The first album he played on was co-produced by Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge & Creed). He’s come a long way since his first band Submersed disbanded. We caught up with drummer Garrett Whitlock, who recently finished tracking drums for Mark Tremonti’s solo record which is scheduled for release in early 2012. Garrett talks about his projects, drums and plenty more in this interview.
Garrett - I have been well thanks! Just been balancing my time between a few projects. Mark Tremonti’s Solo record, Hemme, & The Robert Fortune Band. Each project is completely different musically, so it keeps me on me toes.
ID - You recently tracked drums for Mark Tremonti’s solo album. How is it writing an album with someone like Mark?
Garrett - The whole experience has been a trip, that’s for sure. From day one Mark made it evident that it was gonna be a “no holds barred” type atmosphere when it came to piecing the songs together. I really put a lot of pressure on myself especially when it came to writing my drum parts for all the songs.
ID - Talking about Mark Tremonti, you’ve been friends with him and Scott Phillips for quite a while now. You’ve done tours with them when you were in Submersed, how much of an influence have they been on you?
Garrett - There work ethic is pretty inspiring, they never stop working on bettering there craft. That within itself gives me that kick in the ass to keep working to better myself as a drummer.
ID - There must’ve been quite a few funny incidents being on the road with Flip, any one story that sticks out?
Garrett - Basically every time I would change me drumheads, Scott would commence to have art class with a sharpie all over the heads. It wound never fail to give me a good laugh.
ID - You had a good run a few years back with Submersed, how was the journey with Submersed like?
Garrett - I still had 6 months left in my senior year of high school when I joined Submersed. I was just this 18 year old drummer from some cow town in Florida, that was given this opportunity to tour on a professional level…It really took me a while for it all to sink in. Looking back on the whole experience, I’m thankful for both the good & the bad because it really taught me how to handle a lot of different situations. When I think about Submersed, I look at it as my beginning.
ID - You’ve been playing with Eric Friedman since the Submersed days. You’re also in Hemme with Eric and the two of you played together recently on the Scott Stapp acoustic tour, how’s writing and playing with Eric like?
Garrett - Eric is my best friend. We listened to a lot of the same bands growing up, so when it comes to playing music together we really are able to read each other well. It makes things easy when it comes to navigating threw a song. There is a comfort level when it comes to playing music with Eric that I haven’t quite been able to find in another musician.
ID - Moving on to some drum talk, when did you first pick up the sticks? Did you play any instrument prior to the drums?
Garrett - I first started playing drums when I was 15…I got a really late start. That’s the one thing I would do if I could go back in time…Really wish I would have started playing at a much younger age. My Dad bought me my first set for my 16th birthday. It was an obsession from there on out.
ID - Who were your major influences early on when you started playing the drums?
Garrett - Wow…I could go on for days. Above all, John Bonham. I would remember seeing the old Motley Crue video’s on MTV when I was a kid. I remember how crazy it was watching Tommy Lee play drums; I had never seen anyone play that hard before. Vinnie Paul was another big influence.
ID - What were the major obstacles you faced early on while drumming?
Garrett - Patience & my temper, which was why I enjoyed playing drums so much in the first place! I was really eager to jump into the real challenging stuff, which I’m glad I learned that that was not always possible.
ID - There’s always a lot of talk on how to go about gaining speed & fluency around the kit, was speed something on your mind while you started playing?
Garrett - I know everybody wants to play at lightning speed, but I have always been a big fan of “down tempo” style rock & metal. It would really amaze me how much control these drummers had at slower tempos. The more space there was the more challenging it sounded. Less is more.
ID - What’s your approach to becoming comfortable at the higher tempos?
Garrett - Practice, Practice, Practice & you should make a Metronome your best friend!
ID - What’s your daily practice routine like?
Garrett - I have the need & urge to play everyday for at least a couple hours. I have recently turned a room in my house into a drum room. So it’s a blast to be able to just walk in there whenever I get the itch to play. The people who live next door hate me! Haha!
ID - How do you go about learning new exercises/songs/grooves? Do you go completely by ear or do you read it off a chart?
Garrett - Since day one everything I have learned has been by ear. Still to this day, I really learn a lot by going to show’s & watching the drummer play. You can learn what to do & not to do by watching other players. Sight reading is next on my list. I would love to be able to read something off sheet of paper, & just play it.
ID - Can you give some detail about your setup and the brands you’re currently endorsing?
7×14 Edge Snare Drum
10×14 Rack Tom
14×16 Floor Tom
16×18 Floor Tom
18×26 Kick Drum
AA, AAX, Hand Hammered, Vault Series
I’m a really big fan of the larger sized cymbals.
I use the 440 model
ID - Which is your favourite part of kit and the one you think that has shaped your playing over the years?
Garrett - Hands down the Kick & Snare are my favorite.
ID - How do you prepare before going on stage? Do you still get the butterflies in your stomach?
Garrett - Yes!!! I hope they never go away. I like to stretch & just warm up with some sticks & a practice pad before a gig.
ID - Up till this point, which has been the most memorable gig for you?
Garrett - Alter Bridge & Submersed played a festival called the San Antonio Oyster Bake…there was 20,000 people there. It was like the entire town had emptied out into this festival. I had never played in front of a crowd that big before. My nerves were killing me!
Garrett - I can’t say that there will be a “Music Industry” in the next 10 to 15 years. Its’ changing more & more everyday. I think the labels know that musicians have other means of getting there music out to people, other than going threw them. It’s becoming a more artist driven than it has been in a really long time.
ID - What are your goals for the rest of the year? Any plans of touring sketched out yet with any of the projects you’re involved in?
Garrett - Music as always. I normally play a bunch of one off dates with Hemme or The Robert Fortune Band. You can expect new music from those two projects & the Tremonti solo record this year. I’m really excited and appreciative of everything that has come my way.
ID - What’s your advice to all the drummers who’ve just picked up the sticks and want to get proficient behind the kit?
Garrett - Remember everybody starts at the beginning. If things start rough, don’t discourage yourself. In a short amount of time you will look back & laugh at the small stuff!
ID - Lets wrap this up with a few quick fire questions –
Garrett - One band/artist you’d love to play a guest set with-
Hands down…if I could play with any band, it would be Nine Inch Nails.
The album that had an overwhelming influence on your drumming –
Anything by Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Filter, A Perfect Circle, Tool.
Favourite Rudiment – RLRR LRLL or the Swiss Triplet.
Thanks a lot for taking the time and doing the interview with us Garrett. It’s been an honour for us. We wish you the best and we hope to see you on this side of the world soon.