When I’m not hosting MTV’s TRL, I’m playing drums with my band The Classic Futures (formally known as Here’s Johnny!). We have a CD out right now that’s available on iTunes, Amazon, or on TheClassicFutures.com. I recommend downloading off of Amazon, as they have no DRM (digital right management) and allow you to play any song on any computer without “authorizing” it. It’s also the same price as iTunes, and it loads directly into your iTunes player after download.
There are eight tracks on the Classic Futures album, and each features a lot of inspiration from some of my favorite drummers of all time. Many of these players are often overlooked. I’m attracted to drummers who are musical. If I never saw another drum solo in my life, I wouldn’t care in the least. The kind of drummers that turn me on somehow always know exactly what to play to make the song better. That talent can’t be rehearsed or learned from a book. It’s intrinsic, and it’s so rare.
Stewart Copeland: A friend of mine once made the point that Stewart Copeland would rather be a drummer with “his own thing” than someone who could play any style really well. I tend to agree with that notion. You can recognize Stewart’s drumming from just one bar of his playing. A lot of the hi-hat and rim-shot work I did on our album was a tribute to the man who widened the boundaries of rock drumming forever.
Kenny Aronoff: I never thought in a thousand years that Kenny
Aronoff would be calling me, asking if I wanted to grab dinner before he performs on the David Letterman show. My job affords me the opportunity to meet a lot of celebrities, but how cool is it that it also helped me start a friendship with a legendary drummer. Kenny’s drumming has influenced me more than any other drummer out there. If you go back and listen to his brilliant and often overlooked work with John Mellencamp, you realize how much of a MONSTER Kenny is. His timing is rock solid, his ideas for a song are unmatched, and his passion for his instrument is contagious. He really taught me to “play for the song.” I’ve never seen or met someone with as much passion for the drums as Kenny.
Mick Fleetwood: Another favorite drummer of mine. His work on songs such as “Gold Dust Woman,” “The Chain,” and “Dreams” is unbelievably musical and beautiful. Mick’s ability to hypnotize an entire crowd with just a kick drum and hi-hat or cowbell amazes me. His ideas are simple in approach, yet wildly creative and insanely well played within the context of Fleetwood Mac’s songs. Mick influenced me a lot on my band’s record, and taught me to really listen and be aware of “something bigger” than just the drums themselves. One of my favorite drum intros is Mick’s fill on “Dreams”–it’s just so tasty and musical.
Liberty DeVitto: I was fortunate to take a few lessons with Liberty, during which he broke down some of his work with Billy Joel. I must say that I never noticed how creative his playing is on all of Billy’s records. I would really like to see Liberty back on tour with Billy; his music just isn’t the same without him. For me, much like Kenny with Mellencamp, Liberty with Billy Joel wasn’t just a drummer, but a bandmember and chief architect, in the sense that he contributed so much to Billy’s sound. Liberty taught me to hit forcefully and with authority, and to listen to the lyrics of my lead singer and play to what he’s expressing emotionally.
Phil Collins: Some people laugh when they ask me my favorite drummers of all-time and I say Phil Collins. But Phil’s playing makes the song. Some of my favorite Phil Collins tracks, like “Something Happened On The Way To Heaven” and “Easy Lover,” helped influence my playing on the band’s CD too. I think it’s because Phil is a songwriter AND a drummer that he is so damn musical in his choices.
Stan Lynch: Stan’s work with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers speaks for itself. I recently watched the four-hour documentary on Tom Petty’s career and loved every minute they spoke about Stan. I was puzzled to hear that producer Jimmy Iovine didn’t think that Stan’s playing complemented Petty’s musical style. Almost ANY Tom Petty song Stan played on has more vibe and feel than I’ve ever heard. Stan’s playing on songs like “Breakdown,” “Refugee,” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” influences my playing to this day. A great combination of a jazzy, shuffle feel and a straight-ahead rock sound.
Larry Mullen Jr.: He’s not flashy while he plays, but that’s kind of Bono’s job. Larry’s beats are legendary. He comes up with parts that are more perfect than those of almost any other drummer I’ve ever listened to. There’s a reason U2 is the biggest band on earth, and I always say that it’s because of The Edge’s brain and Larry’s brain. I’d kill to meet either of these guys!
So those are my influences. I always love hearing about other people’s drumming influences and the drummers that inspired them. Whenever I meet one of my favorite drummers, I make it a point to say how much of a positive affect they’ve had on my playing. And the cool thing is that you don’t have to be in U2 or Foo Fighters to be an inspiration to younger drummers.
Thanks to Billy Amendola and Modern Drummer for letting me share my thoughts and feelings about the drums.
For more on Damien and The Classic Futures, go here.