Matty Clark – Anchored – Exclusive OnlineDrummer.com InterviewNate Brown
OLD: What do you do to get warmed up?
Matty Clark: A lot of stretching, because I am a really heavy hitter. Our first song that we start the set with is a really basher-crasher kind of song. I don’t want to take it all out on the first one and then ruin the rest of the set. Also, in the back room [on the tour bus] I have a practice pad on a stand. I just sit there and do my rhythms, and I made up a rudiment selection that I use to loosen up, as well.
OLD: Would you share one of those rudiment selections?
Matty Clark: Sure, I like to do a single-stroke pattern, and then flam accents into double-triplets. Double-triplets are like doing a regular triplet but “doubling” it, like you do with diddles [2 on each stick RRLLRR].
OLD: When you play your songs live, a lot of people wonder, do you play them the same way each time?
Matty Clark: Sometimes. I have noticed on this tour we will have a limited amount of space on stage, so I normally use less drums or smaller drums. So, I will have to modify my parts, and then sometimes by modifying one little thing I will do a completely different fill.
I mean, I like to keep it interesting. When you play the same set so many times, it’s good that you have it locked down and know everything to a “T”; but after so long doing the same thing, I gotta keep it interesting, so I can keep having fun; otherwise, you just get bored.
OLD: Do you ever get any fans that say, “Hey, wait a minute. You changed it up!” or something like that?
Matty Clark: No, everything we are playing here is all new markets for us. In the past, I have had that, though. We will do something different than the album. They know the album to a T, so they are like, “Wow, what was that?” I don’t know what I did. I’m just kind of winging it (laughing).
OLD: A lot of guys want to know how much of an emphasis should be put on showmanship. How much emphasis do you think a drummer should put on learning showmanship?
Matty Clark: I think engaging the crowd is good. Even though I am tucked behind my drums, and I am in the back, you got the front man in their face, you get the guitarist doing solos or whatever, the drummer is always kind of on the back burner; but I try to get “up front” as much as I can while still sitting behind the kit, you know. I do big arm motions, really throw ‘em out there.
Stick tricks, to some degree, I do like stick tricks a lot; but I don’t overdo it. If you’re going to do that stuff, make sure it’s not when the guitar player is doing a solo. Don’t take away from his limelight by distracting the audience. In due time, you know.
Sometimes, I will throw the stick straight up in the air before I slam it down on the snare. Visually, it creates an emphasis. If you have a big, hard drum part, using visual effects redefines that part of it.
OLD: Tell us about your setup.
Matty Clark: Like I said, I play really hard, and so I was tearing through cymbals. I went to bigger rides; but I like rides that aren’t so… I don’t know.. Some rides are just brutal to your ears. They don’t ever shut up, they’re just loud and obnoxious.
My favorite ride is the Zildjian Sweet Ride because you get nice bell work on it; you get nice tone out of it; but you can also crash it, and it sounds great. There’s a lot of control on that cymbal.
OLD: How many sticks do you go through a day (laughing)?
Matty Clark: Oh, it’s unbelievable, man. I think out of the last three or four shows, I have already burned through about half a brick (laughing).
I ask other drummers, “How do you not break sticks?” They usually tell me I play way too hard – like an animal. I am like, I know, but that’s how I play; that’s me.
OLD: You break a lot of cymbals, too?
Matty Clark: When I am home from tours, I don’t just shelf my kit. I am back on the kit all the time, constantly learning, constantly picking the brains of my other drummer friends, saying, “Hey, how do you do this?” or whatever, trading off beats. Anything, you know. The moment you think that you don’t have to practice anymore, quit. You are not going anywhere.
OLD: A lot of guys would love to do what you’re doing: traveling around on a bus like this, touring the country and playing music for a living. How does what you thought touring would be like compare to what it actually is like now that you’re on the road?
Matty Clark: This tour is actually really nice. Being on this tour bus is great for the comfort, because if you are going off for the long haul, it’s nice to bring the element of home with you. Getting to stretch out and lay in a bunk, that whole bit, having the kitchen in here, fridge — it just creates a little more comfort for you.
I have done a lot of van tours in my day, years of van tours, and it’s such close quarters. Here you are with your best friends — hopefully they are your best friends, your band mates. God forbid that you don’t like the guys you are playing with, because that’s got to be terrible. But being in a van, phew, it gets really close, really quick.
OLD: Do you guys have a permanent driver with you?
Matty Clark: Yeah. Actually, this bus is from Chester’s Coaches, and Chester is actually driving us right now. Chester is a cool dude. He has been driving for 35 years, so he has been there, seen everything, and he is just funny as hell. He is entertaining.
He can drive all night with a few cups of coffee, but he is never dangerous. He is never going to drive tired. We’ve had a couple of times where he just pulled over, “Let me get a half-hour’s sleep and get my wits about me”. He’s a cool dude.
OLD: As far as studio recording, tell us a little about your first recording experience.
Matty Clark: I was 15. The band that I was playing for, I’d just joined them about two weeks prior. They had this great deal with a small window of opportunity for recording. It was with a producer named Sylvia Massy — who has done everyone from Green Jellÿ to Tool — and a great, great engineer, great producer. And here I was, just some young 15-year-old punk.
When we were setting up, she had a bunch of drum gear to choose from. I’m like “Oh, sweet! I never get to play this.” I was so excited.
She has a whole room full of gear, and I was pulling everything out, testing everything… Like I even knew the difference at this point.
She asked me if I had my click-track tempos, and I’m like, “What’s a click track?” I had no idea; I had never recorded before. Thank goodness I was only 15, and I learned a lot from it at that young age, because she was really nice. You can get a bad producer who’ll just tell you, “Get the hell out of here. We’re calling someone in. I’m not gonna deal with this guy”.
OLD: A lot of new drummers, they can play; but they don’t see the value of playing with the metronome.
Matty Clark: I always like a metronome, and even when I am warming up, I warm with a metronome. I will take it at a certain BPM, really slow to start, and then kick it up a couple of BPM; that’s how I warm up every day. I even have an iPhone with a metronome app on it.
OLD: Now, you said you have a practice pad back there. Do they allot you a time to practice, or do you just kind of take over and…
Matty Clark: I kind of take over, because I also sing for the band, as well; I sing backup. I have to sing a lot of the high parts. So, I have to do vocal warm-ups, too. I go back, and I have a vocal warm-up CD that I get my voice tuned up with. Nobody wants to be around when I’m doing vocal warm-ups (laughing).
OLD: All right, as far as tuning, how often do you have to tune or change your heads?
Matty Clark: Well, that also comes into play with how heavy of a hitter I am, because I just go through ‘em. They get out of tune pretty quickly. I have a drum set from my buddy Mikey. He works for Shine Drums — that’s who I am sponsored by, Shine Drums —
He is my A&R and my drum tech. He actually built my kit himself, and he knows how to maintain it really well. I am fortunate to have someone with his knowledge.
OLD: If you could only pass along one piece of advice the guys just coming up and learning, what do you think that would be?
Matty Clark: Well, for me, I would say that practice pad, man. When I was starting off, I didn’t even want to go near it; I didn’t care about rudiments. I just wanted to get on the kit and play around.
And I spent a long time just doing that and not learning much of anything. Once I buckled down and started learning rudiments and getting those annoying details, it became a habit, then I started progressing a lot more.
OLD: Tell us about your greatest experience as a drummer.
Matty Clark: I notice that drummers get along well. Some guitar players, they kind of butt heads. I don’t know what it is about that.
I used to play for a band called Headrush, with the old front man from a band called Splender. We were playing the Phoenix Theater out in Petaluma, California, opening up for Flight.
At that time, I had no sponsorships (this was years ago), no money to buy new stuff, and I was tearing through it all. I had “Frankenstein syndrome”: I was just beating ‘em, you know, beating ‘em to a pulp. They were literally leaning. The weight was distributed weird, just big chunks out of it.
And the drummer for Flyleaf was like, “Man, it’s time for new cymbals”, and I’m like “I know; I can’t afford any right now”, He was like “Oh, that’s terrible.” You know, and here he is, he’s got his tech setting up his kit, and he’s got plenty of things to choose from.
He was a really nice guy. We hung out a little bit and got a good vibe from him. I came back to my kit later on, and I had brand-new cymbals on my kit. And I was like “I can use these?”. He was like “You can use ‘em whenever you want, man, they’re yours.” He just gave me brand-new cymbals.
You know, that was one of those moments where I was like “Okay, this guy doesn’t even really know me. He doesn’t have to be nice to me. I’m just opening up for his band, and he went above and beyond. That’s one of the stories that will always stick with me.
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