Alex Micklewright, 25 years old is a professional drummer. Currently he plays for Era Untold, progressive Metal band from UK and he used to play for Martyr Defiled. He also plays session drums for other bands and artists.
Alex, also works for Sickdrummermagazine.com in the USA, and has his own monthly column where he gives video lessons on extreme metal fast techniques.
He has been playing drums professionally for 4 years now. He actually had a kit at 14, but hardly played them and only took drumming seriously after 21. He studied under his grandfather Kenny Hollick (Joe Loss, Vic Lewis, Ted Heath, BBC Maida Vale session player) and legendary south west drum teacher Paul Brodie.
ID: Hi Alex , First tell us about your drumming idols?
ID: What have you taken from them & put into your playing?
Alex :- My Grandfather was probably one of the main reasons of me starting to play drums. Watching him play in orchestra pits was pretty amazing. When I got into metal, John Longstreth pretty much taught me everything (without him knowing). He was one of the first metal players that I saw as really original and inspiring. I spent many hours watching videos and learning! I also love Joe Morello, Art Blakey, Buddy Rich and other Jazz drummers of those early days, some of the stuff they were coming up with then is still amazing now.
ID: Please mention your list of endorsements?
ID: Please mention what you like in particular about your each endorsement?
Alex :- Gavin Harrison and Jojo Mayer both play Sonor. No other reason needed! Sonor drums sounds fantastic.I’ve only been endorsed recently with Trick, TRX and Los Cabos but all companies are treating me well and the products are great!
ID: How has it made a difference in your playing style & sound?
Alex :- I wouldn’t really say my choice of gear effects my playing or sound too much… Although I just got a new TRX DRK 21” ride and it just makes me want to play Jazz all day every day, it sounds incredible!
ID: Please describe your drum-kit set-up?
Alex:- Sonor Force 3007 maple, in sizes 8, 10, 12, 14 and 20” , I use different snares, but usually a 13” is my favourite. Evans G2 coated heads on all the toms. I run a fairly symmetrical setup like Mike Mangini, dual hi hats and dual rides. I always play everything I can left hand/footed. I will strip down to a smaller kit when playing Jazz/Pop though. My kit setup depends on what gig i’m playing.
ID: Playing at 280 , 260 bpm , not a easy job, how did you manage that?
Alex:- A lot of time and dedication. Practicing everyday. Speed doesn’t happen overnight!
ID: What inspired you to go that extreme fast? What exercise you do?
Alex:- It’s quite addictive. When I got to 230bpm I was thinking “I wonder what 240bpm is like?” and i just carried on. I don’t actually like most Metal music associated with speed that much but I really enjoy playing fast, it’s a challenge.
ID: I have seen your videos on single bass and real kit jamming, that was insane!!!!!. Please give us some tips so that we can try some of your stuff?
Alex:- One of my favorite 16th note stickings at the moment is – RLRLRR LRLL RLRRLL. Remember to accent the bold letters and ghost the lower case. When you break this down into 3 sections it’s double paradiddle – single paradiddle – paradiddle diddle. Simple… but when you speed it up it sounds great. I used this same lick in that real kit jamming video a few times.
Alex:- I prefer smaller drums and I always tune a bit higher. Most of the metal bands i’ve been in have very low tuned guitars, so I like slightly higher toms
ID: What are the common drum tuning mistakes to avoid?
Alex:- Using really old heads and not listening to your ears!
ID: What is your basic warm-up routine & how regular do you practice?
Alex:- I usually start off with singles around 200 bpm then go into doubles, paradiddles, 5, 7, 9 stroke rolls, Moeller technique,Flams taps etc. I’m putting the finishing touches to an exercise i’ve written that contains almost every hand technique rolled into one exercise. I’ll release it on video soon.
ID: What according to you are the all important pre-requisites & attitude for a drummer?
Alex:- A good sense of time is essential but more importantly is being able to listen to others and yourself. This goes for all instruments really, just being able to criticize your own playing and work on your weak points. I always know when I mess up!!
How do you approach the drums?
Alex:- Playing drums is all about creativity for me, I rarely play the same part twice if I can get away with it. Of course some songs and artists material requires that I just have to sit back and groove for the greater good of the song, but if I can, I always mix things up. Creating new parts on the spot… That’s fun to me! Making real music.
ID: How has playing in so many bands helped your drumming?
Alex:-I would encourage playing in as many bands as you can. It’s good to play with different people and play different genres. Try to surround yourself with musicians that are on the same level or better than you. It helps to push yourself!
ID: Does playing in different bands require a completely different approach & mind-set or is there a common thread running through them both? How do you adapt?
Alex:- Well the only time I had two bands, they were both metal based. So technique and setup wise nothing would change. I don’t really find it that hard to transition from playing one style to the next. Most of the time I play about an hours worth of extreme metal drumming a day to keep my speed up, the rest of the day i’ll focus on Jazz or reading.
ID: Describe the song composition process & your place as a drummer while the songs are being composed.
Alex:- Hard question to be so general about! It depends for different styles. In Era Untold, some of the new songs were written from an interesting drum pattern I had written first and the song was created around that. A drummers place is to hold the song together and compliment the rest of the band. I like finding subtle ways to accent different guitar riffs or vocal lines….But sometimes I just try and think of things that no one else would ever dream of playing!
ID: How do bands (& you in particular) handle & manage the odd disagreement & occasional difference of opinion that’s bound to occur sooner or later between individuals?
Alex:- Being in a band is all about compromise and learning to respect one another. It’s hard!
ID: How do they eventually get resolved?
Alex:- Usually some beers or time away from one another.
Alex:- I always practice playing for long periods of time, more than I normally would at home. Sometimes in the studio you might be drumming for over 9 hours!
ID: As a practicing studio musician, what do you think are the common omissions made by other studio drummers while recording?
Alex:- One big mistake is not being comfortable with a click track before you go in. As a drummer our job is keeping time, and being able to play to a click is extremely important…especially in the studio!
ID: From your studio experience over the years, what advice can you give our new budding talent relating to both a live set & a studio environment?
Alex:- Live – Always warm up before and relax, drink a lot of water and don’t eat too soon before you go on stage. I like to eat about an hour and half before, no later otherwise I feel a bit slow. Pretty much the same advice for the studio, but always make sure you know your material inside out before going to record. I’ve had to learn songs while at a recording studio, it’s not fun!
ID: Could you please mention a few re-occurring thoughts & feelings running through your head just before a live gig & just before a studio recording?
Alex:- Before a show i’m usually warming up with headphones on to a click trying not to think too much. I still get quite nervous even after all the shows i’ve played. It doesn’t matter what size show big or small, but as soon as I sit down and start the first song, it all goes away and I really enjoy myself.
ID: “To Click or not to Click”…What is your opinion on using a click in Live and studio settings?
Alex:- It depends. I usually play to a click live. I get too pumped before a show and I tend to play a bit faster live, sometimes too fast for the guys i’m playing with! A click helps me stay a bit more relaxed. In the studio for metal, rock and other similar genres a click is pretty essential.
ID: Could you please describe your recent inter-national tour/show? (Mention the country, city, festival name, number of bands & some striking bands if any, approximate number of people).
Alex:- The last “big” show I played was with The Black Dahlia Murder and Despised Icon. I played for Martyr Defiled then, we played 2 shows back to back with them. The venues were London and Sheffield.
ID: Please describe the total experience from your perspective.
Alex:- Both crowds and general atmosphere was great!
ID: How has that helped you shape & sharpen your drumming chops & attitude towards drumming?
Alex:- After watching the live footage from the shows with Black Dahlia, I never realised I played that fast at shows. That was the turning point for me to start using a click live.
ID: What was the most fun part of the whole journey?
Alex:- The best part of any tour/show is the show itself and getting drunk afterwards!
ID: What was the toughest part of the entire trip?
Alex:- The toughest part of touring is always the longer drives between shows and not getting enough sleep.
ID: How did touring with the band help you to get to know yourself & your fellow members’ various quirks & positive traits?
Alex:- Touring is great fun. It also teaches you how to work together and compromise with others. You’re always surrounded by the same guys every day.
ID: In your opinion, what do think the Drummer needs to pay attention to, to enhance themselves?
Alex:- I see far too many drummers who spend too much time showing off and practicing being a showman. Putting on a great live show is great, but you should always make sure your playing is the best it can be. Let your drumming speak for itself, not some flashy spinning stick tricks!
ID: What facilities do you believe is required nationally, to facilitate budding talent to reach their fullest potential?
Alex:- Dedication and love for what you’re doing. I wouldn’t be able to spend all the time practicing if I didn’t truly love drumming.
ID: what role do you see yourself play in the coming years to enhance the drumming nationally & inter-nationally?
Alex:- I don’t really have a clue what I will end up doing, I love playing all styles of music so i’m happy playing anything. I’d love to do more teaching and session work. I’m just getting into doing drum clincs this year, so maybe more of those!
ID: Do you have any specific milestone that you would like to see yourself hit in the coming years?
Alex:- I think if I ever got my own signature kit or stick i’d feel like I made it. Perhaps being in Modern Drummer Magazine, or releasing a DVD.
ID: & how do you plan on setting course towards it?
Alex:- I don’t have a plan as such, whatever happens, happens! I just hope people enjoy my drumming.
ID: Finally we would like to know about your perception of our idea of Indian Drummer, a dedicated platform for percussionists in India?
Alex:- I think the site is a great idea, every country should have their own drum website!
Alex, Thanks from ID’s Team for taking time out of your schedule. Cheers & happy drumming.