Hello, world! Jon Bush here, drummer for the band Judgement Day. We’re an instrumental metal band featuring of violin, cello, and drums. (We call our style “string metal.”) That’s right, no guitars, which presents some unique challenges for me as a drummer.
Imagine not having a bass player or rhythm guitarist to lock in with. Imagine being pushed and pulled by classically trained string players, insisting on accelerando and ritardando. It can definitely be counter-instinctual for a rock drummer. While we do groove to the metronome on some songs, we also experiment with dreamy soundscapes on others, and thrash with mathy time signatures and song structures on the rest. My favorite part of playing drums in such a unique band is the challenge of finding my place and being forced to be creative.
I play an Ayotte drumkit (13, 16, 18, 24), which I found at a used drum store. I had never heard of the Canadian custom-drum company before, but I instantly fell in love with the large, wood-hooped drums. And you can imagine my excitement when I found out one of my heroes (Matt Cameron) once played an Ayotte.
I’m usually described as a heavy-hitting, double-kick-pedaling drummer—which is true, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. I would say that one of my biggest strengths is my ability to play very lightly. I like to think that I play to the room, meaning that I hit my drums as hard as needed to fill the room and to fit the song. When it’s time to melt some faces and bring the pain, I will make you regret not wearing earplugs. And put me in a stadium, and I’m right at home playing to the back row. But when Judgement Day is bringing you to tears with a calm, beautiful melody, then I know how to use a delicate touch. And the best part is you may get to experience both within the same song.
My light touch was not always a part of the arsenal. When I started playing at thirteen I only knew how to slam it home. It wasn’t until a decade later, when I developed tendinitis in my wrists, that I was forced to improve my technique. Now I play loose at all times, maintain good posture, exercise regularly, and ice after every set. I see my ongoing wrist problems as a blessing in disguise, as they have made me a better musician, one who is highly aware of every movement, and one with much stronger footwork.
Hear me for yourself by checking out Judgement Day at www.stringmetal.com. Our new album, Peacocks/Pink Monsters, is out now.