MD Readers Poll 2019


The Foo Fighters’ tandem drummers had another huge year in 2018, with Taylor Hawkins powering the band throughout its Concrete and Gold world tour and Dave Grohl reminding the world of his own remarkable kit skills on his twenty-three-minute instrumental “Play.”


Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl

“When I was really young and listening to Rush, I used to think how clever Neil Peart was at playing fusion-rock. He had fiffteen toms and was all over them. I went from that to hearing the Bad Brains and all these obscure hardcore bands where the drummers were really outstanding, with each of them doing different things. Each of them had their own sound, which I thought was really cool. I think it’s important for young drummers to find something that speaks to them.”
(March 1994)

Past Hall of Fame Winners

2018: Clyde Stubblefield
2017: Peter Erskine
2016: Vic Firth
2015: Ian Paice
2014: Carmine Appice
2013: Bernard Purdie
2012: Phil Collins
2011: Jim Chapin
2010: Hal Blaine
2009: Mitch Mitchell
2008: Ginger Baker
2007: Jack DeJohnette
2006: Charlie Watts
2005: Stewart Copeland
2004: Mike Portnoy
2003: Simon Phillips
2002: Steve Smith
2001: Dennis Chambers
2000: Dave Weckl
1999: Roy Haynes
1998: Ringo Starr
1997: Terry Bozzio
1996: Vinnie Colaiuta
1995: Elvin Jones
1994: Larrie Londin
1993: Jeff Porcaro
1992: Max Roach
1991: Art Blakey
1990: Bill Bruford
1989: Carl Palmer
1988: Joe Morello
1987: Billy Cobham
1986: Tony Williams
1985: Louie Bellson
1984: Steve Gadd
1983: Neil Peart
1982: Keith Moon
1981: John Bonham
1980: Buddy Rich
1979: Gene Krupa










Taylor Hawkins


Taylor Hawkins

(Foo Fighters)


1. Jean-Paul Gaster
2. Jeff Friedl
3. Arejay Hale
4. Hayley Cramer

Faves’ Faves

“The first band that I fell in love with was Queen, so that led to Roger Taylor being my first major influence. I fell in love with the way he played songs, kind of like he was a whole orchestra pit. His drumset was kind of like that—his toms sounded almost like timpani, he’d always throw a bell or cowbell or Rototom in there, always using color to punctuate things in the songs. That led me, in the early ’80s, to Stewart Copland. He changed the way you thought of drums in a rock ’n’ roll setting. He was the most innovative drummer of the ’80s. His technique and his spontaneity…if you watch live videos, he never played a song the same way twice—or the same tempo. [laughs]

Alex Van Halen, I still marvel at his playing. He couldn’t not swing if he tried. And the sound of his drums, the snare sound. At the same time I was also getting into Neil Peart heavily, and I was getting into Larry Mullen Jr.—those early U2 records were a big part of my listening at the time. He’s never going to be doing drum clinics, but the way he played those songs was clever and unique.

“My later huge influences come down to two drummers. Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction completely turned hard rock drumming on its side and took it down avenues people weren’t even considering. He took the goth thing and the metal thing and all these styles and turned them into something absolutely his own. The other drummer would be Matt Cameron. He’s just so gnarly. First of all, his posture—he’s sitting up perfectly straight. And if you look at his snare drum, there’s like a 6″ diameter where he’s hitting the drum. He likes jazz, but he’s just as heavy a rock drummer as anyone, and that’s a rarity. And I love that he’s such not a rock dude. He’s unique.”

MD: Tell us more about what you like about Matt Cameron.

Taylor: He’s a songwriter. In fact, he and I have started writing and recording songs together. The first one’s all drum machine, which I think is just hilarious for two drummers. It]s really fun, though, really good. But he wrote a lot of the music in Soundgarden. He’s no dope at any instrument, and he’s a good singer. And I think that’s why he can makes an odd time signature sound like it’s not that much of an odd time. It doesn’t sound like fusion or wank-off music, it’s a rock song. At this Chris Cornell tribute show, myself included, if you’re not really paying attention, you will lose the 1, where you are in the song, very easily. Watching these folks who are used to playing in 4/4, or 6/8 if they’re really stepping out, try to navigate. And I had to sing this song called “I Awake” from Louder Than Love. It sounds like a simple song on a certain level, but I got lost! I came in singing at the wrong time. I mean, we made it work, it wasn’t like majorly noticeable. And I was trying so hard to hit the Chris Cornell notes. I mean he could barely hit them live—it’s crazy-ass stuff. So here I am searching for the notes, trying to get my stomach to blow out enough air to get me to that highest active B flat or whatever it is, I was like, Oh, no, this is in seven! I don’t know where to come in for the next line. [laughs]

But Matt’s a remarkable drummer. And there were all drummers there: Josh Freese, Brad Wilk, Dave, Chad Smith—he didn’t play, but he was there—Dale Crover from the Melvins…we were all there with our jaws dropped, watching Matt Cameron sort of effortlessly play this insane music, getting a lot of sound out of the drums. And he gives you a hug afterwards and he’s barely sweaty. And I played three songs and I might as well have jumped in the pool. It’s pretty remarkable.

Interview by Adam Budofsky

Todd Sucherman


Todd Sucherman (Styx)


2. Mick Fleetwood
3. Nick Mason
4. Tico Torres
5. Russ Kunkel

Faves’ Faves

“I could talk about my favorite drummers until the sun goes down and comes up again. My first rock hero drummer was Danny Seraphine, since my mom brought Chicago II home. Fast-forward the clock a few years, and my holy trinity would be Steve Smith, Tony Williams, and Vinnie Colaiuta. But then where would I put Ringo or Keith Moon or Elvin Jones or Dave Mattacks or Steve Gadd or Peter Erskine? Or Stewart Copeland or Mark Brzezicki or Manu Katché. These were all drummers who had profound impact on me. Simon Phillips—my goodness, can’t forget him. It’s such a big, wonderful buffet out there—you get a little bit from this guy and a little from this guy—and hopefully you get your own unique plate and that comes out of you as a player. I could add a hundred more names. I love them all madly.

“The operative word in terms of what they all have in common is ‘musician.’ It’s the way that they relate and react and become part of the music, and they actually morph into the storytelling process. That’s something that I’ve always strived to do. The commonality is the fact that they’re musicians first, and that’s inherently important when you hear their recordings; it just always works. You could talk about Steve Jordan or Jack DeJohnette—very different players, but boy, they have your attention from the very first bar. These players loom large.

MD: Something that all of the drummers we spoke to this month brought up was the uniqueness of each of their favorite drummers.

Todd: I think it’s inherent in all the players I mentioned. And I’ve been fortunate to see many of these players live. I thank my lucky stars that I was able to see Tony Williams play at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago twice a year. And I’d go to a couple shows. He’d play Wednesday through Sunday and I’d go down there for two nights and watch both shows, twice a year, from ’85 to ’96. And that looms large in my drumming memories because not only was Tony playing jazz music there, but he had the force of a rock drummer. And when he started to play, in that room, it was like this fight-or-flight thing, it was kind of scary. The hair on your arms would stand up. He might play something that wasn’t necessarily difficult, but there was so much of him, his truth and his personality, he was so authentically him that it was just breathtaking to see and here. And I think that had a huge impact on my rock drumming. Because Tony’s kind of the king in a way. Steve and Vinnie are kind of disciples…because I was hip to those guys before I was into Tony. I was twelve years old when I was turned on to Tony—Oh, here’s the source! This is the guy! All that stuff that cracks me up and makes me fall over onto the floor, all the flam stuff, that’s Tony.

MD: Guys like Tony make you feel like they carry their intensity with them in all parts of their lives.

Todd: Cool just is. You can’t choose to be cool. You can’t put on false airs and be cool. It is or it isn’t. I did a drum clinic tour of Australia with Jojo Mayer, and besides the fact that he’s an absolutely brilliant, insane drummer, the way he was doing everything was so cool and slinky and sexy, I said to him, “You’re like the Jimi Hendrix of the drums. Every movement you do is just cool as hell.” And I think he dug that because he got what I was getting at. You’re actually complimenting someone’s essence as opposed to some lick—“Dude, what’s that left-hand thing you do…?” This was actually, everything that comes out of you…you look at Hendrix onstage and think, Well, that’s the coolest guy in the world, right?

MD: Someone like Chad Smith seems to embody that as well. He sits behind the drums, and I think, I wish I could feel that confident and that…strong all the time.

Todd: He sits down and it’s undeniable. Now, let’s take a look at a guy who doesn’t get all that much love from drummers, Larry Mullen Jr. of U2. I remember when the Amnesty International concert from New Jersey was on TV in the summer of ’86, and the Police reunited for the first time in two and half years, which, back then, was a lifetime. They played their set, and in an almost symbolic gesture of handing over the torch, they literally handed their instruments to U2 for the finale, which was “I Shall Be Released,” the Bob Dylan song, where everybody got up on stage. But the second Larry Mullen Jr. started playing, you knew it was him—on Stewart Copeland’s drums. The snare drum, the 13″ hi-hats—everything that defined Stewart’s sound, Larry Mullen Jr. sounded exactly like himself. And I was gob-smacked, because I realized, it’s not drums, it’s your heartbeat, it’s your touch, it’s the space that you put between the notes, and that is your essence, your thumbprint, your signature—whatever you want to call it.

MD: So where does that leave the rest of us in our quest for greatness? To have a voice and communicate our essence—is that something we can learn to do better?

Todd: I think so. Because first of all, we all have our own heartbeat. And who we are as a person is how we play. So maybe there’s a person who might have some more introverted tendencies that might come through in their playing. They might choose to play music that suits that more. Or it could be the opposite. I do think that you can make yourself a more interesting or confident person; that will help your playing. If you’re a more sensitive person, that’ll help your playing, even if you’re involved in boisterous, aggressive music, because then you’re sensitive to certain things.

I always teach in master classes about knowing the lyrics to the music you’re playing, because then and only then can you attach yourself to the emotional aspects of the music. Because music is more than, eight-bar verse on the hi-hats, sixteen-bar chorus on the ride, crash, go back to the hi-hats for the verse…. You have to attach yourself to what the music is conveying. So I think there are always things we can do to better ourselves, to have our own voice and personality. And a lot of that is not being afraid to show it.

Interview by Adam Budofsky


Jack DeJohnette
Photo by Paul Laraia


Jack DeJohnette

“Philly Joe Jones turned [the ride cymbal beat] around. Roy Haynes was doing that even before Philly Joe, though. They are around the same age, but a lot of what he played came from Roy. Elvin had a different kind of touch, a heavier touch. But listen to some of the licks that Roy played compared to Elvin; he took it totally in his direction and added valuable contributions that are still influential and resonate today. Then you had Tony Williams, and then, on the other end of the spectrum, great drummers like Andrew Cyrille, Paul Motian—Paul became a painter with the music, particularly in the quartet with Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, and Keith Jarrett. In terms of freeing the drummer’s role up, Rashied Ali is another one. Milford Graves, too. And all those guys could play time, but they were all into a multidirectional, more abstract approach to drumming; they put their own stamp on the music.” [October 2017]


  1. Brian Blade
  2. Ulysses Owens Jr.
  3. Mike Clark
  4. Matt Wilson


Nate Smith
Photo by John Fell


Nate Smith

“In some of the videos the unexpected happens. A stick will break, or I’ll drop a stick or go for something that I don’t quite pull off. People can see that it’s improvised. And it’s minimal; I’m just playing kick, snare, and hi-hat. I’m trying to find this language using the ghost notes and the hi-hat differently, with dynamics and touch. I used to set up a lot more drums, but I realized I wasn’t playing them! I want to focus on what I’m actually playing and try to create a language. That might be part of why people are gravitating toward these videos.” [September 2018]


  1. Sonny Emory
  2. Adam Deitch
  3. Eric “Boots” Greene
  4. Tony “Rico” Nichols


Matt Chamberlain
Photo by Alex Solca


Matt Chamberlain

“For most singer-songwriter situations, I’m not going to be throwing down like I would in a jazz-improv situation. I’m looking for interesting sounds while interjecting some performance aspects and making the song feel good. Anybody can play this stuff technically, but it’s about helping someone make the songs unique and different. There are only so many chord progressions and melodic ideas built into Western music, so what are you going to do?” [April 2017]


  1. Aaron Sterling
  2. Nir Z
  3. Blair Sinta
  4. Fred Eltringham



Matt Johnson
Photo by Alex Solca



Matt Johnson

(St. Vincent)

Faves’ Faves

“I was like a lot of the kids in the ’70s. I got super into Kiss, I was listening to the Cars, I really liked Rush. AC/DC, for heaven’s sake, we were crazy about that. Of course Led Zeppelin. Van Halen, I was pretty obsessed with them between eight or nine and my teens. Maybe the first record that I was obsessed with was Supertramp’s Crime of the Century. Brilliant, very sad record, with some really great drumming by Bob C. Benberg.

“In about 1980, when I was nine or ten, I started to figure out, Oh, that’s John Bonham. I started playing in ’80, so I started zeroing in on the drummers more then. Although I have to say, I didn’t usually listen to music for the drumming. I’m still that way. I mean, drumming can interest me, but ultimately a lot of times it’s about the total effect of a band or the music.

“But by high school and college I was trying to play along with Al Jarreau and Chick Corea records like The Leprechaun with Steve Gadd on them. I probably sounded like the worst drummer in the world [laughs], but I was giving it a go. Some of the stuff I liked was a little more abstract and I found it harder to play along to, but I was really into that Gary Peacock/Keith Jarrett stuff with Jack DeJohnette. There was a record called Changes that I pretty much wore out. Growing up in the suburbs of Texas in the ’80s, you were steeped in Aerosmith and the Who and southern rock, but then you were aspirational and looking for something that was associated with New York or some other big city. I’d see that a lot of the records I liked were recorded in West Orange, New Jersey, like John Coltrane with Elvin Jones, or Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

“One thing that hit us really hard was the movie Apocalypse Now, with the music that they used by the Doors [John Densmore]. That was so powerful, the way they used that music. Another core band was the Police [Stewart Copeland]. And I didn’t really see it at the time the way I do now, but the incredible influence that some of those Nashville drummers were having on me. Those guys who were playing on the classic Willie Nelson records like Stardust [Paul English, Rex Ludwick] or Red Headed Stranger [Paul and Billy English]. Also Kris Kristofferson records. Those drummers…the economy! And we grew up on stuff like the Charlie Daniels Band, Ted Nugent, just absolute cock-rock. Ronnie James Dio’s Holy Diver is almost like drum porn. Vinny Appice is so over the top on that. I’ll tell ya, we had a hell of a lot of fun listening to that album. Just the fearlessness of it.”

MD: You already had such eclectic taste in high school. Where did you go with that once you went on to higher education?

Matt: There are a couple of musical things that were transporting to adulthood. I would say one of them for me was Debussy’s piano music, “Children’s Corner.” I had this record of Debussy’s music by this piano player Pascal Rogé, and I really wore that out. The depth of emotion in that music for me, the complexity of the harmony, that was definitely like a bridge from being a teenager to becoming an adult. I would also say that Chopin’s Nocturnes, there’s some Satie in there as well. Olivier Messiaen—that stuff’s really dark, probably inspired by some bad stuff that happened in World War II maybe.

There’s also one band I would point out that was a progenitor of bands like Beach House and Chvrches, bands that I tend to like, which was the Cocteau Twins. There’s a lot of contrast in that music.

MD: Didn’t they not have drums on their music, at least after a point?

Matt: Yeah, there’s no drums on those records, it’s all drum machines. And that was interesting to listen to as a drummer. I got particularly into listening to their programming. I was inspired by it. I aspired to play time in a way that was more metronomic. There’s something—and I don’t mean this to be disparaging—but there’s something almost pre-literate about the way Elizabeth Fraser sings. She doesn’t use any words. She’s singing in this primal proto-language, and it’s up against this robot. So you have this incredible contrast of the feminine world of her vocals with this totally unmoving, robotic rhythm section. That just hit me real hard.

MD: As a listener I find music from Africa or Thailand or someplace where I don’t understand the language almost more inviting in a way, because I don’t have to worry about what they’re talking about, and I just get lost in the sounds.

Matt: You’re kind of leading me into a slightly different extreme. I got into this artist named Nikhil Banerjee, who’s a great sitar player. He died in the ’80s, but I got really into him and then some of the bigger names in Indian classical music like Ravi Shankar. As I got older, if it came down to my wanting to listen to music for the drumming, I tended to be more into music with tabla on it, for whatever reason. I guess I could relate to it, because I took some lessons. Listening to Alla Rakha with Ravi Shankar is incredible. And I have to say, if I had to pick a desert-island album, I’d pick one by violinist L. Subramaniam. He’s gotta be one of my favorite dudes of all time. [laughs] He put out a record called Tranquility, and I can’t speak highly enough about that record. But that one has no drums on it, so I don’t know what to say. [laughs]

MD: How about these days? Do you still get knocked out by new music?

Matt: I definitely prefer live music to most recorded music. I like Tame Impala. I have some Spotify stuff going on with them, and I have a ball listening to that. It’s just great. But I tend to like seeing bands live at festivals.

You know, since my son had his brain damage, it’s been a very somber few years, and quite frankly a lot of the music I listen to has been ambient. And maybe it’s because I spend so much time playing drums, I’m probably just seeking contrast in that way. But I tend to listen to more George Jones or Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash these days.

Interview by Adam Budofsky


Runner’s Up

  1. Kris Myers
  2. Jason McGerr
  3. Lia Braswell
  4. Chris Bear


Chris Adler
Photo by Alex Solca


Chris Adler (Lamb of God)

“When you love something, the strength builds within it. The frustration of not making any money for the first ten years we were a band, and all the dues we had to pay to get some success—that was easy to deal with, because I didn’t care if there was light at the end of the tunnel or a bright side to the end of the band’s story. I loved what I was doing, and I wasn’t waiting to get paid back for it. If you put your heart into something, the success will come if you nurture that passion.” (March 2013)


  1. Gene Hoglan
  2. Aaron Gillespie
  3. Blake Richardson
  4. Brann Dailor


Gavin Harrison
Photo by Rahav



Gavin Harrison (King Crimson)

“I think we’re getting to third or fourth base…. First base is where you can just play the part. You don’t play it well, but you can play it. Second base is when you can play it in time and things are starting to come together. Third base is when you’re now free enough to not worry about the articulation of what you have to play. You can start listening to the other guys and how they’re playing. And fourth base is where you can play the song inside out, backwards, forwards, without even thinking. You can listen to the other guys, watch the other guys, even start thinking about abstract things.” (February 2015)


  1. Mike Mangini
  2. Carl Palmer
  3. Virgil Donati
  4. Nick D’Virgilio



Antonio Sanchez
Photo by Fernando Aceves


Antonio Sanchez

Faves’ Faves

“My very first influence was Ringo. My mom used to listen to a lot of really good music, especially rock ’n’ roll, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And besides Ringo and Charlie Watts, she really liked Cream, and she used to say that I would roll around in her womb whenever Ginger Baker played a fill. [laughs]

“My next guys are John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, and Neil Peart. One thing all those guys had in common was an incredibly identifiable sound. You hear two bars and you know it’s Ginger or Bonzo or Copeland or Peart. Obviously the bands they were in had a lot to do with it, because the music was so great.

“One of the most refreshing rock drum records I’ve heard in a while is Beck’s Morning Phase, which won the Grammy two or three years ago. Most of the recording is so lush with strings, and Beck’s voice has so much reverb on it, but the drums are super dry. And they sound really old. I looked up the drummer on it, Joey Waronker, because I didn’t know who it was. I listen to it a lot. You can tell they just let the drum sound be.

“But after Neil Peart I got into my fusion phase—Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Steve Gadd. Coming from rock, I never heard drumming like that. It had elements that I liked from rock—big, punchy sound, but played in such a virtuosic, polyrhythmic way. Technically they inspired me to push my own boundaries. I stayed there for a while, then I discovered Tony Williams; the first album I heard was My Funny Valentine + Four and More. It was a different kind of virtuosity and my entry into what I really wanted to explore in terms of jazz. And then of course all the other greats—Max Roach, Roy Haynes, who I’ve always loved. Art Blakey. Philly Joe Jones for the language. Of course Buddy Rich, just a beast. And then the Latin guys, Ignacio Berroa and Horacio Hernandez, were big influences. Changuito, a lot of the Cuban guys. The rumba bands. Paula Braga and Portinho for Brazilian. There are so many, I just wanted to hear it all. And now I feel it all in here when I’m playing. Little bits and pieces of all these people.”

MD: Can you talk on the subject of originality?

Antonio: You have to let all the influences you’ve had in your life come through. Don’t hold back. For example, a lot of the time I was studying jazz, I was like, I want to be as pure as I can, to sound like Tony or Art Blakey or Roy Haynes…. And of course, you can try, and that’s great that you try to sound as authentic as possible within the language. But then you think, Okay, I’m from Mexico, and I grew up listening to rock, Latin music, and all these things. I think for my voice to be unique, I have to let all those influences come into play when I perform. And I think that’s been something that’s really molded my personality. All the years that I played Afro-Cuban music, then Latin music, then fusion, then rock, then jazz…. That’s why now I mainly play with my band, because that’s where I can write for all the influences that I have in my head, and I get to play that live, and that’s why it’s one of the most fulfilling places for me nowadays. Because I can do it all.

MD: It’s interesting when you look at the Readers Poll this or any other year, the players are usually such a nice reminder that personality still influences listeners. It still matters.

Antonio: Definitely. It’s such a high currency, in jazz especially. Just to have your own sound and personality. For instance, in very high-profile pop gigs, I think there are a lot of people that can do a good job. There are so many competent drummers. But for jazz you’ll usually get called for your own voice, rather than your “competence” or being a good reader.

Right now it’s a great time for jazz drummers—older than me, younger than me…. The other day someone asked me who my favorite drummers are, like the young guys, and I was like, “Man, all of them.” Even if I don’t identify with what they’re doing, or I would not play that music that way, or don’t hear it that way, I can’t deny the shear quality and musicality and personality. Everybody has a thing, and it’s very inspiring to see how high the bar is right now in New York. It’s pretty amazing the amount of great drumming there is. It’s an endless well of personality and virtuosity, and I think everybody, because of the way music’s changing, everybody adapts. A lot of us drummers, because of the way the music changes, we change our kits a lot and add and subtract things just to go with what’s going on, but personality still comes through in a big way.

Interview by Adam Budofsky



  1. Eric Harland
  2. Marcus Gilmore
  3. Jonathan Barber
  4. Dafnis Prieto


Simon Phillips
Photo by Francesco Desmaele


Simon Phillips

“The Protocol material is very demanding instrumental fusion music. It can become exhausting for some musicians playing this type of complex music night after night. The Protocol 4 release is a big step forward for me compositionally. My entire career, I’ve always chosen the risky, more musical route. It was probably not the wisest financial decision at times. But, frankly, I’d rather play great music than make lots of money. I feel musically rejuvenated after making this record.” (July 2018)


  1. Nate Smith
  2. Gergo Borlai
  3. Zach Danziger
  4. Michael Mitchell


Tony Royster Jr


Tony Royster Jr. (Katy Perry)

“Pretty much anything that you hear, electronics or whatever, I’m triggering. I call my set a booby trap, because any extra hit of those sounds that are triggered from my drums and, oh man, it’s a crazy situation. And the sounds aren’t like little snare drums. These are big-ass sounds from the record, like a big snare. Most drummers aren’t used to playing triggers, because they’re so used to doing ghost notes, things of that nature. There are no ghost notes in this type of music. You do a ghost note, it can be the end of your career playing triggers. If I’m playing a very simple pattern that just requires four on the floor and 2 and 4 on the snare, I can do some intertwining percussion parts. It’s a dope situation. [But] there’s really no drum tracks left in the Pro Tools. So if I stop playing, you’ll know for sure.” (April 2018)


  1. Eric Hernandez
  2. Mark Schulman
  3. Drew Shoals
  4. Karl Brazil



Rich Redmond
Photo By Alex Solca


Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean)

“What makes for a great drum track? A memorable beat, a killer groove, musical choices, and staying out of the way. The groove is the muscle of the song. The connective tissue is the appropriate fill coming in and out of each section of the song. Then the finishing touches consist of scrubbing and/or gridding the tracks to really lock them all in as tightly as possible to create that unstoppable, impenetrable groove that makes it a radio hit. The last two Aldean records were heavily mixed with modern technology. As you grow as an artist, you also have to grow with the technology, to keep up with the industry standards for making hit records. You have to go into the studio with the confidence to know what a song needs, and then deliver the goods. You also have to be humble enough to take directions.”
(December 2018)


  1. Lisa Pankratz
  2. Travis McNabb
  3. Keio Stroud
  4. Seth Rausch


Max Portnoy
Photo by Mike Haid



Max Portnoy

“Todd Schied at the California Drum Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has been teaching me since I was about five years old. He teaches me every style of music, from jazz to prog to metal to African and Brazilian rhythms. He always shows me challenging things to keep me growing. I [also] learned a lot from watching my dad on tour and in the studio. Playing drums is what I’ve wanted to do my entire life, and my dad has inspired me more than anyone to follow my dreams.” (May 2018)


  1. Jimmy MacBride
  2. Jamison Ross
  3. Marian Li-Pino
  4. Booker Stardrum


Kiko Freitas


Kiko Freitas

Faves’ Faves

“My top drummers in terms of influence would be Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich, Colin Bailey, Wilson das Neves, Dave Weckl, and Vinnie Colaiuta. In these giants of drums I can find the feeling, swing, technique, and the real art of playing the drumset.”


  1. Bobby Sanabria
  2. Courtney Diedrick
  3. Barrett Martin
  4. Ranjit Barot


Benny Greb


Benny Greb

“[My] first recording—that’s when I figured out that things can sound drastically different from how they feel while you’re playing, to the positive and to the negative. Sometimes you can beat yourself up and then you realize it’s not that bad. But then there’s the other way around, where you’re thinking, This is great! But when you listen back to the recording it’s horrible. When that happens, you have to ask what’s horrible. Oh…the fills speed up. Why do they speed up? Maybe it’s because I hold my breath or I stop the motion of my body. What’s comforting is that these are not things that take forever. Once you think about them, you’ll sound different immediately.” (June 2015)


  1. Anika Nilles
  2. Aaron Spears
  3. Mark Walker
  4. Dana Hall


Steve Gadd



Steve Gadd, Chinese Butterfly (The Chick Corea and Steve Gadd Band)

Chick Corea


  1. Elvin Jones, Both Directions at Once (John Coltrane)
  2. Nate Smith, The Fearless Flyers (The Fearless Flyers)
  3. Brann Dailor, Emperor of Sand (Mastodon)
  4. Jean-Paul Gaster, Book of Bad Decisions (Clutch)



Aaron Sterling
Photo by Scott Liken



Aaron Sterling, Sounds of Sterloid Vol. II (online master class)


  1. Jost Nickel, Jost Nickel’s Fill Book
  2. Gregory “Torch” Sgrulloni, Trap Style Drumming (book)
  3. Mark Colenburg, The Beat Matrix Unlocked (book)
  4. Claus Hessler, Camp Duty Update (book)