Jono’s 5 Favorite Drummers

For those unfamiliar with me (everyone), I am the drummer of a band called The Swellers. My brother and I write the music and lyrics. We’ve been brothers MY WHOLE LIFE. Sometimes I forget how much of a passion I have for drumming when the songwriting mumbo jumbo consumes me when we’re working on a new album. I figured with my rebirth as a drum-nerd, it’d be cool to give you guys a look at my biggest influences as a drummer/musician.

If you’re expecting the cliche drummer list, you’ve come to the wrong place. I do appreciate the greats and classics, but this is for those who have directly changed the way I play.

*Don’t worry, I’ll still make it semi-interesting for everyone who doesn’t play an instrument or don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m very very funny and interesting. (Toot toot)

1.) Bill Stevenson – Descendents, All, Black Flag, Only Crime

Normally a drummer plays what we call, “in the pocket” (straight forward but very solid) and lets the song breathe. The melodies stick out and when there’s time to do something flashy, the drummer uses taste to throw something really interesting into the mix. Bill, unlike a lot of these “in the pocket” drummers, actually dissects a song and makes you pay attention to him the whole time without showing off. With his work in the bands mentioned above, he creates these strange beats and always keeps things fresh to match the rest of the band. Instead of sixteenth notes on the hihat (1 e and uh 2 e and uh) he changes the pattern up for almost EVERY beat. His fills are obnoxious rolls that no one else has the balls to do. One of the biggest influences he’s had on me (especially after having the privilege of him producing one of our albums at his studio, The Blasting Room), is his signature ride bell beat. When you hear the loud, fast bell in Swellers songs, you have Mr. Stevenson to thank. He taught me to PLAY the drums, not HIT them.

2.) Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Them Crooked Vultures, Queens Of The Stone Age

As a musician and general appreciator of cool people, Dave Grohl had to be on my list. Not only does he seem like someone that everyone in the world wants to hang out with, but he’s a beast on the drums. His god-like bashing on Nirvana albums to the dynamic first two Foo Fighters albums, were HUGE influences on the way I play. If his drums could talk, they’d be crying. Unlike Bill, Dave taught me to look really cool and hit things too hard when I feel like it. He also played drums on Songs For The Deaf, which is my favorite QOTSA album with some very innovative drum parts. I’ve been getting more and more into groove and weird experimental drumming and that record has been the focal point. He can do it all. IT PISSES ME OFF. Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters would normally be right up here with Dave, but for this list I’m trying to make things a little less predictable. (I love you Taylor, let’s hang out)

3.) George Rebelo – Hot Water Music, The Draft

To put it simply, George is equal parts punk and funk drummer. You can play to a grid and make each song a math problem OR you can close your eyes and feel the song out. The few times I’ve seen George play, he has a cigarette in his mouth, his eyes are closed and he looks like he’s in another place. Maybe he’s just really drunk, I can’t tell. Every fill he does feels like it could be in a gospel song until you snap back into reality and hear the heavy guitars of his bandmates. Hot Water Music’s, Caution, has been a reference of mine for cool, laid back fills and great groove drumming. Their band’s grit and emotion mixed with the tightest punk rock rhythm section makes them stand apart from anyone else.

4.) David Sandström – Refused

If you haven’t heard The Shape Of Punk To Come, you need to stop reading this and listen to it RIGHT NOW. Hardcore, punk, jazz fusion…IT HAS EVERYTHING. It’s one of the coolest albums. I still honestly don’t understand some of the parts he’s playing. I have many friends who will show me what they define as, “heavy” then I show them some of my favorite Refused songs. David uses a single pedal (instead of a double) and a relatively small kit, and to me does more than any big metal drummer can. He makes you believe what he’s playing instead of just playing along emotionless to a grid. It has soul and life and feeling and makes you think. Listen to the song, “The Deadly Rhythm” then pick your jaw up from the floor and try playing that intro. “Protest Song ’68” is also one of the most overused songs for a drummer’s soundcheck. I started a band with my friends called BraidedVeins just so I could have an outlet for this style of music (look for that coming soon). I had the privilege of seeing Refused’s biggest show ever at the Groezrock Festival in Belgium in front of over 20,000 people. It was the best live performance I’ve ever seen and changed my life. After over a decade of disbanding, they came back and handed everyone’s asses to them without missing a beat. Get it? Beat. I’m the worst.

5.) Jord Samolesky – Propagandhi

Dare I say, Jord is the Neil Peart of punk rock. Yes, he’s also Canadian, but he is one hell of an innovator. He may be the most underrated punk rock drummer of all time. Propagandhi’s record Supporting Caste is one of the best prog/punk/epic albums in existence. This band has always been one of my favorites because they took risks that no one else would. They’re VERY political, but well-versed and even tongue-in-cheek when they need to be. They’re pro-animal rights but make any meat eating, football player look like a nerd getting his a swirly in the locker room toilet when they all get behind their instruments. The way the songs are structured, like some of the above mentioned bands, are very complex but come together perfectly when the vocals come into the (very literal) equation. Every fill down the huge sounding toms goes slightly too long in the best way possible. Whether the beat is blisteringly fast or brutally slow, you have to hold yourself back from air-drumming along. I got to stand behind Jord when they played The Fest in Gainesville, FL and couldn’t stop smiling and fist-pumping profusely. I may have screamed, “HOLY SHIT” a few times too and cried and wet myself. I mean… wet myself from tears. Right? Right.

So there you go. Check out these drummers and their albums, and maybe even check out The Swellers for a watered down version of these

Who is your favorite drummer?

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