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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:20 am 
Mithras Guitarist / Drummer
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Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 6:27 pm
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Location: Exploring non-Euclidean geometries...

because we get asked the same questions on here (and via e-mail) rather a lot, i'm going to start compiling a list of all the questions and answers so we don't need to keep going over them. If you've got a question which you aren't sure is covered by all means please post in this forum as we enjoy answering them!


General Questions:

Q: Why don't Mithras play live shows more often? Why don't Mithras play XX location

A: Like most bands, Mithras playing in a certain place depends upon us being available and ready to play and a promoter making us an acceptable offer and booking us to play there. We're not doing live shows atm as Mithras doesn't have a full line-up.

Q: Why does Leon play both guitar and drums? Why don't you become a "real" band and get a full time drummer, or get another guitarist? Why didn't Sean Broster playing on 'Behind The Shadows Lie Madness'?

A: I played both instruments on our first three records as we've never found anyone who can play the drums how we want on record other than myself.

I play both drums and guitar so it's not a huge problem for me to do both things on our recordings and I write all the music anyway so it's more convenient (just takes up a lot of my time ha!).

Regarding getting a full time drummer other than myself, Sean Broster did join the band in 2004 when we started writing 'Behind The Shadows...' but decided he couldn't commit to being in Mithras full time and left to do other things, which did set us back a fair bit. I'll be playing on future albums still as I've got more studio experience and know exactly what I want drum wise for Mithras.

Q: Why did 'Behind The Shadows Lie Madness' took so long to come out/ Be recorded /Be completed?

A: We took a long break after releasing 'Worlds Beyond The Veil' (released Oct 2003) as we'd been doing the band full time for nearly six years with hardly any time away from it. Between the years 2000 and 2003 we wrote and recorded two albums and had many members join and leave the band, so we were a bit burnt out.

When we regrouped and got the writing underway (with Sean onboard) he decided he couldn't commit and left the band in 2005. I'd actually stopped drumming extreme metal seriously since the 'Worlds...' sessions (April 2003) (for the same reason we took a break) and had only tinkered with the drums since then, so I was really really out of shape drum wise. It took a long time for me to get back up to speed, and writing for the album took a lot longer than I expected. Naturally I wanted to improve on the drumming from both previous albums and this took some time. Anyway the album was finally released on the 16th Of April 2007 through Candlelight Records.

Q: I can hear keyboards on your songs / Are there keyboards/synths on the main songs?

A: On each album we go into detail and state in the booklet exactly where synths have been used. The only instances of a synth being in the same song as drums is in the songs "Psyrens" where there is a synth intro and "Arena Sands" where there is a synth interlude in the middle.

So generally, if the track you are hearing has drums and you think you can hear synths / keyboards/ fx you are actually listening to guitars.

Guitar Questions:

Q: What guitars do you use Leon and what settings/pickups/trem do you have. What do you tune to? What picks do you use?

A: On our records I've used Ibanez Universe Guitars (UV7BK, UV7MC), Charvel Guitars (Charvel fusion custom), Carvin Guitars (reverse custom V) and standard Ibanez Guitars (Ibanez RG550, Ibanez RG7620).

I use the stock Dimarzio Blaze pickups in the Universes and the stock trems (edge and edge lo pro), EMGs in my Charvel and Carvin and Dimazrio Paf pros in my RG's/ These pickups give me the sound I want.

I tune my 7 strings (Universes) to A# D# G# C# F A# D# and the 6 stringers (all other guitars) to 'standard' drop C# tuning

I use Dunlop delrin 2mm picks (the purple ones with the tortoise on)

Q: What Fx do you use? What gear do you have? What amps do you use?

A: My fx have changed a lot over the years. I use a variety of floor effects pedals and a large variety of rack gear but I won't go into the specifics, because what works for me will not necessarily work for anyone else and because I'm a secretive twat!

Drum Questions:

Q: What pedals do you / did you use? / What beaters do you use?

A: I used Axis A series Longboard pedals on 'Behind The Shadows Lie Madness' and still use them - the ekits are really convenient. I used Tama Iron Cobra pedals and ddrum kick shell triggers on 'Legions...' and 'Worlds...' but decided to change as they were pretty heavy compared to the Axis ones and seemed slightly inefficient compared with the Axis pedals for playing really fast for a long time.

I use generic standard wooden beaters and have them set about 15cm from the drum head.

Q: What sticks do you use / Why do you use such heavy sticks.

A: I used Vater Nightsticks 2BNS with Nylon tips on 'Worlds...' and 'Shadows...' and on 'Forever...' I think I used Zildjian 2A's (which were quite light compared to what I use now). Now I use my own sticks which are custom made, but are like a slightly shorter lighter nightstick with more taper.

I don't know why I use heavy sticks, they just feel right and comfortable to me, lighter / thinner / shorter sticks feel weird and I can't hit the drums as hard with them. Each to his own I guess.

below text taken from following URL

Because we get asked questions about these isolated drum recordings a lot, here is the lowdown on these isolated recordings and how we did them. This page will be updated as we get new questions.

What exactly are these mp3s?

These mp3s are a mix of the isolated drum tracks from the album 'Worlds Beyond The Veil' multitracks. The sound is the exact mix from the album, so it sounds slightly weird as the mix is designed to have guitars bass and vocals alongside it. It is also "unmastered".

What is triggered on this recording?

The bass drums are 100% triggered (no kick mics), the toms 50/50 compressed mic/trigger and the snare about 80/20 mic/trigger, not at all unusual for extreme metal.

Surely the bass drums on here are edited?

The bass drums are not edited or programmed, and you can hear it's a real person playing from the small errors and inconsistencies. If we were going to bother trying to edit them they'd have sounded much tighter!

Is this double strokes on the feet?

The bass drumming is single strokes with heel up technique on Tama Iron Cobra pedals with two bass drums.

How fast is this exactly?

The fast bass drumming on the first sample is equivalent to 16th notes at 300bpm. This part was recorded to a programmed metronome as was most of the album.

According to some drummers, 260bpm+ with singles is impossible!

What is impossible for one person is not necessarily impossible for another and I'm far from being the only person capable of playing these speeds. Although these tempos are difficult, I've seen quite a few drummers pass 260bpm, and our ex live drummer Sean Broster could play 280bpm+. Apparently, according to himself, George Kollias (Nile) can now play 280bpm which I'm sure is true judging by his drumming videos. Perhaps when / if he gets to 300bpm people will suddenly concur it's possible to play this speed. Loads of drummers are now posting videos of near 300bpm speeds, so it's not so surprising anymore.

I don't believe these samples are as fast as that, basically it's so fast i can't really tell what i'm listening to!

Listen to the normal sample and then the half time sample before deciding that the bass drumming isn't as fast as stated, you can clearly hear that the part "doubles" in speed / number of strokes after half way and with your own metronome / software should be able to work it out.

Is that a mistake in that super fast part?

Yes there is a "mistake" where a few notes are missing, sadly i was not able to get a better take in the short amount of time we had in the studio.

Surely you are just "twitching/tippy tapping/hardly touching" - basically just not hitting the bass drums at all and letting the triggers do all the work? Surely your beater is 1 inch from the head?

Granted I am not hitting the bass drums as hard as when I play 200bpm 16ths, but the volume is about the same as when I play 265bpm 16ths, and from what I've seen my hits are in the same ballpark power wise as comparable drummers (and I've seen a lot, and some of them very close up). From memory mMy beaters were set to 10cm / 4 inches distance from the heads on the 'Worlds...' recording, which is normal for drummers who play very fast double bass. Obviously you wouldn't raise your sticks 2 feet in the air between each hit when doing a blastbeat as the extra distance travelled would reduce your maximum speed (physics) and the same applies to feet and bass drumming.

Why don't you prove this is real by showing us a video?

Unfortunately we did not video the drum recording for this song, although we have some snippets someone visiting with a camera took of the session. It would have been unfeasible to record the entire drum recording session (being as it lasted several days) and we didn't expect all the interest around these sections (or we might have tried to make a special video). Please bear in mind these sessions happened in early 2003, and the interest in them didn't build until much more recently.

Surely this means you are the Worlds Fastest Drummer?

I am definitely not the 'Worlds Fastest Drummer' and do not claim to be, and I cannot play 300bpm 16ths for an entire minute (supposed criteria for winning the 'Worlds Fastest Drummer' contest) so would not be able to certify at this speed in competition. I play heel up single strokes, and the record for this technique is 1040 hits in a minute. My best ever for a minute (recorded while playing a song) is just under 1000 hits but I can occasionally get just over 1000 when practicing if I'm "feeling it" as it were.

I don't agree with people who say the basic definition of "top speed" related to drumming inherently means "how fast you can play for an entire minute". "Top Speed" means the fastest you can play, you need to add a suffix to give further definition, i.e how long you can play it for, i.e. "230bpm 16ths for 45 seconds" etc.

Yeah but Leon, you can't be a "drummer" cos you play guitar as well and you've not been playing for very long unlike other drummers who have been playing for tens of years and still aren't as fast as you.

Sorry, I didn't realise there was a rule specific to extreme metal whereby as a musician you aren't allowed to play more than one instrument if you want to be taken seriously.

The maximum drum speed someone can reach is probably partly determined by their genetics, so maybe I'm just lucky to be able to play this fast, however it did take years of practice and experimentation. People are good at different things. For example if I was to turn my hand at running 100m, no matter how long I trained at it, I'd probably still be beaten by people who were genetically gifted and had done loads less or never trained at running.

my arts were thought so mighty
yet humbled
for who
could know
the mysteries
of life itself

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