Paul Southwell of SF Media recently conducted an interview with metal drummer Jon Dette (TESTAMENT, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, HEATHEN). A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On pulling double duty with SLAYER and ANHRAX on Australia’s Soundwave festival dates:
“I definitely had my work cut out for me. I can do it with sleep, vitamins and a lot of supplements. It would be easier to sit on the seat than to jump off the riser. I jump about to get some blood flowing through my legs. That is why I stand up and get off the riser every now and then.”
“It has been an amazing challenge and experience. I don’t know how many liters of water, but I would say I drink up to a gallon and a half or water daily, which is maybe four liters of water. For Soundwave, with the ANTHRAX set, the first two shows were in direct sunlight and it’s warm up there, man. It was humid but wasn’t quite as warm on the night you saw but you definitely have to keep yourself hydrated.
“I have two monitors [during SLAYER] that are sitting on the riser behind me. The only thing coming through them are my own nice drum mix and Kerry [King; guitar] plus a little bit of Gary [Holt; guitar] for some songs. Kerry starts with the riff so I’m going off that and need to hear him to be locked together on those hits. There is no Tom [Araya; vocals/bass] in my monitor at all. Sometimes singers chant and talk to the crowd between songs but if I hear that, I get lost so that is the reason for no vocals.”
On playing the material that was originally recorded and performed by SLAYER‘s Dave Lombardo and ANTHRAX‘s Charlie Benante:
“Well, I’ve been a fan of them since I started playing drums, so I have a foundation of their style. To fill both Charlie and Dave‘s shoes feels natural for me. Also, I play in a similar style so everyone is comfortable. We’ve rehearsed cues for live. Before the first show I did with SLAYER, I’d rehearsed for three days with Kerry, so the first show we did on stage was the first time with Tom in sixteen years. No rehearsal or soundcheck, but Tom said it felt like we’d been jamming for years. If I make them feel comfortable and play the songs where both the band and fans think it doesn’t feel like a first show, then I feel I have done my job.”
On the changes in drumming over the last twenty years:
“People have gotten faster. A lot are now relying on technology such as triggers. That is not a bad thing, but there is a style that has evolved with blast beats so people have just become very technically oriented. It is amazing what some of these guys are doing.”
On Lars Ulrich‘s (METALLICA) drumming style:
“When I started playing at fourteen, I gravitated towards METALLICA, and Lars did come up with some great stuff back in the day. I haven’t followed METALLICA records lately, so I cannot comment on his style today. On ‘Master Of Puppets’ and on ‘…And Justice For All’, he is doing some great stuff. The drum arrangements were tasteful. I haven’t followed them since the ‘Black’ album [1991’s ‘Metallica’] but I have listened to them since, of course.”
Performance footage (Sydney, Australia on February 24):