Posts Tagged ‘com’

Matt Halpern interview – Periphery &

Matt Halpern – Periphery and

Matt Halpern is from Washington DC, home of his current band, Periphery, who have just released their second album and toured as Dream Theater’s support last year. He also runs, which allows people to have lessons online, and in person, with their favourite musicians, even while they are on tour. I caught up with Matt over the Meinl Drum Festival weekend in June, where he told me about life on the road with Periphery, touring with Dream Theater and branching out in the current climes of the music industry.

Tell me your drumming story so far

I started at a very young age, maybe three or four. I was tapping all the time on pots and pans so my parents saw that I had an aptitude for it and they put things in front of me to see what I would do. I had these kiddy drum sets and I would play on those until they would break and eventually they realised they needed to get me a real drum set. By the time I was five or six I had my first real drum set and I started taking lessons, just very basic stuff. I learnt how to read and about the basic rudiments and then was told to play a lot of songs. I practised how to learn to memorise music and it got me into liking music through drumming.

Because I was so used to playing with songs and learning different styles of music, I found other musicians that were older than me to play with. Because I”d started young I was more advanced than the kids who were my age so I was playing with kids that were older than me, writing music, recording music and then one band led to another and another. By the time I hit middle school and high school I was doing a lot of different drum competitions with drum solos; I”ve done the Guitar Center and so forth, then throughout high school I began teaching students that were a lot younger than me to get the feel for it.

I was 16 years old and needed to pay my gas bill for driving my new car so I started teaching. I used a lot of the stuff I”d used when I was coming up and when I hit college and went to university I paid a lot of my bills through gigging locally in the Baltimore/Maryland area. There were a lot of different bars I would play in the DC area; I”d play a few times a week with guys that were way better than me at their instruments and they taught me how to play in different settings, whether it”s a tiny bar or a big venue. I learnt how to play appropriately in different venues and for different styles of music and I was always into pushing myself and trying to get better. I”d grown up in an area where there were a lot of good drummers around so I was always into drum solos and being on top of all the new cool tricks to do.

After playing in certain bands I travelled around and did some session work and got hired by groups. In 2005 I left a touring band that I was with to join some friends to play and write a bit, then I joined a band called Animals As Leaders. Animals As Leaders is a really popular instrumental group now in the progressive and fusion world but that didn”t last very long because at the time I was a big fan of the band Periphery and it just so happened that timing wise Animals As Leaders was taking a little break. Periphery lost their drummer and needed someone to fill in so because I was friendly with them they asked me. I”ve been working with them ever since and we”ve been touring for a little over three years. We”re about to release our second album and it”s pretty crazy for me. I”m drumming a lot, teaching a lot and working on my various projects, which are Band Happy and Periphery.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Mike Johnston interview –

Mike Johnston

Interview with Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston is an educator and clinician who has made waves in the drum world with his website,, which offers online lessons, downloads and drum camps that are all taught by Mike himself from his facility in California.

The website has been hugely successful worldwide and the Mike Johnston signature Vater stick, the ‘2451’ (after the bathroom code at his business!), became their best selling stick of the year. I caught up with Mike at the Meinl Drum Festival in Germany, where he performed on both days of the weekend.

What was the concept behind your website?

It really started with Youtube. When I was touring I would put videos on there for my students while I was out of town and say, ”It”s on this new website” cos it was brand new at the time. Then I would come back home and it should have only had 70 views from my students but it would have 20,000 views in a weekend. It kept growing and when it got a million views I thought, ”If I just had 99 cents from every one of those there would be a million dollars” so I decided there must be a need for it. At the time DVDs were 40 dollars for a any kind of educational content but sometimes I just wanted one chapter of that so I thought, ”What if I film everything in five to ten minute chunks?’. You could just get the mambo, or just get the songo or one rudiment. So that was the concept.

How has it grown and where do you get your main visits from?

It went from being just downloadable content to live streaming of online lessons plus the downloadable content plus drum camps. I wish I wouldn”t have named it because it”s grown into this huge drumming community that has nothing to do with me, I”m just the guy that teaches it, but it is it”s own family.

It”s grown very fast for me and we get our visits from pretty equally across the world. So many countries that you don”t think of as being big for drums, since they don”t have a lot of drumming education, they”re the ones that come the most. So we have India, China and Japan and then obviously America, Canada and the UK that are huge.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Meinl Drum Festival 2012

I’ve just settled back into normal life after experiencing Meinl Drum Festival at the weekend in Gutenstetten, Germany. It was amazing! It was my first time at the festival and the only way I can describe it is by saying it was like being in a parallel universe where everyone is a drummer, everyone is positive and kind and everything runs smoothly.

Mike Dolbear and I met at Munich airport and had a big natter while we were driven to the Meinl factory in this

As soon as I got there I knew it was going to be brilliant because I found these on my hotel bed…Meinl Lindt chocolate hearts!

Then when I got given these I got the feeling the people at Meinl knew me too well…

But I wasn’t there just to stuff my face, I was there to work for in covering the event. I did 5 interviews over the weekend from the comfort of Mr Meinl’s office. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had an office job and any others would just be a disappointment now

The weekend had masterclasses, drum performances and percussion demos. There was something for everyone and the masterclasses ranged from Symphonic Percussion to Progressive concepts for technical metal drumming to Groove design (by Benny Greb).

The variety of styles played by the artists was incredible – there was just no chance of anyone being bored! I met some fantastic drummers from the USA; JP Bouvet (winner of the guitar centre drum off contest 2011), Mike Johnston of mikes and Matt Halpern from Periphery (who has a brilliant website called band where people can book to get lessons from musicians who are on tour). I also had a great time watching and learning from Benny Greb, Jost Nickel, Onkel, Hannes Grossman, Milos Meier, Juan Carlos Melian and Giovanni Imparato. Somehow I found some time to take part in the drum circle, which was led by Charly Broeck

Everyone enjoyed it so much that they queued out in the rain to wait for the signing session so they could meet all the guys who had played

Meinl have been really helpful to me over the last few years in my own playing and it was great to get the chance to do their factory tour and see how everything works.

Thank you to Mike Dolbear for sending me out to work at the event, to Norbert Saemann and the Meinl team for looking after us so well and for organising something so good. Also thank you to Ian, Sam and Rich from iDrum magazine who befriended me when busy Mr Dolbear had to head back to the UK! The drum industry is full of cool people and it’s great getting to know them at events like this.

My full report on the weekend will be up at on the 1st July 2012


Single release and Zildjian Day

April started well for me with Zildjian’s artist day and I was fortunate enough to go along to check out their new products as well as having the chance to meet old friends and make some new ones. I also did an interview (which I am very excited about and working on right now but it’s a surprise….ssshhhh!) and organised some others for a new feature that I’m going to be writing for

Weirdest moment of the day was meeting my drum teacher who taught me when I was 12! He has moved to South Africa, started a family and moved back to the UK over the years and I have changed a fair bit too so it was great to have a catch up.

Last week Danimal Kingdom’s single was released on itunes and at Rough Trade – it’s a double A side called ‘Vinyl skipping ever backward/ Through the ice’ and there’s a 3rd track called ‘Amputee Spirit’. I’m playing drums on ‘Vinyl’ and here it is in all it’s actual vinyl glory…

you can buy it here for real….or here in digital form


At the start of the month my interview with Bob Knight (drummer for Alison Moyet and Rumer, amongst others) went up here at

That’s about it for now…


Laura Conway (NightBus)

At we like to be one step ahead, which is why this month”s Female Drummers feature is on Laura Conway from Island Records” Hackney/LA signing, ”NightBus”. The band have already been tipped for success by being chosen as a ”New Band Of The Day” by The Guardian in April this year and their debut single, ”I Wanna Be You” is out next month.

Tell us your drumming story so far.

Using pots, pans, tabletops and cutlery grew very old, very quickly when I was growing up, so I was lucky to get my first kit when I was 11 years old. I remember seeing Phil Collins drumming on TV and then spent the next year begging for my own drum kit. I have very clear memories of our family day out to Southend-on-Sea to get my 5-piece white “Thunder” kit.

Bands – I guess it’s always pretty much been either dirty rock’n”roll or wicked pop ridden stuff. I’m a sucker for a driving drum beat (e.g. I joined a 3 piece rock ’n’ roll band whilst on holiday in Los Angeles because I fell in love with the two members and their music!)

And so its been quite a journey from Westlife at The Brits, weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s, USA technology TV shows, UK and US festivals, live and studio work with “development deal” pop bands, two near misses with record deals as a member back in LA, rhythm workshops in London and now I”m over the moon to have my first record deal with NightBus.

Who have been the biggest influences on your playing?

I’ve never been set on any particular drummer as an influence. I’d say it’s more the sound of bands/artists like Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, Calexico, Wham, Genesis and Burt Bacharach that has influenced my playing. It’s the overall feel and sound that makes my heart jump with excitement.