Drummer KEVIN TALLEY - Heavy Hitter

November 8, 2012, 7 years ago

By Kelley Simms

feature kevin talley

Kevin Talley has drummed his way into a pretty successful death metal career by manning the throne for bands DAATH, CHIMAIRA, MISERY INDEX, SIX FEET UNDER, NOTHNEGAL and DYING FETUS. He once auditioned for Slayer in 2001, but ultimately lost out to original drummer Dave Lombardo. He’s also a fairly motivated and busy session drummer, often times taking on work for a variety of artists. One such session work which began in 2006 and actually turned out to be one of his current full-time gigs (among three others!) is Chicago-based SYLENCER, which has just released its debut CD, A Lethal Dose Of Truth - six years later. Speaking from his home studio in San Antonio, Talley talked about his musical influences, his drumming style and his involvement with Sylencer.

BraveWords.com: How’d you join up with Slylencer?

Talley: "Johnny (Rox; bassist) was living down in Atlanta when I was living down there while I was playing with Daath, and we jammed. Over the years, he had played in another Atlanta band I went to check out. Then he moved to Chicago and when those guys needed a drummer for Sylencer, he told Markus (Johannson) and he contacted me on MySpace - some old school shit like that - in 2005 or 2006. Then I finished up a couple of tours in 2006, I went to Chicago and jammed some songs and solidified some arrangements and then I went in and tracked the drums for the album. That was in 2006 (laughs). It’s been awhile!

BraveWords.com: Were you involved in the project from the beginning?

Talley: "I don’t really want to say the beginning because Markus had done a lot of writing before I came in. He already had a good idea of how he wanted the songs to go and then we all jammed on the songs. We extended a couple of things and made the songs cohesive and fluid. I tracked the drums and that was the first thing to get recorded, so I guess you could say I was there from the beginning! (laughs).

BraveWords.com: With the exception of three tracks, you play drums on all of the 16 tracks on the new CD. How did you go about recording your parts?

Talley: "I wrote all the drum parts. We were kind of like a band. Now, a lot of the studio work that I do, I never even jam with the people. They lay scratch guitar tracks down and they send me the stuff and I play my drums in the studio here in San Antonio. But for that project, that was back in the day, kind of like the old school way I would do session work, which was go out to somebody, jam the songs for a week or so then go into the studio and bust it out. That’s what we ended up doing. It was a good time. It was two of the best weeks of my life going down there to Chicago. We had a great time, jamming and partying. We were just raging! I mean we finished the recording and then we started raging! (laughs).

BraveWords.com: What’s the status of your other bands?

Talley: "I’m still in Daath and we’re probably going to do a new album in 2013-14. I’m not in Chimaira anymore. I’m also tracking drums for a band from the Ukraine. I’ve never done a band from the Ukraine. I usually I do stuff from Europe, Australia, South America and a lot from the States. I’m also doing Six Feet Under demos; we’re writing new songs.

BraveWords.com: It’s actually not that unusual these days for a musician to play in up to three bands at a time. Do you prefer it this way; keeping busy, taking gigs and collecting a paycheck?

Talley: "I think that’s the best thing is to have your hand in as many jars as possible then if one of them fall through and you only have on gig, then you’re kinda in bad shape. But if you have your hand in five jars and if one of them goes down the shitter then you still got four other ones keeping you afloat. It’s basically just a way to survive. It’s pretty hard to be rich in this industry now days unless your Taylor Hawkins or Dave Grohl. I found that the best way for me to do it is to just play on as many albums as possible. I like playing in Six Feet Under, so I still get to be out there and play on stage. I’d rather not play eight months out of the year on stage, because I did that already. I’ve been touring for a long time so I’d rather do more studio work. Six Feet Under is kind of a part time band, we only tour two or three months out of the year. Then I can still do a lot of session work and still do vacationing.

BraveWords.com: You’re a heavy hitter and you really pound your drums, yet you have finesse and an articulate way of playing. Who were your influences?

Talley: "With my approach to my style, I would say that Igor Cavalera was a huge influence, Lars was a huge influence. Dave Culross was a real big influence on my death metal drumming. He was in MALEVOLENT CREATION for awhile and then he was in SUFFOCATION, and now he’s back in Suffocation. My hard-hitting style pretty much came from Igor Cavalera from SEPULTURA and Lars, because those guys are maniacs.

BraveWords.com: Some drummers are self-taught, but did you take lessons as a kid? Were you in a high school marching band and did you practice with a metronome or play to the stereo?

Talley: "I’m completely self-taught on the drum kit, but I was in marching band so I knew all my rudiments. That’s one of the places where I learned to hit hard and powerful. To learn how to play the drum kit, I just listened to the stereo and played along with the songs with my head phones or just my stereo blasting next to me. I would buy those drum books and magazines like Modern Drummer and they would have sheet music in there and of course I knew how to read sheet music because I was in marching band. I would just look at all those patterns and all those beats and just pretty much just play all my favorite songs. By the time I was in the 9th or 10th grade I could play all of the METALLICA songs. I pretty much just taught myself because I’d play drums three or four hours a day every day for 10 years!

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