Modern Drummer magazine (web site) recently conducted an interview with SHADOWS FALL's Jason Bittner. An excerpt from the chat follows:
Modern Drummer: The new SHADOWS FALL album, “Threads of Life”, shows musical growth for the band, and your drumming is more fluid and in command than ever. What prompted the growth spurt on both counts?
Jason: I am very skeptical about my playing. I'm always wondering, “Is this good enough? Can I top that? Will the fans like it?” I'm constantly driving myself crazy with it. I was really confused with what I wanted to do with my drumming on this album.
“The Art of Balance”  got me some exposure. On “The War Within” I was more comfortable and the guys were writing songs tailored to my drumming. I calculated my parts to where I had the fills memorized. I played everything but the kitchen sink on “Fallout from the War” — that became my drum album. I played my fastest double bass yet. So I wondered, “What am I going to do to make 'Threads' different?”
We wanted to bring in more melody and concentrate more on the songs. It wasn't me thinking about playing faster double bass to top the last album. The fastest song is 195 bpm, which isn't my fastest. But I think my drumming is more professional. Our producer, Nick Raskulinecz [FOO FIGHTERS, RUSH, VELVET REVOLVER], asked me to think more about the songs, not the drum parts. And that's how I improved; I took a step back and thought, “How are the drums going to sit in this song?”
Modern Drummer: You are as conversant with your hands as you are with your feet. Your “Double Bass Crash Course” (“MD Festival 2005” DVD) covers all the numbers, and it's logical. But how do you direct someone to turn that into something musical and not merely an exercise?
Jason: That comes with experience, applying it to your own situation. I'm giving you the tools, but you have to explore your own musical boundaries. Everything in the “Crash Course” is very simple, some basic exercises that are easy to figure out. It's just repetition. When I get into the syncopated grooves, the 16th notes, and the different footings, I'm not thinking of those in a musical way, but as a dexterity exercise.
I have to practice double bass constantly to keep my chops up. What threw me off was playing broken patterns and realizing I couldn't do them with only a right-foot lead. You have to mix the footings up. It's trial and error, and it's about developing other exercises to allow you to play double bass with more ease.
Read the rest of the interview with Jason in the May 2007 issue of Modern Drummer magazine.
SHADOWS FALL guitarists Matthew Bachand and Jonathan Donais have also been busy, recently going down to the Guitar World studios to answer fans' questions for the latest video installment of the “Dear Guitar Hero” feature. Watch it online at this location.
Shadows Fall new album, Threads Of Life is out on April 2nd