. Like you said, knowledge is really important for a young musician because today, there’s so many things out there. Your music is on Spotify, your music’s out there somewhere. You’re not going to make any money on it. You gotta figure out a way to make money and protect yourself. That’s really important. These young guys that come in here sometimes, because I’ll rent the studio out to record, and they just don’t understand that now, this is the beginning of it. Writing the music and recording the music, that’s just the beginning of it. If you’re going to do this as a career, now there’s other things you have to take care of.
GH: When you get approached to do a recording or a tour or both, do you negotiate your own situations, or do you have somebody who does that for you?
JD: I do it myself. I don’t get many, many offers like I use to because I’ve just been working with George [Lynch] and been doing studio stuff on my own. The thing I try to tell other musicians, like when I’m talking to people. Let’s just say a band comes in here [to record]. I’ll say, “This might be a little unpleasant but it has to be done, you guys. So, here are my numbers. And they can either say, “Dude, that’s just fucking too much money.” “Okay. Well, I’m sure there’s a guy out there that’ll fit your bill. The thing is, a lot of musicians, drummers in particular, I feel like don’t see themselves as a viable entity for finance. Maybe they think, “Oh well, I could just do it for free.” If you worked at McDonald’s, you wouldn’t do it for free.
GH: Just because you enjoy what you do, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it without compensation.
JD: What’s crazy is a lot of young musicians don’t charge… No no no no…
GH: If you do it for nothing, that’s what it’s worth… Nothing.
JD: That’s very, very true.
GH: Let’s talk about your gear.
JD: Nice. Go ahead.
GH: I’m sure you have used about every brand of drums there is.
JD: When I first started out playing drums, my mom bought me my first set. It was a Ludwig. I didn’t know drum sets. It was really cheap. It was quite tattered. But I loved it and took care of her. Very small sizes, like a jazz kit, like a cocktail. Like a 22” bass drum, 10, 12, 14 floor tom. My next set was a Rogers. That one I wish I never sold. Then I played Ludwig for about a minute. Then that’s when I got signed with BulletBoys and I was with Pearl for a couple years. At the time, I always loved Keith Moon and how he would do what he did with drums. But, Tommy Lee started breaking drums. I’m like, well shit, I wanna do that too! So, I started breaking drums at the end of every show. We had just finished an American tour and we’re getting ready to go overseas, and I got a call from my Pearl rep. He said, “Hey Jimmy, I gotta talk to you.” I said, We’re going overseas. Can we get together for lunch when I get back?” He said, “Sure.” So, overseas, I played Pearl and of course I broke all of the drums at the end of every show. So, I get home and I get this message from Pearl, “Jimmy, meet me today.” So, I do. He says, “Look, we can’t have you breaking drums anymore.”
And he was really upset. I could see he was upset with me. I was like, “Eric, but, Dude… Tommy Lee does it!” He goes, “Dude, you’re not Tommy Lee, okay? If you ever get to that place, we’ll discuss it. But for now, stop breaking drums!” Well, I did. But all the footage that was overseas, that I had just filmed, was released a month or two later. Pearl had seen it, they had seen me breaking drums and thought it was from recent a show after I’d already been told not to. So they fired me. So, I lost that gig at Pearl. Which Tommy had just left Pearl and started with DW drums. I’d heard of DW drums. But I didn’t know anyone who was with them. Then I ran into Tommy one night and he said, “Dude, you gotta go to fuckin’ DW, bro! DW‘s the way to go! I’m like, “Alright.” So, I had my manager, Dave Kaplan, call and talk to John Goode. So I went down there with Dave. We met with John. The first he says to me is, “Jimmy, we’d love to have you. But, first things first: We don’t break drums here.” Then he goes, “Secondly, we don’t break drums.” He really came on strong to me.
GH: Well how bad were you breaking them?
JD: Oh Dude. I was breaking ’em. Sending ’em back shells, like eggs that were cracked open.
JD: Like, that bad, yeah. So, I’ve been with John ever since 1990, I’ve been a DW endorsee. I’m telling you, I love that company so much on many levels. One of them is the fact that I can go and sit and talk about drums and what you’re trying to achieve tonality-wise. Or a look. John will actually sit with you and take notes. I love that they’re constantly innovating. When I see an invention that makes my job easier, like, this kit behind you, this hardware has the airspring system in it. Are you familiar with this?
JD: You know how many times you’ve reached over your drum set and you’ve tried to raise your tom up, and the weight of the tom…
GH: Oh yeah, yeah…
JD: John came up with this. So, if you just loosen it, it’ll spring up all by itself. So now the tom will never fall on your hand.
GH: That’s awesome!
JD: That’s why I love DW. They’re always innovating, coming up with new stuff. The tone, the look of the drums, they’re just so beautiful. That’s what I’ve been playing for the last 26 years.
I was with Vic Firth for a long time. But there was a changing of the A&R, I could never really catch up with the guy. We never really connected. So, now I’m with Vater, and Chad Brandolini is a great cat. I’ve been with Paiste now since 2010, which is nice. I play the Bonzo events that Brian Tichey puts together. From there, Kelly Paiste saw me and said, “I want you as an artist. I need you on my team.” That was really nice.
GH: What model Paiste do you use?
JD: I have multiple set-ups because I have a studio set-up vs. a live set-up, and I have two different forms of live set-up. When I’m really playing balls, once when I get my strength back in my back and my arms, I know you’re going to say this is crazy, but I use 22” ride cymbals as crashes…
GH: Wow. That’s pretty wild.
JD: Yeah. But right now, while I’m still warming up, I have 20 to 22” Rude crashes and a 22” 2002. So it goes from 2002 “live” to Rude “live”. So those are my live set-up. In the [recording] studio, the Precision cymbals are really nice and the Reflector Series are really nice for studio purposes. The Giant Beats, that’s the old John Bonham ride that he used on The Rain Song. I got a set of those too. It’s really nice to be with a company that has so many different styles of sound, and the sounds are all so brilliant and beautiful.
I’ve been with Aquarian Drum Heads now for 16 years. I love the way their heads just ring. They have this natural decay on them. I bounce between two different heads. One is the Triple Threat, what I use on my snare drum, and the Response 2 on the toms. And then the Force Ten on the toms, too. Those are old school Bonham tone…”Booj, booj”… You can tweak ’em all the way up and they’ll never get brittle.
GH: I’m a little biased in that area because I’ve been playing Aquarian heads since 1998.
JD: Oh, so you’ve known about them for a long time, too!
GH: Oh yeah. That’s long been my drum head of choice, although I’m certainly not telling anyone what they should use.
JD: Where they won me was, and you’ll remember this. They had that one snare drum head where they had a knife going through the snare drum, and the guy was still playing it, no problem. That’s where they won me, because I thought if they can withstand that, they can withstand my playing.
GH: There was a drum head that looked like it was woven…
JD: That’s it!
GH: A honey-colored tweed, almost.
JD: That was it. They stopped making them, unfortunately. But, now the Hi-Energy snare head is the other one that I use. If I know I’m gonna be out for two months with just one snare drum, that will last me two months, the way I play, no problem.
GH: You’ll appreciate this story. When I was out touring with Judas Priest many years ago on the Defenders Of The Faith tour, naturally their drummer at the time, Dave Holland, was somebody I spent a lot of time with. I sat behind his kit at soundcheck and he literally had a hole in his snare head as big around as your thumb. All the heads on his kit were just beat beyond tunability.
GH: I said, “Dave, how long have you been playing these heads??” And he said, “Well…I recorded the Screaming For Vengeance album with them…” Which was two albums ago. I said, “Hold on a second. You’re saying that you recorded two entire albums and played two world tours on these same heads???”
JD: How is that possible?
GH: That’s what I said! But believe me, they looked like it. Now, my tech was changing out my right kick head and snare head every single show! My main rack tom and first floor tom heads were changed out every third show. And he recorded two complete albums and two world tours…
JD: [Laughter] What size sticks did he use, do you remember?
GH: I can’t remember. And he literally had a hole in his snare head that he was playing around rather than change it! Well, the snare head was one of those woven tweed heads we talked about.
JD: That’s amazing! That’s pretty cool, I gotta say.
GH: You don’t know this, but I swiped your “briefcase on a snare stand” idea, for your electronics. I stole that from you already. I didn’t have an opportunity to see what was in it. But I could surmise what was in it.
JD: You know.
GH: I looked around for one of those Anvil briefcases for a while. I couldn’t find one. Instead, what I ended up getting was a camera briefcase. It’s the same dimensions, it’s aluminum, it’s already foam-lined, right?
JD: That’s it!
It’s got partitions in it, so you can customize it.
JD: That is it right there, my friend!
GH: Here’s another thing I did. Tell me if you like this idea. I installed my Shure 52As inside my kick drums. They’re suspended by bungee cords. It’s a bit like the Kelly Shu idea, but DYI.
GH: There’s a short length of XLR cable that goes from the mic to the jack, which is mounted on the shell. The XLR cable from the mixer plugs right into the jack mounted on the outside of the drum shell. At the end of the night, I don’t need to pack up my mics and stands. I just unplug the cable from the outside of the shell. The mics remain protected inside the kick drums, suspended by bungee cords, in the safest possible place.
JD: All my kits have that by a company called May Miking. He has been doing that for a long time. I used to have that on my snare drum and kick drum. Now I only have it in my bass drums. All of my bass drums have either a [AKG] D112 or a [Sennheiser] 421 in there with that same thing. Just plug it in on the outside. What I like about that, which I’m sure you like about that, is they can’t mess up your sound then. Someone can trip over your cable…
GH: Like the lead singer!
JD: You know what I mean? He backs up and moves your mic, which is now facing the wrong direction…
GH: And tears your kick drum port.
JD: You know it. Every time! Every time, man.
JD: It’s good for that sense, and it’s good for the quick depart. I take it out, I pack it up, I’m gone. You and me, we’ve been packing up and setting up drums more than anything else in our regular life. Things like that that make my life easier, I’m so, so grateful for.
GH: Do you have a drum key in your pocket right now?
JD: I have a drum key on my key chain.
GH: Good man!
JD: If you had asked my wife, she has one on her key chain!
GH: The dog has one hanging off his collar!
JD: But my wife has been in the music industry as long as I’ve been playing music as well. She worked at EMI Music Publishing for 17 years. They had a studio there. But they rarely do drums. Mainly piano, vocals, some guitar, mixing mainly. But one day, they had a drum set there. They rented a kit from somewhere, the guy brought the kit, no drum key. The session’s 20 minutes late. They’re trying to find a drum. Somebody’s gotta go to Guitar Center… My wife walks in and says, “What’s the problem?” We don’t have a drum key. We don’t have a drum key. The session’s running late. The guys are here… My wife pulls out her drum key and hands it to the guy. From then on, everybody looked at her like she was the coolest girl in the whole building.
GH: Of course!
JD: I love that story.
GH: For anyone who wants to follow your career, what would be the easiest way for them to do that?
JD: Just my Facebook page is where I do most of my information until I can work on my Facebook Jimmy D’Anda Music Page.
GH: Like you, I’ve been involved with a lot of different projects and a lot of music groups over the years, and not everything gets a huge commercial success story behind it. Some of the things I was most proud of were things no one ever heard of.
JD: Isn’t that funny how that happens?
GH; Can you name something that you were so proud of, and you thought “this is going to be the one!”, and then it just fell on deaf ears?
JD: There was one band in particular that I just thought, “Oh my God!” In 2000, I was playing with a band called Lithium. I thought for sure. Amazing singer. Keyboard player, piano player. Oh my God. Just these haunting melodies, and with my drumming on it. I thought, “This is gonna be huge.” Unfortunately, at the time, I was struggling with drug addiction, and I ended up losing the gig because of drugs and all that stuff. I lost the gig. But when I hear those demos, every now and again, I just sit back and go, what an amazing band. Guitar player, seriously, just an amazing band. But, like I said about my son having life lessons, that was a life lesson. That was the end of drugs and alcohol for me. But that’s one that I thought should’ve went the distance.
Then, I was in a band with Mike Starr from Alice In Chains. Me, him, and the singer had a thing, and this singer was by far probably one of the most captivating singers in every aspect of the word. Put it this way. This has only happened one time in my career, and I’ve been playing for 35-36 years now. We were playing an impromptu gig, playing Alice In Chains songs. When he started singing, the bartenders stopped selling alcohol, stopped serving so they could watch him.
JD: They shut down the bar! That band, I thought, could’ve been U2 meets Black Sabbath.
GH: What was the name of that band?
JD: Mike Starr’s Motorcade. That was a bummer when Mike died. I lost contact with the singer. But like you said, there were songs we had written that I thought, “When people hear this, Oh My God. It’s gonna be amazing.” But I’m still hopeful for the future, that I can still find a couple guys that I can work with that will have the work ethic I’m looking for. And have the musical influence. Because I love everything from West Side Story to The Beastie Boys to Black Sabbath to Chicago to Blood Sweat & Tears to Slayer. I want to have all of this stuff come out in the music. Hopefully I can find some cats and put some stuff out. My stuff… Sabbath and Beastie Boys. That’s what my stuff sounds like. People hear it and say, “That’s you??” Yup. That’s the sound I create.
GH: Tell me something that happened to you onstage that made you laugh out loud.
JD: [Laughter] I recall some experiences of being onstage and being able to see what we used to call “The Freak Show” out in the audience. They’re looking at four guys onstage. But we’re looking at however many people the lights are showing, like a guy throwing up on someone’s back, y’know.
I can see that. No one else can see it. Or the woman who trying to show her boobs, but her hair is caught in her bra, and she’s trying to pull it off and it’s stuck, and she’s pulling her own hair up. It’s stuff that looks very odd! Having the ability as a drummer, especially because I’m stationary. These guys are walking back and forth, so they might miss a lot of stuff. But guys like us, we have a full view of everything that’s happening out there.
GH: I had an experience very much like that. We were playing Madison Square Garden. I’m up on a riser. I’ve got a great view of the whole room. All of the stage lighting is lighting up the front half of the room. Up to my left, in the loge area, there were two people sitting next to each other. They each had aerosol cans, presumably, of hair spray that they were using lighters to create these two simultaneous, four foot long, tandem pillars of flame. It struck me so funny. I was up there laughing my ass off watching this.
JD: I want to share something with you. But first I want to say this. I had seen you play…could it have been Perkins Palace [in Pasadena]?
GH: It could’ve been. Yeah.
JD: I remember seeing you guys play there and I had a similar effect when I see a lot of great drummers. It always happens to me when I see a great drummer. I need to leave right that second and go home and practice. This is the honest to God truth. I don’t want to enjoy the show. I don’t want to watch you anymore. I need to leave right this second and go home and practice. When I saw Tommy Lee, that happened to me. When I saw Randy Castillo, that happened to me. When I saw you, that happened to me.
GH: Wow! Thank you, Jimmy. I truly appreciate that!
JD: I remember thinking, “I’m not good enough yet. I need to go home and…” I want to say thank you for your influence because it did help me to achieve my goal earlier in life. I had the tenacity and the drive because I saw guys like you that were showing the way and were doing it early on, and doing it right, with great feel, great timing, and great drum tone. You guys had all that stuff, and I just want to say thank you for that.
GH: That has got to be the most generous thing any drummer has ever said to me, and it’s nice to be included in such illustrious company. Thank you so much.
JD: Now I want to tell you this little story.
GH: Bless you, my son! [Sign of the cross] You are now good enough!
JD: [Laughter!] So when I was a kid, I used to look a lot like Lorne Black, your bass player. So I used to say I was him. I would go to clubs and tell people I was him. They’d let me into clubs for free and get me drinks and stuff. So one night I was at a party in Hollywood, I was hanging out, I was doing my trip. I’d just told people I was Lorne Black and they’re hanging out. Then this girl walks up and she says, “Who are you?” I said, “Lorne from Great White.” And she says, “Hold on. Hey Lorne, this guy says he’s you!” [Laughter!] I turn around and here comes Lorne. And I’m like, “Oh Fuck! Oh Shit!” And I can’t leave anywhere because [Laughter] I’m busted! So Lorne walks over and he goes, “Dude, what’re you doing?” And I go, “I don’t… I don.. Wha? What?” and I tried to play it off. And he’s like, “Listen. Just stop it. Just stop it, alright? I’ve been hearing a lot about you lately. You’re all over the place, getting a bunch of free alcohol in my name. [Laughter] So just stop it, alright, dude?” I was like, “Alright. Cool.” So that was my one and only time that I met him. And I wanted to say that I’m sorry for his passing cause I know that must’ve been tough.
GH: Yes, it was tough. I lost touch with Lorne for a long, long time. Decades. I searched for him, off and on, during that entire time. I could just never find anyone who knew where he was. Or I would speak to someone who would casually mention that they’d “just seen him last week.” Really? Can you put me in contact with him? And they’d say “sure.” But they never would! Then, out of the blue, in 2013, I got a phone call from him. We talked for about an hour, and he was the same Lorne I’d always known. We had a great conversation for over an hour. We laughed and it was so great. I had his number and we agreed to stay in touch and keep it going. But then he’d never answer his phone. His voicemail was always full, so I couldn’t leave a message. Nobody ever checked his Facebook. Then he passed away. I was heartbroken.
JD: Somebody had texted me and said, “Did you hear about Lorne Black?” I said, “No, please don’t say it…” They said, “Yeah”. And I said, “Oh, fuck.” I know the older we get, the more we’re going to experience that. But he was so young.
GH: Fifty-one. And Lorne was the youngest of all of us! That just shouldn’t have happened. That’s a prime example of how the entertainment industry can chew you up and spit you out, if you let it. I feel so badly for his mom. I stay in close contact with her.
JD: You and I both know that this industry is not for everybody. Some people just cannot…It just eats them up because they don’t have the ability like you and I to go… well, at least for you. I’m not going to speak on your behalf. But, I had to get clean and sober 15 years ago because I was on that road. I was on that same road. I was going down dark places. I was starting to cut people out of my life. People couldn’t find me. My wife was always worried about me because I was disappearing. I had a glimpse into my own future, that it was not a happy future, and it wasn’t much longer of a future. I had to take necessary steps and get help and get into a program, which I did, and I’ve been part of Narcotics Anonymous for a long, long time now. Well, I should just say 15 years. I don’t think that’s a long time. But when I see a young musician who’s already beginning down that road, I really find it part of my duty now, not only as a musician but as a human being, to pull them aside and say, “I’m just letting you know, no one can tell you what to do. But the options that you’re going to have via drugs and alcohol are going to become less and less pleasant, and at one point, your only options are going to be to stay loaded and to be high, and that’s going to bring nothing but bad into your life. And if you want to stop now, and prevent all that, here’s how I got help. That’s something that I always still make a part of my, no matter what if I do this, I still go to meetings, I still reach out to people, people will call me and say, “I think my son’s doing drugs.” Well, I could talk to him. Unfortunately, I can’t save anybody. Nobody can. But I can give him information that I have received, and hopefully the seed is planted that, if he ever hits the 911 button, he knows where to go for help. You and I see a lot of our friends passing away these days. We know guys that we’re, like, “Oh my God. I just saw him last week!”
GH: Or God forbid, our friends’ children!
JD: Exactly! It’s a very scary thought process when I just look at my buddies and know they’re still getting high! Like some of these guys I know who are in their fifties now, and I’m, “Dude, you’re still getting high? Are you kidding me? Stop. Just stop. Get help. Stop. I know it’s not easy. But, get help.”
GH: I never fell into that. I never did.
JD: That’s why you look so good though, because of that, to be honest with you. But, it’s tough. These guys… You know. Back when we were kids, they were in rehearsals, “I need to get high first before I can play.” “No, you don’t!” I remember that saying, “I’m just ‘experimenting.’ I’m experimenting with drugs.” Well, all the test results came back. It’s bad! [Laughter!] Stop! Okay? Stop!
GH: The research has already been completed.
JD: Yeah. We got the results. It’s no good. So, please… So, anyways, that’s something that I still hold very close to my heart is helping… Not even helping, really. Just trying to be a part of people’s information line when it comes to struggling with drugs and alcohol. We’re losing Lorne… We’re losing Jani Lane… We lost Mike Starr… We’re losing so many.
GH: Jack Russell is a near miss.
JD: You know what, I’ve talked to Jack several times and… I just want people to do well. Life’s getting tougher as it is. We don’t need to make things worse. And there it is.
GH: Well, it’s been an enjoyable afternoon!
JD: Awesome. Yes sir.
GH: Thank you so much, Jimmy! And continued success with Lynch Mob.