|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||4/1/2011|
|Source:||Las Vegas Review-Journal (United States)||With:||Brooks Wackerman|
BY JASON BRACELIN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
He started touring when he was in the eighth grade, playing in a teen hard-rock band fronted by the kid who portrayed "Sam," the redheaded redneck, on "Diff'rent Strokes."
His mom traveled along on the bus because they were all minors.
The group was Bad4Good, a short-lived pop metal project that debuted in the early '90s right before grunge came in and banished the big hair hordes to day jobs and a long-simmering resentment.
That was drummer Brooks Wackerman's entry into life as a professional musician, his education earned in rock clubs as much as classrooms.
"I missed every prom and Sadie Hawkins dance, but I was fine with that," Wackerman says of his school years with a chuckle. "I think it was unusual for my friends at school to not see me for six months because I was that guy playing rock music on the road."
From there, Wackerman would join bands like funk cutups Infectious Grooves, metallic hardcore bruisers Suicidal Tendencies and punk pioneers The Vandals and Bad Religion, of which he's currently a member.
In every one of those bands, Wackerman was the youngest guy in the group by 20 years or so.
"You definitely have insecurities when you're 18 years old, traveling on the road with guys who are 35," Wackerman says. "Just trying to find your niche is always a science project."
Wackerman's found that niche in Bad Religion, though, with whom he's played for a decade now. He was in diapers when the band formed in 1979, but he's gradually come to leave his imprint on the group with his style of playing, which is a mix of technical prowess and a hard-hitting swing.
"At the beginning, it was a lot of trial and error, trying to figure out my voice in the band and also interpreting the older songs and making that my own without straying too far from the true sound of what those original recordings had," Wackerman says. "It was a fine line between the two, and to this day, I still kind of battle with what works musically and what works best where an O.G. Bad Religion fan won't spit on me for playing too much."
Bad Religion's latest disc, last year's "The Dissent of Man," further tightens the screws on the band's trademark sound, a mix of high-velocity hooks and soaring harmonies underscored with an equally snarling and professorial social commentary.
It's an in your face, off the cuff album.
"This record was done very fast," Wackerman says. "There was barely any preproduction, where we normally go in for two weeks as a band just to work out arrangements. With the time constraints we had, a lot of my parts were created on the fly, where I would do four passes of a song and just mold my part that way. My playing was very instinctual on this record."
And that makes sense, in a way, as drumming is practically second nature for Wackerman. His father is a seasoned drummer and educator who taught his son in the junior high and high school jazz programs.
"As soon as I started walking, basically, he pretty much put drumsticks in my hands and started teaching me the mechanics of drumming," he says.
Wackerman has three brothers who also are professional musicians, with one of them, Chad Wackerman, serving as Frank Zappa's drummer for a time.
His career, then, seems all but preordained.
He's a pro's pro, for the most part, a married guy with two kids who doesn't smoke or hit the town much when he's on the road.
Basically, he reads books in his hotel room and he drums.
"That's what I do," he says, sounding as if that's all there ever was to do.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.
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