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Percussion - Jason Aldean
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Rich Redmond

DMN – How was playing on the Craig Ferguson Show?

RR – It was great!  It was pre-taped in sunny Los Angeles a couple weeks before the airing.  I was sick as a dog with a horrible cold but the show must go on!  I wasn’t happy with the audio / video sync.  I think it was a little off by a quarter note and I hate that.

DMN – Currently, you are touring with Jason Aldean and have done studio work with many artists including………..With all your extensive credits, who do you think you were the most ‘inventive’ with?

RR – Sometimes the most creative work you can do is never heard by the public.  It’s usually heard by a few friends, fans and crazy people at clubs around Nashville.  As far as mass appeal, Jason has been a very good gig for me because I am playing my own parts.  In the 90’s there was a strict line between road musicians and session musicians.  Lonnie Wilson and Eddie Beyers were playing on all the records and a lot of the road gigs that I was getting; I had to memorize those parts because that’s what the artist wanted to hear.  But with someone like Jason and the last couple artist’s I’ve been with, I am recreating my studio parts.  Basically, I am creating in the studio and taking those parts and playing them nightly on the road.  Usually, I will ham up some of the parts; I call it ‘Redmonizing’ those parts like the ending of ‘Johnny Cash’.  I usually kick those parts up a notch and add a lick on the china boy so it’s more dramatic for 20,000 people in the arena.  There is a template every night for my playing but I change it up every night. I would say about 10% to 15% of my fills and maybe even the way I approach a groove is totally open for me to reinterpret every night and that level of freedom is not always there with a lot of artists.  So, I’m lucky like that.  When you get to play 170 to 200 shows per year and all the sound checks and rehearsals that go along with that, you are going to play those same 18 songs a lot!

DMN – In your opinion, what has been the greatest invention to percussion?  What can’t you live without?

RR – I have a background in jazz music and I kind of let go of a little bit of it when I crossed the Tennessee line.  But in jazz music, the ride cymbal is like the basis of the groove.  Everything is from the top down.  Then with popular music, anywhere from the Beatles to Starship, it’s from the kick drum up.  So, a lot of times I’ll challenge myself when I am playing small, local venues by taking only a kick, snare and high hat.  Sometimes, depending on the intensity of the gig, I won’t even bring the high hat.  I’ll use the rim of the drum or use a tambourine with my left foot or change the groove up in certain ways.  I tell kids that if they can make it happen with a kick, snare and high hat, that is a pretty good start!  Drummers like Stan Lynch (Tom Petty) just have that real earthy feel and they take care of business.  I like to have those three things in my arsenal.  

DMN – Like you had mentioned earlier, there are countless rehearsals and sound checks that go into touring to play the same songs every night.  How do you keep from getting stale with the material?

RR – Well, sometimes if I get complaisant or ungrateful about my job I just tell myself that ‘I get to’.  I get to play this beautiful $10,000 set of drums that was given to me.  I get to twirl my drumsticks in front of 20,000 people.  I get to inspire my band mates.  I get to make a decent living playing this instrument which, if you break it down, is probably less than 1% of musicians in the world get to play their instrument at the level that I get to play it professionally.  I just remind myself of all those blessings and I say to myself ‘Get your ass out there and do some entertaining!”  I have the responsibility to lift up the band and create that kind of energy.  The band picks up on that energy and the fans feed off that energy.  If I’m just out there ‘mailing it in’, that’s a joke within the band.  Don’t just ‘mail it in’.  Every night I have been given the responsibility of being the cheerleader.  We get into a circle and we pump our fists together and everyone looks me in the eye.  I have to come up with some kind of fun, profound thing to say.  It could be something as easy as ‘Don’t Mail It In’ or I’ll steal some lines from movies like ‘Earn This’, just something inspirational that remind the guys how lucky we are.  When you are on that side of the fence for so long you sometimes forget… ‘Oh yeah, I’m riding down the highway in a million dollar tour bus while some people are making up a dressing room for us that is fully stocked with everything from healthy food to booze.  I have people giving me instruments and asking for autographs and it’s ridiculous.  I just remind myself of how good we have it.  I keep telling myself that there are two kinds of music.  Good music and bad music, and I like them both because even if I’m playing bad music, I’m getting to play the drums Ha Ha!


DMN – Any other pre show routine that you have beside the circle?

RR – The band usually gets picked up an hour before the show from the hotel and I like to request an earlier pick up.  When we play festivals there could be up to 5 bands playing before us or depending on the level of the show, if Brooks N Dunn are headlining, we may play as early as 4 or 5 in the afternoon.  That is amazing because I get to hang out with all my peers, meeting people that I may have not met before, do some handshaking, networking and getting inspired by watching some of the other bands.  Definitely an hour before the show I’m ready to go.  I’ve got my ears wrapped around my neck and I’ve stretched out already.  I try to eat early enough so I’m partially digested before the show.  I usually have my practice pad out and I’m going through my rudiments.  The guy’s will then crank up some inspirational tunes like Foo Fighters or Zeppelin just to get us in that mood.  The times we don’t take that time to stretch and get on the same wavelength usually turns out disastrous.  During the day everyone does their own thing.  Some of the guys go golfing, some stay on the bus and work the internet all day, I try to go to the gym or the local drum shop in town and teach some drum lessons.  Everyone’s all over the map.  Then when it gets time for the show we have to get together and entertain 10,000 people plus and that is not a light thing!  We have to be on the same wavelength. 

DMN – How do you prepare and practice your perfect timing that you have?

RR – HAHA, That’s Sweet!  Good timing is something that you have to have to be in the profession.  People play their personality through their instrument and I think that I would be the kind of guy who would rush things because I am a high energy cat!  You can develop your timing and your inner clock by playing along with records, click tracks and drum machines.  These days, records are cut on Pro Tools, click tracks and loops.  I am happy to say that on Jason’s records, they are cut like the old Motown days where everyone is living, breathing human beings in the same room at the same time and playing the track at the same time.  We do play to a click track because it helps us maintain the groove and get to the feel quicker because we cut the records on a budget and we cut them quickly.  Yesterday, I played a track for a band called Crossin Dixon, they are our label mates, and we had a three hour block to do one track which is a luxury.  On Jason’s records, we do one song an hour.  Basically, we hear the demo, we have the charts, we run it down and our session leader and producer makes some suggestions on what they would like to hear different, then we do it once or twice and that’s the take.  When you hear songs like ‘Hicktown’, ‘Why’ and ‘Amarillo Sky’, they are all done with one or two takes.  I remember ‘Hicktown’.  We were all hungry and were deciding if we wanted to cut the track and then go to lunch or go to lunch first then cut the track.  We decided to knock it out before lunch and we hit it right out of the ballpark!  Three or four minutes later we had the song!  On the road, I do use a click track because it keeps everyone consistent and it keeps our shows right at 75 minutes when we are headlining and 45 minutes when we are supporting.  It keeps the shows right on time. 

DMN – Let’s dig way back.  What was the first song that you played fluently on the drums?

RR – Wow…  I’m going to have to think about that.  That’s a little foggy because my background was that at 8 years old my parents bought me a sparkle snare drum because I was such a good little boy; I was an ‘A’ student.  My parents said that they were going to get me a teacher and they were going to do this right.  They hired a teacher named Jack Bergey whom I would love to see again; I totally lost touch with him.  He was a great teacher and he taught me how to hold the sticks, the rudiments and all the proper techniques.  Eventually, he sold me this used bass drum and this little cracked cymbal and I used to just stand and bash away on this thing like Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats!  So, I had this bass drum, a snare and this cracked cymbal and I used to play along with Kiss albums because I loved Peter Criss like every 8 year old in 1978.  Anyway, I just kind of got bored with it because I wanted to go outside and climb trees with my friends.  Then in the 5th grade I got back into drumming because heavy metal was coming in.  I was this nerdy kid with glasses listening to Ronnie James Dio and Whitesnake and all the hair metal.  I don’t remember a specific song, but I remember playing along with ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ and ‘Slide It In’.  I then discovered the Van Halen 1984 record and ‘Syncronicity’ by The Police and I was hooked.  I heard Stewart Copeland with his snare drum tuned up and the energy he had and the way he intertwined all the different influences that he had and I thought it was brilliant. 

DMN – My top 3 drummers are John Bonham for his brute power and finesse, Neil Peart for his precision and Rod Morgenstein for his approach to odd timing.  What would your three be?

RR – Wow, great 3 influences!  Well, let’s see…John Bonham because he had soul, power, amazing ideas and he was passionate.  But he got a leg up on everybody from the sound of his drums.  The way his drums were recorded was amazing.  He was playing Ludwig drums like everyone of that era was playing but it was the way they had room microphones and microphones down the hallways.  Now when people want to get that Bonham sound they just shut down the close mics and turn on the overhead microphones.  So he created a whole style.  I would say Stewart Copeland from the Police because used all those world rhythms and reggae and the way he mixed it with punk music.  Sting always gave him problems because he said that he was rushing.  When in fact he wasn’t rushing, he was on top of the music and it worked because it was punk influenced music.  I love Copeland Stewart and I have all the Police records.  Oh, and did you know that Carmine Appice was the influence behind John Bonham?  Carmine did all of that Bonham stuff before Bonham and he actually got John his endorsement deal with Ludwig!  Carmine is a world famous cat but he never really got the credit he was due because it all went to John.  Led Zeppelin got way more powerful than Vanilla Fudge.  Carmine was the first to use double bass drums and he played Black Beauty Ludwig drums and china boys, so I love Carmine.  He’s got to be in his 60’s and I met him at the NAMM show last year.  He was very gracious and I got a picture of us on my website and my ‘myspace’.  I just love him because he is a cool Italian cat, man, and he wears leather and he’s always been stylish and he always has had crazy hair.  That’s part of the gig too; being stylish and changing with the times.  I saw his band, King Cobra, back in 1984!  I was such a geek!  I was wearing my Zildjian jacket and my dad took me to this concert in El Paso, TX.  The waitress’ were all dressed in skimpy outfits with chain mail, leather pants and hooker boots and my dad was thinking ‘oh no, what have I got myself into!’  I just went right up to the stage and was in awe of Carmine’s showmanship, the glow in the dark drum sticks, he was wearing makeup and just bashing away at the drums!  He must have been 42 years old at the time which was very inspirational to me!   

DMN – I remember having an instructional video of Carmine’s.  It was a great tool with instructions on spinning sticks as well!

RR – I hardly ever twirl my stick during a recording session because I am thinking about the music.  Now that does not mean that I haven’t done it.  It is just part of my performance.  The average person in Middle America whom I am going out to entertain does not hear with their ears.  They hear with their eyes.  So if I can entertain that Joe Smith from Nebraska that has to be an electrician everyday, if I can make him say ‘you see that drummer, man?’ and he is all the way back in the 20th row!  He’s going to remember the high energy drummer who twirled his sticks!  Hopefully I can hit him on that level.  We are in the ENTERTAINMENT business!

DMN – What was the first concert that you ever attended?

RR – Well, I am a product of the public music education program from the 5th grade up to a master’s degree.  I think between the years of 1983 – 1988 I saw The Maynard Ferguson Big Band, I saw Chuck Berry and I saw King Cobra.  Not a lot of great stuff came through El Paso at that time!  The Maynard Ferguson Big Band was a sign of things to come because they had a drummer named Ray Brinker who played with Pat Benetar; that was his last gig but he was an amazing big band drummer.  Then I got to see a classic rocker, Chuck Berry.  He would pick up local musicians in each city so in El Paso, he picked up my drum instructor, Ricky Malakai.  So I got to see him play the El Paso Civic Center without a rehearsal.  Then I saw King Cobra 5 foot away from Carmine’s kick drum.  Oh, my dad also took me to see Mellencamp, Sting and Van Halen.  We were way in the cheap seats for Van Halen on the 5150 tour!  Now, I wouldn’t say that I was sheltered, but I was pretty naïve!  There was a green cloud of smoke around us and I asked my dad ‘what’s that?’  ‘Son, that is Marijuana, and we are feeling funny, aren’t we!!’

DMN – What is your favorite song to perform?

RR – That’s a good question!  ‘Amarillo Sky’ is pretty wonderful.  It’s the third song in our set and it has one of my favorite fills in it.  I get to play it kind of ‘Bonham-esque’ and the kids love it.  It was a top 5 single not a number 1 which is kind of weird.  Jason’s first number 1 was a ballad!  Musically, it’s not the most interesting but it is the lyrics.  In country music it is really about the lyrics and that is an amazing song.  ‘Amarillo Sky’ was only a top 5 but the kids just know every word to the song.  Sometimes I’ll take out one of my ear monitors and I’ll hear 10,000 fans singing the song back to us and that is intense!  ‘Johnny Cash’ is cool because I get to do that fun lick at the end of the song!  We have a song named ‘Grown Woman’ that Jason does a duet with Miranda Lambert.  Of course we can’t take Miranda on the road with us every night so we have our bass player do the background part on it.  We do some Guns N Roses tunes; I have never been much of a Guns N Roses fan but it goes over really well.  We do a medley of ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.  We’re not going to have to do that during the Tim McGraw tour but it is good to have in our back pocket.  On this tour we get 45 minutes to hit them over the head with.  We’re going to do our 6 singles, maybe a B side tune and then we are going to cover a Tom Petty song, ‘Won’t Back Down’. 

DMN – What are some of your hobbies?

RR – Let me ask my girl…”Honey, what are my hobbies?” (She responds in the distance) “Playing the drums!”  I’m a social butterfly.  I love my people.  I am so lucky that I get to travel down the road with all my best friends.  The rhythm section that we have on the road I’ve been playing with for 9 years.  I get to see them more than my family or girlfriend so thank God that we love each other!  I’ve been on those buses where you are just kind of colleagues and you can take or leave the guitar player or keyboard player but our situation is a ridiculous, dysfunctional love fest!  It’s just 10 crazy guys riding down the highway.  When I’m in Nashville, there is always a recording session or showcase that I’m playing or someone else is playing.  Or there is a record release party and there is never a shortage of a fun, social calendar.  My social calendar is always filled and I have  to say no to things and that is a great problem to have.  I also have a really awesome girlfriend who is a chick singer for rock and pop / funk music.  I actually met her when I was a session drummer for her in 2005.  With the limited down time that we have together, we try to go out and do fun stuff like having dinner together, go to movies and go out window shopping.  So it’s working out and reading and keeping a balance in my life but I definitely have been labeled a workaholic.  That’s why I don’t go golfing.  I don’t time for another hobby that is that time consuming. 

DMN – How did you hook up with Jason Aldean?

RR – Great question.  Well, he’s definitely not an overnight sensation and I applaud Jason for his tenacity.  In this day in age, if you can make it past a couple rounds of American Idol and be at least one of the finalists, you are basically handed a career.  In one years time you can be a superstar.  For me, that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard of.  Now, Carrie Underwood has some pipes! That girl can sing.  So can a lot of them.  But Jason was a product of nightclubs between the ages of 13 through 16 and he was playing those clubs before he was legal to get into those clubs.  So Jason was touring the Georgia circuit in a milk truck with all his friends and got out there and took it to the people until he was discovered in a club by his now producer, Michael Knox.  Michael offered to take Jason to Nashville and get him a publishing deal while he was pursuing a record deal.  He did that for 8 years!  I met Jason in 2000 and together, we literally showcased for every major and indie label in this town.  By being tenacious and not giving up, he waited until country radio, the labels and everybody was ready for what he had to offer.  We were playing ‘Amarillo Sky’ and ‘Johnny Cash’ in 2000 but we kept hearing ‘we don’t see it’ or ‘we don’t see potential’.  But since we cut that record in 2004 on Broken Bow Label songs like ‘Hicktown’, ‘Johnny Cash’ and ‘Why’ put Jason Aldean on the map and people started saying things like ‘we can start taking him seriously now’ and ‘He’s going to be around for a while’.  If ‘Hicktown’ hadn’t taken off, we might not be doing this interview today; possibly from some other venture that I have going on, but not because my involvement with Jason Aldean. 

DMN – What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

RR – Usually there is something embarrassing that happens every day.  Hmm, I’ve never fallen off the throne, I’ve never tripped…I do break a lot of sticks and I sweat a lot!  I have also started counting off the wrong song before.  We had make last minute setlist changes and the muscle memory kicked in and I’m counting off one song while the whole band is looking at me thinking…awesome!  I can remember playing the beat to ‘Pink Houses’ while we’re playing the song ‘The Joker’!  Times like those you just have to swallow your pride, slow the tempo down and get into the correct groove and the show must go on!

DMN – What is your most visited website?

RR – Probably ‘Myspace’.  I think it has changed our culture.  On a day that I have internet access, I’ll check it twice.  It’s not like I’m looking for friends; we all know that on myspace we all have “friends” that we’ll never meet!  Everybody had an agenda in cyberspace and for me it has been a great networking tool.  I’ve been able to get drum clinics, showcases and session work from it.  It has changed things so much it almost has become a verb!  People used to say ‘I’ll call you’ instead people say ‘I’ll myspace you’!  God bless Tom!  I wish I could say that I changed pop culture with just a little college experiment!  This thing just took off and it changed the way our world operates! 

DMN – Last Question!  What would you like to say to your fans that are going to read this interview?

RR – Probably a lot of Jason Aldean’s fans!  I would just like to thank them because without them, we can’t do anything!  Country music fans are the most loyal fans in the world; they really are!  I just want to thank them and request that they keep buying those records and keep requesting those singles on country radio.  I’ll keep throwing out those drum heads and drum sticks at the shows and we’ll just have a blast!








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