In conversation, this month’s cover artist, Arejay Hale, exudes excitement. That should come as no surprise if you’ve ever seen him play with Halestorm, the rock group he started as a youngster. But as I listened back to our conversation for this month’s piece, hearing the passion, fire, and, to be frank, volume in the drummer’s voice was as invigorating and inspiring to me as learning about the journey he’s led, and experiencing first-hand the dynamic performance he conveys onstage.
Considering where Arejay finds himself in his career in his early thirties, he should feel exuberant. After twenty years of touring the world and gaining plenty of songwriting experience and tutelage in the studio during the making of Halestorm’s first three albums, the drummer feels that, in the album that they released this past July, the group has finally created a work that embodies a voice that’s distinctly their own. You can find out more about Hale’s path and his band’s new album in this month’s feature.
While listening back to my conversations with some of the other drummers I interviewed for MD this month, I noticed that a common theme emerged. Take J. J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, who share drumming duties in the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and who talk to us about the new release by their side project, Whose Hat Is This?, in this month’s Out Now column. I found it inspiring that even though they play in a highly regarded, technically demanding, and extremely popular band, they make time to further explore their individual drumming voices—and to learn even more about the musicians they work with—by throwing themselves into a completely different musical environment.
And although we didn’t get into it in his On Tour piece this month, Pat McGee of the indie-pop group Stars shared with us that he refined his own musical voice after graduating from a music program at Montreal’s McGill University and moving to New York to find work in the jazz world. Surrounded by an intimidating number of talented players who were scrambling for the same gigs—and somewhat doubting his own abilities—the drummer eventually came to the realization that, in his words, “Music is music. You can play anything with anybody, no matter what. But the most important thing is to just play with people.” And so after moving back to Montreal, he eventually found his group—the one in which he could establish his unique style, that he was perfectly suited for, and that would last him well into the next decade.
As always, we’re excited for you to dive into the great features, gear coverage, educational content, and other material in this month’s issue. But before I sign off, I want to draw attention to a new column that we launched in the December issue, the Modern Drummer Guide to Reading Rhythms. This month we pick up with Part 2 of the series, which is geared toward drummers who are new to reading music. I could spend an entire column discussing the benefits of reading music, and this new series is an ideal way to learn this invaluable skill, which can be an enormous aid in unlocking your own drumming voice, just like the players mentioned above have done in their own careers.
Enjoy the issue, and enjoy the holiday season. We’ll see you in the New Year as we kick off an exciting 2019.