Jerod Boyd – Miss May I – Backstage PassNate Brown
Jerod Boyd and the Miss May I crew transgressed the snow-capped highways, being hit mercilessly by the winter storm of the season, dubbed Winter Storm Juno. The band and crew were on their way to perform a show in Toronto regardless of what Juno would bring their way. Their dedication and respect for the fans shines through far beyond faring the brutal cold. It reaches into the heart of each song in quite an interesting and surprising way.
When Boyd’s fingers had finally regained feeling, he picked up the phone and talked with OnlineDrummer about the Rise of the Lion album and his personal experiences as a drummer.
Boyd: We wanted this whole album [Rise of the Lion] … for someone to be able to listen to it and be like, “Oh my gosh! I can relate to this so much” … and, “You know, I went through this.” We’ve had multiple letters from fans about something that’s really serious, like suicide. We’ve even had people say to us in person, “Hey, you know, I was going through a really hard time … and you know I was really, really down … and then I heard this song that you guys played, and it helped me out so much. It really got me through this tough time.”
I can’t really sit here and say we wrote this song and this song about this one specific thing. It’s really if a fan listens to it … and those lyrics in the music … what that means to them is I guess more powerful than us saying this is what that song means. This is what it’s about. It’s about whatever you think it’s about. You should never be asked that question. I don’t think anybody should really ask the question, “What’s this song about?” My answer to them would be, “What’s this song mean to you?”
We just released a new music video for a song called Here With No Name. The whole concept behind it was for the armed forces. We’ve gotten a huge response on it, especially at the shows because we call out all of the military, and we thank them for it. We tell the crowd if they see them, buy them a beer and thank them. Shake their hands, and let them know that what they do is appreciated. That’s our little way of giving back, and that’s just one thing about the new album that’s really cool.
When you listen to our music, it’s aggressive, and it sounds angry. But when you really get into it, the good that you’re doing for your fans and the military, a lot of people don’t really understand that about this genre of music.
A lot of people can overlook the fact that just because we have screaming in our music, it’s not always bad. Just like August Burns Red. They send this positive message with a positive Christian message. Just because we’re not a Christian band and don’t write Christian lyrics, we like to promote a positive message. We don’t want to write music that talks about negative things or how we hate this person or that girlfriend or something like that. We don’t like to talk about that. We’d rather talk about something that’s going to help somebody in the long-run.
Boyd was also eager to generously share his perspective regarding showmanship, education and general inspiration behind the kit.
OLD: You use stick tricks … not like juggling sticks … just enough to add the visual flair. How important do you think that is?
Boyd: Well, with me I think it’s really important because not only am I playing music for fans, but I’m also putting on a show. I want the show to not only be fun by hearing it but also by seeing it. I want somebody to look at it and go, “He’s playing all these really cool parts, and then he’s also doing all these stick tricks in the little time he has in between notes.” I think it’s really fun, and plus on top of that I feel like when I get on stage I’m having fun doing it. I don’t think anybody should go on stage and be like … “We need to be completely serious, and we need to do this exactly like this and exactly like that.” I think you should just go on stage and have a blast because the energy that you give out on stage … you feed off of that energy and the positive energy.
I could sit there and play everything straight by the book and exactly how the song’s played on the record, and I’m going to play it like this every single day. But, I actually change things up all the time. I improvise on tons of parts because it’s fun for me, and I think it makes it cool, you know. A fan comes to a show and is like, “Whoa, I’ve never heard that before” … or, “That part’s a little different than on the CD,” but it’s in a really cool way.
OLD: Some people are adamantly opposed to stick tricks, preaching that they are a waste of time to practice.
Boyd: It’s fun to just do something. When you’re a drummer, it’s fun, and I wish that the whole set I could just be going crazy and putting fills in every single spot I could, but sometimes it’s not necessary to add all the stuff because it’s almost overwhelming. You’re like, “There’s so much stuff going on right now. I don’t know what’s happening.” Sometimes it’s easier for me to back off a little bit, but what I can do is add a little visual flair to make it cool from the visual aspect while keeping the musicality the same.
OLD: When you began playing drums, you started out on a snare drum. Do you think that’s a good place to start? Did it seem to help you?
Boyd: Yeah, of course. It really helped me a bunch. When I started junior high, which for us was 7th and 8th grade, I wanted to be in the band. It wasn’t a marching band there. It was just school band. We just played concerts and stuff. I remember I wanted to play drums, and I went in and was too embarrassed to say that I wanted to play drums. I was with my mom, and she didn’t want to embarrass me. So, with the instructor, I was trying out trumpet. I was trying out saxophone. Then my mom’s like, “Hey, he really wants to play drums.” And, the instructor said, “I have one spot left in our drum section. Let me play some patterns, and you try to repeat them back.” I repeated all of them back to him perfectly, and he’s like, ‘You’re it.”
Then after that, you start learning rudiments, the correct way to hold your sticks and do all this stuff. It’s a lot easier to learn on that one snare and to just … this is how to do, for instance, a paradiddle. It’s easier to do on one drum. Then, once I sat down on a drum kit, I could actually separate my hands … and be like … let’s say I want to do [the paradiddle] with my right hand on the hi-hat and the left hand on the snare, following my right stick with a kick drum or something like that … and adding a little groove note on the 2 and 4 on the snare (see below).
So, I can do that and separate those things because I know exactly how it’s played on the snare. When I got into marching band in high school, I started learning more intricate things, and then on top of that I was learning things like stick tricks, which I incorporated into the drum set. Also, I’m marching. So, I’m moving my feet the whole time while I’m doing it. So, I was already used to everything going into a drum set environment.
OLD: You seem to be very passionate about everything percussion, even if it’s snare drum, drumline, whatever.
Boyd: Yeah, I mean it’s fun. I love drums in general. I’ve always wanted a hang (view Hang Solo – Manu Delago video). The other day I was watching these videos, and I told all the guys I’m going to get one of these hangs when I get home. I’m going to get really good at this thing. I’m going to buy one, and bring it on tour with me.
The reason why the hang is cool to me is because I can actually put different notes in it. If I heard a song, I can be like, “I can literally play this song on the Hang.” It’s different with a drum set because you don’t actually have all the notes you need for a melody. [With the hang] you have a whole new perspective on it because you’re like, “Cool, I can make a really fun melody out of this thing, and I can actually make a little song.”
I guess the easiest way to describe it is a hand piano. I guess that would be a double negative because you already play piano with your hands [laughs].
OLD: You seem to use very large drum sticks. Tell us about your sticks.
Boyd: Yeah, I actually use 2 sizes bigger than a 2B. I play a Vic Firth sticks. There’s the 2B. Then Vic Firth Rock, and then the Vic Firth Metal. It’s not a literal metal stick. It’s just called metal. It’s still wood. And, it’s probably just under an inch longer than a normal stick, and it’s a little bit thicker. The reason why I like the big sticks a lot is it goes back to marching band again. Obviously, the reason why you’re playing in marching band with a big stick is because you have really awesome natural rebound with it. So, the stick wants to come back to you with you using less effort.
When I teach drum lessons, and especially new drummers, I get drummers that really want to use all this arm and really smack the drum and lay the stick into it. A little thing I like to tell them, which I think helps them a lot is, don’t play the drum. Play with the drum. So, we want to actually show that using this natural rebound can help you build all this speed, which is why you use big sticks.
OLD: If you could only pass one piece of advice onto the next drumming generation, what would it be?
I would just say to have fun with it, and you know … do not let anybody tell you, “Hey, you’re doing it wrong. You’re not doing it the right way. You have to do it like this.” Just have fun. Just relax. Don’t take things too seriously because it’s music, and what music is … it’s whatever it is to you. Just have fun.
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