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INTERVIEW – Garrett Whitlock, Tremonti – February 2013

| 17 February 2013 | Reply

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The guy up front or with his name on the marquis often cannot get the job done alone.  Same is true with Mark Tremonti – he has recruited some killer musicians to take his music to the masses.  This includes drummer Garrett Whitlock.  I was lucky enough to grab a few minutes on the phone just hours before a show in Tilburg, Netherlands.

Garrett: How you doing Todd?

ToddStar: I’m doing great.  Yourself Garrett?

Garrett: I’m doing pretty good, just in Tilburg today and looking forward to playing. It’s been real good, the tour has been great so far.

ToddStarAwesome, great. Well first off, thank you so much for taking time for us, we really… we know your time is precious and we appreciate you giving up a few minutes for us.

Garrett: Thank you guys for taking the time to talk to me man, it’s a pleasure.

ToddStarI’ve been a fan of yours in one form or incarnation for a few years now. I was in the crowd when Submerge opened for Alter Bridge in Detroit at Clutch Cargos. You guys were still touring behind In Due Time. You’ve got a great presence on stage, you beat the hell out of the skins, but let’s talk about In Due Time and work our way up to Tremonti.  On In Due Time, some of the most powerful songs on that disc are yours.  “Hollow” and the title track, “In Due Time,” these just have monstrous drum sounds and a feel and a groove to them.  What is it that you think you bring to these songs, or brought to these songs at the time to really put a spin on them to make them a little heavier than some of the other tunes on the album?

Garrett: Ever since I started playing drums I’ve always been attracted to two types of drumming, one being real groove based oriented drumming, just heavy pocket, calling for what the song wants kind of drumming, and at the same time I’ve always been really attracted to the heavier, almost metal type of drumming. I don’t know man, I guess ever since I started playing I’ve always just been trying to find the balance between the two and how to make them work in any type of situation that I’m playing in. The Submerge songs off that record, the ones that I played on we had basically, when I came into the picture with that band the drummer that they had prior to signing their deal for whatever reason, kind of fell through and Scott Phillips from Creed and Alter Bridge, he was originally going to play on all the tracks, so when I had auditioned they were still tracking guitars for the album and I don’t think vocals had started yet, but basically when I started jamming with the band we started writing and going back and forth with the label, I guess the label just wanted to record more songs, and I was lucky enough that they were like ‘Hey, we want you to play on the tracks’, so it was cool to be… I think I was on five or six of the tracks on that record. So yeah, it was really cool to show my face a little bit on that record.

ToddStarWell not to take anything away from Scott, he’s obviously been around a while, but I just thought your stuff, “In Due Time,” “Hallow,” and “Divide the Hate,” those songs just have… there’s a thunder underneath that lacks on songs that you’re not on, and I’m just assuming it’s your approach.

Garrett: I just try and do the best I can, and I know that sounds kind of kiddish, but I do, I try and do the best I can, and what fits the song, but at the same time I try and take my spots where I can kind of do my thing here and there. I mean we did, some of those tracks, with Donny Gilmore, and he really has the ability to really make the drum tones real rich and make them almost not sit on top, but you know, so they don’t get buried. But yeah, that record, it’s funny, I don’t really listen to stuff that I play on and before this tour I kind of threw it on a little bit and its… to hear those songs again, its pretty cool. It was a cool time.

ToddStarIt stands the test of time, that’s for sure. The second album was just as good, for some reason it didn’t sell well.  It was just as strong, and again you’re vibe, like you’ve mentioned underneath, is just really incredible. But it carried over to the Tremonti project, and there are three songs where I have found were just incredible drum tracks; So You’re Afraid, You Waste Your Time and Giving Up, those are all songs to me there is a fire in you that wouldn’t let up. Can you give any insight to your contributions on those tracks?

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Garrett: You know it was… when me, Eric and Mark started to kick the idea around, Mark obviously writes all the time, he’s got three ongoing projects, he really enabled me and Eric. Since day one there was kind of this swing for the fences type attitude, no holes barred and just go for it, and play what you feel, and you know, that to me as a drummer and as a player was awesome. Like I said I have always been a fan of the heavier drumming and the type of heavier foot work on the Tremonti stuff, the Submerged stuff really didn’t call for. To be in a position where it’s like ‘Ah cool, I can play some thrashier stuff now, I can put some double bass in there…’ that to me as a drummer was like being a kid in a candy store. So yeah, being able to sit down and write all these parts, it really was, it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

ToddStarIf you had to pick a couple of tracks off the Tremonti album that you just can’t wait for them to show up in the set because of the drumming, what would they be?

Garrett: You know, All I Was is a real fun one to play because it’s got some of the syncopated footwork, but it’s slower, it’s not just a real fast like 16th note type stuff. Wish You Well  is a lot of fun because it’s got that kind of old school trash kind of vibe. The singles are a lot of fun to play, all of them. It’s really hard to pick because more than anything, at the end of the day, I just love playing drums, regardless of what it is. So any time I get to sit down and play my drums I’ve got a smile on my face.

ToddStarDon’t blame you. So when you were a kid who made you want to pick up a pair of sticks?

Garrett: The first time I saw something sitting behind a drum set it was actually Animal from The Muppets. I remember as a kid that is basically the first time I remember seeing someone playing a drum set. I know it’s just a fictitious muppet, but it’s the first thing I ever saw. Beyond that I remember seeing Tommy Lee on MTV back in the day and the old Motley Crue videos and he’s obviously really animated and the real big movements and stuff like that. But the first person I can remember just really being blown away by their playing has got to be John Bonham. With my parents, I was lucky enough, I lived in a very musical household, they were always playing music all the time. My dad would play bands like ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin and stuff like that, so I remember really hearing John Bonham playing and it was just like you said, there was this heaviness and a weight to it, there’s no way to really describe it, but any time I hear his drumming it’s pretty insane.

ToddStarVery cool. I know Mark prefers a lot of the heavier stuff, or at least that’s where his roots are and I’ve joked with him before about Mercyful Fate, who were some of the bands growing up that you really got into, not necessarily to play, but just that you really dug?

Garrett: First and foremost Pantera. Pantera is one of those bands that I heard that I didn’t know what to think. A lot of it has to do with the playing obviously, I’m a huge Vinnie Paul fan, and then second to that is the way the records sounded. The records had a sound to them, like the snare and the kick drum sounded, I never really heard drums sound like that before, just sonically and mixing. So I’m a huge Pantera fan, I know it’s more of a recent band by Meshuggah, I’m a huge Meshuggah fan. Gojira is another band that I’ve been listening to a lot lately that has a pretty insane rhythm section. But yeah, if I had to pick like one band back when I first started it would definitely be Pantera.

ToddStarWhat was the last CD you listened to, or downloaded?

Garrett: Last CD I picked up was a heavy metal band, Wolfie actually showed me the other day and they’re called Monument, and I believe they are a European band over here, but yeah I just picked up that CD off iTunes the other day and it’s kind of like super heavy [inaudible] signature type stuff, but that would probably be the last record, and the one before that that I just got was the new Gojira record. It’s pretty amazing.

ToddStarThat’s a good one, I like that. If there were one piece of music in the history of time that you wish had your drum like sound under it, what would it be?

Garrett: I don’t know if I ever would have played it as good as he did, but hands down it would probably have to be “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin and John Bonham on drums. It’s just every time I hear that song and that drum intro comes in and the way he played the groove, the way that the drums sounded, the way they were tuned. Everything about that song makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck, and I consider it one of the…. Some people would be like ‘Oh, you got to be kidding me’ but I consider it one of the heaviest drum grooves of all time. I know that there are blast beats and stuff like that out there, but some of the heaviest stuff out there is some of the slowest stuff out there. So it would probably by When the Levee Breaks.

ToddStarYou said you don’t know you would play it the same way he did, don’t sell yourself short.

Garrett: I don’t know if I could have done it as good as he did, it’s one of those tracks that every drummer in the world could play to it and they wouldn’t be able to play it like he played it, you know what I mean?

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ToddStarI’m saying don’t sell yourself short. I’ve got both Submerged CDs, I’ve got the Tremonti CD, I saw you live with Submerged, I saw you last fall at the Machine Shop in Flint and you’re a monster behind the set man, don’t sell yourself short like that.

Garrett: I try my best. I look at live as this…. half of it is being able to play up to your expectations you want as a drummer, and the other half of it is the physical performing side. I’ve always been like not to be like ‘Oh hey everyone look at the drummer’ you know, but I’ve gone to shows before and you see some of the drummers and they just sit there, and they’re amazing players, don’t get me wrong, but I kind of feel like it’s your obligation to kind of make it a visual aspect too.

ToddStarYou left that stage soaked man, you left some blood, sweat and tears on that stage.

Garrett: Instead of going to the gym I just play a show every night and that’s kind of my work out.

ToddStarWell again, I know your time is precious so I’ve got one more for you before I cut you loose.

Garrett: No worries.

ToddStarWhat’s the meaning of life, Garrett?

Garrett: I battle with that daily [laughs]. I wish I knew as I sit here 28 years old, trying to find the thing in life that makes you happy. Do what makes you happy and surround yourself with good people and… I can only imagine I’m going to blind my eyes a few more times and I’ll be 60/70 years old. You’ve just got to take it day by day and enjoy what you’ve got. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve found an instrument and I’ve found something that makes me happy and brings me joy. I guess that’s all I can say to someone else asking the same thing. Do what you love and don’t take anything for granted. I think that’s the best way I can sum that up.

ToddStarI really appreciate it, I know you guys have got some dates coming up in the US here, I can’t wait to see you guys at the Crow Foot in Pontiac on the 21st.

Garrett: Awesome, yeah it would be good to see you, maybe have a beer or something.

ToddStarWe’ll touch base, and enjoy your show and safe travels until we see you in Pontiac.

Garrett: Awesome man, thanks for the interview, I appreciate it. Take care bud.

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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