1996 Vinnie Colaiuta interview


Platinum Member
I stumbled across a 1996 Percussive Notes interview with Vinnie Colaiuta, by Rick Mattingly. I've done my usual thing of pulling out the choicest parts:

It's strange because you hear something driving and feeling good, so you transcribe it and see that there aren't a lot of notes on the page. Sometimes you are surprised by that because it sounded like a lot more than it was, but that's because you can't transcribe drive and attitude.

The other thing is that no two drummers play 4/4 exactly the same way, you know? That's a mystery in itself to me - how you can identify someone through something so simple. It's way beyond how many ticks per beat and all that garbage.

I was a jazz snob for a while. When you're first learning you go through all that stuff. I used to get myself in trouble when I was playing casuals because I would get bored so I would start throwing in all this stuff. But I was young and restless and didn't have the maturity to deal with that kind of thing.

Eventually you wise up, or else you're totally blind and you think all these other people don't know what they're talking about. You start thinking, 'Hey, I'm BAD and they just don't know it.' That's some funny s__ when you see guys who think their stuff is the only thing, and they're real quick to put everything down when they haven't even investigated everything that's out there. You've really got to question the validity of that.

At the same time, if you have gone through the whole gamut and can honestly say, 'Yes, I can play a backbeat and appreciate the value of simplicity, but I'm really onto something new here and nobody understands it,' you just have to realize that maybe you've developed different tastes than everybody else. You hear things differently, and you can't expect the whole world to hear as you do. If you've run through the gamut, then your thing can be totally valid, as opposed to some guy who learns to do something fairly complex and then thinks he's got an edge on things and everything else sucks.

If you're not satisfied with your playing, it's good to drive yourself. But do you really have something inside that's itching to get out that you can't say? If that's the case, concentrate on what that is. Technically, you've got to get your muscle memory together because the body learns slower than the mind.

I see nothing wrong with people who want to play as much as possible because they have a lot of stuff coming out. They get on a roll and it goes on for hours. Great, man! That's the pure beauty of it. You get into that space and you love it, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

I'm not going to say that you don't need to practice. No way. But sometimes people start thinking, 'Oh man, I HAVE to practice all the time.' If you lose your attention span after a couple of hours and want to take a break, take a break. If you suddenly want to go play again, go back and play. You have to figure out your own objectives. If you want to do a certain thing, that's the answer right there. But how much do you want to play?

Some people bitch because certain things aren't happening, but they are just sitting there making the same mistakes over and over again. Or they think somebody is going to wave a magic wand over their head. How bad do you want it? If you want it, you'll get it.

But what do you really want? Do you just want to be like someone else because you think this, that and the other thing about that person? Or do you want it because you love the music and want to express yourself through rhythm?


Pioneer Member
I stumbled across a 1996 Percussive Notes interview with Vinnie Colaiuta, by Rick Mattingly. I've done my usual thing of pulling out the choicest parts:
I remember Vinnie once admitted he asked Billy Cobham how much in terms of hours a day to practice. Billy's reply was not to think of it in terms of time evertime you sit down. Sometimes, you have to think of an objective.

Vinnie will always be one one of my five favorite drummers!