Sunday, January 22, 2012

Interview with drummer, Charlie "The Basher" Waymire

In 1999, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my music career. Looking for a band, I posted an ad at the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA. Shortly after posting the ad, I got a call from Charlie Waymire, who also recommended a bassist, and my first LA band was born. Coming from Fairfax, Virginia, I couldn't believe I found a drummer and bassist that wanted to play progressive-rock guitar instrumentals. I also couldn't believe how easy it was to find like-minded musicians in such short order. After all, this was 1999. Nu-metal was the rage, and people just didn't play solos. We immediately started rehearsing and quickly booked some NAMM show concerts and then started playing around various clubs in LA.

At the time, Charlie was a recent graduate at M.I., named Rock Drummer of the Year, and since then has been a PIT instructor. In addition to teaching at Musicians Institute (PIT), Charlie owns and operates Abrasive Studios where he tracks drums for musicians and bands all over the world as well at TV and film. He also works with his Abrasive Producitons Partner, Ernesto Homeyer, writing and producing records as well as libraries for TV and film.

While a few bass players have come and gone, Charlie has been playing off and on with my band ever since then. From small club dates, 10 years ago, with 10 people in the audience, to a west coast tour in 2008, and now more recent gigs in front of a thousand, Charlie has been rock-solid, reliable, and a joy to work with. I recently interviewed Charlie to discuss a bit of our history, as well as to get a deeper understanding of his musical background.

Adrian Galysh: When did you start playing drums? How old were you?

Charlie Waymire: I started playing drums in 1983 when I was the ripe old age of 10 years old. 

AG: Do you remember what prompted you to take up the instrument?

CW: One of my friends played drums and I thought that was so cool. He showed me stuff every time I would go over to his house but I knew for sure I wanted to played drums when I bought Motley Crue's "Shout At The Devil". I was on vacation with my family in St. Louis (don't ask me why we went to St. Louis for vacation) and somehow talked my parents into buying "Shout At The Devil". When I heard that first drum fill it was all over. Tommy Lee was my drum god growing up. I don't think my mom was very happy because she took the cassette out of the stereo immediately but it was too late. I already had the bug. 

AG: Did you take lessons and were your parents supportive?

CW: I grew up in a small town so there weren't a lot of options for teachers but I did have instruction pretty much from the beginning. I had a pretty cool teacher named Dave Ludwick. My parents were pretty supportive but I don't think they thought I would do it for a living. When I started to get serious about drumming and started dropping sports to play music I definitely met some resistance. It wasn't until after I moved to Minnesota to go to music school that I got a call from my mom and she told me that she final understood why I was so into music. She had seen a concert (can't remember what concert) that had an impact on her and she finally understood. Since then she's been a big supporter. 

AG: When did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?

CW: Oddly enough I think I knew music would be my life with that first drum fill on "Shout At The Devil". As far as actually pursuing a career professionally I think that happened in high school. I was getting tired of playing sports and really wanted to focus on playing drums. I started looking at music schools my senior year of hight school and moved to Minneapolis to attend Music Tech (now McNally Smith College of Music) a year after I graduated. 

AG: What’s your philosophy or approach toward the role your instrument plays in a band performance?

CW: My approach is very much a supportive role. I see myself as the backbone to the band, the foundation that lets everyone else do their thing. That doesn't mean that I don't like to play some flashy stuff on occasion but that is definitely not my main objective as a drummer. I'm a fan of good solid drumming that really drives a tune and doesn't get in the way. That doesn't necessarily mean simple, more complimentary I would say. 
AG: You and I met a little over ten years ago. In your opinion, how has your approach to playing drums changed in the last 10 years?

CW: Wow! It's been a while! As much as I love working with new people it's always a different, deeper musical experience to work with people you have a history with. It's been a fun 10 years Adrian! I would say the biggest change in my approach to playing drums is my perspective on music in general as apposed to the drums themselves. 10 years ago I listened to music mainly from a drummers perspective. I always heard the drums first and would pick out drum parts, fills, solos, grooves, and not necessarily hear them as part of the music but just as drum parts. In hindsight it was a very strange way to look at music in that fashion. Taking the drums out of context like that didn't allow me to see how the drums worked with the other instruments and visa versa. 
Nowadays I approach drumming, and music in general, with much more of a producers ear and very rarely (if ever) from a pure drummers perspective. I think having my own studio where I do recordings for artists all over the world as well as producing bands and other drummers has really helped me to mature musically and hear the "big picture" as apposed to just being so focussed on my instrument. 

AG: Who are your top 5 musical influences, not necessarily drummers?

CW:  AC/DC (pick any record), Dave Matthews Band, The Police, Miles Davis, early Metallica (pre black album)  
AG: Lets play some word association, tell me the first thing that comes to your mind:
1. Virgil Donati: Mad scientist
2. Pearl Drums: The best drums on the planet!
3. Gregg Bissonette: Chameleon
4. Tommy Lee: The reason I play drums for a living!
5. Kansas: Barbecue/ Carry On My Wayward Son
6. Los Angeles: Anonymity 
7: Terry Bozzio: He really only has 4 limbs?
8: Paiste: Purity of sound.
9: Coffee: Oh how I miss thee...
10: Chad Smith: Bombastic

AG: What artists have you been digging/listening to currently?

CW: Oddly enough lately I've been revisiting a lot of music I grew up with. Motley Crue, Ozzy, Maiden, Temple of the Dog, AC/DC, etc… I'm disillusioned with a lot of new music. Too much of it has been chopped up and tuned and is devoid of the human element of emotion that music should have. That's not to say there isn't good music now but lately I've been going back to the "good 'ol days" of music. 

AG: Most people have a “Spinal Tap” moment in their careers, any strange or funny road stories?

CW: Man I have more than one of these but here's a good one. I spent a year or so touring with a band called the Zookeepers and we have just done a week trip and were coming back to L.A. for a week and then leaving for a 3 week stint. I took my snares out of the van so I could change heads, tune and be ready to rock. The next week rolls around we load up and head north to somewhere near Sacramento where our first gig was that night. We pulled into town early and as usual we'd hit the local pawn shops and music stores to see if there were any deals to be had. Then we headed to the club to eat and relax before setting up for the night. All is well so far. Day 1 has been a breeze…

When it's time for set up we unload as usual and I'm in drum land setting up my kit when I notice something is missing. I ask the bass player if he missed a couple of cases in the van and he said no. I'm a little worried so I walk around the club to see if something was misplaced but found nothing. At this point I realize that my snares are sitting in my apartment, in cases with brand new heads on them. We had to play 3 sets of music that night and I had no snare! On top of that we spent two hours at the local music store that day where I could have bought a new snare had I known mine were still in L.A. So in lieu of a snare I took my 12 inch tom and put about a half inch of duct tape all over the head so it made a high pitch slap sound and that was my snare for 3 hours of music that night. 

As a matter of fact Adrian I seem to recall not having a snare on a certain San Diego gig we did recently…but that's another story!

AG: Can you share a career highlight?  What made it so special?

CW: I have a few but I'll share one that may seem unusual as a career "highlight". In 2004 (I think) I was on the road in Europe with Jeff Kollman and we were playing a show in Friedberg, Germany at this little tiny hole in the wall club. When I say tiny I mean tiny as in 10 or 12 people would make the room look full. Actually it probably wasn't even a club by our definition. But the gig was booked and we had to play. I was literally set up with my back to the plate glass window at the from of the room with Jeff Kollman to my left about a foot away and Kevin Chown to my right also within reaching distance. When we came back to the "club" after dinner the placed was packed! Almost 80 people packed! You couldn't move in this place. I could reach out and touch the audience without getting up from my drum set. Jeff literally had someone six inches in front of his face while he was singing. What made the night especially memorable though was the appreciation and participation from the audience. Our set list included everything from our new JKB record to Jimi Hendrix to Jeff's crazy Cosmosquad fusion stuff. I mean it was diverse! Something that doesn't exactly go well here. But that night it was almost magical. The owner loved us, the crowed was amazing and was ordering drinks for the band and passing them over everyone's heads to give to us (back when I could enjoy a good German beer!) and after the show everyone hung out and expressed how much they had enjoyed the show and was amazed we would come and play in such a small venue. Their gratitude and appreciation was almost overwhelming. Made something that had the potential to be just another B.S. gig into something special and memorable. Those are the times I am reminded why I play music. 

AG: Tell me about your current drum set up.

My current  set up is a Pearl Session Custom Kit. I've had this kit for almost 10 years and it just sounds amazing. I use it more than any other kit and I top it off with a variety of Evans heads. Drum wise I'm toned it down over past couple of years using 1 rack tom and two floor toms, kick, snare and sometimes a satellite snare on the side. My cymbals of choice are Paiste. I've never played anything that sounds better. I've been using the Dark Energy and Twenty series a lot lately but I have quite a collection so I can swap out as the music dictates. This is all well and good but it's no good without something to hit it all with and for that I choose Pro-Mark 5A's. Yes I said 5A's. You don't need big sticks to get a big sound. Well at least I don't. 

AG: What projects are you currently working on, and what/where can we expect to hear from you in the near future?

CW: I have couple really cool things going on right now. First off I'm working with a very cool blues band called "Bleeding Harp" featuring Jeff Marshall and Jeff Kollman on guitars. It's really a phenomenal band that I'm really excited about and we're a little over half way through recording a new record. We've been doing quite a few shows around the L.A. area as of late and would love to see some new faces! My instrumental trio EGH featuring Ernetso Homeyer on guitar and Justin Apergis on bass will be releasing a new record this spring. We're in the mixing stage right now and I have to say that I'm very pleased with how things are turning out. It's a very diverse record. 

Visit these website to find out more about Charlie Waymire:

For more information about Adrian Galysh, including video guitar lessons, concert dates, clinics, merch and music, visit:

Adrian Galysh: Earth Tones

Adrian Galysh: King Friday

1 comment:

  1. Good interview sessions here, came to know about many unknown things.......