Drummer Craig MacintyreDrummer Craig Macintyre is in the middle of a two-year tour with Josh Groban, promoting the star vocalist’s latest album, Awake. According to the drummer, there are many challenges to the gig. “A lot of people assume Josh’s music is really mellow,” Macintyre suggests, “but he really needs someone with a wide pocket to fill in the gaps. Some of the music is very slow, but it doesn’t have to necessarily be mellow, just big and wide.”

Macintyre is required to use a click track for a portion of the material, which sometimes speeds up or slows down to match the emotion of the music. The drummer also has to deal with a twenty-piece orchestra with a conductor, not to mention a six-piece rock band. Clearly he’s got his work cut out for him. “Working with an orchestra and a conductor was a very foreign thing to me,” Macintyre admits. “It was really challenging at first to watch a conductor waving a step ahead of the beat. It’s like reading, where you have to look at what’s coming up and not just what you’re playing at the moment. It’s a world I never imagined I’d be in. But I’m a much better musician as a result of it.”

While Macintyre doesn’t play on Awake (Matt Chamberlain and Vinnie Colaiuta are on the disc), he can be heard and seen on the Josh Groban Live At The Greek CD/DVD. “The drum parts are a thrill and a challenge to copy every night,” he says. “But Josh also likes me to put my own thing to it. He plays drums too, so he’s always looking for interesting things for me to play.”

In 2005, Macintyre toured with Vertical Horizon while Groban was working on his record. “That was totally different–a straight-up rock gig with no orchestras to worry about,” laughs the drummer, who enjoys playing a gamut of styles. “You have to keep yourself open to everything. I never imagined doing anything like the Josh Groban gig, but it’s great to push yourself beyond the one style of music you’ve mastered.”

Robyn Flans