CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE GIG
When watching a great basketball player like Larry Bird or Michael Jordan, we see complete, controlled movements. They simply make it look easy. Thus is the case with Progressive metal master-drummer Danny Carey. As he moves in and out of various time signatures, he flows seamlessly. He plays with total control and as he executes one of his many challenging fills – you know, the ones we’re all trying to cop - he does it powerfully and smoothly. After one of his blazing solos, the crowd reacts much the same way. Cheering. Like in sports, endorsement relationships create awareness of a brand by promoting the artist in conjunction with the instruments they use. Choosing the right tool for the job is not only crucial for proper execution, but also for image. The artist’s reputation is associated with this decision, so it’s not to be taken lightly. This is the case with Danny Carey and he takes very seriously what goes out on stage with him. For 20 years, his cymbal of choice has been the Paiste signature series. And now with Tool heading into the studio to create yet another masterpiece, Danny’s signature sound palette will give him just what he needs to paint the picture.
So, you guys are back in writing mode right now?
Yes… Justin, Adam & i are working on some stuff and Maynard will join us in another month or so, once he finishes up with his ‘other band’. We’d like to get in the studio by may or June and hopefully get our new record done by the fall…we’ll see how things go. Right now, we’re throwing riffs around and seeing what feels good. So far, it’s turning out to be a bit more on the heavier side…Adam is really rockin’ out, so it’s exciting.
With playing the odd-meter, polyrhythmic stuff you guys do, how do you work that stuff out?
With our odd-time changes, I try to work out the patterns with different limbs and see what makes sense musically around the kit. I’ll work on 7 against 4…stuff like that and see what fits within the composition. There are times when i don’t even know what time signature it’s in…it’s more about feeling the phrases. I’ll work out groupings of 2s and 3s, feel the pulse and then internalize it and I just feel freer over the top of it. Doing it this way, I can be more a part of the melody and harmony of the song and not just the timekeeper.
What about your band Volto? how’s that going?
Yeah, great…we just got finished tracking and we’re mixing it now with the same guy who mixed the last Tool record. It’s kind of like old 70’s fusion, ala Billy Cobham or Jeff Beck. We’re really excited about it.
You’ve been using the signature series for a long time. I know you have some real favorites.
Some of the first cymbals you gave me, I’m still using. My sound edge hi-hats are killin’ and my ride is still the same 22" dry heavy. It’s gotten better with age and I love how dry it sounds now. It has a great ping and the articulation always comes through nicely with it.
With other projects and recordings you work on, do you change your setup depending?
I pretty much stick with my same setup… I might swap out different sizes of signature crashes, some 20s, etc. I also like the Dark Energys and for me, they have a softer dynamic so that’s a nice color to add in, amidst my sigs. For high volume, the signatures really hold up with my bashing and really match my drums well.
What other projects have you’ve done lately that come to mind?
I did a track recently for Skinny Puppy, which was really fun. It was their “Greater Wrong Of The Right” release. I also filled in briefly for Tobias Ralph with the Adrian Belew Power trio and we co-billed with Tony Levin’s trio. That was really fun! I had to learn 14 tunes really fast, so it was a good challenge for me.
Didn’t you also share some bills with King Crimson in the past too?
Yeah, they opened up for Tool some years ago and i got to play a bit with Pat Mastelotto, which was great. Then, they returned the favor and asked another band i play with – Pigmy Love Circus, to open for them. I got to sit in w/Crimson a few times, which was a total dream-come-true for me, that’s for sure. Since Pat’s a Paiste guy, it was fun to sit in on his kit. He has a really interesting setup and is a great sound-source guy.
When you signed with Paiste, only a few years prior to that, we had introduced the signature line. So, you really began using them 20 years ago!
The first time I heard them, I was floored. Such beautiful overtones and they blend so well with guitars – especially for the stuff I do with Tool. They cut perfectly and do so with such a musical character. I just love them.