LoginCreate ProfileSubscribe


Kenny Aronoff Part II

Interview by Sean Mitchell // September 16 2013
Kenny Aronoff Part II

Nobody is going to look after you more than you are. There’s all sorts of things being done to our food that is harmful and I don’t want any part of that. 

Part two of our interview with world renown session/touring drummer Kenny Aronoff. Enjoy!




Kenny you and [Dom Famularo] are the two cats I know that are literally all over the place. Pretty much you don’t say no to anything. You’re a yes guy. You live a lifestyle that could technically be hard on a person. Can we say how old you are, Kenny?  

I'm sixty. I tested at forty-three a couple of years ago—blood test, reflex test, eye test—everything.

I follow some of your Facebook posts and one of your posts I found interesting (and something that I think people should get into) is kale. The lifestyle and diet that you have—taking care of yourself—let’s talk a little bit about that.  There is a new movement, a way to eat where you can eat heavy but it’s nutrient heavy; it’s not empty calories. And this is for anyone on the road too.

Yeah, you should definitely cut out processed food. Nobody is going to look after you more than you are. There’s all sorts of things being done to our food that is harmful and I don’t want any part of that. Basically fresh fruits, fresh vegetables are the things that literally go in your body and reinforce the parts of your cells to fight things like cancer and other diseases. Eating sugar and processed foods actually feeds the other side, the other team, which is the cancer and the disease. You want to put the best fighters on your team to beat the bad team. All of us are heading to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

I see people so overweight that they can’t even run with their kids at thirty years old. Dude, I’m sixty and I can sprint; I’ve got the endurance of a child. Tonight I will still go to the gym. Psychologically, it makes me feel good. Weight training and cardio increases your hormone levels, and hormone levels fight disease.

So if you want to eat your steak, go buy the best steak you can get—grass fed, no pesticides, no hormone injected. You eat your best fish, your best chicken. You spend now; it’s pay now or pay later. If you can afford to go to whole foods or these farm raised best stuff, do it ‘cause you can pay the difference of being cheap now later by being in a hospital.

So that’s one thing. You mentioned kale. Kale has the most nutrients—it blows spinach right out of the water! It’s got more of the good stuff that helps your cells fight disease. My diet is clean; I lift weights and do cardio and when I can’t do weights and cardio I will be a little stricter with my diet. A good day for me lately is forty-five minutes of weights and an hour of cardio.

Speaking of your energy level, I feel sorry for Nate. You were talking a little bit about Nate today (your tech) you really put him through the paces.

I’m a great guy, but when I go perform, especially with a guy like Forgety, we're in battle. The guy is demanding so much from me, so I don’t need my tech to miss strategic things like the mic that’s fallen on my tom. I shouldn’t spot that first; he should spot it. Sorry, dude, I’m under pressure. You work for me; you gotta be on it. You gotta check everything out all the time ‘cause a two-hour show … guaranteed, stuff’s going to break. I go, “Nate, are you ready? Do you realize something is going to break tonight?! There’s going to be a disaster! Are you ready? You don’t know what it’s going to be, do you? But you better be ready!”

Nate earns his money then, is what you’re saying.

Oh yeah! I’ll crack a die cast hoop; I’ll break a cymbal. I should say also that he is mixing for me too. But he’s got to be on top of it because I’m under pressure from Fogerty. I’m grabbing towels to wipe the sweat (God forbid if my ear starts flooding out; my ear starts to flood out from the water coming down the side of my head). If Nate hasn’t got three Q-tips there wrapped with tape so I can quickly clean out my ear, I’m like, “DUDE! DUDE! I’M FLOODING!!” If I can’t hear, I can’t hear my boss.

I get the odd person asking about teching. What makes a good tech? How do you get tech gigs? So, he’s got to be on you more than you are on you?

Right, proactive. A good tech is somebody who’s ahead of me. In some ways it might not be fair because I will be doing a solo and I am so on top of everything. Remember I told you my brain is in slivers? Well, starting out I might have had a hundred, now I’ve got a billion. I love it—more is more! But that’s why I’m always working, I think.

They did an article in The New York Times Sunday Edition—which is one of the biggest papers in the world. For some reason, why they would do an article on me, a three-page article … and the interview was done with the producer Don Was. When they asked him why he hired Kenny Aronoff, who lives in Indiana, and over all these great drummers that live in LA, he said, “Because when Kenny comes into the room, he makes everybody play better than if I don’t have him. He motivates the room; the energy is positive energy.” I don’t take credit for that at all. You know what I take credit for? One thing—hard work. I can go, “Make yourself work hard!”  I was genetically born with this—the energy, the personality. Of course my parents helped by supporting me and all that, but I was born with a certain make-up and I had great genetics.

You’re going to be moving into movies now and you’re working on a movie that Al Pacino is in.

Let me just back up a little bit. This may sound a little bit like “whoa” but it’s true. I lived a pretty wild life; I was in rock ’n’ roll bands so I was all over the map. I was never really a druggie, but I liked to party and all that stuff. But I’m at that point now where I have kind of cleaned everything up. I’ve been monogamous for nine years with my wife. I’m really focused, and therefore my brain isn’t as distracted. I have boundaries now. There are certain people that are not good in my life. They are not pro-active; they’re not moving forward; they’re trying to find ways out of work. I want to be around people that are moving forward—they are trying! They’re not looking for people to help them; they are helping themselves. I am clearing out anything that is slowing me down. If someone is slowing me down, I’m out of there. I’m not going to change them, but I can take myself out of that situation.

What’s happened is, I have seen my entire life on every level advance. When I am not expending all that energy, for example, on chasing chicks but just focus on my wife, it is so much easier. I have all this energy to focus on health, my career—everything that is important. I created an ethos. It’s almost like commandments. There’s not that many of them: monogamy, truth, honor, integrity, don’t lend money to people (I got screwed by being so nice). I never lie to my wife—never. And if somebody asks me something that I don’t want to divulge the personal information, I don’t lie to them; I just don’t tell them anything. I have so much more integrity about myself and I believe in myself more; I already did, but now at a whole new level. Now things are getting bigger and bigger and moving even more forward.

So the movie thing, it’s funny. I’ve been saying for the last couple of years that I want to get into TV, movies, whatever. I recorded two songs on the Al Pacino movie and he decided he wanted us in the movie as his band. My second day of filming, one was in a club and one we were going to be on a big stage … [Pacino] was a Neil Diamond kind of guy. He’s really successful. In the club scene, he’s trying to play a song that really means a lot to him but it wasn’t a hit. The people in the club are screaming“Baby Doll”; they’re screaming the hit name. He’s a little bit distracted but finally goes, “Ok, I get it; I’m ‘Baby Doll’ for the rest of my life.” He pulls out the keyboard player and says, “We got to play ‘Baby Doll’,” so we do. It was amazing! Watching him act reminded me of when I do takes. You know what you’re going to do but then you adjust things. They are recording so you give them a variety of things to pick from. Maybe this take I’ll open up the hi-hats a little bit more; this take I am going to do a different fill. And he was just like that. Each time he came out he would approach it different – each time was appropriate, but different.

You’re on the DTX tour for the next little while. Where does the world have you going in the next couple of months?

While I’m doing the DTX tour for the next three weeks, I’m also doing the Al Pacino movie. I’m also going to Dallas to do a show with these two girls who are singer-songwriters. Then I’m doing BoDeans gigs, in between DTX, with a killer band from the ‘80s and ‘90s, just great singer-songwriters. I’ve recorded with them. I’m doing some clinics and I’m mixing a record I produced. I’m writing a book so I meet once a week for that. There’s just so much information. We’re just dealing with the Mellencamp stuff; I’ve got to get into the Pumpkins, the Bob Seger segment, the Melissa Etheridge, the Cocker segment, the Fogerty segment. This is just the touring stuff—we haven’t even gotten into the studio stuff or The Rolling Stones, hanging with them. Dude, the stories that we have!



Login to view comments and join the discussion.

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.

Editor's Choice
  • For Your Ears Only

    For Your Ears Only
    Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably well aware of the dangers we as drummers face... (more)
  • 7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017

    7 Must-Have Drum Toys For 2017
    Tax season is soon upon us, and for those of us getting a return it's time to start thinking about that... (more)
  • Billy Cobham

    Billy Cobham
      It is incedibly humbling to talk to someone you respect and admire. And when that person can also... (more)