Tommy Holt Interview: Drum Magazine
Tommy Holt: Attika 7’s New Drummer
A new super group has emerged in the metal universe, claiming hardcore pedigrees that few configurations can surpass. Meet Attika 7, featuring vocalist Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard), lead guitarist, songwriter, and famed motorcycle builder Rusty Coones (starring in this season’s Sons Of Anarchy), guitarist Zach Broderick (Nonpoint), and bassist Scott Reeder (Kyuss). Former UPO drummer Tommy Holt was recently enlisted to replace ex-Walls Of Jericho basher Dustin Schoenhofer, who recorded the band’s debut disc Blood Of My Enemies, released in July.
How does it feel to be the new drummer in Attika 7?
It is a great honor for me. The new record is pure metal, and it has been a blast to get into it with Evan, Rusty, Scott, and Zack. It’s a dark record but to me it feels like home – Black Sabbath meets Pantera. It’s a heavy record full of real life experience and I can’t wait for everyone to come out and see us on the Uproar tour!
Do you play to a click or samples on stage?
In Attika 7 we do not play to loops. What you see is what you get with this band. So no click onstage, but that doesn’t let me off the hook. As the drummer I put us right where we need to be. That’s my job!
Do you prefer in-ears or monitors on stage?
I like to use monitors. In-ears block everything out and I’ve never been comfortable in earplugs. It’s not the best idea to play without ear protection, so try those cans they use at the gun range. They make your drums sound miked up and they can save your ears when you’re in the shed for long periods of time.
Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them? How much room do you have to improvise?
I do my best to nail all the important aspects of the recording when I play a song live. Tempo, dynamics, any signature turn around, drum fill, etcetera. But when inspiration happens I rip into it. I love to get that look from the bass player.
How do you stay healthy while you’re on the road?
I try to eat right and sleep all the time. I can sleep anywhere – it’s a gift. It’s real easy to burn out when you’re on tour. Playing every night, always on the move and eating out of truck stops. A good meal and a good rack in your bunk will go a long way.
Do you warm up before going on stage?
I grew up around drum corps and do the same warmups today as I did back in high school. I have a pair of fat drum corps sticks I take everywhere. Just rudiments and rolls to get my wrists ready and the blood moving in my arms. It also helps me to get some nerves out by ripping some flam taps and seven-stroke rolls.
Do you use matched or traditional grip?
I play matched, but when I practice alone I play traditional. It’s a drum corps thing.
What techniques have you learned by listening to or watching other drummers?
When I attended Musicians Institute I had a teacher named Owen Goldman. In his Techniques class he taught the Moeller technique. It really was an epiphany for me. Moeller freed up my hands and helped me stay loose. It was the opposite of everything I learned playing in drum lines as a kid. In a snare line, everything is about the visual uniformity of the line – the stroke comes from the wrist and fingers. In Moeller the entire arm from the shoulder, to the elbow, through the wrist and all the way down to the tip of the stick becomes the stroke. It’s such a fluid way to play, and for me it became my entire style, really. You can play faster and louder much easier, and you can swing more heavily if you’re coming from that technique.
Do you feel perfect time is mandatory in creating a groove?
I’m a stickler for good meter. I’ve worked for years on my inner meter with countless hours behind a click track. When I was young I would play to hip-hop records because I knew they had metered loops on them. With that said, I don’t think anyone has perfect time, in fact I believe it’s a persons imperfections that make up a "groove". You could get 5 drummers to play a simple beat to a click and you will get 5 different feels or grooves. Pro Tools has killed many of grooves by smoothing out all that stuff that makes each of us different.
Do you practice when you’re off the road?
I like to bang the pads in front of the TV when Rusty’s on Sons Of Anarchy.
Do you practice to a metronome?
Always. I hear drummers all the time just shredding away on their drums in their rehearsal rooms. I want to knock on the door and say, “Hey man, now that you can play Swiss triplets with your eyebrows, let’s hear you play a song in time.” We’re timekeepers man, that’s what we do. We make the heads bob. As a rule, most guitar players tend to rush and some bass players can drag, singers want to play everything faster every night until you’re playing your usual one hour set in 20 minutes. It’s up to us as drummers to really know what’s going on. In a band situation, everybody likes to comment on tempo. If you don’t know where you are, how will you know when someone wants to try something faster or slower tomorrow night. The more you practice with a metronome the more you can hear the spaces between the notes. Put that hi-hat on top and pull that kick and snare back as far as you can without falling off. All the notes, the rests, the syncopation reveal themselves. The & of 3 gets the same value as 2 and 4. Every note gets its due in real time. Practice with a metronome or play along with something you know has a click in it, and you’ll be doing yourself a huge service in the long run.
Tommy Holt uses one of two kits, depending on the gig.
Drums: Ludwig Classic Maple, Black Sable Lacquer Finish
26" x 16" Bass Drum
18" x 16" Floor Tom
14" x 14" Tom
14" x 5" Keplinger Stainless Steel Snare
Ludwig Stainless Steel
26" x 16" Bass Drum
18" x 16" Floor Tom
14" x 12" Tom
14" x 6.5" Black Beauty Snare
26" HH Rock Ride
24" HH Rock Ride
18" HH Rock Crash
16" HH Rock Crash
20" HH China
16 HH Rock H-Hats
Tommy Holt also play Evans Black Chrome heads.