A big part of any successful interview is the preparation that's done before theactual interview takes place. It's during this stage that the interviewer gets afix on the interviewee. But trying to size up Queen's Roger Taylor proved to beno easy task. As the drummer for one of England's biggest rock bands of the 70's- to date, Queen has sold well over 50 million records - it was Taylor's view ofhis profession that caused me the most problems.
Taylor, I sensed, didn't liketo view himself as a drummer, even though that's what he's been since hischildhood days. In addition, he sort of hinted that didn't know much (or case toknow much) about the technical aspects of drumming, even though he's always beena highly respected and wonderfully proficient drummer. But the clincher was thatTaylor, at least what I'd heard from friends in the business, didn't even liketo talk about the drums. Yet he consented to speak with "Modern Drummer", of allmagazines. A difficult interview? It sure seemed that way.
On the way to theManhattan hotel where Taylor and the rest Queen were lodging, I conjured up amental picture of Taylor dismissing my questions. If he didn't want to talkabout drums or drumming, what then would he want to talk about? The assumptionthat most people who listen to rock either love Queen or hate it? Perhaps we'ddiscuss the problems Queen has had with the rock press over the years. There wasalways Freddie Mercury, the audacious and often brazen lead singer of the band.Maybe the interview would revolve around the joys of being a rock star? Whoknew? Whatever the case, I braced myself for a long afternoon - or a short one,depending on how I looked at it. As it turned out, Roger Taylor proved to be amost interesting subject. The things I had previously heard or read about himwere, for the most part, on target. However, Taylor answered all my questions -even the detailed drum questions - and did so in such a warm, affable mannerthat it was impossible not to feel comfortable with him. It's true, Taylordoesn't like to consider himself a drummer in the traditional sense of the term.And he doesn't especially like talking about the inner secrets of his instrumentand the way he plays it. But he had his reasons, and those, I think, were whatmade the conversation so interesting.
ROGER TAYLOR - BY ROBERT SANTELLI
RS: You're a drummer who not onlyplays drums, but sings, writes songs, and plays a vert active role in thedirection that Queen takes. Some drummers might think that's an awful lot ofresponsibility. Is it?
RT: No, I don't think so. I think drummers suffer from a misrepresentation ofimage too often. Traditionally, drummers have been regarded as the stupid onesin rock bands. It's a bit unfair, and because of it, being a drummer is athankless task sometimes. There's responsibility involved in what I do, but it'snice to broaden ones horizon. These days it's funny, because I think of myselfas more of a musician than a drummer.
RS: Why the change?
RT: Well, it's because I've been spending alot of time in control rooms, Isuppose. Also, half my job in Queen is drumming; the other half is singing. Istarted off as a drummer and then all these things like singing and writing sortof followed.
RS: How do you balance your singing and writing with drumming?
RT: Strangely enough, singing and drumming never bothered me, although I knowof drummers who do have problems with the two. See, back when I was in school,the singing bit was forced on me one day when the lead singer in the band I wasplaying with suddenly picked up and left. We had to do the gig and I had tosing. That's basically how I became a vocalist.
RS: Sounds as if it was a very spontaneous thing.
RT: In a way, yes it was. But before that I used to do some backup singing. Ifound singing and drumming much easier than I expected. Mind you, that was along time ago. I never had a time problem, so that was a big plus. Butphysically speaking, it was very exhausting. I mean just playing drums itself isvery demanding.
RS: Do you do anything to keep in shape?
RT: I wish I did. I'm thinking of getting a bit of gym equipment to keep athome because I'm getting older. It's definately time to start shaping up.
RS: How did you get involved with writing songs? Did you always write?
RT: No, I didn't. When we first started Queen and I first met Brian [May,Queen's guitarist], I wasn't really good enough on the guitar to write. Youcan't really write if you just play drums; you need something else, like theguitar. I enjoyed playing the instrument and eventually, I taught myself towrite by watching and listening to other people. It wasn't easy at first, and inthe beginning, the songs were far from great.
RS: How accomplished are you on guitar?
RT: Well, I really don't know how good I am on guitar. I know I have a goodsense of rhythm. I wouldn't say I was accomplished on the instrument, but I'mnot bad.
RS: How do you go about composing a song? Is there any personal methodologyyou use?
RT: These days, I find it much easier to write melodically on keyboardsbecause piano is more geared, I think, for song writing. than any otherinstrument. The guitar is quite a difficult instrument, actually, when you'retrying to compose melodically. You have to have all your chords together, andthen you need something on top. With keyboards, you cam write the whole songright there. So what I've been doing is using a sequencer or something, andkeyboards to write material.
RS: How many instruments do you play?
RT: Guitar, keyboards and drum. That's it really, although I do a bit of knobtwiddling with electronics. I recently got a Simmons sequencer. Sequencers arequite good. I've been using a Simmons mixed in with my regular drumkit for quitesome time now. The trouble with doing that is that you've got to treat them;you've got to go through a lot of boxes to make the drums sound good.
RS: You wrote the single off Queen's latest LP, The Works, "Radio Ga Ga."It's quite an interesting song. Where did the idea to write it come from?
RT: I liked the title, and I wrote the lyric afterward. It happened in thatorder, which is a bit strange. The song is a bit mixed up as far as what Iwanted to say. It deals with how important radio used to be, historicallyspeaking, before television, and how important it was to me as a kid. It was thefirst place I heard rock'n'roll. I used to hear a lot of Dorris Day, but a fewtimes each day, I'd also hear a Bill Haley record or an Elvis Presley song.Today it seems that video, the visual side of rock'n'roll, has become moreimportant than the music itself - too much so, really. I mean, music is supposedto be an experience for the ears more than the eyes.
RS: It's no secret that songwriters and bands are writing songs with videosin mind, more so than actual musical ingredients.
RT: That's right. But it's wrong. Upside down, isn't it? It's really a bitsilly, not to mention ironic, because now a days you have to make a big,expensive video to promote your single.
RS: Back to the album for a second. Besides "Radio Ga Ga," did you play amajor role in the creation of any other songs?
RT: Well, the members of Queen contribute in one way or another in thearrangement of songs.
RS: In 1981 you released a solo album,"Fun In Space". From a drummer's pointof view, what was the solo record experience like for you?
RT: That album was a bit of a rush job, actually. I thought I'd run out ofnerve if I didn't move on it quickly. And I did it much too fast. I spent mostof last year when we weren't making "The Works", making another solo album. It'sin a much different class than the first one. It's a much, much better record.
RS: In what ways? Can you be specific?
RT: Well, for one thing, I took a year making it. I made sure the songs werestronger and simply better. I threw out a lot of songs in the process. I alsodid two cover versions of other people's songs that I'm quite happy with. I dida version of "Racing In The Street" by Bruce Springsteen. I've always loved thatsong. I did it kind of mid-tempo. hopefully the way he would have done it, if hewould have decided to do it mid-tempo. His version, of course, is very slow. Theother cover tune is a very old Dylan protest song which I did sort ofelectronically. The song is "Masters Of War." Strangely enough, a lot of thelyrics hold up quite well today. This one is done slower than "Racing In TheStreet," but it's very electronic. I use a Linn on it. It works quite nicely.
RS: What prompted you into solo recording in the first place?
RT: Well, I felt I was getting more creative, and I wanted a bigger outletfor it than Queen gave me. I wanted, I suppose, to be more than just a member ofthe band.
RS: When you write a song, how do you decide if the song should be a Queensong or one that belongs on a solo album of yours?
RT: It depends on what we're doing at the time. If I get a song on paper andthe others like it, it'll go to Queen.
RS: Have you ever agonised over, say, giving a song to Queen which you knewwould have been perfect for a solo record?
RT: That sort of thing hasn't really affected me yet because I've only hadtwo solo albums thus far. My output has never been that big with Queen. I'venever had more than a couple of songs appear on any one album. I try to keep themore personal songs for myself, I suppose. "Radio Ga Ga" would definately havebeen on my own album if that's what I was doing at the time.
RS: You said you enjoy fooling with knobs and dials. Is this something newfor you?
RT: We [Queen] got a studio in Switzerland, and I very much enjoy playingwith all the new toys that are coming out. I'm certainly more up to date withall the new gadgets out on the market than I ever was a few years ago. I'm alsoa lot more open minded about them. For instance, when electronic drums firstcame out, I didn't really like them very much because I never liked the sound ofthe bass drum. But I've found that the LinnDrum is much better in thisdepartment, and I enjoy using it. One of the things I came to find out is thatwhen people say you can't get a "human" sound out of the Linn, they're simplyoverstating the situation. Of course, there's some truth in it, but mostdrummers who still hold out against electronic drums are only doing so becausethey're fearful of losing their livelihood. It _is_ a threat, because now thedrums are really good. I mean you can even programme in the slight timingdiscrepancies that come with nonelectric drums. You can even push the beat orlay it back. It's all there, and you can do it quite easily. You can make it_sound_ human and all because this technology exists, you simply can't ignoreit. One can't be retrogressive in this business. It's like the musician's unionin England; the union took a ridiculous stand and tried to ban sythesisers.That's like standing in the way of an express train. You can't stop it.
RS: Is it conceivable for you to think that you'll be one day playing nothingbut electronic drums?
RT: I think it's quite possible. I mean the solo album I've been working onhas a hell of a lot of electronic drums on it. There's also a track on The Worksin which we've illustrated that quite well, I think. It's called "Machines."Basically, it starts off where everything's electronic - electronic drums,everything. And what you have is the "human" rock band sort of crashing in. Whatyou wind up with is a battle between the two.
RS: When you're composing songs, how do you set about constructing the drumtracks?
RT: Very often I start out electronically and then overlay the acousticdrums. Of course, each track is different, but usually I'll begin with a Linn orwith a Simmons sequencer on it. It doesn't always work, though. Sometimes it's adisaster.
RS: Can you give me an example of a failure using this approach?
RT: Well, if you have on e of those snappy tempos which is done with a boxand then you put real drums on top of it, it could wind up sounding dreadful.Actually, it all comes down to miking. Today, it's not uncommon to overmikedrums. I mean, putting 15 mic's around the kit is absurd. All the best drumsounds I've ever got came from using four mic's or five.
RS: You mentioned before your interest in the activities in the recordingstudio control room. What brought on this interest? Was it just a matter ofstaying on top of your profession?
RT: Not necessarily. I just found out that I was really getting good resultson the board. And obviously, I've spent half my life in the last 12 years incontrol rooms, so I just got to know more about their potential. I couldn't helpbut take an interest in what goes on inside the control room. But I thinkrecording studios are in the process of changing. Whether people like it or not,the control rooms ultimately wind up three or four times bigger than what theyare now, and the actual studio part will be three or four times smaller.
RS: Then surely you must advocate that young drummers coming up in thebusiness learn as much about the recording process as possible, rather than justsitting back and letting someone else in the band soak up all the knowledge.
RT: They're going to have to. Of course, it depends on how broad you wantyour knowledge to be. If you want to be a drummer and only play drums, fairenough. But I find that very narrow-minded. I could never just sit back and thedrummer, if you know what I mean. Young drummers should really learn thetechnical side of their profession. If you don't, you're going to miss out. Andone owes it oneself and one's talent to make the most of things.
RS: Why do you think England has been in the forefront when it comes toelectronics?
RT: I don't know. It's certainly true, but I don't know why. Perhaps theanswer can be found in the attitude of some musicians there, or in the way kidsare brought up there. Generations coming up are sort of force-fed popular musicfrom the age of zero. But then again, I guess that's true of America as well.The English see the music business as a form of release because the standard ofliving is low - vastly lower than what it is in the United States. For instance,no-one has air-conditioning in England. In America you can't go anywhere in thesummer without feeling it. Americans take air conditioning for granted. InEngland, it's almost unheard of.
RS: Queen began in 1971 - some 13 years ago. What were you doing just priorto the formation of the band?
RT: Freddie [Mercury] and I were trying to scrape a living. I was at college,but I wasn't attending very often. However, I was getting a grant and financinga shop where Freddie and I sold artwork. We sold his work and things friends ofhis did at the art college. That's how we kept the band going in the firstplace.
RS: Were you an artist as well?
RT: Not really. I studied dentistry and then did a degree in biology. I neverdid get a degree in dentistry.
RS: Were you in any bands with Freddie Mercury before Queen?
RT: No. I was in a band with Brian, though, and Freddie would sort of runaround with us in those days. He had a couple of band he was in, but he's alwayshad such a forceful personality that he forced himself to develop, because hewasn't such a good singer back then. He's a great singer now - immenselyconfident. I couldn't believe it. We had a jam session with Rod Stewart and JeffBeck, and Freddie was about four times louder. He has marvelous projection.Anyway, Brian and I played together, like I said. It was a three-piece bandcalled Smile. When it split up, Freddie, Brian and I decided to form a band in1970. That's how Queen started.
RS: At the time, what drummers inspired you? Who were you listening to?
RT: I always liked John Bonham, although in England he wasn't thatfashionable. But to me, he was the best rock drummer who ever lived. I'm surelots of people tell you that when you interview them.
RS: More people say Bonham that any other drummer.
RT: Well, it's true. There's no-one able to touch him in the rock world. Hewas the innovator of a particular drum style. He had the best drum sound, and hewas the fastest player. Simply stated, he was the best. Although he wasn't theeasiest person to get on with, his influence was great. He'd do things with onebass pedal that other drummers couldn't do with three. He was also the mostpowerful drummer I'd ever seen. Led Zeppelin was actually more popular inAmerica than they were in England, you know. You had to be a drummer to realisehow good John Bonham actually was. The average person on the street couldn'treally know the difference between John Bonham and the next flashy heavy metalmerchant or whatever.
RS: Why is that?
RT: The average person can't understand the subtleties of drumming or justhow difficult some of the things he used to do were.
RS: At the time, how much of an influence did he have on you and your drumstyle?
RT: A lot. I think there are a bunch of drummers in bands today who arenothing but poor Bonham copies. There are so many, and have nothing of their ownstyle. It's just John Bonham's style, but unfortunately they can't come close tohis sound. RS: How do drummers make sure that, when they're heavily influencedby other drummers, they don't wind up as merely imitators?
RT: Well, that's up to individual, really. You have to develop your ownstyle. If you're any good, you'll realise which bits work best for you. And Isuppose the thing to do is develop them.
RS: What did you do to prevent becoming a John Bonham copy?
RT: Well, I didn't want to sound like him because I knew there was no pointin sounding like someone else even back then in those days. This is true nomatter how much you admire what they do. So I just tried to incorporate certainaspects of his style into my own.
RS: Anything in particular?
RT: Well, obviously the bass drum. I mean, he invented the whole school ofplaying the bass drum in a heavy manner. I learned so much just by listening tothe first couple of Led Zeppelin albums.
RS: What are your feelings on Keith Moon?
RT: Keith Moon was great. In the early days, he was absolutely brilliant. Hehad a total unique style; he didn't owe anyone anything. The first time I sawhim preform was with the Who on '64 or '65. It was just great. The Who was anoutrageous band - real energy, real art. I loved them. I mean, to actuallydestroy your instruments - it was the most unheard of thing in music.
RS: When did you start playing the drums?
RT: [Pauses] I can't remember exactly. Can you believe it? I'll guess and saynine or ten. I remember banging on my mother's saucepans with her knittingneedles. Then, my father found an ancient snare drum in a storage bin where heworked. It was an old wood and brass thing. I started with that. Then I got areal snare drum, and then a cymbal. You didn't just get a drum kit in thosedays. I wouldn't have known what to do with a whole kit even if I had one. Thebig moment for me was when my father redid up a cheap set of old Ajax drums. Itconsisted of one tom-tom, one bass drum, one snare, and one minute Zildjiancymbal. It was about two years or so later that I got a high-hat. Drums weresomething I naturally felt kind of good at. I found the guitar a lot moredifficult to pick up at. With drums, you either have time or you don't. If youdon't have it, there's no chance you'll ever be any good, really. You can'tteach a person time. I found it very easy to pick up and play things like "WipeOut". That was the thing to do at the time. But I've never been into the verytechnical sides of drumming.
RS: I assume you never took lesson?
RT: No, I never did. But I actually used to give them believe it or not![laughs] I couldn't even read.
RS: And you still can't read today?
RT: Very slowly, but not to play. I've always found it totally irrelevant. Ijust always felt that what came from within was what I ought to play. EverytimeI see Carmen Appice he's going on about all sorts of amazing things. He might aswell be talking about cupcakes. No, I'm not really into the technical aspects ofdrumming at all.
RS: Where did you go after getting your first kit?
RT: My friends and I started a band at school. We were terrible - reallyterrible. We didn't have any worthwhile equipment. It just sort of built up fromschool until, finally, the bad bands become good bands. I was always the leaderof those bands, for some reason. I must have been a pushy one. We won a few bandcontests in the mid-60's, which was kind of a breakthrough for me. Then,eventually, I started singing as well. My career just sort of went on fromthere.
RS: Why the drums?
RT: Well, I used to walk around my bedroom with a tennis racket pretending itwas a guitar. But the drums were noisy and I found out that I better at them.Plus, I enjoyed them more.
RS: Did the Beatles have a significant impact on you as a kid?
RT: No, not at all. When they first broke, you just couldn't get around them.Everything was Beatles. But I was never crazy about their music until therelease of "Revolver". Then they got me. That album was just brilliant and itreally affected me rather strongly. But before that I preferred the Who and theYarbirds - real seminal British bands.
RS: With such early influences as the Who and Yarbirds, do you find it oddthat you play in what many people consider a "commercialised art-rock band"?
RT: No, not really. It's difficult to step back and view the band as otherpeople view it. What's the public's mental image of the band? Do they see astring of album covers? I really don't know. I know I don't see Queen as anart-rock band. When I think of art rock, I think of Roxy music.
RS: Queen has really had it tough with the press, especially American press.
RT: Yeah, that's true.
RS: What do you think brought the friction between the two? I recall somepretty abrasive articles in such magazines as "Rolling Stone" a few years back.
RT: I can't stand that magazine. They're so arrogant - and so are we! That, Isuppose, is the problem. I mean, we are a fairly arrogant band. We have had ourmoments when we were overtly tasteless. But we were also accused of being amanufactured band, which is so untrue. We were just self-generated really.Nobody _ever_ manufactured us. At one point, we were also accused of beingfascists. That was during the time of "We Will Rock You." Some people said itwas a cry of manipulation. It was no more fascist than Ray Charles' "What'd ISay." One time Rolling Stone tried to write a political piece on us. I think theguy was deaf or his battery had run out. But it was very creepy. They have thisvery superior pseudo-intellectual approach to everything. They don't approachanything with their senses. They were very nasty, and I wrote them a very nastyletter back, which they did print.
RS: In terms of nonmusical decisions made within Queen - the businessdecisions, the organisational decisions, things like that - how much of a roledo you play?
RT: Queen is very democratic. It all comes down to a vote. If it's three toone, the three win, unless the one says, "I object to this" or "I won't dothis." Then we don't do it.
RS: The band has survived quite a long time under that system. That'sunusual.
RT: Queen wouldn't be Queen if one of us left the band, or if we did thingsdifferently. The sense of unity has kept us strong. It's the same band todaythat it was when we started. I think that's good. I think that's important.There's an old saying: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts." Thatapplies to Queen.
RS: When Queen goes into the recording studio to record an album, what's yourrole?
RT: I'm totally elastic. The whole thing is down to the song. "What does thesong need?" is the main question. Whatever it needs, I'll do it. If it needs aheavy sound, we'll put the mic's in the right places, but won't use too many ofthem. The size of my kit is important, too. Sometimes I just use a snare, bassdrum and hi-hat. But other times I'll use a big kit with a lot of tom-toms. Itry to remain flexible.
RS: So you don't have one particular or favourite set of drums that youusually use in the studio?
RT: No. I have kits I tend to use more than others. I have an amazing Gretchkit in our studio over in Switzerland. It's got three toms, a snare and bassdrum. It's a great sounding kit. Some kits sound great; others don't.
RS: What kit do you use on stage?
RT: It changes all the time, but I use Ludwig because they've been sendingthem to me for quite some time. I have a single bass drum and a selection oftoms from small to big. I've always tended to use big drums, which is somethingI'm getting away from.
RS: Why's that?
RT: They're so difficult to mike. They tend to be somewhat unclear and lessdefined than smaller drums, I think. Stewart Copeland sort of provided the valueof small drums. He gets a nice, snappy sound out of those small drums. It'ssomething I've always argued with Ludwig about. They made their drums wide, butthey never made them very deep. Today, virtually all drums are as deep as theyare wide. The depth of drums is important. I also usually use a Simmons kitsprinkled around my kit. I use a couple of "RotoToms" as well. Instead of usingthem as toms, I use them as timbales because they seem to cut through real nice.As for cymbals, I use Zildjian and a few Paistes. I always change my cymbalsaround on each tour to sort of suit the mood.
RS: What's your philosophy when it comes to cymbals?
RT: It seems to be very fashionable these days to say, "Oh, I didn't use anycymbals on this record." I love cymbals. I think they're great. They providewonderful dynamics. Quite often, I'll overdub very specific cymbals. FreddieMercury has a cymbal fetish as well. Cymbals are very important; you have toknow which ones to use in which places.
RS: On stage, it seems as if you play your drums extremely loud.
RT: I do in studio as well, unless a song calls for something else, ofcourse. I'm not, however, one of those telegraph merchants. I don't believe youneed those massive sticks, because if you've got decent wrists, which I thinkany decent drummer should have, the snap comes from there. That's what makes itloud. Also, you've got to be able to do perfect rimshots. That's what makes thedrums loud, not eight-foot long telegraph poles.
RS: On the song "We Will Rock You", your beat is very loud and hard. Whatkind of sticks did you use on that song?
RT: Everybody thinks that's drums, but it's not. It's feet. We sat on a pianoand used out feet on an old drum podium. It's rather hard to explain in wordswhat we did, but what you hear isn't drums. We must have recorded it, I don'tknow, 15 times or so. We put all sorts of different repeats on it to make itsound big. There's a catch though. When we do "Rock You" live, I have to do withdrums, so everything is slightly delayed. Everything is to suit the song. Tohave just one way of working would result in the inability to change or adapt. Agood drummer must be flexible. It's imperative.
RS: As in the case of successful studio drummers?
RT: Yeah, but at the same time those people are flexible, but only in termsof the material. What they tend to do is use exactly the same equipment all thetime. Their kits have probably got tape on them which hasn't been removed foryears. I'm not knocking them, but in an important way, they're _not_ flexible.They're good at one particular thing because that's what they do all the time.They might be with Kenny Rogers one week and Motorhead the next, but it's stillthe same for them.
RS: Have you ever done, or considered doing, session work?
RT: I used to do the odd session when the band was starting out just to bringin the extra cash. When I could get it, the session was usually a percussionthing, you know, standing there and shaking something. But session work inEngland consists of a select group of musicians . It's very difficult to getinto that inner circle. You have to be as good as Simon Phillips to crack itthese days.
RS: Why is it like that? Are there so few gigs to go around?
RT: No. It's like a mafia, I suppose. There are a few key people who handlemost of the work. Hopefully, that side of the business - the Tin Pan Alleymentality - is dying. The new bands with synthesisers and all, don't really needsession musicians to appear on their albums.
RS: Is there anything you can do to get the bright tones out of your drumswhen you need them, and the subtle, soft tones when you need them?
RT: Well, I don't like using thick drumheads. That I can tell you. As far asI'm concerned, you might as well be hitting a barrel of lard. Heads should bebright and responsive, and for that, you need a thin head. Some drummers usethick heads and just batter them. What's the point? That's not my approach atall, although I do play hard. I like to hear the sound of the drums. That's whyI use thin heads. But you've got to pay constant attention to tuning them. Ihave to retune constantly throughout a concert. After every song, I retune mysnare drum. It's absolutely mind-blowing. When it's just right, it's just right.Amazingly, a lot of drummers don't tune their drums - or can't.
RS: How did you learn to tune your drums?
RT: I simply taught myself. I always remember what Keith Moon said years ago,because he was very good at this. The early Who records have great drum soundson them. He used to say, "Just make the bottom skin a little tighter than thetop skin." That's how you get that ringing sound. I hate hitting loose skins.Live, it all depends on what hall you're playing. Like at the Forum in L.A.,it's easier to get a great drum sound. But on the other hand, it's hard to get agreat drum sound in Madison Square Garden n New York.
RS: How much do you play your drums when you're not on tour or in the studio?
RT: Well, years ago I used to play them a lot. But ever since we've becomesuccessful, I almost never play them. I don't really practice, but I know Ishould. However, last year I did a little bit of work with Robert Plant. I hadto practice for that because I had to learn the material. But that was the fisttime I actually sat down and practiced for a long, long time.
RS: Do you find it difficult to get back in the swing of things once you haveto go back in the studio or on the road?
RT: Oh yeah. It's a horrible shock. I usually wind up saying, "Oh god, I'veforgotten how to do this!" But then it all comes back. You never lose theability to play, but you forget arrangements and things like that.
RS: What about the quality of your drum playing?
RT: Oh that's affected too. I always need a few days of rehearsal before weget into playing seriously. It always come back, though. As for touring, thehardest thing is building up stamina. In the future, I plan to prepare myselfphysically for touring to make it a bit easier. But there are no exercises adrummer can do to get tuned up to perform except play. You develop certainmuscles when you play the drums, and no exercise seems to work them fully that Iknow of. This is especially true of the legs. Skiing and tennis are very bad fordrummers; unfortunately, these are two activities I enjoy doing. But they workagainst the development of one's drumming muscles for one reason or another.
RS: What are your feelings towards touring?
RT: Sometimes I love it; sometimes I hate it because it's incredibly tedious.We usually have a good time on the road. That always helps.
RS: For a drummer like yourself who has achieved success, is it difficult foryou to carry on that special sort of relationship, for lack of a better term,with your drumkit? In other words, is your drumkit your instrument or yourbusiness tool?
RT: I know Carmine Appice is just in love with drums to a greater degree thanI am or ever will be. As a kid, I just used to love my drums. Now it's just moreand more, a tool, to use your term. That's probably bad. But I must say, I alsofind it quite difficult to talk about drums, because what I know about them Iprobably learned quite a long time ago. I never did get kicks out of talkingabout, say, the latest foot pedals. I find it incredibly boring. I just knowwhat I like, so I don't really think about it.
RS: But how you perceive your drums is what I'd really like to get from you.
RT: Well, sometimes I hate the sight of the damn things! [laughs] Other daysI look at them sort of lovingly. I mean, I'm not Charlie Watts, who's still inlove with his Gretch kit after all these years. One of my problems is that Ichange kits so often. This makes me figure my latest kit is just another kit -that's all. See, it all goes back to what I said earlier on. I don't really seemyself as a drummer in the pure sense. My love of drums has been taken over bymy love of music. In fact - talk about ironies - I collect guitars. When I was akid, I always wanted a lovely drumkit. But I could never afford one. Now I havetons of money and they keep giving them to me. It's crazy. So I collect guitars.I have a reasonable collection of very old Fenders. I love Fender guitars. Icould actually get more pleasure looking at guitars than I do at the drums. Ido, however, have a room full of drums at home. This is all probably sinful tosay since this is a "Modern Drummer" interview, but it's true.
RS: Do you ever exert pressure on yourself to sound better than the nightbefore, or set out to outdo your efforts in the studio or are you beyond thatsort of thing?
RT: I used to do that. But I think I've matured in that I concentrate on theoverall sound of the band now. I know when I play well. On tour, I constantlyhave to play well. If I have a bad night, I feel terrible about it. But I canusually kick myself to get it together even when I'm not having a great night.But my main thing is to look at the effect the whole band is having on theaudience. I'm really more concerned about that than anything else. That's themost important thing when you really get down to it.