I have some time now to answer some of your questions:
Can you say something about how you prepare yourself before the band gets together. Did you just play along Neals cd’s or did you get the original drum-tracks? Or are any of the drum-parts written down?
– I got the music from Neal on CD or through email. Just the audio that is. No written parts or what so ever, just the music on CD or MP3. Then I would listen to it a lot, and start transcribing the drumparts. I found that when I transcribed a song, it is 80% in my head already. This is for me the best way to memorise a song.
Are you trying to stay close to MP’s technique and style or can you really do your own thing with it?
– With the music of Neal, Mike’s drumparts are quite essential for the feel of the song. They are almost part of the composition. If you analyse his drumparts closely, you see that they are part of the bigger picture, and that it is very musical. So I try to stay as close to his parts as possible. Of-course I am not Mike, and also his roots are different. Especially with the double bass playing. Mike played double bass since he was a kid. I just started to play them for 5 years now. I take the freedom to play the fills a bit my way: if a Portnoy-fill is to much of a challenge, I’ll might change it a bit. But the rhythms and grooves, I try to play them as they are. Neal gives me total freedom in my drumparts, as long as it serves the song, and gives the same energy.
How did you and the band prepare? Where there a lot of rehearsals with or without Neal?
– When Neal and I agreed on the setlist, I informed the band about the songs. As the bandleader I had to oversee that everybody was learning the songs correctly, so we came together a few times in the month before the tour, and jammed together, and played through our parts. Quite difficult when the leading man is not there. You miss the leadvocals, his keys, and his guitar-parts. And because Paul is from the UK, during those pre-rehearsals we did not have any guitarparts. It was just Jessica, Henk, Wilco and myself. The last weekend before Neal arrived, Paul came over, and we rehearsed two days with the band. Then a week later, Paul came on monday. That day was just setting up, soundchecking etc. Tuesday we rehearsed with Paul. And on the wednesday (one day before the first gig) when Neal arrived, we started rehearsing with the full band . So we all had some preparation time in advance, but the real full-band rehearsing took place in 1,5 day.
Can you tell us a bit more about your drumkit you use on this tour?
– Sure thing! The kit I use during this tour is a Tama Starclassic Bubinga in Violet Sparkle. Tama provided this kit for this tour only. My new Tama drumkit did not arrive in time, so they lent me this amazing drumkit. But as they did not have a 8″ tom at hand, they lent me this black one (maple). It is a great drumkit, with a very deep and dark sound. This actual kit has been used by Harvy Mason and Rodney Holmes during clinics in Holland.
I mounted the kit on my DrumFrame, that puts the whole kit in a 30 degrees angle upwards. It looks very cool, but it is also therapeutic. Due to a back injury years ago, I cannot play long on a normal drumstool, so this DrumFrame is THA BOMB! It is designed so that your balance point is not only your lower back, but your whole back. Thanks to this invention of Bob Gatzen, I can play for day’s without pain.
My cymbals are a mixture of Sabian and Zildjian cymbals (and for this tour I lent an Istanbul Rock Crash from Ruben, my drumtech).
Is there a second leg of this tour coming?
– Well, who knows. We are looking into the possibilities of touring some more. As soon as there is more news about this, I’ll put it online. If you have some suggestions of great venues, don’t hesitate to mention! 😉
If you have more questions, feel free to post them here, and I’ll try to answer them!
Hope to see you in London!