Tobias Ralph : Modern DrummerHey there, MD readers! It’s Tobias Ralph. I wanted to give you all an update on what I’m up to. For starters, I’m really excited and proud to announce that I’m back with Sonor Drums after a brief respite. Thanks to Sean Cox for welcoming me back!

I’ve been keeping busy playing, teaching, and, well, practicing and practicing and practicing! WorkshopLive just put up the first twenty of the Beginner Drum Lessons that I did last autumn. Let me tell you, it was a very humbling experience and quite a challenge to break things down on a basic level for the beginner student, specifically with rudiments and techniques that I use every day yet take for granted. Please note that there is absolutely no condescension intended there at all–nothing but pure respect for the new sets of eyes and ears behind the drumkit. It’s really tough to outline in a ten-minute lesson when you aren’t actually there in the flesh with your students. Anyway, it gave me a whole new perspective on my drumming–the complexity of it all and generally how I apply it to the kit on a daily basis.

I’m really grateful for the experience, and I tip my hat to Nat Gunod and Scott Blanchard for giving me the opportunity. After I taught again last summer at National Guitar Workshop in New Milford, CT, and McLean, VA, my colleague Pete Sweeney suggested I follow in his footsteps at WorkshopLive. Thanks, Pete, for the recommendation! Remember, a great drummer is only as great as the student that he or she is. Let’s put it this way: In my career, no matter who I play or record with, I’m still just a student, and there is still much for me to learn.

On to some other stuff–24-7 Spyz! What can I say? It’s heavy metal soul. We recently opened for King’s X at the Blender Theatre in NYC. It was a fantastic show and another opportunity to showcase why 24-7 Spyz is still at the top of its game after all these years. Listen, I’m still considered the newbie in the band (even after a few years), and I love it!

There are some other noteworthy projects that I’m especially proud to have been a part of this past year. I loved playing with the sensational bassist Janek Gwizdala–dare I say I think we make quite a tight and dynamic rhythm section. Fortunately, there is a recording available called Live At The 55Bar. Check it out at Janek’s Web site, link below.

Another major highlight has been playing with the fiercely talented percussionist Daniel Sadownick (Screaming Headless Torsos and more). His music is so complex and challenging to play. He really pushes me and pushes me. Okay, I’ll concede: He kicks my butt! It’s worth it because his music covers so many genres that it really allows me to showcase my versatility as a drummer.

In the spring, I’ll be back in Europe on tour with Joe Bowie’s legendary Defunkt. The dates will be announced soon. Again, speaking of learning, Joe is one of my biggest and best teachers on many levels. Let’s just say the learning curve is huge based on his career and experience alone. Some sage advice that he once gave me during a drum solo, which sticks with me to this day: “You may be able to outrun me, but I’ll always kick your a** on the bandstand!” Of course, his actual delivery was a lot more colorful than that!

I’m still a faculty member at The Collective in NYC. So I’ll be teaching and giving private lessons there this year as usual. It’s a great place and a lot of fun, especially because it’s my old stomping ground. I studied there for six years with Kim Plainfield and Pete Zeldman.

I have a lot of really exciting new projects coming up, and I will be sure to fill you in on them as they develop. By the way, for those of you who may not know who I am, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance!

For more on Tobias, visit his Web site, www.tobiasralph.com, and check out the sites of some of the companies and artists he works with: www.sonor.com, www.workshoplive.com, www.guitarworkshop.com, www.247spyz.com, www.janekgwizdala.com, www.defunktmusic.com and www.thecoll.com.

Photo By T. Bruce Wittet