As promised, here is part 2 of our 'Gear Nerd' with Daniel Adair of NICKELBACK. Yesterday he told us about how he got into drumming, his influences and his first kit. Today he walks us through his drumming career. Tomorrow, we'll learn all about his set up, so after reading below, be sure to head on back then.
If you missed part 1, CLICK HERE.
RRUK: So give us a quick run through of your drumming career, run us through you’re first band to where you are now.
DA: Okay, I’ve never done that before! It’s actually kind of cool. So you heard how I started, at 13. Then from 13 to 18 I obsessively played all the time. I’d skip school, when my parents were at work I’d go home and just drum all day. The neighbours would phone the cops because I was so loud. I learned all the Primus albums, all the Rush albums, John Bonham, I learned every Zeppelin album – so I think that’s where a lot of my roots came from. Then 18, I sold my car and went to Europe and back packed for a year. So I stopped drumming, then I came back and I was kind of a lost teenager. I didn’t really have any goals or aspirations, I was confused. I kind of played a bit but was kind of more in to just partying and smoking pot – just pissing my time away. I mean it was fun but I wasted a lot of time! 18 to 22 I really didn’t drum much at all. I knew I could, deep down inside myself I always knew I had something special. I was terrified to play in front of people because I’m such a perfectionist. The few people I played in front of were like “Holy shit dude! You’re really good!” and I was like “Uh, really?”. I didn’t know because I never put myself out there and never got feedback so I didn’t know I just did what I did. Secretly, I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I knew I was good enough to do it as a career. But I was scared of the whole getting out there because of the shyness thing.
So I was 22 or 23, like two in the afternoon, a beautiful afternoon. I was just sitting in my car getting high with all these dudes. It was so lame, I looked around I was so baked I saw people driving to work and doing things and I thought ‘I’m a fucking loser’. I’m not doing anything with my life. I’m 22, I live at home, work in a glass factory, got nothing going on, I’m not drumming. Then it was weird, I went like that (snaps fingers), and I remember someone said somewhere about the company you keep, if you want to be a rocket scientist; hang around with rocket scientists. I thought I’m hanging around with a bunch of losers who are on welfare and 30 and living with their parents – just ‘cause I wanted to get high and I had a fear to go out there and confront the real world.
So I said fuck it, I’m going to go work in a music store. I need to be around musicians. I went to work at a music store, got the job and then it all changed. I started to hang around with new people and I started to meet guys who would come in. I started to play more then. I was really bad! I played the staff party the first week that I worked there and I couldn’t even play Shuffle! I was like oh god I gotta practice. So I went and took lessons again and started to play in cover bands with those guys that I worked with, got my chops doing that. Learned Stevie Wonder, rock, all that stuff.
Then I started teaching, and I dated this girl who went to music college. She was a fantastic piano player, she taught me theory, I learned to play guitar and bass. I met my buddy Dave Martone, who I still have the band with, he had just got out of Berkley so I saw how he played and we did all this fusion stuff together. So I really started to grow and then around 25 I got really disillusioned again. Oh sorry I skipped one point. I had an original band also around 24/25 and I really spear headed that. I was on the phone all the time talking to college radio stations trying to get our stuff out. We won ‘Vancouver Seeds’ which is CFox’s big promotion in town. We won and we opened up for Nickelback. There was like 700 people there, it was killer, our biggest gig ever.
I think they [Nickelback] had just gotten back from a Canada on ‘The State’ tour and ‘Leader Of Men’ was big. We were like oh man, it’s Nickelback; Canada’s biggest band! Well not yet, but we got to open up for them which was cool and then I just had some personal issues. I was kind of really scattered and anxious. I think I saw something happening and I shut down or something. It was a little overwhelming and my relationship wasn’t going good either so I think that had something to do with it. Strangely enough I took a break for like 18 months and just stopped playing and then again I went “Ok, this is fucked. I know I can play.”. I tried to get my head in shape a bit and grew up, again. Such a weird thing but that’s life I guess. So then I came out at the age of 26 and said if I don’t make a career in music by the time I’m 30 I’m going to go get a real job and I’ll always play as a hobby or something. So I just tried my best. I learned that you had to network so I got out there and met studio owners and managers and agents and it paid off because my friend Jane who ran the Armory Studios in Vancouver phoned me and said “‘3 Doors Down’ are here mixing an album and they don’t have a drummer. I just played them the Martone album and they were like who’s this drummer??”
So I came in that night and had a beer with them. We got drunk and they said “play some drums” so I did a little solo for them and they were like “come to Mississippi for an audition” and then I got the gig. So I went from music store to playing David Letterman and everything happened that year. I was starstruck, it was pretty cool. Then two and a half years later I went this is cool but there’s more for me. Then we got on the Nickelback tour and Chad saw me do my solo every night and phoned me six months later “Hey you wanna, uh, jump ship?”.
So there were some hiccups, I look back to that period when I stopped and it’s funny, I read something on Jim Carey and he had the same thing at the same age. He went to LA, he tried and was making it somewhere and then he kind of had this ‘overwhelmed moment’ where he stopped for a coupe of years too and then he got back in to it. So when I read that I felt a little better. Being a perfectionist or being a little anxious, I don’t know what it was.
RRUK: Maybe deep down you knew that you weren’t ready for it yet?
DA: You know what? I don’t think I was a mature enough person to be able to handle the road at that point. I think I would have been really super overwhelmed or something but however it worked out, it worked out fine. The timing was perfect and here I am now.
RRUK: So...you have been indorsed by a couple of companies over the years. Tell us who you have been indorsed by, who you are indorsed by now and why the change?
DA: I have always been with Regal Tip sticks. I used those sticks about six, seven years before I got 3 Doors Down so when I phoned them they said come on board. You know I always loved their products so I’ve been with them since day one. Same with Remo Drum heads always loved them. I just went with the brands, not who’d give me more, just the shit I liked. So I phoned Remo, no problem, Regal Tip drum sticks, Sabian they’re awesome and they’re a Canadian company. I knew them working in the music store, they were such great, great dudes and such a great company to deal with I knew I wanted to be with them. And Pearl I was a huge Pearl fan, so I got in with Pearl. I stuck with Pearl until about two years ago and its because live the snare drums weren’t really cutting through for me so I would get some boutique drum companies and get some custom snares because they were just really nice sounding.
Then I did some sessions in our off time and three separate occasions I worked with these other producers who brought in a DW kit and they said ‘why don’t we try this because we’re not getting the sounds we want’ and it was night and day, like that is the ultimate experiment, is to be in a studio with a mic, you hit a tom “boom”, you hit another, you can hear it. There’s no line, like oh my God it sounds so much better. And I’m like ‘I’m not using their snares live any more’. The final thing was I flew down to California to meet them, because I don’t want to sign to a bunch of douchebags, like I don’t care how good the product is if they’re not a good family then (I’m not interested). Because Pearl was awesome to me, I still stay in touch with them, they’re great guys, but I met them (DW) and they were killer and they didn’t try and push me. They said take your kit home and let ‘IT’ be the judge for you. They didn’t shit talk Pearl, nothing. They said ‘it’s up to you, if you like our stuff then cool’. And I was you know, that was the proof right there. Just sounded great so I got on with them and they gave me a bunch of kits and it’s been happily ever after.