Zach is a good friend of mine, good to see other people on here interested in him, he's definitely one of the most unique players ever. I've never seen anyone play with more intensity. My avatar is a picture that I took of his right foot sitting around one night at South by Southwest
Folks, I highly recommend viewing this clip, I was standing less than 10 feet away from Zach when they filmed this at Rubber Gloves, it was a night that my concept of what is possible behind a drum kit was changed forever.
whoa i made a thread about him quite a while ago with some links to video. tha man is insane. hes so creative and has great speed. the music is so technical i dont know how he remembers it all. there is two videos of him on hella's website which are both very good. two other guys that come somewhat close to rivaling him are damon che and brian chippendale.
Thanks for your opinions guys. @craigwikert, zach is i'm guessing about 26 or 27 years old. His playing ends up being very technical (and superhumanly fast of course), yet he doesn't think in terms of what technical is. it's just his style of playing.
The funny thing is you can catch him playing 4/4 songs all the way through on a few songs of the self titled crime in choir album, which i highly recommended. it shows his depth of style vocabulary, and that he can fit his own unique style successfully into standard time. i'm gonna post more in a little bit, gotta run out to class.......in the meantime, go to mxtabs.net/drumtabs.php and browse for hella, i tabbed quite a few songs in there so you can get any idea of how much sense (complete sense) his playing really makes. laterrrss.
the dude is truely mastered, saw them at bard college in ny a few years ago, my only criticism on the set was i thought they were a little too quiet<i had just came from a lightning bolt show an hour before>
the drummer of orthrelm is another good drummer and of course weasel walter of the flying lutenbachers, similiar off the wall avante-garde type stuff. i more into death metal/grind type of drum style but yeah, hella is really far out
yea i'm a fan of some of the drummers mentioned before too... damon che is definitely a beast, i have a good recording of a live show, very deft, accurate, and powerful. brian chippendale of lightning bolt i'm just not getting tho.... my familiarty with them isn't too thorough (i have ride the skies, self titled), but the ideas he has just seem for some reason sloppy to me and don't seem to have nearly the depth and cohesion of zach hill.
i find a multitude of aspects that sets zach apart from other comprable drummers:
Two will be discussed in this post:
1) he is one of the most hard hitting drummers out there (bloody knucles, broken sticks, broken skins regularly). he is actually planning to make a bedframe of all his broken sticks.
2) the relavance of playing hard is to allow an extended range of dynamics and accents:
-loads of ghost notes are always present. for example in "your dj children"
off the ep totally bugs bunny on wild bass, sextuplet rolls on hi hat and snare
are exectued so gracefully and quietly that they purr along thus creating
an interesting sound, as opposed to pointless wankery. the ghost notes are
used tastefully and in nontraditional areas to add a thickness and depth
to his sound.
-next level above grace notes are standard strokes on snare or anywhere else.
these notes are executed for standard purposes of course.
-finally for dynamics, he skillfully places rimshots on snares to really accent
and stand out from the many many notes he squeezes into a particular riff.
without these rimshots, his playing would be that much more difficult
to finding any connection between him and whoever may be playing with him.
-Accents are a part dynamics, but separate here because it is not
referring to the volume of his strokes, but the choices he makes on which
piece of his set to use to make sounds that stand out from the rest.
-When listening at first to his drumming, it will most likely
be incomprehensible to find meaning through the flurry of notes played at
outrageous speed. if you face that problem as a new listener, start listening
only for the cymbals. zach hill is the only drummer i've heard who uses
the hit hat to its full capability. the crash/ride strokes always show up at the
most appropriate times, and from listening solely to the cymbals, you will
find the connection to him and the other musicians that are playing.
-Keep in mind the only tools for drumming he has are: hi hats, crash, ride,
broken cymbals stacked on top of each other (and choked by placing the edge of
the cymbal firmly against the rim of his tom) in order to acheive a trashy china
sound. as for the actual drums, ONE bass drum, ONE bass pedal, a floor tom, and
a tom (in the 12" range) placed above his snare. Thats it, hit hat, ride, china, crash
and a 4 piece set. it's amazing what he creates from such a limited set up
(as opposed to "god like" drummers who have rather large sets).
The point of this part of my description of his playing is to demonstrate that
aside from him being insanely fast, he, like a mature professional drummer, understands the significance of dynamics and doesn't pound away on a whim to show off his "chops".
He may come across as unrestrained and full of himself, but he has
as much taste as the next guy and pays much attention to complementing the musicians he is playing with. Those musicians must be quite talented themselves: it takes a very creative and open mind (with no musical boundaries) and some proficiency
to be able to connect on zach's wavelength. just like any one playing with frank zappa, most were virtuoso's, because they could understand and execute the genious of what zappa wrote.
well that sure was long, but hopefully it helps people new to him get a start on the long process of grasping the ideas he puts out.
thanks for the clips, i love to see close ups of drummers playing. i actually got lightning bolt's new album today and its pretty badass. brian is def a very unique, creative, and fast drummer and i really like that about him. that's all there is to it, he should definitely be recognized here for his approach to drumming, which a lot like a huge blitz, not random notes, but a blitz of notes that fit with the music. i believe they are improving as songwriters so definitely a good thing you brought him up.
i don't know if you have tried to see the hella video of biblical violence on their website but i suggest you save it to disk over nite it's always slow as hell.
when you do get it, or if you already have it take notice of his left foot independance. you most likely know he doesn't use double bass, but in between his double strokes with his right foot (ie: ba-boom, ba-boom) he somehow hits the hi hat with his left foot. i guess it's his way of either keeping time or rapidly choking the open hi hat as he often does, but you can see the technique in much of the video. so with the hi hat being pressed but not struck, it sounds like "ba-boom sss ba-boom." Or it can be seen as a RRL triplet - Bass. Bass. Hi Hat Foot.
In the last section of the song, when spencer the guitarist starts tapping with his right hand behind his fretting left hand, zach has an incredible part which is so abstract yet so in tune with the guitarist. i can't describe it accurately in words here is an excerpt from my transcription:
___trips 16ths trips_____16th trips
___1tl2tl|1 2 |1tl2tl3 |1 2 |1tl2tl|1 2 |1tl2tl3 |1 2 |1tl2tl|1 2 |1tl2tl3 4 |
___1tl2tl3tl4 |1 2 3 |1tl2tl3tl4 |1 2 3 |1tl2tl3tl4 |1 2 3 |1tl2tl3tl4 |1 2 3 |
this also demonstrates the ease with which he switches time signatures and feels (16th note/triplet).
enough for this post.... come on people, check this guy out and tell me what you think! matter of fact one of the best quality bootleg live shows i've ever heard can be found here
i live across the street from the bolt, my roomate runs laserbeast.com, Load records is just right up the street from me
lightning bolt is ten times louder than hella, thier show is 10 times funner too, as tho chip is not as technical as the hella dude, who cares, i like lightning bolt more because of ENERGY, but not to take anything away from hella who are monsters in thier own right
yea, i initially didn't like lightning bolt too much, but they are starting to grow on me, especially after getting an advanced copy of hyper magic mountain... hella shows can be iffy, i assume for the most part they turn out well, but i'm also sure that a good many dont turn out so good due to whoever is mixing the sound. my personal preference for hella is not only because of zach hill, but spencer (the guitarist) too. their music has more depth (meaning layers of melody and rhythm) than anything else i've ever heard. i mean the guitarist is just phenomonal and if it were anyone else playing guitar, i probably wouldn't like it as much. the melodies, modulations, and the mere fact that the guitarist can play the part of 2 guitars and a bass all at once on his guitar WHILE ALSO BEING INCREDIBLY TIGHT AND IN TUNE WITH ZACH is what sets them apart from almost any band i've heard. i can confidently say two musicians haven't ever combined technicality and musicality as well or nearly as well as hella. but thats my opinion, to some people, its just incomprehensible noise. but if those people listened to even just one song 20 times over, they'd keep finding more and more aspects that match up and make sense. all their songs are on such a different level it takes many, many listens to fully grasp. that's why i've listened to them consistently for probably a full year right now. tehy never cease to amaze me....
again i wanna stress that i'm not saying "hella is the best anyone else sucks" its just my way of explaining why people should be patient with them, because they may eventually agree with me. and yes, lightning bolt does kick ass. i just wouldn't compare them because the style of music although similar is also at the same time very different, and pointless to compare to the sound lightning bolt strives for. if lightning bolt sounded the same as hella, it would be dissapointing because i really am starting to like their approach, it's different, full of energy, and sounds like just plain old fun. cheers to both bands.
I've just gotten into the Team Sleep Cd and Zachs phenomenal on it! I was amazed at some of the tight fills he was pulling off. Do you know what cymbals he uses?/what he used to practice to become soo good?
errrrrrrr......I have no idea what I just listened to. That's not a good or bad thing I just have no idea what it was.
Either those guys are musical geniuses, showing off their ability to incorporate 9s 7s and 5s all over the place, or they really have a horrible groove. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that was some complex schtuffff!!!!
believe me i know exactly what they're doing, i've transcribed a lot of their songs (that is if you're talking about hella)... there maybe a lot of odd timing but they don't think in terms of technique, the music you hear are just two guys writing music.
Their myspace account isn't maintained by them at all. A fan started it up without their knowledge, they weren't too keen on it at first, but saw that they were being represented well (some people start fake accounts for bands and just talk trash to people) and pretty much gave it their blessing.
Myspace is actually becoming pretty big with bands, clubs that book national acts now sometimes just ask for a link to the band's myspace page instead of their website.