Dillon Ray Brings A New Throne To Burn HaloNate Brown
Dillon Ray makes the leap from playing bluegrass in Tulsa, Oklahoma to headbanging, in-your-face rock as he takes over the throne for Burn Halo. Growing his hair out long and laying down grooves that would make a royal guard tap his foot, Dillon brings his unique style and personality along to continue the full, enthusiastic sound that defines Burn Halo.
OLD: Can you share some advice on being a team player in a new band? Anything important to keep in mind?
You want to make your band sound good. You don’t want just the drums sounding good. It all has to do with appropriate dynamics and keeping it simple. One thing I’ve learned so far in my music career is that the band is one. Make the band sound good.
OLD: What do you like to do to get warmed up before a show?
Dillon: Usually everything is going really fast before the show, and there’s stuff not done yet. We’re all running around like chickens with our heads cut off! [laughs] If I have the time to to sit down, I’ll take a practice pad to the side and spend 15-20 minutes on it. I might put on Avenged Sevenfold and improvise on the pad to get loose. Lately, at the end of the last tour we did, there wasn’t much time to sit down before a show.
At least, every night before I do anything, I always stretch.
OLD: Can you share a stretch that helps you?
Dillon: I Take my fingers and bend them back toward my forearms. My forearms and calves are the first thing to go out in a show.
OLD: What do you do to increase the visual aspect of your drumming? How much of a focus do you put on it?
Dillon: I definitely forcus on the visiual. I just recently grew out my hair, so that adds a lot more. This is definiltey the longest my hair’s ever been. A drummer can’t get up and headbang or move around on stage, but I try to get into it as much as I can. I just move really hard and get my head into it and throw a few stick flips in there. I’ve been working on those, and I’m getting pretty good at the flips.
OLD: What do you do right after a show? Do you do a meet-and-greet with the fans?
Dillon: A couple of the guys usually go straight to the merch booth, but I am probably the last person to get there because I’m sweaty and hot. I go backstage or the closest place with an air conditioning, sit down and relax with an ice cold beverage.
OLD: Do you have any advice for recording in the studio?
Dillon: My first time recording a major album, my adrenaline was going, and my mind was going 100 miles per hour, and it was hard to remember that the clicks per minute weren’t also 100 miles per hour [laughs]. Pace is a big thing. We had a lot of mess-ups that we had to redo because I was either really excited or really tired and just wanted to get the song over with.
My advice is to stay relaxed. There were a couple of times I had to walk away — went for a walk around the block to clear my head for a little bit — just because it was either nerve-racking or tiresome. Definitely pacing yourself is an important thing.
OLD: For an up-and-coming drummer looking to do what you do, what advice could you give?
Dillon: I tried to teach a couple of years ago. There was a guy that wanted me to teach his son, but it only lasted about three lessons. I cannot teach to save my life.
When I was little I took a few lessons. They started me out on the snare drum. I definitely didn’t want to be confined to one drum. I wanted to learn everything really fast.
As far as new advice to a younger kid, I don’t know if I would be the person to ask. I grew up on my dad’s lap, starting at age 3. Everyone in my family plays an instrument. I grew up with it around me all the time.
It’s a long road to learning. Patience is an important thing. Meet as many people as you can along the path. Always surround yourself with better musicians.
OLD: Do you have any road stories you’d like to share?
Dillon: We were playing a show in NY, and we got done a little early. Avenged Sevenfold was mixing their records in NY. James, our singer, went to to HS with the guys from Avenged, so we met up with them and went out for awhile. It ended up lasting until 5 in the morning.
I fell asleep in the van — the first one to fall asleep. When I woke up I went into the gas station, and I bought a candy bar or something and a huge water. I walked back out to the van, and my wife called me and said, “Hey, your picture’s all over the Internet, you know? Somebody drew all over you!”
I looked in the mirror, and I had a mustache drawn on me and the word WISEGUY written across my forehead in permanent marker. I had gone into that gas station, and I didn’t realize why everyone was looking at me like I was crazy.
OLD: If you could only pass along one piece of drumming advice to the next generation, what would that be?
Dillon: Surround yourself with really good musicians. A band is only as good as its weakest link. If you surround yourself with good mucisicans and good people, you can’t not accel. If you’re pursuing this seriously, definitely surround yourself with pepole who are as good as you or better.