Chris Hornbrook is currently touring with Senses Fail through the end of this year but he's best known as the drummer for the influential and pioneering band, Poison The Well. We talked with him about drums, jazz, what makes a player great, and plans for the future.
When and why did you start playing drums?
I started when I was twelve. I was a frustrated kid, so it only seemed to make sense that my parents buy a musical instrument that I could smash like a cave man and release some of that pent up emotion. Prior to that, I took guitar and alto sax lessons. Both didn't feel right. Drums, though. Without question was the right choice.
What, if anything, transpired to keep you playing all these years?
The genuine love for the craft and art of drumming and music. At the end of the day, those are the most important things to me. Being in a band is cool and working for artists is fun, but what makes me the most happy is creating and crafting. It gets me up in the morning.
When you listen to another drummer, what do you listen for?
His or hers "pocket", what they're doing within that song musically to contribute to it, and little details that only drummers and other musicians would probably notice. Sometimes I'll think about how I would approach what they're doing and see how similar and how different the out come is.
Who are some of your favorite drummers?
Dave Grohl, Chris Dave, David Sandström, Jon Theodore, Billy Cobham, Dave Lombardo.
Do you follow any of the jazz drummers?
To be honest, I don't. I wish I did more, but Jazz doesn't speak to me the way it does to other drummers and I wish it did. I'm familiar with some of the greats, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Max Roach. From what I've heard, Elvin Jones speaks to me the most within his style of playing. It's pretty amazing, but again, Jazz doesn't do anything for me.
Speaking of jazz, have you seen Whiplash?
I haven't, but I keep hearing it's great. I'll probably get it from Netflix when I get home from tour and give it a go. I'm sure I'll like it.
What makes a player a “legend” or “great”?
Hmmmmmm, for me it's their impact on music as a whole or within their particular genera. How innovative they are or how electric they are when they play.
Who was your first drum teacher?
My CD and cassette player, Mr. Sony and a few private lessons here and there. My dad is a bass player, so I had music being played constantly in our house hold growing up, which is awesome and I probably absorbed a lot through osmosis without even realizing it.
When you were coming up, did you set your sights on any particular goals?
Just to make music and not suck. I've made the music part happen, but I'm still working on not sucking. I think that's a life long thing.
How often do you change the heads on your drums?
At home, probably once a month. On tour, it varies slightly. Usually every five to seven shows. Headlining sets are probably closer to the five show mark because of sound checks and longer sets. Support tours are normally seven. I have a great relationship with Evans and they always get me sorted.
What are some of your thoughts on drum soloing?
Tell your story and keep it within the two thirty to five minute mark. Have dynamics, groove and tasteful chops. I personally like a good solo that involves all those details. That's something I've been working on the past few years to get better at.
What's your favorite time signature to play in?
Aside from 4/4 because that's what a majority of music is written in, I dig 7/8 a lot and 12/8.
How often do you practice? If you don’t, why? If you do, what aspects of drumming do you practice the most often?
I practice a few times a day when I'm at home. It's comforting and really therapeutic. I try to work on the stuff that I'm not good at when I have the time. Recently, I've been working on open handed technique, Latin and a variation of para diddle linear patterns. I just want to be the best I can be.
Poison The Well is playing Skate & Surf; can we expect more dates to be announced?
Hopefully, nothing in stone yet. Just trying to see how that goes and then go from there! Keep your eyes peeled.