drummer Barry Kerch of ShinedownIn 2001, Barry Kerch’s audition for Shinedown consisted of going into the studio, laying down tracks, and seeing what stuck. Within the tryout he performed the band’s eventual single, “45.” Though the record endured many producers and record company scrutiny, the exact version of “45” that Kerch cut in the audition ended up being the band’s first hit, untouched.

Shinedown has been touring practically nonstop for the past three years, and in a live situation the dynamics always change. “Time, time, time,” Kerch says. “When it comes to live, onstage, your guitar player and bass player are going to be pushing and pulling. Your singer is going to be holding that note out a little longer than he did on the record. It’s your job as the drummer to rein it all in. They follow me. I’m the metronome.”

Kerch also learned that playing is great, but there’s more to being a great drummer than meets the eye. “Josh Freese could sit in on any gig and make it happen,” Barry says. “And it’s not only because he’s a great drummer, but because he has a great personality–and that’s what makes a band work. If you get some dude out here that can play his ass off but doesn’t get along with the band, then what’s the point?

Kerch’s favorite drummers mirror his advice for younger players. “I look for taste in a drummer,” he says, “guys like Stewart Copeland, John Bonham, and James Brown’s Clyde Stubblefield. You can’t listen to a James Brown record without feeling good.

“Learn every style of music you possibly can,” Kerch adds. “Take a lesson. You can be a great rock player, but what about country music or South American music? The best thing you can do is keep learning.”

Steven Douglas Losey