Joe Rickard – Exclusive Interview – Red

OLD: How did you meet the guys in the band?

JOE: I met the guys through their former drummer. His name is Hayden Lamb –one of my best friends. His twin brother has been our guitar tech (with Red) for years.

I was in three other touring bands before Red … Got my start when I was a junior in high school … left school, moved to Phoenix from Houston and starting touring with a band called Sky Harbor. I played in a number of bands after that, and along the way my friend Hayden ended up in Red.

I formed a friendship with them (Red), and then on the second album “Innocence and Instinct,” Hayden had hurt his shoulder. He tore his Rotator Cuff and wasn’t able to play. They came to me and asked if I would like to record on their album. I said, “Of course!” I spent about 4 or 5 weeks in Nashville working on it with them. I tracked the drums and then ended up filling in for awhile. I eventually ended up getting the job because Hayden was unable to play.

That’s the short story I guess … I became friends with the guys and rather than hiring some random guy they hired one of Hayden’s best friends, and he gave me his blessing to do it.

OLD: Hayden and Red’s guitar tech are twin brothers. Isn’t there another set of twins in the band?

JOE: Yes, there are two twins in the band, as well. There are twins everywhere. Our bass player is a twin, and he’s married to a twin.

OLD: When you replaced Hayden on the drums, how did you handle being the new guy (even though you were already close with the guys)?

JOE: It was a different kind of thing for me, but it all worked out because we were all buds. The guys in the band are older. I’m 25 and they’re all 34. They’re all like big brothers. So I get picked on. I’m the little brother in the band

It’s kind of like a brotherly relationship. There are two brothers in the band, and then our singer, and the other guys all grew up together from third grade on, so they’re basically family, and I just kind of came into the mix and am part of their family .. close with their kids and family. Makes a nice family atmosphere.

OLD: How long did it take to develop that? Do you have any strategies or advice for people in a situation like that?

JOE: Being in so many bands, every band that I’ve been in, at one point I started with them when they were already a group, and I was the new guy. I kind of got forced into a friendship with people that I didn’t know.

It’s a tough thing, especially in my earlier years … you’re a lot younger and more immature. My first band, I was 17 and the guys were 19. We were just kids traveling on a tour bus around the country. It’s definitely a lot more difficult, and there’s no money when you’re starting out. So, it makes things definitely frustrating.

But, I got to the point of just knowing why I’m here. Why I want to play drums and why I want to tour. I just had to get to that point, and accepting that whether there might have been issues on the road with band members or you’re not having any money or the van broke down or the shows aren’t big … You have to put yourself past all that and focus on your end goal. That’s what I’ve done.

I’ve been touring for five years straight and we’ve finally had some good success. This has been a long process of sleeping on couches and asking mom for money, but now we’ve gotten to the point where we’re all doing nice and decent, and all these guys have kids and houses and everything is good.

OLD: Why do you play the drums?

JOE: When I was 12, for Christmas I asked my mom for a drum kit. She said no, and she talked me out of it. So, she got me an acoustic guitar. I play guitar because I got one, and I play enough now to write songs, so that’s been a big help. But, I got guitar lessons and got bored with them. I was a 12 year old kid. You couldn’t keep my attention on it.

Next Christmas I asked again, “Can I have a drum kit?” So, she got me a kit for Christmas, and I picked it up right away … and was addicted. Like one month after I got it … first week of February when I was 13, I started playing drums at our church. That put me right in. I was playing on Sunday mornings with the bands. That kind of put me right into playing and learning a lot. I’d just leave my drums at church. My mom would take me up there everyday. Nobody was around.

That’s what got my start, playing at church, and that’s what got me involved with my first band, a Christian band on Inpop Records, which is the Newsboys label, and that’s the big Christian act. That’s why my mom let me go on tour because I was going with a Christian act.

But, I was on the road 3 ½ years or something after getting my first kit. Most of the stuff I know I’ve learned from touring. I remember my first show ever on the road, compared to where I’m at now. It’s insane the difference in your stage presence, your timing, your confidence; it’s amazing how things improve, but it was good. It was the best thing for me. It was better than going to school or taking lessons. I just got thrown into it. I would just watch all these drummers that I was on tour with that had been doing it for years. and they would teach me stuff and everything was cool because I was just a young kid, and I was on tour with them.

Photo by Zach Bright

OLD: Were you a big Newsboys, Sonic Flood, Audio Adrenaline fan?

JOE: I liked them growing up. I was never a huge Christian music addict, but I listened to all that stuff. I grew up with Nirvana and Foo Fighters … Dave Grohl is my freaking idol. I was a huge Blink 182 fan at that time. When they came out and got huge I was 13, and I had just started playing drums. So, of course I got into Travis Barker and everything that he was doing.

OLD: Since you didn’t have lessons, I take it you don’t read music very well?

JOE: I wish I did. Because I’ve done enough studio stuff now, I’ve been taught how to make charts. So, I can do charts in the studio by chicken scratch. I’ve gotten pretty good, I can listen to a song that I’ve never heard, make the chart listen to it one more time, double check my chart and I can go out and play it. There’s been a lot of research and people teaching me stuff as I go.

Red used to be a five piece .. we had a guitar player named Jasen Rauch. He was a drum major in college went to North Texas, majored in jazz drumming, and he did core. He’s a fantastic drummer, which makes him a fantastic song writer. He left the band, and he produces and writes. He does really well.

He taught me a ton of stuff when I first started with them, as far as good marching rudiment warmups and different things. That’s one thing I ‘m pretty adamant about .. I do “8 on a hand” every day with the metronome. On a good day I’ll do around 300 “eight on a hands”. I can’t do like some of those Blue Devil guys.

OLD: When you took over the drum position for Hayden, as far as writing the new songs on the new album, did you try to stay true to that style? How did you make that transition with letting your style come through in the music?

JOE: The second album was the first thing I did with them, and I don’t know. I kind of just did my thing. Basically, they were just giving me demos, and they rented out a studio for me to practice in for four weeks or something.

OLD: So, they just gave you complete freedom?

JOE: Yeah, I mean I just kind of came up with what I would play with some references. Some of the songs would have a drum reference. There would be something programed with what Jasen did. Hayden was there when I tracked that album the whole time. And then Rob Graves, our producer at the time, he was in there as well.

I think I’ve settled into my style with this band. I know a lot of people say they can tell when I played on something . I played on the new Love and Death album with Brian Welch, but I just played on one song. I was there for like six songs in the studio with his drummer. They had me come in and do drum sounds and tuning and stuff because I wrote on some of the songs.

A buddy of mine called and was like, “Dude, I heard the new Love and Death album … that’s you,” He named the song, and I was like, “No, I wrote on that song, but I didn’t play.” He said, “Oh, it sounds just like you.” It’s kind of good that these things … this style … comes out in my work.

OLD: Do you have any advice for writing drum parts?

JOE: The thing is, I write a lot of lyrics and some melody … a lot of musical parts and programming. It’s kind of what I’ve gotten into, and that’s where the money is in song writing.

So, when I’m writing drum parts, I’m thinking of vocals. Drummers have a difficult time because drummers always want to shine but you have to put yourself in the right spot and know that it’s all about the vocals. Ninety-nine percent of people just listen to the vocals. So, I usually try to do stuff that’s out of the way and tasteful.

That’s something that I always challenge myself with: coming up with new, creative fills that are really cool and tasteful. They might be kind of difficult, but they’re not super busy and don’t last forever. I like to write creative kick snare patterns for verses, chorus and stuff.

There are cool ways you can make the drums interesting and complicated, but simple. You can do this crazy verse pattern where each bar has a different kick snare pattern and it’s worked out to follow the vocals, but nobody can really follow it, and the second verse has a different pattern. You might add in some hi hat accents in there, and it can elevate your drumming, and you can shine that way. But, at the same time, you’re not in the way of the vocals.

OLD: It’s like smart drumming verses going all out.

JOE: Smart drumming is where I’m at. We did the new album with Tyler Vincent. He’s great. We’ve become good friends with him. He’s a vocal guy. That’s why he’s sold so many albums. He’s really challenged me to stay out of the way but come up with cool parts, and that’s what I did.

I want this band to succeed, and I don’t want my drumming to be something in the way or why it didn’t succeed. You can always play more live, and a lot of drummers do that. They play simple stuff in the studio, and then they add more stuff live. Smart drumming is the way to go.

OLD: On the road what are some of the common struggles that people can expect to have, and how do you overcome that?

JOE: It’s taken me years to get completely adapted to it. Now, being on the road so long, when I’m home more than 5 or 6 days I go nuts. You literally get into this lifestyle where you sleep on the bus. You show up and all you have to do is play drums. You can go workout, hang out. There’s not much to do. You kind of get sucked into this lifestyle. Then it ends up being boring at hom, and none of us work when we’re home.

On the road you get sick a lot if you don’t take care of yourself. All of us work out a lot, and it keeps you from getting sick a lot. I’ve noticed that with a lot of young bands. They get sick a lot because they’re not taking care of themselves or eating crap, not taking medicine, and staying up late or not sleeping. You’ve got to get your rest. A lot of young bands don’t realize that, and they just want to party and have a good time. Before you know it, they’re done. A lot of people struggle with drinking and partying too much, but it’s a business. We stay out of this stuff … We’re here to support these guys’ families and further the band.

OLD: Any drumming advice for our visitors and members?

JOE: My best advice is if you want to do it, don’t give up on it. That’s kind of where I was . I just kept trying to find a band to get into, but I couldn’t find a band in Houston, Texas where I grew up that was very serious. So, I ended up stumbling across a touring band, and I lucked out getting a gig and trying out and moving out to Phoenix.

I’m always trying to make connections. Be friends with people. Be cool with people. Don’t burn any bridges. This industry is tiny. Everybody knows everybody. Be a good hang, and practice and get better and better, and if you’re good and a good hang, you have the opportunity to get the gig. Just get better as a drummer and try to make some connections, and if you want to be a drummer, find something. You’ve got to get started somewhere.

Check out Joe Rickard in Red’s Latest Album – Release The Panic