The new drummer with the progressive metal band the Faceless has turned heads with a combination of old-world ethics and future-shock techniques.
Alex Rudinger has built a great deal of musical momentum on the technical metal scene, all at the ripe old age of twenty-two. Ceaseless practice, a laser-like dedication to sharpening his abilities, and a great attitude have led to jobs with increasingly high-profile groups, like the Canadian melodic death metal band Threat Signal and Sumerian Records favorites the HAARP Machine and the Faceless.
With the help of a select few private teachers, Rudinger, who is based in Frederick, Maryland, has developed a mature musical voice, which he’s honed with a number of bands on the flourishing Washington, D.C., metal scene. Early influences included masters of extreme drumming. “When I was first getting into metal,” Alex recalls, “I was really into Derek Roddy [Malevolent Creation, Hate Eternal] and George Kollias [Nile]. Those were some big dudes for me. They really inspired me early on to keep playing.”
Later, European metal heavyweight Dirk Verbeuren [Soilwork], as well as Matt Garstka, who recently joined the D.C. prog-metal juggernaut Animals as Leaders, made huge impressions. Rudinger’s camaraderie with other like-minded locals, including ex-Periphery/current Darkest Hour drummer Travis Orbin, also greatly fed his development. In fact, the friendship, support, and mutual bar raising among these players has helped to fuel something of a technical-metal renaissance in the D.C. area over the past several years. Today Rudinger is a veritable encyclopedia of heavy drumming, and his love of many metal subgenres comes through clearly in his work.
Rudinger plays a hybrid ambidextrous setup with an open-handed concept inspired by Dream Theater’s Mike Mangini, as well as by some of the aforementioned drum heroes. “Travis Orbin in particular has been a huge inspiration to me,” Alex says. “His playing is what really drove me to work on open-handed playing more and more.”
Since beginning his drumming journey at age thirteen, Rudinger has drawn influences largely from YouTube; likewise, the video medium has played a significant role in his own success. Regarding the millions of views of his drum covers and studio work, he says, “I don’t think I could have done much of what I’ve done thus far without YouTube. It helped me get exposure—as well as get some gigs.”
These videos, which Rudinger says are at least partially made to prove that he’s playing everything you hear on recordings, are impressive for their great natural drum sounds, as well as the incredible preparation that is apparent in Alex’s execution. Part of that preparation involves the use of charts, which are created with Arobas Music’s Guitar Pro 5, a favored composition and transcription tool among technical- metal drummers, including Orbin.
“Guitar Pro is cool software for that,” Rudinger says, “because when you’re transcribing, it uses a series of numbers that represent different sounds. Each number represents something on my kit, and it allows me to write out parts note for note. [Composing parts away from the kit] allows you to think stuff up that you might not be able to improvise on the spot—kind of crazy parts—and then later, when you look at it on paper, you know what you meant and you can slowly work it out and bring it up to speed.”
Like many of his D.C.-area drumming peers, Rudinger maintains an in-person and Skype-based teaching schedule in addition to commitments with his main band. He also offers groups and individual musicians the ability to have him record drums for their projects from his home studio. As an added bonus, he shoots multi-angle video of his tracking work and offers to post the results on his own YouTube channel for free, which provides added-value promotion for artists.
Rudinger spent much of last fall on tour with the Faceless, and in December and January of 2014 he concentrated on some exciting new projects, including one featuring members of Cannibal Corpse.