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Steve Moore

Interview by Sean Mitchell // August 02 2010
Steve Moore

The thing I’ve been working on for the last year or so is not letting the audience hear my showboating. Meaning, you should never hear someone toss a stick or do a windmill. Your playing should still be solid. That’s easier said than done, but that’s my goal.

Once hailed on Youtube as the “drummer who was at the wrong gig,” it would seem Steve Moore was not only in the right place but, in fact, at the right time. Enter his drumming hero Mike Portnoy, add a little viral video magic and, presto! The Mad Drummer cometh. His Portnoy-ness posted a video of Steve getting his flair on on his Facebook page. Within days Moore was windmilling his way across the world wide web. Upon watching the video it is easy to see why one might assume Steve was an over zealous drummer sitting in on the wrong gig. However Steve and his bandmates, Rick K and the Allnighters, are far from an odd pairing-- and Steve is far from just a flair drummer.

Steve’s is a style that proves you can have your groove and flair it too. While the West Virginia native admits the tricks and spins do get attention, the end result is ultimately for the enjoyment of the crowd. Viral video can be an amazing marketing tool, however what we don’t see is the story behind the proverbial cover. Steve’s is a history of musical talent and hard work in the metal, punk and prog genres. He once slept on the floor of a studio whilst working as a dishwasher to make ends meet. Talk about dues! Yes he flairs, yes, he spins, but never at the expense of the groove.

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Steve, tell me about Rick K and the All Nighters. Are you still with them? How the heck did a drummer like you hook up with a band like this?

Rick started the band almost 20 years ago. He actually started as a drummer and later decided he wanted to front his own band. I came into the picture much later. His original drummer decided to step down because the band played so much. Rick knew me through a mutual friend and gave me a call. I was coming from a very “heavy” background, playing mostly punk and progressive metal. I like that style of music, however I simply wasn’t playing enough shows. I wanted to play everyday, not three or four shows a month. It’s very difficult to earn a living playing original music, let alone, playing heavy original music. So when he offered to toss me on a tour bus, while playing 175 shows a year, I jumped at it!

I think it’s cool that you have met your drumming hero through the “Wrong Gig” video. How did this happen, and were you guys able to shed together at all?

A few days before the video went viral, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold) posted it on his Facebook. A few days later, the video had a few million hits. Mike dropped me an email to say hello and invited me to a Dream Theater concert where we had the opportunity to meet. You have to understand, for me, this was like meeting Elvis! Mike Portnoy was (is) a huge influence on me. He then took it upon himself to get me a Sabian Cymbal Endorsement. I’ve said it many times, to have gained the respect of someone like Mike Portnoy is still the highlight of my career. Portnoy isn’t just a “famous” drummer; he’s a respected drummer. There’s a difference. Later, he invited me to Charlotte, NC, to see him perform with Avenged Sevenfold. After the show, he invited me backstage. When I walked in the dressing room he had a practice kit set up. He walked up to me, gave me a big hug, then put sticks in my hands and told me to sit down and play for him. It was the best night of my life. I even had the chance to show his son Max a few tricks on the kit. That means more to me than being on the cover of any magazine or talk show!

What I get from the video is that the guys play off your energy and showmanship. Is this accurate, and what would you say is the biggest strength of the band?

I would like to take the credit for that, but I don’t think I can. Rick certainly highlights a lot of what I do, but it’s in the context of the entire show. Everyone plays a role. As for the band’s biggest strength, I would say it’s because we have fun, and it’s a nice tight show. People always say, “You guys look like you’re having so much fun.” We hear that every single night! At the end of the day, people are people. They just want to have fun.

Give me the low down on yourself, Steve. How did you come to pick up your first set of sticks?

I started playing guitar when I was six years old. A few years later, I met a kid named Dave Queen who played drums. So we started a little band together, playing mostly KISS covers. After practice he would show me little things on the drums, and I enjoyed that more than playing the guitar (plus I was better at it), so we switched. (laughs)

What is the industry looking like right now for a high level cover act? Is there a lot of work? What types of gigs are you guys landing?

I think people want anything that is a little “different.” There are so many cover bands out there. It’s really hard to set yourself apart. We’re very fortunate to work as much as we do. I have to give credit where it’s due and say that Rick works his ass off. It’s not easy putting 200 dates on the calendar year after year. I wouldn’t want his job! (laughs) As for venues, we do everything. We’ll be at a fair in front of thousands one night, then at a casino the next night. We also do some corporate work as well, but the majority of the work is fairs and festivals.

Are you working on any original music? If so, where can we find it?

I’ve actually been called in to record the new Freddie Nelson CD. He recorded a CD with Paul Gilbert last year called United States. The two of them were fantastic together. It was my favorite album of the year. As with most things, a lot of it comes down to scheduling because I’m so busy. But I’m really hoping we can make it happen.

Obviously the video has changed your life dramatically. What have been the biggest changes in your career so far?

I’ve picked up a lot of endorsements. That doesn’t suck! (laughs) I’m also getting calls to do clinics, drum festivals, that sort of thing. To be honest with you, a lot of it is very intimidating. Ludwig Drums and Sabian Cymbals are flying me to Seattle on Nov. 7 to perform at Big Beat. I’ll be playing with people like Kenny Aronoff, Thomas Pridgen, and Alan White. I’m absolutely terrified! Those guys are so going to slaughter me. You can find out more about it at www.bennetdrums.com. The profits go to The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation so I’m honored to be involved.

How do crowds react to you now after the publicity?

We’ve always had a great relationship with the audience. The audience is just a lot larger now. (laughs)

Tell me a bit about your showmanship techniques, what sorts of tricks are you using, and how have you developed them over the years?

First off, there are tons of drummers to credit for that: Shannon Larkin, Carmine Appice, Tommy Lee, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa and on and on! I just did my best to “try” and do what they did. It’s really that simple! I’ve said this a hundred times: I can teach anyone how to twirl a drumstick, that’s easy; however, keeping your playing locked while doing it is a bit more challenging. The thing I’ve been working on for the last year or so is not letting the audience hear my showboating. Meaning, you should never hear someone toss a stick or do a windmill. Your playing should still be solid. That’s easier said than done, but that’s my goal.  

Having seen the “Wipeout” clip, do I detect some heavy Buddy Rich influences here?

I’m sure Buddy Rich wouldn’t say so, but I’ll definitely take that as a compliment. Buddy was just insane. You can’t work on what he did. Know what I mean? He was just a natural. You can’t duplicate that sort of talent. He was one of a kind.

Where did the term Mad Drummer come from, and are you planning on making a brand out of the name?

Several years ago, I started a small little company called Mad Drummer Inc. We sold T-shirts and the normal merchandise. In addition to that we had one of the largest directories on the web. I basically became overwhelmed with trying to keep everything up to date and shut it down. I don’t exactly have a lot of free time. However, the term Mad Drummer stuck with me. I still own the name, so I may pursue it again at some point. However, I would need to have the right team of people to oversee it, as I simply don’t have the time for it. A lot of cool things are happening right now, so it may happen sooner than later.

I understand you are a multi instrumentalist. What else do you play?

Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. I can probably still choke out a song or two on guitar or maybe a few on banjo. However, I would never claim to be a guitar player. I haven’t had a twangger in my hand in years.

Your DVD Over The Barrel is a few years old now. How have sales been? Can we look forward to another video?

I’m actually talking with a legendary drummer right now about doing a DVD together. If we can get it worked out, I think it’s going to be huge. He’s one of the first guys that started it all, so to just receive a phone call from him was a big honor. It’s a little early to let the cat out of the bag, but I’m really excited about it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What is “The Dream” for Steve Moore?

I want to be the next Mike Portnoy! However, let me explain exactly why I say that. Mike has had an amazing career with Dream Theater, but he’s also had the opportunity to record and tour with countless other legends in the process. He’s been a pillar in the drumming community for 20 years, doing clinics, DVD’s, collecting awards, and popping up on the cover of every drum magazine in the world. However, with all of his fame, he has remained humble and sincere. He’s always been dedicated to his fans, never forgetting them or taking them for granted. He is respected and loved by his peers. He has a wonderful wife and family who clearly adore him. On top of that, he finds time to help out a “nobody” drummer like me, while asking nothing in return. What better goal than to become the next Mike Portnoy?

Visit Steve online: http://themaddrummer.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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