1. How did you get your start playing drums?
My older brother played bass and he needed a drummer, so he convinced my dad to get me a drumset for my 9th birthday. I learned the beat to "Machine Head" and started jamming immediately.
2. Who influenced you early on and who inspires you today?
I always loved Led Zeppelin, The Police, and the Beatles. I would listen to "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis before I knew what jazz was, and Jimmy Cobb's drumming influenced me a lot. From there I got into Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, and Elvin Jones, all of whom have completely different styles and approaches to drumming. Then I got really into prog rock and listened to Gentle Giant and King Crimson. Bill Bruford's drumming inspired me and helped me think of drumming as more of a linear thing. Then I got the first Foo Fighters record (where Dave Grohl is playing every instrument) and that was a huge inspiration for me.
3. You attended Berklee College of Music, majoring in both Film Composition and Drums. Who did you study with there?
I studied film scoring but my principal instrument was always drumset. I studied with Jackie Santos, Ian Froman, and Hal Crook.
4. Has your background in Composition contributed to the band’s overall songwriting style and process. Has it contributed to your approach to writing your drum parts?
Absolutely. I think drum parts are all about complimenting what's happening at the time. I always try to make the most musical choices I can in the studio, and sometimes that isn't an obvious choice. Sometimes silence is the best drum part you can add.
5. You have a Jazz background - accepted to the prestigious Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead - Kennedy Center Jazz Residency for Young People, as a composer/drummer. You also have a Jazz album out with your band, The Daniel Platzman Quintet, where you wrote all of the material and played drums. What turned you on to Jazz originally, and do you hope to return to that style? Do you incorporate any of your jazz technique into your drumming in Imagine Dragons?
I always loved jazz, I grew up in Atlanta GA and I used to see Russell Gunn play his gig every week. His drummers were always little John Roberts or Terreon Gully, so the drums were always fantastic! I will always love jazz, and I will always have some of that playing coming out of me. I'd say dynamic contrast is the main way my jazz technique comes through my drumming with Imagine Dragons. Plus I get to do a couple of Elvin fills every now and then!
6. You are a multi instrumentalist, having played trumpet in a concert band, violin in a pit band, viola in an orchestra, guitar/vocals in a rock band, and bass in a club band. Have you surprised yourself that you are now a Drummer in a Grammy Award winning rock band? Do you get the opportunity to play other instruments in Imagine Dragons?
I play viola a couple of times in our live set, and I love getting the opportunity to play other instruments too. When we perform acoustic sets, I play viola, cajon, and tambourine. It takes me back to my NYC days playing with singer songwriters at Rockwood music hall. Don't get me wrong, I love drumming! I just enjoy other instruments as well. We are all surprised to have taken home a Grammy this year; none of us saw that coming.
7. You have referred to yourself as a “utility infielder”. At Berklee, you were the recipient of the Vic Firth Award for Outstanding Musicianship. In the music industry today, how important do you think it is to be a well rounded musician (playing multi instruments, studying composition and production, music business, etc) versus focusing, on say, just playing drums? Do you feel proficiency on your primary instrument suffers from lack of focus, or that it is enhanced by having more tools to draw from?
I think it's a personal choice. For me, as somebody studying film composition, I learned as much as I could about all of the instruments so I could write for them better and understand their strengths/weaknesses. I still focused primarily on drumset, but growing up such a fan of Dave Grohl’s, I never felt like I was distracting myself as much as I was making my "bag of tricks" deeper.
8. What percentage of the band’s success do you feel is “Vegas Luck” vs having a “well thought out plan”? It seems that deliberately starting out playing to a transient Casino crowd as a half cover / half original band has paid off for you. Looking back now, would you have done anything differently to get to this point?
I don't think any of us would have done anything different, we're pretty freaking happy with how everything has gone. Vegas gave the band a place to develop and put in band stand hours, something that is rare these days. We certainly had luck on our sides, it seems like everything went "right" for us, and our entire team is amazing at what they do from the bottom up. I think patience was the best thing that happened to us. We didn't rush putting out our first album and we didn't rush into any deals. We really wanted to take the time to get our sound right and do things our way.
9. Dan Reynolds (singer) started out playing drums, and Imagine Dragons live performance is very percussive driven, with drums as the primary spectacle. How did this come about? Did it evolve or was it always the core of the music / performance? Has it been a blessing or a curse having another “drummer” in the band? Do you all agree on the sound and feel the drums play in your music?
Blessing 100%. I always loved the Allman Brothers (I know, I know... I'm from Atlanta and it shows) and part of their iconic sound was the two drummers. I love the energy we create when everybody is playing drums, it's un-ignorable. Dan first started experimenting with drumming onstage at the casino gigs, when the group of people we were performing for, didn't come to see us at all. It was our job to do something to make them stop gambling for 10 seconds, and look up at the band on stage.
10. What was it like to be on stage at the Grammy Awards? At what point did you think, hey, we have a pretty good shot at winning here?
It was a blast (no pun intended) performing at the Grammys. We were so pumped full of adrenaline, and Kendrick was fantastic. It was a performance I'll never forget. We really didn't think we had a shot at winning a Grammy being up against legends. Taking home a Grammy over Jack White, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Queen never once entered our minds. We are thrilled to have won a Grammy, but it seemed like such a long shot we had put it out of our minds. It's such a big deal being able to perform at the Grammys that we were ecstatic to be involved in it at all.
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