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Joe Rickard of Red

Interview by Steven Douglas Losey

On Red’s latest opus, Release the Panic, drummer Joe Rickard lays down a barrage of heavy beats with such conviction that he practically shouts, “I was born to do this!” And, in fact, Rickard quit school at seventeen to hit the road and live out his rock ’n’ roll dreams. “I was able to see lots of other touring drummers,” Joe says of his early initiation into the ways of the road. “Every night really opened my eyes.”

During the recording of Panic, Red’s fourth disc, Rickard played a big role in defining the group’s sound, often seeing his beats become the impetus for new tunes. “A lot of times the beats in my head end up being the actual beats of the songs,” he says. “And a lot of our song ideas get started with the drums. I’ve got a little practice studio with a virtual setup, so I’ll go in and start mocking up beats.

“I’ve been interested in songwriting all my life,” Rickard adds. “I play a little bit of guitar, and that’s helped me gain experience and write good drum parts.”

Release the Panic is steeped in melody and hooks, and during its recording Rickard was conscious of how he could help contribute to building the perfect song. “I always try to bounce off what our singer’s doing and keep the choruses pretty open,” he explains. “The key is to keep the parts interesting while not getting in the way.”

Rickard has been honing his craft with Red for three years, and he’s been very purposeful with his sound and style, which he happily reports fans can now recognize. “Drummers can tell it’s me by the way I lay out my fills and the way I dynamically build my choruses,” he says. “A recognizable drum sound is something I’ve really tried to develop.”

Here’s a video of Rickard giving us a quick tour of his touring kit.

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