Tommy Clufetos started playing drums at age six, and by his eleventh birthday he was gigging nonstop. “I started playing in my dad’s band,” Tommy says. “We’d back old-time rock ‘n’ roll acts like Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis. All I’ve ever wanted to do is play drums, and I’ve done every kind of gig under the sun, from Bar Mitzvahs to the opening of a hot dog stand. I’ve loved it all.”
Tommy’s major break came in 2001, when he landed the gig with Ted Nugent. “I was twenty-one then and went on to work with Ted for three years,” the drummer explains. “He taught me so much about feel. For Ted’s brand of rock, he wants everything really pushed and on top. It’s not about the chops, but about the feel and groove.” Tommy plays on Nugent’s 2002 album, Craveman, and appears on the live DVD Full Bluntal Nugity.
In 2003, Nugent headlined a tour with Alice Cooper. When longtime Cooper drummer Eric Singer left to tour with KISS in 2004, Tommy stepped into the gig. “I saw Alice when I was fifteen and thought, One day I’m going to be in that band. And here I am!”
Clufetos admits noticing a difference in feel between playing songs from the original Alice Cooper group, which featured drummer Neal Smith, and songs from Cooper’s solo career, recorded by a variety of drummers. “There are definitely more intricate drum parts in the original Alice Cooper material, and you really have to understand that that was a band,” he explains. “I try to recreate that feeling when playing those songs and replicate the parts as authentically as possible, adding our own energy on stage.”