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Lux

Interview by Sean Mitchell // April 02 2010
Lux

I think the main points to work on to become a successful band are songwriting, keeping up on practice, promoting your band, playing shows each week, and networking with other people in the industry like other musicians, promoters, managers etc. It really does take a lot of work and effort to be a successful band.

Who in the world has the power and talent to hammer out killer grooves at blistering fast tempos in 6 inch stitlettos? Why, it’s none other than Lux! Rewind to NAMM 2007, Lux garnered the title of Miss World’s Fastest Drummer with a record of 901 strokes per minute. And in her day-to-day, she dabbles in both metal and psychobilly genres with two established original acts, Sacred Storm and Nekromantix. The Black Page is pleased to feature a woman whom Metal Minute, Modern Drummer, and Drum! all agree is a Californian drumming ace... and in her early 20s, no less!

901 strokes per minute! Wow, how the heck do you prep for that? What was your process to becoming the female world’s fastest drummer?

When I first heard about the World's Fastest Drummer competition it was the year prior to when I set my record. I had heard about it because everyone was talking about Mike Mangini setting the fastest record in single strokes and being the first person to drum over 1200 strokes in a minute. After that, I hadn't put much thought about competing until I was approached by WFD to be their spokes model a few months prior to the next event, which was at the Winter NAMM in Anaheim in 2007. I thought I would give it a shot and I started practicing for it about a week before the event. I really didn't know how to prepare for it or what to expect but I knew I had to play fast and be able to play at the same speed consistently for a minute straight. I started doing exercises where I would do my normal practice routine, rudiments and playing them super slow and working my way up to fast speeds and then I would practice doing bursts of fast single strokes as if I were at the event to try and get my mindset as close to what it would be like at the event. I really had to work on stamina as I could only drum so fast for so long and would start to slow down way before the minute was up. So it was pretty tough starting out. I worked on this up until the event and was practicing on my snare. I was pretty excited that I managed to set a record on the first day! If I could go back and do things differently I would have prepped a lot more, maybe several months in advance, and would have practiced on a practice pad because that is what you play on when competing.

Tell me a bit about your current bands. How did you get involved with each, and what have been some of your best on stage moments?

I am currently playing drums in the thrash/death metal band Sacred Storm and the psychobilly band Nekromantix. Sacred Storm is a band I started way back in the day with Kenny Krenzin on guitar and vocals. We have been jamming together since high school and have toured nationally with this band. We have a new EP that we put out ourselves called Extreme Assault, and so far is my favorite of our recordings together. You can hear me do blast beats and play fast fills on this album.

I started playing with Nekromantix a little over a year ago and so far it's been great! I absolutely love the music. Psychobilly is a mix of punk and rockabilly so it's played heavy and fast, but it can also groove and has jazz influences. I love all the influences that make up our songs. It's a lot of fun to play on the kit, especially live because the crowd gets so into it. I started playing with Nekromantix after their drummer passed away in a car accident. Our singer Kim found me online and asked me to audition for them. He asked me to learn three songs and a few days later came over to my house to play them. After the third song he walked over to my kit and put out his hand and said, "You're hired!" So that was really exciting.

I really do love playing with both bands. One of my favorite stage moments with Sacred Storm was when we were opening for Kamelot at the Key Club in Hollywood. Towards the end of our set the crowd started chanting our name. (laughs) It was awesome! We started playing along to their chanting, and it turned into the funniest thing ever. Our singer stopped playing and said, "Ok seriously, what was that?" We just had a good time and enjoyed ourselves on stage and the crowd seemed to be enjoying it just as much. I think a clip of that moment can be found on youTube. I toured so much this past year with Nekromantix and each show is like my new favorite show. Everything we do is different from the night prior and our singer is so funny on stage. On the last tour we were on with Rob Zombie. Our singer kept saying it was my birthday and had the crowd of 1,500 plus fans sing me “Happy birthday!” I had at least 10 birthdays on the last tour. It was awesome.

Tell me about Serial Drummer clothing. How did you get involved with them and who are they?

Serial Drummer clothing is a clothing line mainly for metal drummers. It's based out of France and is run by Franky Costanza, a hard hitting heavy metal drummer who is known for playing in Dagoba. Awesome player. They were the first clothing line I partnered with for a sponsorship. They offered me a sponsorship in '07 and I accepted after checking out their clothes. I am also sponsored by Too Fast clothing. They're a really cool punk and tattoo inspired clothing line who also has an online retail store. They provide all the clothes I wear on stage. My favorite are the corsets they have on toofastonline.com. They have clothing for guys and girls.

What is Psychobilly and where did it evolve from? Who would be required listening material?

The Psychobilly sound mainly consists of rockabilly and punk mixed together. I mentioned there are jazz influences, as well as many other influences including metal, especially in the Nekromantix sound. I found that a lot of our fans list Megadeth along with Nekromantix as their favorite bands, and I always found that to be interesting. The thought of metalheads also digging psychobilly is totally cool because that's what I'm doing nowadays, playing in a metal band and playing in a psychobilly band. I really recommend listening to at least a few Nekromantix albums. They each have classic songs. Some of my favorite songs are "Nice Day For a Resurrection," "Gargoyles Over Copenhagen," and "Brain Error." There are so many good songs. These songs are found on the albums Hellbound and Return of the Loving Dead. There were several waves of psychobilly since its start in the early 80s. It evolved from rockabilly and garage rock bands from the mid to late 70s, and its creation is said to have been influenced by The Cramps and other artists. Psychobilly didn't really spread in the states until the mid 90s and one band who really helped that was Reverend Horton Heat who formed in Texas in '85.

How does it work for touring being with two very busy bands?

Touring so far has worked really well being in both bands. I think I got really lucky with joining Nekromantix. Since our singer is in another band, whenever he's busy touring or writing songs with his other band, Horrorpops, I can get away and work on material and play shows with Sacred Storm. I think it works out really well and I'm not too exhausted yet. Even when I'm out on tour with Nekromantix, the guys in Sacred Storm continue to work on songs and rehearse without me and when I return we're back to rehearsing together.

Tell me about your tours in support of first Rev Horton Heat and then Rob Zombie. How cool was the experience opening for a couple legends? Did you get any hang time with them or their drummers? And what did you take away from this experience?

The first tour I did with Nekromantix was in support of Reverend Horton Heat and it was so much fun for me. I was still pretty new to the band, and I think it really gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better—and for me to get to know the fans. It was overall such a great experience for me and as a band we all really clicked. I especially loved hearing Reverend Horton Heat perform live. Their drummer Paul Simmons is amazing on the kit. He really is a great player, and I think on that tour he had used more double bass than I did! He would do cool stuff on the kicks like triplets here and there and double bass every other measure in certain parts of the song—and doing it so that it complimented the music. It was never overdone.

I did get time to hang with him every now and then, and we would talk drums and warm up exercises. He was telling me about how he had hand problems. I think he was suffering from arthritis but it wasn't as bad as it used to be. Before going out on that tour I was having a lot of hand and wrist pain from playing too much and playing too hard. I started to warm up before the shows more on this tour, and by the time we did the Rob Zombie tour I would warm up for at least 30 to 40 minutes before show time. I think just simply talking to Paul about warm up exercises and the kind of problems we drummers can get from not warming up and playing cold pushed me more to really keep up my warm up exercises before playing.

When I first found out about the Rob Zombie tour I was ecstatic. I knew it would be an even bigger tour. We were playing to crowds of 1500 to 3000 people each night which was crazy. I hadn't been on a tour that big before. It was also fun watching Rob and the guys play their set each night. Their songs are so catchy and they just sound cool. They also had an amazing visual production and had lots of lighting and TV screens in the front of the stage and a huge screen behind them with images going along to the music. We were so spoiled on that tour and had lunch and dinner catering aside from our band rider, showers, dressing room, etc. I really appreciated everything that was given to us as it made touring a lot easier. We toured together for six weeks and I seriously could've done another six weeks. It was great for the band in that a lot of our fans came out to the shows, and we also gained a lot of new fans. I know not everyone in the crowd was an instant fan of Nekromantix, but when I would hang out after the show by the merch area, I would get a lot of great feedback from so many people each night. I think it was definitely a successful tour.

Rob Zombie's drummer Tommy Clufetos is also an awesome performer. He does a lot of arm movement in the air while playing a beat that I thought looked so cool. Watching him play every night inspired me to be a little cooler on stage. I'm still working on in trying to find myself in that way. Tommy was also a great guy to talk to. The first couple weeks on this tour I was sick as a dog with a fever, bronchitis, and was on antibiotics for a throat infection. It was terrible but I still went out and played each night and would go back to my bunk on the bus afterward. Once I started feeling better and started hanging out during RZ's sound check, Tommy approached me first and said, "Hey, drummer girl!" He really made me feel welcomed and he was so down to earth.

What are your more recent focal points during your personal practice time?

Recently I was focusing on speed and endurance for my metal chops. I was scheduled to go out on a week tour with Nekromantix in Europe and at the end of the tour I was scheduled to fly out to France for a couple drum clinics. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to play my metal stuff after a week of not playing the fast and techy metal music I play with Sacred Storm. Luckily I think all my practice paid off because I was able to still play flat and play blast beats at 232 bpms without having practiced the whole time I was out with Nekromantix. I just recently returned from Europe a few days ago and will now be focusing on four way independence on hands and feet. I want to get into practicing polyrhythms and stuff like that. I also want to push myself more in extreme metal drumming and may be posting a new video online soon.

Can you describe to me the technique it takes to play in stilettos? That must be super difficult. How did you come up with this idea?

I know that when I play in stilettos I really have to keep my heels up in order for the heel of my shoes to not hit the pedal board and just recently I realized that I angle my foot more to the right so that the heel of my shoe is actually to the side of the pedal. It's kept lower to the ground, closer to the board. It's so close that if it were directly over the pedal board it would be making contact. It just came to be this way and I didn't intentionally think it out. I never practice with heels on and only play live in them because it's part of my outfit.

This all started when I was in high school. I went through different stages of shoes. I first started playing barefoot, and then started wearing sandals everyday and would play with them on, and then it turned into playing in platform sandals. (laughs) Then I started wearing small pumps and as I was growing older, the heels on my shoes were growing taller. Throughout the years I've always been told it looks awesome but my original intention wasn't to look cool. They were just part of my outfit.

How have you managed to make a career of drumming to this point?

I think all my practice and hard work paid off. I started playing drums when I was 12 years old and since I started I had a strict practice schedule. First it was three days a week three to four hours a day. Once I was in high school and was teaching myself rock and metal I started practicing about three hours a day and it definitely was the best investment of my time. Drumming is a lot easier for me now because I started at an early age and was dedicated to my practice. Now I'm trying to push myself further in more advanced drumming.

Tell me about your clinics. What topics do you cover? What does it take to be an interesting clinician?

I recently did two clinics in France, one in Noulens and one in Toulouse at two drum schools that are partnered with Tama. We had a good turnout at both events. I played a solo, played along to two Sacred Storm songs with a playback and played over a couple of Nekromantix songs to show the psychobilly genre and different influences we have in this music. I talked about the different exercises I use when I practice and explained several fills and parts in the Sacred Storm songs that I played. I also discussed injuries resulting from playing fast and playing tense, and talked about my life as a professional drummer, the steps I took to get to where I am now, and how I started a career for myself. I think the clinician's story makes them interesting. We each come from different backgrounds and have our own story and abilities to show and tell. These were the first clinics I've ever done and I really enjoyed doing them. I'd definitely like to improve myself as a clinician and pursue these types of events further.

I understand you started playing with your sisters? How did you all get started? Do they still play today?

I have two older sisters and we first started playing music because my oldest sister wanted to sing and play guitar. My parents were both musicians when they lived in Mexico. My mom played the acoustic guitar and my dad was a singer and played the harmonica and flute. They had to give up playing music because of financial reasons living in Mexico, and when my sister showed her interest in music my parents decided to put us three in a Mexican music school. They put my oldest sister Cat on vocals and guitar, my sister Bisou on keyboard, and they put me on drums.

At first I didn't want to play drums and I was more interested in playing piano. I remember after a few years of playing together and playing at paid gigs, my sister who played the keyboard had left for a short while, and they moved me to play the keyboard. We had got another student, a young boy, to play drums. I remember being so jealous that someone else was playing the drums I used to play, and I knew at that point that drums were for me.

I did eventually teach myself classical piano by ear and enjoy playing piano, but I don't play it as much now as I did then. I also started teaching myself how to play the violin. My sister eventually returned on keyboard, and we started getting into hard rock and started listening to Cranberries, Sonic Youth, and Radiohead and formed our own experimental rock band called Mystery Hangup. We recorded an album, released a music video, and played shows and toured together for five years. About a year ago we decided to put the band on hold so that we can focus on our own projects. I think since we had been playing together for such a long time it was a much needed break that is allowing us to get together with other musicians and grow musically. It's been positive so far, and we've even talked about the thought of getting together in the future and playing a show again.

When you are away from touring, what do you keep busy with?

When I'm not touring I'm usually busy with songwriting. In between the Reverend Horton Heat Tour and the Rob Zombie Tour I was songwriting with Nekromantix and we wrote about 16 songs that we recently recorded. I'm currently working on a song with Sacred Storm that will be part of an upcoming video game that we'll announce soon. In the years prior, I would give drums lessons which I am considering at the moment because of the amount of requests I've been getting lately. I'm just trying to find the right time to pick that up again.

From your perspective, how does a band get started and become a successful act in this day and age?

There are tons of bands out there, and it's especially important for a starting band who wants to be successful to work hard and take minimal to no breaks. I think the main points to work on to become a successful band are songwriting, keeping up on practice, promoting your band, playing shows each week, and networking with other people in the industry like other musicians, promoters, managers etc. It really does take a lot of work and effort to be a successful band. It's important for all band members to be on the same page and work equally as hard.

On a similar topic, being that the talent pool in music is so deep, are we going to see groups become as famous as say the Rolling Stones, or Metallica? What do you see in store for the industry?

I'm really not sure what to expect in the music industry nowadays. There's so much talent out there and so many different music genres and scenes in the mainstream and underground. I know everyone's been talking about how everything is going digital and online, so I think it's important for independent bands to take advantage of that.

When you are finishing a CD, do you involve yourself with the final mixdown/mastering process? If so, what are you personally listening for during the mixing of an album?

 If my schedule allows it I normally do involve myself with the final album mixdown and mastering process. I did so with the album Mystery Hangup put out in '07. When we recorded the Sacred Storm album Extreme Assault in '09 I wasn't able to be there for mixing because I went out on tour with Nekromantix. I trusted in our singer Kenny to give input on my drum sound and I was happy with the end result when I returned. For Nekromantix I've given them a little more space in letting our singer and sound engineer do what they want to do with mixing because they have a unique sound they're going for. They are excellent musicians and have a great ear for things and I trust them to make my drums sound the best they can.

How do you stay in shape physically and mentally on the road?

When I'm out on the road, simply playing drums each night keeps me in physical shape, especially with Nekromantix. I hit a lot harder when playing live with them and by the time I'm home from tour I have somewhat buff arms. Staying mentally healthy is easy just by keeping in touch with family and friends at home and keeping in touch with fans online.

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

In the next few months I may start giving drum lessons again until the next tour. Nekromantix might tour this summer but still waiting on a confirmation for that. Other than that I know I'll be recording a new song with Sacred Storm really soon for that upcoming video game. I'm also doing fill in gigs, playing live and recording.

For anyone who would like to pick up music I've recorded with Sacred Storm, our EP Extreme Assault is available on iTunes and CDBaby. You can check us out online at myspace.com/sacredstorm and Nekromantix at myspace.com/nekromantix.

Visit Lux online at www.luxdrummer.com




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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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