Drummer Blog: Billy McCarthy of Ferocious Drummers | Modern Drummer Magazine

Billy McCarthy of Ferocious Drummers

Billy McCarthy of Ferocious Drummers

Hello, MD readers! I’m grateful for the opportunity to introduce my documentary film, Ferocious Drummers. As a drummer myself, I had a burning question, “Why is it we’ve never heard from the drummer’s personality and character on and off the stage”? Ferocious Drummers chronicles just that and more. What we do in the film is explore the most influential and legendary drummers of each generation—past, present, and future—in rock, jazz, funk, metal, and alternative music. We glimpse into their childhood, their present lives, and we talk about those who came before them that influenced countless others. Our film uncovers how the beat shaped our world and focuses on the drummers behind those beats.

Before production went forward on this film, I phoned a few people to gage enthusiasm. I first contacted legendary record producer, Andy Johns, who has turned the knobs for Led Zeppelin, the Who, Van Halen, and countless others. No one knows the meaning of a great drummer better than Andy Johns. “Count me in,” Andy said. “Call Carmine Appice, and see if he’ll get onboard.” I had never met Carmine Appice prior to our call, but realized—after he graciously accepted to be part of the film—that my idea would suddenly leap from paper into production. Next up was Liberty Devitto. After all my years in drumming, he was yet another great talent I had never met but is certainly one few can ever forget. In the words of another featured drummer Steve Jordan, “Once your drummer goes, your band’s never the same.” Liberty’s playing on countless hits with Billy Joel is living proof of Steve Jordan’s theory.

With three of the industry’s biggest talents locked, I wanted one final perspective, so I reached out to MD’s then editor-in-chief, Bill Miller. Through that phone call, in late 2007 prior to production, I realized this film was on the right track. I remember Bill and associate editor Billy Amendola both expressing the importance of this film, and I discussed how I hoped to secure Carter Beauford from Dave Matthew’s Band. Bill Miller joked, with the utmost respect, “He’s a tough one to nail.” Soon after, Carter Beauford confirmed and Max Weinberg followed. Then Matt Cameron, Bun E. Carlos, Shawn Pelton, Chad Smith, Questlove, Marky Ramone, and Charlie Benante were confirmed. The list goes on….

There have been a few ups and downs, beginning with a shaky economy, that forced our film to halt. Now with a strong script in hand to help round out our drummers’ colorful stories, these detours seem well worth the wait. This film is not about me. This film is about the cornerstone drummers of today, the drummers of tomorrow, the legendary greats, and those who left much too early.


For more information visit www.ferociousdrummers.com.