When it comes to paying your dues, STONE SOUR drummer Roy Mayorga can tell you a tale or two- which is why we sat down with him when he was in London with the band in support of their current album Audio Secrecy. In the latest installment of our Gear Nerd series, we discuss Roy’s path to where he is now, including his stints with Soulfly and Roadrunner United and how it feels to be where he is now…
RR: So, take us back to your childhood- what was the first instrument you played?
RM: Erm, pots and pans [Laughs].
RR: So you’ve always been a drummer at heart?
RM: Yeah it was more of like an instinctual thing. All the primal urges that a baby has- he can’t really speak, he can only grunt and make noises and find things to hit but I felt comfortable with it. I was always constantly tapping rhythm; I was very rhythmic. I was always dancing or I was hitting things with pencils, spoons, you name it. But soon after seeing a drummer, playing an actually drum kit on TV, that was when I figured out what I was and what I wanted to be.
RR: So when did you get your first kit? When did you persuade your parents to fork out some dough?
RM: Well there was kind of an evolution where I started with pots and pans and boxes, and then after that I had a toy drum kit that was from the local toy shop- that wasn’t really the best kit, just really cheap thin heads. I went through that thing in like a month and then I was back to boxes again! So soon after that my mother and father saved up enough money for me to get a real kit. It was just four piece kit with a crash symbol and a high hat. It was a no name brand but kind of expensive for back then, but they really wanted to see what I would do and how far I would go and they totally believed in what I was doing. They knew I was setting out to be a drummer and they didn’t have a problem with taking that chance, ya know? After that I kind of just went after playing to records. Of course I played to bands that at that time were popular in the 70’s, like Kiss and Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath and I religiously played to all those bands every day after school, from 3:30 till my Mom and Dad got home from work [Laughs] and then I’d stop so I had a good two three hours a day to play…and then yeah, took it from there.
RR: So how old were you when you got that first proper kit then? When did you really start playing and did you start having lessons then?
RM: I was about 6 when I got that kit and for the most part I learnt everything by ear. I did have a couple of lessons here and there but I didn’t have the patience for it, and my teachers didn’t have the patience for me because I was all about wanting to learn rock drumming. At that time I wasn’t wanting to learn traditional grip and play jazz! Pretty much all the teachers that were around me at the time were jazz drummers so they were just not having it with me bringing in like Zeppelin 4 and Kiss Alive 2! I was telling them I wanted to learn this stuff and they were like “no, you gotta learn this, this and that” so I stuck around to learn the rudiments and the single stroke rolls and the paradiddles and that was cool but I felt like maybe I should go off and do it on my own more and just keep playing to these records and channelling on these drummers that I really loved and try to emulate them and then maybe eventually come up with my own style. Later on I actually did find a teacher that was more on the same level [as me] so I stuck it out with him for a good month. He was a rock drummer and basically showed me everything I wanted to know, and then some. After that I took it upon myself to continue to play to records and eventually form a band when I was like 14, 15.
RR: So if you were to nail down the top drummers that really inspired you when you were first learning all that early stuff, who would list?
R: Well in no order John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) for one, Keith Moon (The Who), Neil Peart (Rush), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Peter Criss (KISS)… those are the drummers that I looked up to and still do look up to them for inspiration. There’s also a lot of newer drummers that are out now that are pretty amazing
RR: So which ‘new drummers’ do you look at now and you think “fuck me, their awesome!”
RM: Well just different genres of music and different drummers I like to each genre. Right now in the whole metal genre I’m really into Tomas Haake from Meshuggah. I just love his approach. He’s very talented, very technical- super technical- but he’s got such a feel and groove that most drummers in that genre don’t have. He’s got it! He’s got such a weight behind him when he plays especially on the song “Bleed” which is the perfect example of what I talk about with the technical approach he has with his feet, and doing the syncopation with his feet and keeping a straight beat with his hands up top. He creates this flow, this groove…It’s magic! And I’m obsessed with that- along with every other drummer in the world [Laughs] trying to learn those parts, ya know? I’ve learned some of the parts but there’s some parts he does on that I just cannot repeat, that only he can do!
I really like Jack White too believe it or not, like as a drummer- he to me, is amazing. He’s got a really great feel and vibe and he’s got that bounce that I really like; that bottom hand, especially on the “Dead Weather” record that he just made… and even as a song writer, I think he’s brilliant. He’s taken this whole blues thing and taken it another level, like the way Jimmy Page did back in the day. Also Abe Cunningham (Deftones) great friend, great drummer, Dave Lombardo (Slayer) great friend, great drummer- those guys to me are really inspiring to watch and listen to and I enjoy every time I get to watch them and hang out with them and they open my mind to do other things you know?
RR: What other genres would you say influenced your playing and your style?
RM: Well definitely the drummers and bands that I’ve mentioned in the beginning. I think those are definitely at the top of my list. They totally make me who I am now and of course a lot of things along the way ‘til now. I mean someone like Paul Ferguson from Killing Joke definitely back in the 80’s definitely showed me the way of tribal drumming- all that tom work; keeping that full on floor tom with the kick but doing all this other crazy stuff on top like this tribal onslaught on drumming. As far as the weird little bell noises and sounds I have tendency of using, that was all really inspired from listening to an industrial band Einst