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Kenny Aronoff

Interview by Sean Mitchell // June 02 2008
Kenny Aronoff 2

I have so much to learn about drumming. It's impossible to learn it all. I could grow in every direction. I will never be as good as I want to be, so I will spend the rest of my life trying to be a great as I can be. 

What’s the truth Kenny, how powerful a hitter are you and how do you achieve that velocity?

Last year I broke five Tama die cast hoops in half in thirty shows. There was one time where I ruined five emperor heads in a two hour show, but the heads were tuned down so there wasn't enough tension to sustain how hard I was hitting. 

In January you were a judge at The Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition. Anyone who has seen Eric Moore II play will know why he won. Who are the young players (any instrument) that have been catching your ear as of late?

I thought Eric Moore was amazing. I love Philip Sayce a guitar player I have been playing with for about four years now. He and I played on tour with Melissa Etheridge. He has so much passion, groove, ideas, and is one with his instrument.

Your discography has begun to rival even Hal Blaine’s. What body of work(s) would you say best represent you as a drummer?

Wow! No! Hal Blaine played on forty three number one hits and I have only played on nine number one hits. I think everyone is amazing in their own way. 

I have recorded so many styles of music because I have played so many styles of music, that it's hard to pick one body of work that best represents me. I guess John Cougar Mellencamp’s music is a large body of work that is the foundation of what I am all about. Most important is I serve the song and in doing so I also try to make the other musicians play better. 

You have held Anton’s (Fig) spot on a number of occasions, how demanding is the throne behind the World’s Most Dangerous Band?

That throne is much harder than it looks. The biggest challenge is the band and David are used to Anton’s playing and vibe. Suddenly I am there and it creates a different vibe. 

The other thing is you get one hour to work out the entire show, the music for the entrances/exits of every guest, the Letterman theme, and starting at different spots for the end of the show and before the show goes to air. There are two songs we play before the show goes on air for the audience. Paul is constantly making changes while the show is on air so you have to be on your toes every second. 

What is Kenny A up to when he is not being a musician?

When I am not playing I am doing business which relates to playing. The only thing I do besides music is something sport related, eat, sleep. I will take time to watch a movie when I eat dinner, and I love to watch NFL football. I enjoy talking to people and everyone who knows me knows I am on the phone a lot.

You obviously maintain a hectic schedule. How do you keep yourself in shape on tour?

I am very dedicated to staying healthy, but I still enjoy drinking wine and having a great time also. But my main eight things that keep me healthy are:

  • Cardio work out (playing drums, but when I am not on tour I use the bike or precor machine) 
  • Weight lifting
  • Stretching or yoga 
  • Eating correctly (I am aware of everything I eat all day long) 
  • Vitamins 
  • Water 
  • Sleep (which I am horrible at), 
  • Meditation which I am trying to do more off 

What do you feel you have yet to learn about drumming?

I have so much to learn about drumming. It's impossible to learn it all. I could grow in every direction. I will never be as good as I want to be, so I will spend the rest of my life trying to be a great as I can be. 

If you could put together the Kenny Aronoff All Star band. Alive or dead, who’s playing what?

Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Chris Cornell. Charles Mings, Paul McCartney or Victor Wooten on bass. 

You are a player that knows no bounds when it comes to genre and or style. From Mellancamp, to Smashing Pumpkins, and now I hear on tracks with Stryper? 

Yes I am on the new Stryper record and I got to play some stuff I have never played before. Really cool drum fills and grooves. I am so grateful that I get to play on so many different styles of music. This year I was on a number six country single by a new artist called Jake Owen and in the same week I was on a number five main stream rock single by Puddle Of Mudd. That is so cool and almost impossible to achieve these days. 

If you decided to retire from playing tomorrow, what interests would you pursue?

I am not a guy who ever thinks about retiring. I hope I play forever, (smiling) if for some reason I had to stop; I will worry about that when that time comes. I have no plans to ever stop. 

If you could sit down and have a drum lesson with anyone living or not who would it be and why?

Elvin Jones, John Bonham. I would want a lesson with these guys to understand where their heads are at as drummers, musicians, and the way they think, which effects the way they play. 

How has the tour been going and can you see the Fogerty/Aronoff connection being a long union?

Yes I do. He is amazing and I was the thirtieth drummer he tried when he was making his Grammy award record Blue Moon Swamp at the end of five years. He realized that I was the right personality and player for his music. So I have been with him on and off for eleven years. We understand each other musically for some reason. 

The unsung heroes of any touring act are the techs behind the scenes. What makes a great drum tech?

A great tech is invisible. They are humble, and are there for when ever you need them, but don't get in your way. They set up your gear the same every day and the best techs will see things you need before you see them. They are proactive and ahead of me. 

I hear you are a big sports fan. Who are your teams and what would be your dream position in any professional sport?

I respect and admire Lance Armstrong for beating cancer and then winning seven Tour de France races in a row. Unheard of! He is a real living hero. 

I am a huge NFL fan and the Indianapolis Colts are my favorite team. I have been to eleven Super Bowls, flown with the team and been on the field during games. I grew up skiing and used to race on a team. 

One of the coolest things to me would be to win a gold medal in down hill racing; that is a balls out scary sport. Running back in football would be awesome also. 

What do you have coming up in the next few months?

Touring with Fogerty, sessions, some live gigs. Other than Fogerty, drum clinics and lots if business stuff.

Give me Kenny Aronoff’s version of the keys to success.

Key to success are 

  • Work hard
  • Do something in life you are passionate about because it makes it easier to work hard 
  • Keep learning



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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

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