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Drummers of the Pacific Northwest

Interview by Donn Garrett // October 07 2014
Drummers of the Pacific Northwest

I'm a full-time musician, so my business is drumming. Being a self-employed musician is not unlike being a contractor in any business. There is a lot of time on the phone, networking, negotiating, scheduling, promoting, etc. The drumming is the fun part!

 

Donn Garrett's Drummers of the Pacific Northwest features two great Seattle drummers in Eddie Mendoza and Marc Montagnino.


 

Donn Garrett: How long have you been playing?

Eddie Mendoza: I have been earnestly a part of drumming since 1982 when my father bought me my first drum kit for my 12th birthday. 

DG: Are you self-taught?

EM: I took lessons from a friend of my mom's named Janet Remsing, for one year, and then developed a lot by playing to my vinyl records with headphones. AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Police, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Ozzy, and Billy Cobham were some of my earliest attempts to play-along to. I studied from a cat named Todd Mellor for a while in the early-90s after he returned with a wealth of information from M.I.T. in Hollywood. I learned a ton more about "reading" and technique which I use everyday. 

DG: How do you strike a balance between business and drumming?

EM: I went to school for respiratory therapy graduating in 2000, as I did not want to starve my children with me as a musician. I now have been fortunate enough to scale down my work schedule to 24 hours a week, permitting me to develop and play with a myriad of current musical projects. 

DG: What made you decide to play drums?

EM: My mother is a singer/songwriter, and being in a house continually filled with music, and the sharing of music, compelled me to want to play. My oldest brother played piano, and there were always different styles of music being shared in the house, from Beethoven to Kris Kristofferson to Ozzy, which constantly had me focusing on different rhythms. There was always a guitar around the house, which I noodled around on, but somehow just felt an attraction to the drums, which greatly increased after visiting a friend of my brother's named Johnathan Robles, who had a gorgeous set of Pearl green sparkle drums at his house. 

DG: Do you sing or play other instruments?

EM: I do some vocal harmonies and occasionally take a lead vocal on a few songs I feel I can sing. I am not a fool, however, and realize the incredible talent and discipline it takes to be a true vocalist. I am happy to leave that to the singers of the world. 

DG: What was your first kit, and do you still have it or anything from it?

EM: My first kit (birthday present) was a Ludwig—a 4-piece, red sparkle set, with a 6" X 14" chrome Slingerland snare, which I treasured. However, it was lost when I lent it to my youngest child, Alex, in the first few years after I divorced his mother. (That snare oddly enough, I believe, is the same make and model used by Mr. Neil Peart on over a dozen of the first RUSH albums!) P.S. Ironically, Neil and I share the same birthday September 12th as well!! 

DG: Who did you most want to be or play like?

EM: I saw Neil Peart for the first time when Rush toured for the Signals album—Wednesday, Feb 23, 1983,in Tucson, AZ at the TCC with Golden Earring opening up the show, and certainly he was a major influence in my drive to play. I am realistic and realized early on that I would not be likely to duplicate his or any other drummers' skill, and soon focused on developing my own "voice" on the instrument by the time I was 15. Peter Criss ironically (as Rush's first tour was opening for Kiss) was another big influence on who I thought I could be as a drummer (mostly because he had that huge kit). I was mesmerized by the driving force of the "'100,000 Years" drum solo from Kiss Alive

DG: What venue do you dream of playing, or have you already played there?

EM: Madison Square Garden and Wembley stadium are the two venues that stand out as the big showcase to play. I can't wait! 

DG: Who would you love jam with?

EM: I was a bit remorseful when Stevie Ray Vaughn and Miles Davis passed away, as I always had aspirations to play with them. I still anticipate some good stuff coming from when I get to sit down and create with Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, Victor Wooten, and Al DiMeola. 

DG: What kind of set do you play now and why?

EM: My current, main love in my life has been the set of Mapex, Saturn series, in Tobacco burst, drums I bought in 2009 after my father passed away. My father had bought my first set, and I wanted to use some of the money I received from his inheritance to purchase the sweetest set of drums I could find! It was the 2009 NAMM show floor model, and I believe that not only is it beautiful in every way, but they sounded like little wooden angels when I first touched them.

It is my belief that as a result of being highly visible and accessible at NAMM, that not only did this kit sound amazing, but that literally thousands of people saw and looked and lusted at them and played them, instilling [the drums] with an amazing amount of positive energy, before I ever touched them. I pasted a picture of my dad on the bass drum facing me, so that every time I sit down to play I get to say hello to my father. I do not have any endorsements yet, however, I play Mapex drums. I have a 5" X 13" mahogany Omar Hakim model Pearl snare; I use mostly Vic Firth Peter Erskine model sticks, and occasionally Zildjian Trilok Gurtu Models, with a myriad of Vic Firth brushes, mallets and hot rods, Lightning Rods. I use mostly Evans heads and have Zildjian, Sabian, and Paiste cymbals, with a combination of Mapex, Yamaha, and DW hardware and pedals.

 

 

Donn Garrett: How long have you been playing? 

Marc Montagnino: I was banging on pots and pans when I was in kindergarten, but officially I started on snare drum in the fifth grade and played in the school band until eighth grade. After that, I was in bands outside of school – mostly with guys that were 10 years older than me or more. 

DG: Are you self-taught? 

MM: I took lessons for a couple of years, but I would still say for the most part I'm self-taught. 

DG: How do you strike a balance between business and drumming? 

MM: I'm a full-time musician, so my business is drumming. Being a self-employed musician is not unlike being a contractor in any business. There is a lot of time on the phone, networking, negotiating, scheduling, promoting, etc. The drumming is the fun part! 

DG: What made you decide to play drums? 

MM: I've always felt that I didn't decide to play the drums; it was more like the drums chose me! I remember being maybe three years old and my mom took me to a parade. The marching band came down the street, and I felt (more than heard) the bass drum hit me in the chest. Just an incredibly powerful feeling! I was sold on drums from that day forward! 

DG: Do you sing or play other instruments? 

MM: I sing. Also, I play blues on the guitar very badly. 

DG: What was your first kit, and do you still have it or anything from it? 

MM: The first kit I had was a 64 Ludwig gold sparkle. Oh, how I wish I still had it! 

DG: Who did you most want to be or play like? 

MM: I started out wanting to drum like Keith Moon! Now, I try to expose myself to as many different drummers and styles as I can. I love to go to shows where the drummer is tearing it up and try to lift as many ideas from that drummer as possible and incorporate it into my own style. I have always dug John Bonham, Matt Cameron, Bill Ward, Carmine and Vinnie Appice, Neil Peart, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa (I could go on this list for a long time). Also there are some tremendously talented local guys that I love to see whenever I get the chance. 

DG: What venue do you dream of playing, or have you already played there? 

MM: I'd love to play a sold out stadium or Madison Square Garden. But really I just love to play for a live audience. I'm a live player. Studio work has its own rewards, but playing for a crowd that gives that energy back to you has always been where it's at for me. 

DG: Who would you love jam with? 

MM: I would love to do a two-drummer band sometime. That would be cool. Right now I'm lucky enough to play with talented people who are always trying to move forward and improve, pushing the boundaries of their abilities, taking risks—because that is where the really pure musical moments come from, in my opinion. It makes me want to bring my a-game every time! Anyone like that is who I want to jam with. 

DG: What kind of set do you play now and why? 

MM: I play a Mapex meridian birch. I've always liked Mapex drums. They make a quality product. The one advantage about not being endorsed is you can mix and match brands. I have 14" Paiste Signature Sound Edge hi-hats, 18" Paiste Signature Fast Crash, 16" Zildjian A Thin Crash and 20" Zildjian Custom Dry Ride. Let's be honest, though—if someone wants to endorse me, I'm completely okay with that!

 

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http://www.theblackpage.net/interviews/drummers-of-the-pacific-northwest-chris-korzin

http://www.theblackpage.net/interviews/drummers-of-the-pacific-northwest-simona-bressi




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About the Author
Donn  Garrett

Donn Garrett is an accomplished drummer, songwriter and producer. He has performed with Alan White, Liberty DeVitto, Reek Havok, Shelley Tomberg, Steve Fossen, Chris Slade and many other talents. Visit Donn online at http://www.donngarrett.net/



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