More With Joe Vitale From His October 2015 MD Feature

by Billy Amendola
Joe Vitale is currently touring with Joe Walsh as well as starring in the movie Ricki and the Flash, featuring Meryl Streep. Here, Joe shares a couple practice tips and points out a few of his biggest influences.

Practice Tips

Joe Vitale“My practice routine has hardly changed in all these years,” says Vitale. “I had three really amazing teachers growing up. My first teacher (when I was six) always said, ‘Two minutes of concentrated effort is worth more than two hours of goofing.’ That has stuck with me my entire life. I know that when we sit down at our kits and start playing, we don’t always have something in mind other than to warm up and show off to the walls in the room. I highly recommend it! Loosen up, get your body temperature up, and have a good five-minute fireworks display. Now you’re ready for some concentrated practice.

“My routine practice consists of the following. Remember to always start slow and take your time. I pick something to work on every day whether new or old, hard or easy. If you have something definite in mind, listen to it over and over. Concentrate on all the elements that make up the pattern or fill. A double or multiple hit might not be both hands. Focus on what each hand and foot are doing. I had to learn the hi-hat pattern first for the Purdie/Porcaro shuffle, then I added the left-hand hits and ghost notes, and finally added the foot pattern. But, I did it until I got it. It was a great moment, playing that wonderful pattern for the first time!

“Here are two things that are very helpful using a computer. If your computer program can slow down what you are listening to, by all means use it. Some patterns are just played too fast to hear all the little things going on. Once you slow it down, your brain can take it all in and learn how to play it.

“Also, if you have a computer program where you can play a drum loop, try this: create a drum loop, notch out two- or four-bar blank spaces in it, put your headphones on, play to the loop. When there’s a blank two- or four-bar measure, play a fill. If you land on beat 1 when the loop comes back in, then you are golden! If you’re early, you are rushing, or if the loop comes back in and you’re not done with your fill, you’re dragging. If you really want to get daring, try this exercise with eight bars.

“Also, you should try to create you own signature licks or fills—something that another drummer would dig playing. Many things you try in the practice room seem harder than they really are. You can do it. Don’t give up, and I promise you’ll wake up one morning, go into your drum cave, sit down, and kill the pattern or fill that’s been haunting you for days. It’s just the way our brain works. And always have fun!


Joe Vitale

“It never hurts to play time and practice a ton of fills. It’s amazing how such a simple exercise can bring such creative results. So that’s been my basic routine. I hear something I like, then I listen, listen, and listen again. Break it down to individual parts, and take it slow until it you got it down.”

Joe Vitale’s Influences

Buddy Rich: “Unbelievable hands, incredible drive, and total control of a seventeen-piece-band.”

Joe Morello: “Incredible touch, tasteful cymbal work, odd time signature king, and all-around great musician.”

Ringo Starr: “Brilliant-sounding fills, played the perfect pattern for every song, and incredible song sense.”

John Bonham: “Sheer power, foot of doom, in-your-face fills, huge drum sounds, and the perfect drummer for Led Zeppelin.”

Keith Moon: “Exciting, crazy amounts of energy, inspiring, so creative, masterful fills in ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ and perfect drummer for the Who.”

Dino Danelli: “Precision, deep, tight groove, flare, brilliant showmanship, utter coolness. We all wanted to be Dino!”

Ilan Rubin: “I’ve been checking him out. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, powerhouse drummer, and very tasteful cat.”


For more on Joe Vitale, visit his website at