Gunnar Waage: Drummer/Composer/Educator from Iceland

Gunnar Waage : Modern DrummerHello, MD readers! It’s been a while since my last blog for Modern Drummer in 2007, so I think an update is in order. I’m a drummer/composer/educator living in Iceland. I’ve been running my own little conservatory here, and I’m very happy with it. This spring three students of mine will play their recitals, so in total, six students have graduated in six years, all great drummers, and that makes me very happy.

This time we are not concentrating on jazz/fusion and or pop/rock music. Instead the theme of the recitals is the music of Dream Theater. This is great fun, honestly; they will play “Pull Me Under,” “Under A Glass Moon,” and “Lines In The Sand.” Some years ago I would not have dreamed about this type of material for a recital, but things move on, don’t they?

This is my day job, and I love it! The reason why I love teaching is that drumming is progressing and evolving at such speed these days. It used to be jazz, funk, classic rock stuff, Latin styles, but now we have footwork on top of this, making the drumset more and more of an athletic instrument. This is going against my own age-curve. I’m forty-four years old, and although it may not seem like it in this day and age, there are some laws of physics at play here that I’m up against. But because I teach, I’m hanging in there. Advertisement

I have been working on my composition skills for many years, and I have two albums out, Phase Of Matter and Take It Outside, featuring such musicians as David Garfield (Karizma), Percy Jones (Brand X, Tunnels), and Tony Franklin (the Firm, Derek Sherinian). During the time when I wrote my last MD blog, I was working on Take It Outside. I put a tremendous amount of work into it, and it received very good reviews in Drum Club magazine in Italy and by MD Readers Poll winner Dave Stanoch. I was very happy about receiving good reviews on my nutcase drumming.

Now I’m working on my third album, and I’m getting to that place where I feel that I have enough material to go out as an independent bandleader without having to do any cover material. This has been my goal for many years. The lineup is awesome and features Tony Franklin and Percy Jones, as well as Derek Sherinian (Planet X, Dream Theater) and John Goodsall (Brand X, Peter Gabriel). This makes me a very happy iguana indeed. I’m very excited to hear the outcome and how the mixture of the Planet X people with the Brand X people will work. I’ve never been so excited making music in my life.

The plan was to do the tracking in L.A. with Derek and Tony. However, as some of you may know, Iceland’s economy came tumbling down in October 2008. So my funds all of sudden disappeared into thin air, along with my plan to have the most fun ever working on the album in L.A. But I’ve kept busy and have been working on the album at home, doing the “mailing track” thing. Although I was crushed to have to see my plans go down the drain like that, things have a tendency to work themselves out nicely after all. This way I can use John Goodsall, who is in Minnesota, Percy Jones, who is in NYC, and Derek and Tony, who are in L.A. That would not have worked out any other way, so I’m very happy with it and we are all very excited about the outcome of this project. Advertisement

Anyway, thanks so much to Modern Drummer for keeping the flame alive. The drumming community is very special—there are friendships and great things that should be cherished in life—family, good drumming, good friends, and good music!

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