For the uninitiated, the world of electronic drums might appear to be the province solely of the ‘live dance band’ drummer, or the function gig player whose acoustic kit has proved too loud. In reality though, electronic kits have been welcomed with open arms by drummers from every genre imaginable. And that applies to metalheads as much as anyone.
Illustrating this fact perfectly Roland UK recently hooked up with two of the most influential metal drummers of their generation – and V-Drum
devotees to boot. Brothers Adrian and Daniel Erlandsson have racked up CVs that between them namecheck At The Gates, The Haunted, Arch Enemy, Cradle Of Filth, Carcass, Brujeria and Nemhain. In short, there’s not a lot about thrash, death, black or any other metal flavour they don’t know. With six years between them, the siblings are close, and like two sides of the same coin. Being older, Adrian’s playing is shot through with classic metal influences; Daniel’s has been shaped by the more extreme proponents of the genre since he first picked up sticks. Adrian is the slightly more gregarious, Daniel carries himself with a quiet intensity. But get them talking about their shared love of the metal life, about growing up together, about their first experience of playing drums and neither is backward about coming forward…
Before we get the two of you talking about each other as players, just bring us up to date with what you’ve been up to in the last year, and what 2009 holds.
Daniel: “I was mainly doing this reunion tour with Carcass in 2008. We did a world tour and went places I’ve never been to, including New Zealand and South America. We finished that in November, then I went on tour with Arch Enemy, so the end of the year was pretty busy. This year will be mostly Arch Enemy shows, with lots of festivals in the summer. And we’re re-recording some old stuff with Angela (Grossow – Arch Enemy frontwoman), from the first three albums when we had a male singer. It’s going to broaden the set-list – most of our fans only know us from the last two albums, they haven’t heard the old stuff. So we thought we’d pick the songs that we have in our back catalogue that we’d like to play live and re-record them.”
Adrian: “Funnily enough, last year I was also doing a reunion tour – with At The Gates – which went from May to September. We did lots of festivals and a US tour which was amazing. And there’s a DVD of that tour coming out before this summer. One of the main things for this year is the release of the first Nemhain album, which is a band I formed with my wife (über-popular fetish model Morrigan Hel). That’s exciting because it’s very much ‘our thing’”.
The Nemhain stuff is interesting, because it gives people the chance to hear you play much more punky/metal-y stuff than they might expect from the ex-At The Gates/Cradle drummer…
Adrian: “It’s kind of what I grew up with. Extreme music back then was like Twisted Sister or WASP – it wasn’t until we had Metallica in Sweden that more extreme stuff became part of my listening. Nemhain is rewarding because the playing is pretty simple, and so you have to watch what you’re playing because there’s more space between the notes now, unlike Cradle of Filth.”
Let’s talk about those early influences then, and the way in which you both came to the drums and started playing seriously. Was it a case of little brother raiding big brother’s record collection for inspiration?
Adrian: “When we were young there wasn’t really a record collection at all. We moved from an apartment into a house in the country when I was about 10 and I met a guy who played guitar. His older brother was into heavy metal, so I heard AC/DC for the first time and went home and said, We have to get a record player. Our parents were both very supportive. And so we got a record player and a drum kit in the house.”
Daniel: “The kit arrived when I was about six. And I wasn’t really feeling it back then, to be honest. It took a while for me to get interested and I started about six years later, I suppose when I was about 12. The whole scene had changed and thrash and death metal was coming out. And that stuff really influenced me when I was in my early teens. I was straight into death metal, basically. And I had to figure out how to blastbeat pretty quickly.”
So what are your thoughts on each other’s playing now?
Adrian: “I remember when Daniel got the call to join Arch Enemy. He had just a couple of days to learn the songs before going into the studio for the album. When I heard the record I was completely blown away. And even now, every time a new Arch Enemy record comes out now, he manages to go up another level. It’s very inspiring.”
Daniel: “The thing with Adrian is that he’s done a lot of different styles within metal – from very clinical, precise stuff with At The Gates to Cradle, which was a bit more classic metal-influenced. Again, I always think he raises the bar each time he does a record. He’s very well-rounded as a drummer.”
Today you’re both big fans of the TD-20K – but it was the need for consistent kick drum sounds on stage that lead you both to using electronics originally …
Daniel: “Yeah, I got into electronics because I wanted to improve the live monitoring situation so that everyone in the band could hear the kick drums properly. I started triggering kicks seven or eight years ago. And then I got into the Roland V-Drum stuff after Adrian recommended it to me.
Adrian: “With me, it was similar, I started triggering drums when I joined Cradle. The previous drummer had used them and they wanted that very consistent kind of sound. So I got a TD-7 kit initially, which I also used to use for practising. Cradle was so chaotic that we decided we couldn’t get seven of us all in a room to write new material, so we’d all work on stuff at home. And that’s when I got into using the V-Drum kits in a more creative/production role. I went and bought a TD-10K and got more involved in the world of MIDI, and it ended up that I did all the pre-production drum tracks for our first Sony album with that TD-10 kit. It worked perfectly. And since I left Cradle I’ve done a lot of session work with different bands, and I’ve used the TD-20K on albums where I’ve played the parts in at home, then gone into a studio and maybe overdubbed some live cymbals. That sounds spot on.”
Daniel, how does the TD-20K fit into your life as a drummer?
Daniel: “Well I’ve had the TD-20K for about a year I guess, so for much of the time we’ve been touring. But recently I’ve used it in pre-production and recorded two extra songs for the new Arch Enemy album, and like Adrian, I overdub live cymbals and it sounds incredible. And in terms of developing your playing and your writing, it’s great to be able to have an idea for a part and jump on the kit straightaway. Any time of day, no worries about having to go to the studio. It’s so quick to try ideas. I’ve always got drum parts in my head, now I can audition them and see if they work really quickly. And I use a pad on my left hand side on-stage too. I used it for specific different sounds during the set, so I’ll have a couple of snares, for example that crop up in different songs. And obviously the flexibility of creating presets in the TD-20 means I can stick with the same kick sounds for each kit, and just alter the snare sounds that are coming off the pad. It’s so flexible and easy to use.”
Adrian: “I do the same as Daniel as far as using the V-Drums to rehearse parts. I get behind the TD-20K if I have an idea for a part, record it into the computer with a click and see if I’m anywhere near nailing it. Then when I’ve got it down, I save it to a library of beats that I’ve got on my computer. I’ve recorded pretty much every beat that I can play, and I have them to hand if I’m called to program a track. I can even build a whole album that sounds just like me. With Cyanide Serenity, who I’m working with at the moment, I’ve built a couple of demo tracks for them like that, just at home. The TD-20K has become such an important part of the way that I work that it’s an essential tool as far as I’m concerned. I want to get more into the production side of things as time goes on. And the V-Drum kits are more crucial even than an acoustic kit as far as that’s concerned. They open up so many possibilities both in terms of sound and working practice.”
Have either of you found moving between V-Drums and your acoustic kits a challenge?
Daniel: “I adapted very quickly to playing a V-Drum kit from acoustic. Of course there are differences, because you don’t have to use as much physical force to get the drums resonating with the TD-20K for example. But I don’t see that as a problem. And I can honestly say that practicing ideas on a V-Drum kit and then moving to an acoustic set-up has never caused issues.”
Adrian: “The only time that I really had an issue moving from V-Drum to acoustic is the last album I did with Cradle. I spent literally six months playing V-Drums only during the writing process, because we did it all remotely – only getting together to rehearse the material right before we went in to record. So I was completely used to my TD set-up, and moving to the acoustic kit was a shock for no other reason than that everything felt so much further away! The V-Drums are so well designed to be able to set up in a compact space and still feel like a real kit that I’d got used to everything being very close to me. The problem with the physical nature of acoustic drums is that you have to compromise more on your set-up, so everything felt really spaced out. But the transition from V-Drum to regular kit for me as a player has never been a problem.”