Sunday, June 29, 2014

Interview with legendary drummer Michael Smith!

Mike Smith, (born July 16, 1970 in Bronx, New York), is an multi-instrumentalist, best known as the former drummer of the prominent New York-based death metal band Suffocation.
He performed on their 1990 demo Reincremated, the 1991 EP, Human Waste, their 1991 debut album Effigy of the Forgotten, and their 1993 album Breeding the Spawn. He then departed from the band and was subsequently replaced by drummer Doug Bohn. He returned when Suffocation reformed in 2002 after a four-year hiatus and performed on their 2004 release, Souls to Deny, their 2006 self-titled album, and 2009's Blood Oath. Smith left Suffocation for the second time in February of 2012.

Mike also lent his drumming to the song "Dawn of a Golden Age" on Roadrunner United: The All Star Sessions, underground rapper Necro for his album Death Rap, experimental metal act Psychometry, Synesis Absorption and Iniquitous. 

Thank you again Sir for accepting me and let's begin:
After your breakup with Suffocation, many people were worried about your future and if you still continue to play the drums.. I know you are involved in few musical projects..can you give us some details?

I'll never quit playing drums, guitar and creating music, that is my natural way of expression. I teach drums as well as do a bunch of hired drumming work for bands and musicians in need. I'm far from removed from music and all it entails.

Man you are considered one of the most technical drummers in the death metal scene. Tell me please how you started to play drums?

I started at 11 yrs old playing drums. I've been playing guitar since I was 7 and still do along with bass when need be. I focused more on drums when it became obvious that all my friends were practicing guitar as well. If we wanted to play in bands somebody had to take the throne. It came natural to me, practicing to become what I was to become was always a desired challenge. I figure being able to play every instrument involved in a traditional band personally was as good a goal as any. It paid off well this far.

About your gear, what are you using? Do you have any current endorsements?

I use and am endorsed by Ddrum, Meinl cymbals, Vic firth sticks, Evans drum skins, and axis pedals. All the support has been priceless and much appreciated in helping my journey remain successful.

I know that you are involved in some musical projects (Synesis Absorption, Iniquitous). I know Iniquitous have released an EP and split. and S.A 2 singles. What are your plans for the future?

I take it one day at a time. Ive been doing plenty of hired studio work for bands via online means. I am always plotting on my own personal releases, I'm just in no rush there is no longer an industry that i have to compete with in terms of releases, so when a song or album is done i can easily reach my entire fan base with the click of a button. Just know that i am far from retired from my personal music business. I have no limits or hangups , so its just when i decide to speak through a song, ill write it and put it out through the worthy chains of promotion.. being one of them.

When you compose a new song.., first you define in your mind the ''skeleton'' of the song? or it gets it's structure during? and that would be the first thing that you do: the lyrics, guitars?

I usually work on the guitar riffs and shape the overall emotion I'm trying to provoke with the song. Piecing the riffs to flow is the longest of the process once That is laid down I would have already thought out the direction of the drums for it so that comes easier. The lyrics are usually the last to be done. I personally write all my songs for instrumental pleasure. Lyrics are just a bonus I can do with or without but when it's time to write them they come immediate enough.

Your style of drumming and sound is unique than any drummer I have personally heard in death metal. Can you elaborate on how you created your playing style?

I started playing in a time when focusing on originality in style was still the goal of a musician. I was fortunate to be able to play death metal when there was room to be unique and relevant. I've also played guitar all my life equally, which allowed me to write from both perspectives which helped shape my personal style of playing.

What bands are you listening to? And what kind of music do you normally enjoy?

Origin, Hate Eternal, Deftones, Death, Cannibal and all that comes with Pandora regarding Death Metal, Wu- Tang, M.O.P,ray charles, Otis Redding. Stevie Ray Vaughn and all that comes with the blues. Other than that I am more than satisfied just thinking things through as to how I'm going to attack my next project. Everything i do revolves around music one way or another.

In the last time, a lot of bands use programmed or at least triggered drums on their albums. What’s your thought on programmed drumming? Were you ever tempted to use programmed drumming?

I wasn't tempted as much as I was forced to. Today's engineers use triggers as there main source of tracking now. So to go against what the new age engineer is capable of in their studio by insisting they use traditional means of recording puts your project or album at serious risk of not turning out as you'd hoped. The guitarist need it as a crutch now. The youthful producer/ engineer only knows this technique. It basically started when the natural feel of playing the song became the slave to the metronome. With the metronome came trigger sound replacement and artificial quantizing to make every beat line up perfectly. That's why most albums sound the same.....mechanical.

What are your hobbies and interests? I know you like motocross.

Motocross, supercross and constantly rebuilding my supercross track. Wing chun Kung fu and relaxing follow soon after.

What recent releases you liked?

Gorguts I find myself listening too more than most. I wouldn't mind if Origin sent me a sneak preview of their latest however. Otherwise life is too busy to really keep track of all the latest releases.
Please feel free to suggest the latest and greatest.

No problem sir.
At the final, Michael I want to thank for this interview. I wish you good luck. Any last words for the readers?

Whatever you choose to do, Bleeed for it. Or your wasting the one thing we can't get back. Time.
Keep an eye on
You have my word you'll eventually need it. Take care.


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