Tim Rails – Seasons After – Exlusive OnlineDrummer.com InterviewNate Brown
Interviewer: How do you warm up before a show? A lot of people say they warm up with Red Bull [haha].
Tim Rails: Yeah, sometimes it really depends on the day, like where you were the night before, how long the journey was, and all that type of stuff, how tired I am, whether or not I should drink any energy drinks before we play.
But as far as warming up, I mean, I do stretches. It’s kind of funny, because when I don’t stretch, I can definitely tell. I will pull a muscle or something in my shoulder just because of the way that I play. I am really kind of lively and all over the place. So I do a lot of stretching.
And then I have a Roland SPD-S sampler that I use live on stage, and it works really good as a little practice pad too because it’s got bounce, and I will warm up on that with a pair of sticks for a good 10, 15, 20 minutes before we play.
Interviewer: Is the Roland like a Rhythm Coach too or is that just a sampler?
Tim Rails: That one is just a sampler. They do make a drum machine that has everything in it basically. You can program your own loops, and it’s got a tempo and everything on it, but that one specifically just samples. It basically has nine pads on it and you have different channels, that you can have nine different pads on each channel. So it’s really cool to have, easy to rock live.
Interviewer: Now, stemming from that, you said you use it live, does that mean you’ve got a click [metronome] going in the ear?
Tim Rails: No, I actually don’t use a click, maybe I should. We are actually pretty dead on. The reason why I use it is because, there are like certain samples on the album, like the beginning of ‘Through Tomorrow’, which is like a drum loop that we built in the studio, and so I like to use that live.
And then we also have a trigger that I use, that’s live like that, and then ‘Cry Little Sister’ has some samples. But the main thing that I use it for are the 808 bass drop that I have on it, because I kind of go crazy with those live. I don’t know. I love that sound, and it’s cool. If you get a good sound system or whatever, with a lot of bass in it and that stuff, people dig that.
Interviewer: So you do have your bass triggered?
Tim Rails: I do. I have it triggered through the sampler actually. So I do a hybrid to where they will mike the front of the bass drum, plus, I have a Roland trigger that goes through my Roland sampler. It’s kind of modeled after a Vinnie Paul style sound, how he used to tape quarters to his drumhead, to get that little poppy sound. It’s kind of modeled after that, it sounds like, and that’s mixed in with the deep bass sound.
Interviewer: Now, as far as muffling the bass drum, a lot of guys muffle their bass drum completely full of whatever and let the mikes do the work. How do you muffle your bass?
Tim Rails: Actually, what’s worked for me, so far, and I love the sound that I get out of it is, I have one of those Evans EQ pads – you know that little pillow that you put in there? I have had it for a while, and I continue to use it, even though I switched over to Remo drumheads. And that’s helped too. I switched over to the Remo BLACK SUEDE drumhead, and for some reason that gives it more like a deeper punch, and it also stays in tune a lot of better, all around the kit, the top and bottom.
Interviewer: They stay in tune even with all the traveling?
Tim Rails: Yeah. And I could plug something else too, because another thing that helps me keep everything in tune is actually my cases. They are called Protection Racket Cases, and they are from this company that’s over in the UK.
Interviewer: Soft cases?
Tim Rails: Yeah, they are soft cases. What’s cool about them, and I can show you, I can pull one open, is they have a wool lining on the inside of it, and it keeps all the moisture out, and it keeps them in tune, so you don’t get rust or anything like that on all of your rims.
Interviewer: What are those cases called?
Tim Rails: It’s called Protection Racket, and I am sponsored by those guys too, but they are from overseas. They have a distributor here, but it’s hard to find them. You would have to go to a specialist store in order to get them.
Interviewer: As far as on stage, when you are playing the show, can you talk a little bit about showmanship?
Tim Rails: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think I am the most flashy drummer by any means. I try to do what I can. But it’s actually really hard playing some music that we play to get into it as much as I do. You know what I mean? I am always a mess by the end of a set. I am just am sweating from head to toe. Just because — I mean, I know the crowd gets into it, and I like to try to look like I am having some sort of fun back there, rather than just looking bottled up.
Interviewer: That’s one of the questions a lot of people ask, how much of an emphasis should they put on learning showmanship?
Tim Rails: Well, it’s definitely important. I mean, to get the songs down tight and make sure you can play tight live, because in my opinion, I would rather see a really tight, good drummer not move at all.
For example, Rev, from Avenged, that guy didn’t move at all, but he was amazing, I mean flawless. And I would rather see something like that than to see somebody that’s just all over the place, but dropping sticks and stuff like that.
But I mean, once you got it down and you start experimenting, like throwing the stick. I do stuff like spit water up in the air or whatever, just theatrics and stuff, but it really makes the live show that much more fun for people watching, and you will find you will enjoy it a lot better too.
Because you get into a routine, every song you will figure out something to put here and something to put there, and after a while it kind of just builds on themselves.
Interviewer: Alright, talk about Dirtbag.
Tim Rails: Dirtbag is actually a clothing company. They have been around for a while. They built a record label a little over a year ago, and we were the first band assigned to them. And then just a few months back we actually signed a deal with Warner Music Group. So the official is now Dirtbag DBM records. ILG, which is Independent Label Group. They worked with Janus – so it’s kind of like a collaboration with Warner Music Group.
Interviewer: So your most recent deal was with Warner Music Group?
Tim Rails: Yeah.
Interviewer: How long ago was that?
Tim Rails: We actually found out about that just a couple of months ago. I guess they had been working on the deal with them for a while, and we were playing a show in Madison, Wisconsin, and we actually found out that night at the show.
Interviewer: They were there?
Tim Rails: They announced it. Well, there was a couple of guys that I think represented somebody in Warner Music Group. They were actually in the crowd. But what happened was, our indie label, Dirtbag music, they actually sent an email over to — it was a radio show — so they sent an email over to the radio host of the show, and said, hey, make this announcement on the show; we didn’t know anything about it.
So right before we went on stage, he gets on stage and he says, this next band has just signed a major label deal with Warner Music, so they are officially major label artist or something like that. We were just like, what? I guess we are not supposed to be on yet. Yeah, it’s like, did we get bumped off the show, what’s going on?
So yeah, we have been with those guys, and they are re-releasing the album. It’s coming out March 23.
Interviewer: Talk about the re-release.
Tim Rails: Yeah, it was released under the indie label, and then what we did was we went back into California, with Joe Marlett, who has worked with Blink-182, and he has worked with a lot of big name bands, and he did a great job mixing and editing the old album, and we went in and recorded a new acoustic song for ‘Cry Little Sister’. It’s going to be on the album.
Interviewer: So it was like a remixing or editing or rerecording?
Tim Rails: We went in and recorded a few guitar parts and some vocals.
Interviewer: And the drums —
Tim Rails: Yeah. The original producer of the album, his name is Alex Gerst, he is out of — around Dallas, Texas. He is amazing at getting a good drum sound. Yeah, he barely had to do anything in the new editing process, as far as like — he brought up the levels, little bit different stuff like that, but the album is going to sound amazing this time around. I am really excited to hear it. The drum sound is going to be killer.
Interviewer: A lot of people want to know, how do I write the drum part, and when I do, if I get signed, is someone going to say, hey, let’s change it?
Tim Rails: In my situation, there wasn’t a whole lot of that. We kind of pitched on what we had and they were happy — there were just some things, as far as radio goes, songs gets chopped up a little bit and moved around, as people have heard with Slipknot and other bands that they listen to. They listen to the album, and then working on the radio will be a little bit different. It’s mostly just for timing stuff. But there was some of that going on with our original songs, but for the most part, everything stays exactly the same.
Interviewer: When writing a drum part, what do you think about?
Tim Rails: Actually I am inspired mostly by the rhythm guitar.
We actually just hooked up with a new guitar player a few months ago. His name is James, and we are starting to write new songs for the next album.
So it’s kind of nice, because he is more of a lead guitar player, and it’s nice to be able to feed off of him, because I am so used to feeding off of a rhythm guitar player. But him and Dawson, both, they work well together and they kind of just come up with these riffs and stuff, and they bring them to the table, and then I kind of write on top of those, and then the bass and the vocals come in on top of everything.
Yeah, but I work primarily with the guitar, a lot of the drummers do work with the bass player but —
I don’t know. I think I hear like a guitar player hears, so I kind of know what they are thinking. I can’t play the guitar, but I know what they are thinking. When they write a riff, I can kind of understand where they are trying to get with it and what kind of drum beat. James is a drummer, our guitar player, he is a drummer, so it helps too, because we can talk about what you are thinking when you are writing the guitar parts.
And if I don’t understand exactly what he is thinking, I can be like, come back here on the drum set and then show me what you are thinking, and I will just work off of that. Yeah, it’s really cool. I am lucky to have people in my band that I can communicate with and know exactly what they are looking for.
Interviewer: After you write your part and you are playing it each night, Do you play it the same way each night?
Tim Rails: I do for the most part. I know exactly what I should be playing every night. But we have been playing these songs for about four years now, the same songs. We have been writing new songs, but we can’t play them live yet. We have been playing these songs for so long that I just kind of experiment every night a little bit, just because it’s fun for me to. I could play these songs in my sleep at this point.
Interviewer: You probably have more leeway than a guitar player.
Tim Rails: Exactly, yeah. A lot of drummers will notice, when I play something different, too… They are like, wait a minute, wait a minute, that’s not supposed to be there.
Interviewer: But that’s not the casual fan…
Tim Rails: That’s a good point, because it depends on where we are playing too. If we are playing like a radio show and we are playing a radio song, I will try to play it exactly like it is on the radio, just because that’s what people expect, and I don’t want them to think that I don’t know how to play our own songs.
Interviewer: Then you improvise something and then they love it, and then you have got to play it that way over and over again.
Tim Rails: Exactly. That’s what’s so cool about being in the studios, because you have all your drum parts ready to go, and then you get into the studio and you are playing them and you play something completely different and you are stuck with that. And now you have to play that thing all the time.
Interviewer: If you could only pass along one piece of advice to the next drumming generation, what do you think it would be?
Tim Rails: I think my biggest regret probably was not being so open. When I first started playing, I would only listen to a certain style of music, and I would only want to play a certain style of music. I didn’t take lessons, I was self-taught, so I probably don’t have the rudiments that some drummers do, as far as being capable of doing just everything possible on the drum set.
To people that are learning how to play and that want to play well, I would say, just experiment with all different kinds of music.
If you listen to Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy, just to listen to all the stuff that he does. He mixes all these different genres of music, and he puts them together in one song, and it’s just like — that’s my biggest regret that I didn’t grow up learning how to do everything, so now I am trying to catch up and learn how to do all these different things too.
But it’s fun too, because I am always learning. I am always learning how to play a different style or to come up with a new riff or something like that. So I would say, yeah, listen to a lot of music and get into it. Don’t be like, oh, well, I don’t want to play this drum beat because it’s a hip-hop song or something like that, because it really teaches you how to play that style of music, so it’s really cool.
Interviewer: A lot of bands run into trouble when it comes to signing and publishing rights of the song and things like that. What’s your experience — as far as anything to look out for or to keep in mind for the drummers if they are finding bands?
Tim Rails: Well, I would say the biggest thing that we run into, and this is pretty much for my entire band, not just for the drummer, but just covering any song or rewriting any song that’s already been written is very difficult and should be taken with a grain of salt, because the publishing rights on those kinds of things are like — I mean, it’s basically — you basically get nothing from it.
So I mean, if you are looking to make money on what you are doing, I would try to think about that, but as far as all that kind of stuff, all of our songs that I have personally written and taken credit on, I have published through ASCAP.
Our album comes out March 23, it should be everywhere. So it will be exciting to see what that does.
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