The Atlanta-based metalcore group Issues is currently headlining an international tour that lasts through early November. Since joining the band in 2012, drummer Josh Manuel has brought a unique combination of gospel-inspired phrasing, drum-line chops, and slamming grooves to Issues’ unique blend of post-hardcore, pop, and hip-hop influences—most notably on the 2016 release Headspace.
Manuel attributes much of his sound to the time he spent growing up in the Atlanta gospel scene. “I’ve learned so much over the years from playing at church,” he says. “I play at Stonecreek Church every chance I get when I’m home. It teaches you how to be a professional musician—showing up on time, learning the songs, playing to a click, running tracks, playing with other musicians in a live setting, and more. It’s mostly about supporting the song, using dynamics to create the perfect vibe and atmosphere. At a young age, it teaches the invaluable lesson that less is more.”
Manuel utilizes his drum-line background in plenty of Issues’ songs, including “Sad Ghost” from the group’s self-titled 2014 release. “I use a lot of the sticking patterns that I learned from marching to try and keep it unique and interesting,” he says. “‘Sad Ghost’ opens with a marching snare pattern. Also, everyone in our band plays drums except for our bass player, Skyler [Acord], so we’re always open-minded when it comes to trying new ideas and seeing what we can get away with.”
As the band continues to gain popularity and mature, Manuel’s perspective on the pressures of higher-profile gigs has grown as well. “When I first started touring, I think I held myself to kind of an impossible standard, which caused me a lot of anxiety and stress,” Josh says. “Eventually I came to the conclusion that we’re human and everyone has good nights and bad ones. Don’t get me wrong, when I have a bad night it still really eats at me. But I think perspective is important, and I’m thankful every night to be doing what I love. If I have a bad night, that just means I’ll practice twice as much the next day.”
Manuel attributes changes in social media to helping younger drummers get work—especially in his own case.“The main reason I got the gig with Issues was because of the videos I had up on YouTube,” he explains. “So I think social media plays a vital role in getting yourself out there and building your brand as a musician. Instagram seems like it’s taken over lately in the drumming community, and I think it’s great. My favorite thing about posting ideas and play-alongs is the immediate feedback, whether it’s good or bad. I think it’s really beneficial for continuously improving as a player.”
Manuel plays SJC drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Vic Firth drumsticks, and uses JH Audio in-ear monitors.
Also on the Road
Bryan Devendorf with the National /// Tim Very with Manchester Orchestra /// Ryan Meyer with Highly Suspect /// Austin D’Amond with DevilDriver /// Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg with Mayhem