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Ryan Carver

Interview by Sean Mitchell // May 02 2007
Ryan Carver

Listen to all the great drummers before you and the drummers of today. Everybody has something you can learn from. This will help open you up to things or ideas you might not think of.

At the ripe old age of 25, Ryan Carver has already studied with some of the world's most elite drummers including Dom Famularo, Michael Molinari, Neil Garthly, Bryan Brosen and Zoro. Through a personal tragedy Ryan has stepped up and become mentor and instructor to a whole new generation of drummers as part of the drum faculty at The Academy of Drums. The lanky kid from Beachwood New Jersey can also be heard playing for the New York based multimedia performance group LiveSpace. Ryan is clearly one of North America's most exciting up-and-coming players and will no doubt....ahem...carve himself a place among the industry’s finest players.



How did you acquire the gig teaching at The Academy of Drums?

I am a former student of The Academy of Drums. I was running the drum department of another school in the area. Tragically, a friend of mine Steve McNabb, who was a teacher at the Academy, passed away. I was asked to take his place and said yes. The Academy Of Drums is the top private drum lesson facility, and I am honored to teach there. We do a scholarship in Steve’s name and all the money goes to help young drummers further their education in drumming.

What do you feel is the most important lesson you can pass along to a student?

“Good drummers borrow; great drummer’s steal.” That was something I was told by Dom Famularo. It’s so true. Not to go out and rob a store, but to take things from all kind’s of music, other drummers, and other musicians and make them your own. Listen to all the great drummers before you and the drummers of today. Everybody has something you can learn from. This will help open you up to things or ideas you might not think of.

How do you feel artists will solve the problems that arise from the internet and pirated downloading?

That’s a tough one to answer. Bootlegging is something that has been around way before the internet. People would always copy tapes, and people still copy CDs. I don’t even know if people want it to be stopped. The internet has made it easier to copy music, but it has also made it easier for musicians to get out there and reach new fans. The explosion of mp3s has made it easier for musicians to sell their music on the internet. It opened up all new markets. Now, you should not copy music, or anything that is copyrighted. But be real; we all bootleg in some way or another. If someone really likes a band they will still buy there CDs or download their songs on iTunes. To prevent people from copying they would have to create a whole new format for the music. They couldn’t use wavs or mp3s. It would be really hard to stop. 

Tell me about the LiveSpace performance group you are a part of.

LiveSpace is a multimedia performance group based out of NYC. The shows incorporate the different arts. Usually dance, music, and lighting. I am the musical director for the shows. We have done shows where I had a band, and we have done shows where it’s just me with a djembe, talking drum, ride, and all sorts of shakers all around me. It’s such a great experience. I have always loved the arts and things that were avant-garde. The choreographer will call me up and give me a mood or a feeling to create. And then I create the music around that. The longer shows have whole themes behind them. I really like to work with different arts. I play off the dancers a lot in the shows. A lot of the sections have themes to go by, and them, me or the band will improvise based off of what the dancer is doing. It’s a lot of fun. LiveSpace has done shows all across the country. A lot of the funding for the show is granted by non-profit organizations. It’s awesome that people love the arts so much that they donate to keep them going. It helps make it possible for the artists to create the art.

What other musical projects are you working on?

I have my band called Boogie Monsters. We’re a jam band. It’s a combination of all styles of music, a lot of improvising. I love it. It enables me to express myself and play how I want to play. I can take the music in any direction I want. I love the freedom. I have a couple books coming. I have a drum practice journal that teachers can use with there students to help improve the lesson quality. A hand exercise book and a double bass book are coming soon. I am filming a bunch of video lessons for the web also. People will be able to download them to there ipods and have the lessons at the kit. My first solo CD is due to be released in December. It all will be on my website.

What does your daily practice schedule entail?

I like to practice in the morning. I drink my coffee while watching YouTube. I look up drummers and watch the videos. I like to get pumped and motivate myself to play. I usually go to the kit and just solo and play around. I will create a groove and play around with it. Then I hit the books. I like to do exercises. I’ll put on the metronome and hammer out some exercises. I always vary the exercise—sometimes rudiment stuff, some double bass, or a good coordination exercise. Then I pick a style and work on that. Whatever mood I am in. I have playalongs in every style. I like to play with music. The end of the practice I like to go nuts and freak out. I like to push it. You have to push it to get to the next level. Usually about one to two hours of good solid practice. Then I go teach and gig at night. So I am playing all day. It’s great!

Your stick control is very fluid. How have you developed it over the years?

I have spent a lot of time on a pad in front of a mirror. A lot of exercises learning to control the stick and the rebound. Learning to be relaxed and let physics do the work. I practice rudiments and snare solos. A bunch of books. It’s Your Move, Stick Control, Accents and Rebounds, Syncopation, Master Studies, Rudiments and Motions. All these books on a pad, with a metronome, mirror, and a beverage. I really enjoy practicing. I want to improve and be a better player.  

What teachers have most influenced you?

Dom Famularo was my biggest influence as a teacher. He gave me the understanding of the tools I need to express myself on the kit. And the confidence to do it. He taught me a lot about life. How to improve myself in life and as a musician. I have to credit a lot of my playing from listening to music. I learned a lot from listening to Billy Martin and Rodney Holmes. As well as all the masters of the drum set. I have a library of music. I have 750 CDs, over 1200 vinyls, and 10,000 songs on iTunes. I take licks and rhythms from all over the place. Jason Rullo and Tobias Ralph are very inspiring also. They are awesome. Just watching them play influences me. Neil Garthly is another big influence. He has taught me so much about drums and the business of drumming. He’s someone you should all check out.

Dom Famularo is known to be a very energetic and inspiring clinician. What is it like to study with him one on one?

Dom is the same off stage as well as on stage. I have not met anyone with more passion for the art of drumming than Dom Famularo. I would drive three hours to his house to study. He has a great teaching facility. I usually have a three- to four-hour lesson. He tells stories, we hit the pad, we eat, we play the kits... it’s great. I always don’t want to leave. He gets me motivated to go out and be the best musician I can and live the best life I can. The information that he has taught me is priceless. Not only did he give me understanding of what to do, but also the motivation to do it. He has given me the confidence I needed to “make it happen”. Studying with Dom is really indescribable. If you have had a lesson with Dom you know what I mean.

Is there a desire to master any other instruments?

I play a little piano. I took music theory classes for years in school so I can get by but I am going to start to take some lessons. I always wanted to pick up the bass also.

What is it that makes you wakeup everyday and want to play drums?

I love what I do. I am fortunate to be able to do what I love and make a living at it. I try to always stay positive in everything I do. Each day I strive to better myself as a person and as a musician.

Are there additional styles of music you would like to explore?

I want to learn it all. I play a lot of hand percussion so I would like to learn more African styles.

How have you tried to develop you own sound over the years?

I always explore the possibilities. I spend a lot of time tapping around on the kit. I first had to learn and develop the skills I needed to express myself. I still work on honing these skills and improving them. I also spend a lot of time playing. Soloing and playing with other musicians. It’s just a matter of time. If you learn and play as much as you can, you eventually over time develop your own sound. Everyone is different. Just be yourself.

Has drumming always come naturally to you or have you had to work at it?

Everyone has to work at it. I have always picked things up easier. But everyone has to practice. Some things came easier than other things and some things were very difficult. Some things took me a long time to get down.

What can we look forward to from you in the next year?

I have the books coming and a solo CD coming. I am working on video lessons for the web. I offer them for free on my Myspace and website. I am going to do a couple local drum clinics in the fall. Through the Academy Of Drums we wrote charts for the Turn It Up Lay It Down series and you will be able to download them on drumfun.com. You can have all updates on myspace or my website carverdrums.com

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

That’s a good question. I hope all people say good things when they answer it. I’m only 25 now so in 20 years I hope to have traveled and played all over. If I can live my life playing drums and have a great family, I’m happy. I don’t need fame or tons of money. I just want to live a great life doing what I enjoy most, playing the drums. In 20 years I’ll still be teaching, gigging, recording, traveling, and learning.

Visit Ryan online: https://www.youtube.com/user/carverdrums




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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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