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What if you could have some of the fastest double bass chops in the world? What if you could have some of the fastest hands in the world? What if you could play very original and musical patterns in the world of extreme metal drumming? What if you could play jazz, Latin, blues, funk, fusion, rock, country, and heavy metal? What if you could play guitar? Then my friend, you’d be Derek Roddy.
Derek Roddy was very fortunate to grow up in a very musical family. His mother Rosemary played the piano, his father Randy sang and played guitar, his older brother Randy Jr. played guitar, his cousin played bass guitar, and his uncle played drum set. Derek Roddy was constantly around music, so it was only a question of time for Derek to take up an instrument of his own. That time came 5 years after his birth.
It all started when at the age of 5, Derek Roddy would spend most of his time banging on everything in his house. This attraction for percussion came after Derek listened to the “West Side Story Medley”, a featured musical peace on Buddy Rich‘s album “Swingin’ New Big Band”. Buddy made Derek want to play drums. Seeing this, Randy Roddy bought Derek his first kit – a “Sears Roebuck” clear blue plastic drum set. Derek tore the drum heads in a matter of days, so his father took him to buy a real set of drums – a “CB” drum set.
“My parents were always extremely supportive and I’m extremely thankful that they gave me the opportunity to do what I do, while I was growing up.” – Derek Roddy
Derek Roddy’s passion for drums started one year after his love for snakes began. His dad was always really into wildlife. Derek doesn’t recall a time in his life where he didn’t have a pet snake. So he grew up surrounded by them, on his room and also in South Carolina where he grew up. Snakes are the animal Derek enjoys looking at the most, but his favorite pets are actually cats.
Derek’s parents were very into different styles of music like fusion, jazz, blues, and country. Thus, he was influenced by a lot of different music from the get go, having in drummers like Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Billy Cobham, and Tony Williams, his main influences at the time. His older brother on the other hand was responsible for introducing Derek Roddy to bands like “KISS”, “Alice Cooper”, “Black Sabbath”, “Fleetwood Mac”, and the “Allman Brothers”. Buddy Rich made Derek Roddy want to pursue drums, but his biggest inspiration for wanting to perform in front of people was Peter Criss and “KISS”, after listening to their 1975 live album “Alive!”. “KISS” were the first stepping stone on Derek’s love for heavier rock music. By the time Derek Roddy was 6 years old, he was already playing along to the records his brother would bring home.
Shortly after, Derek and Randy Jr. started playing together with their cousin. They would perform at community and church functions, and in clubs playing southern rock. With 8 years old Derek Roddy played his first club gig, which featured him playing drums with a country cover band. At the age of 10, Derek was already showcasing a very developed drumming, so his dad decided on buying him a new and better drum set – a “Rogers XP.8” all maple kit, with three rack toms, one floor tom, bass drum and snare. By the age of 13, Derek was already gigging quite regularly.
As time went by, Derek Roddy started getting more into heavy metal drummers such as Tommy Lee, Eric Carr, and Nicko McBrain, among others. It was as a teenager that Derek Roddy started having a very big interest towards heavy metal music. To hone his skills with this style of music he began playing along to heavy metal music and bands.
In 1987, a 15 years old Derek Roddy was able to buy his next drum set, a “Ludwig” double bass kit. In this same year he formed his first metal band – “The Deboning Method” – with which he ended up playing the local club scene. This was also the time he started learning how to play guitar. Randy Jr. would go out at night regularly, so after Derek’s parents were tired of hearing him play drums all day, he would sneak into his brother’s room to play guitar. Derek Roddy started developing his guitar skills by playing along to songs from “KISS”, “Boston”, and “Kansas”. Nowadays, Derek Roddy also plays bass guitar and piano, besides guitar and drum set.
“I never took any lessons of any kind, believe it or not. I tried to take lessons, but nine times out of ten I was a better player than the guy giving the lessons, so I abandoned that idea. I also grew up in South Carolina in the sticks, so there weren’t many teachers anyway.” – Derek Roddy
Although never having any formal drum lessons, Derek Roddy was able to join his high school’s marching band. In addition to having made great friends and having great memories of the time he spent there, he also credits the marching band for helping him out with his focus. He’s even an annual “Drum Corps International” (DCI) watcher.
After being done with high school, Derek Roddy joined punk rock act “Bedlam Hour” after the departure of their previous drummer. Derek toured the United States and Europe with them, and joined a teenage fan club inspired side project called “The Virgin Iron Pants”, with rhythm guitarist Beth Watson, and “Bedlam Hour” vocalist Chuck Walker. By his early 20s, Derek Roddy was already a working musician, playing in a variety of bands, teaching drum lessons and working in the music retail field to support his interests.
When in 1996 “Bedlam Hour” called it quits, Derek Roddy moved to South Florida and joined “Malevolent Creation”. This was the band that really enabled him to showcase his chops as a heavy metal drummer. In 1997 he joined “Aurora Borealis”, “Gothic Outcasts”, and “Creature” as a session drummer. In that same year Derek Roddy would leave “Malevolent Creation”, alongside guitarist John Paul Soars (J.P. Soars) and bassist Jason Blachowicz. Later that year they would form a new band – “Divine Empire”. After one studio release and a tour through the United States, Jason and J.P parted ways with Derek, sighting personal differences.
In 1999, Derek Roddy joined “Hate Eternal”, one of the greatest death metal bands of our time, as their full time drummer. In 2000, Derek Roddy would once again resume his work as a session musician, recording drums for “Nile”, and drums and guitar for “Council of the Fallen”.
Due to the quality of the studio work Derek Roddy developed for all those bands he played with throughout the years, he started getting known as Derek “One Take” Roddy. This nickname was a direct reference to the level of accuracy he exhibited while doing session work – he only need to play one or two takes to nail a song. In 2002, Derek Roddy launched his own website, based around an open discussion forum dedicated to drumming and related topics. During this period he produced his first ever instructional video product.
On February of 2006, Derek Roddy was briefly named the drummer for “Blotted Science”. He ended up bailing out of the band after creative divergences with Ron Jarzombek (mentor of the project) due to his unwillingness to let Roddy re-write some of the drum parts. On March 28 of 2006, Derek Roddy announced his resignation from “Hate Eternal”. This was due to financial issues stemming from the royalties he was making with the band, and the expenses he was getting from touring. Touring with extreme metal bands was putting him in a bad financial situation, since the extreme metal scene was/is still not big enough for one to be able to make a career out of it. At the end of 2006, Derek Roddy joined “Today is the Day” (TITD). He would stay less than a year with the band, and by 2007 had officially left the band in dispute with its mentor Steve Austin.
Since his departure from “Hate Eternal”, Derek Roddy has started his own musical project – “Serpents Rise“. He has become a featured drum clinician for “Meinl Cymbals”, “Vater Percussion”, “Shure”, and “Drum Workshop” (DW). Derek Roddy has performed on every continent except Antarctica, either as a clinician or a touring musician. He is one of the fastest drummers on the planet, but also one of the most musical in the extreme metal drumming scene. A drummer by trade but a musician by heart, Derek Roddy has been getting praised for his drumming from players that play way different styles from extreme metal.
Derek Roddy recorded two demos with his first heavy metal band “The Deboning Method” – an unnamed demo (1992) and “Cold” (1993) – and an album – “Democray” (1993). With “Bedlam Hour”, Derek Roddy recorded an E.P. called “Sardonic and Sublime” (1992), and a full-length album named “Contact” (1996). With the “Virgin Iron Pants”, Roddy recorded an album and an E.P. In 1997, Derek Roddy recorded drums for “In Cold Blood” (1997) from “Malevolant Creation”, “Sights Unseen” for “Gothic outcasts”, “Praise The Archaic Lights Embrace” for “Aurora Borealis”, and a demo from the band “Creature”.
In 1998, Derek Roddy’s drumming was featured on the album “Empire” from “Divine Empire “, and in compilation albums “Visionaries of Macabre Vol. 1” and “World Wide Metal Inquisition”, with songs from “Aurora Borealis”. 1999 saw the release of a demo for “Council of the Fallen” and of the full-length album “Northern Lights” for Aurora Borealis”, both featuring Derek Roddy on drums. In 2000, Derek recorded drums for eleven of the twelve tracks on the innovative album “Black Seeds of Vengeance” from the band “Nile”.
In 2002, Derek Roddy’s drumming was featured in two more releases, “Reveling Damnation” of “Council of the Fallen” and “King of Kings” for “Hate Eternal”. “I, Monarch” (2005) was the next release from “Hate Eternal” featuring Derek Roddy’s playing. In 2006, Derek recorded the track “Swirling Patterns” for the compilation album “Drum Nation Vol.3”.
In 2007, Derek Roddy released his first educational book on drumming – “The Evolution of Blast Beats”. This book was a revolutionary product, since it was the first written publication on “Blast Beats” and extreme metal drumming. In this same year Derek Roddy recorded drums for the album “Axis of Eden” for the band “Today is the Day”. In 2008, Derek Roddy experienced what he considers to be his most memorable gig experience to date. Derek performed on the “Modern Drummer Festival”, the holy grail of the drumming world. His performance was registered on the “Modern Drummer Festival 2008” DVD. In 2009, Derek Roddy released his second educational DVD – “Blast Beats Evolved” that just like his book, focus on the world of “blast beats” and extreme metal drumming. 2010 saw the release of the debut album for Derek’s pet project “Serpents Rise“, to which Derek contributed by playing drums, percussion, guitar, bass, and also with engineering, recording and mixing duties.
Derek Roddy has worked with various companies to come up with his signature products. He has developed a signature drumstick with “Vater Drumsticks” and a signature ride with “Meinl Cymbals”, which is called “Serpents Ride”. His latest signature product came from “Axis Percussion”. “Axis” gathered information from the drummers that hang out at forum on “derekroddy.com“, about the things they would like to see changed in “Axis” pedals that would better suit their needs. With this information, and with the help of Derek Roddy, they developed the “A21” single and double pedal. From some of the design features created for the “A21”, “Axis” developed the “Derek Roddy A21 Signature Edition”, a variation of the original “A21”.
Death metal was the last style of music Derek Roddy got into. Before that, he had been playing all styles of music for many years. This has helped him keep working with the various aspects of drumming to make a living. In Florida, Derek has played just about every style of music on paying gigs, whether it be metal, blues, Latin, jazz, drum ‘n’ bass; you name it. He does internet lessons, clinics, one on one drum lessons, performances, and even does some part-time work at a drum store called “Resurrection Drums”.
This love of his for almost every style of music as spilled over to his playing. He’s an extreme example of what other styles of music can do to your playing. Some of these examples can be heard on his usage of syncopated accent patterns on the bell of the ride cymbal, and his use of left foot clave type of patterns, while blasting furiously. These two components were key in having him develop his own voice as a drummer in the world of extreme metal. Just here, he utilizes some concepts we can find in funk and Latin drumming. So don’t segregate other styles of music just because they are not as brutal as extreme metal. Knowing how to play in other musical settings will not only help you get more gigs, just like Derek, but also get you new ideas for the main style you play.
There is always music you can enjoy in any style out there. Derek Roddy is not a fan of classical music, hip-hop and opera, however, he has been able to find recordings of these styles that he really enjoys. Having an open mind about this is not all about making you a better drummer or musician, but also in having you find a lot more music you are sure to enjoy, thus enriching your life that much more.
The usage of the left foot for playing patterns on one pedal or between pedals, means that you’ll be blasting with only one foot. This is another thing Derek is known for, blasting at the speed of light with one foot. It’s not wrong to use a double pedal to play the foot pattern on blast beats, but by always using it you’ll never be able to add different textures to your music. It will also impair you, because by playing with one foot you’ll sure to condition your feet to play at very demanding speeds with control. By playing with a double pedal your feet will only play at half that speed. So it’s easy to start having lazy feet instead of having them playing at the best of their ability. So don’t work only on your double pedal chops and work on each foot individually as well. Also remember that while playing double bass you’re only as fast as your weaker foot.
Derek Roddy is one of the fastest drummers on the planet, however, just like the great drummers of the past and the present, his main focus is groove. It’s hard to make something groove when you’re going at the speed of light on the drums. Derek Roddy is known as a human metronome, and with the usage of different textures on the drum set, has found ways to accent and complement the music while keeping his blasts and rolls going all the time. Speed is also not his main focus, he’s more focused on control. This is also what has helped him play more cleanly, with more groove also, and also with more speed.
For Derek, it only makes sense to work on speed if you’re in need of it for playing a song. Having speed for the sake of speed does not make sense to him. It’s also much easier to work on maintaining your speed this way, because if you need the speed for a song your band is writing, or for playing along to music, chances are you’ll be playing at those levels a lot more frequently than you would if you were just getting speed for the sake of it. This introduces another aspect of Derek’s practicing philosophy.
Derek Roddy doesn’t focus on teaching technique because he finds that each individual has their own way of playing things. He also uses concepts applied in the field of physics of motion to stay relaxed while playing, and to execute movements that make total sense, giving him optimum performance. His philosophy is that if you want to achieve something you just have to shed it out, practice takes you were you want to get at. If you want to play, let’s say, a 16th note roll on the double pedal at 220 BPM then practice that. With time your body will understand what it has to do to let you play comfortably at those speeds, this way, you’ll learn your technique and not somebody else’s. However, he doesn’t think that practicing to a click will help you achieving this in a quicker fashion.
Derek Roddy believes that practicing along to music is the best way to develop any set of chops you may be striving for. So for instance, if you want to play the song “Angel of Death” by “Slayer” with fast double bass, it will only be possible for you to do that when you start jamming it out. This is so that your body understands what you’re asking it to do, that is, the motions and requirements for playing in what is required by the song. After that, you can work with a metronome to clean out your playing. However, if you’re just starting out on learning something, don’t try to learn the fastest or hardest of songs. Taking the double bass as an example once again. If you’re just starting to learn how to play double bass, pick a song that is challenging for you but realistic in therms of speed requirements and whatnot. Don’t go playing “Laying Fire Upon Apep” by “Nile” for your first double bass tune. This a very different view on practicing methods, but one that has brought him to the level we see today.
Besides being fascinated with Snakes, Derek Roddy also breeds them. This brings him a lot of enjoyment and some good money from time to time. There is more to his life than drumming. He hasn’t been focusing on earning money with drumming and music, in fact, his drumming career started taking off when he stopped carrying about it, and just started enjoying the good things in his life. He has a lot of things he wants to achieve and do, since we only live once. He’s even thinking of going back to school again. He has always wanted to do a job researching biology related issues. This doesn’t mean he will give up on his drumming or his music, this is him just striving to learn and work on what he loves in life. Derek’s approach also comes to show that you should just have fun with you’re drumming and work hard on it, regardless of your goals. Goals put a great stress on everything. If you really enjoy it, you’ll practice hard and play a lot anyways, and those are the only requirements you’ll ever need to at least have a ton of fun. Becoming proficient is a side effect of just that, just like anything else that you get that comes along. Playing music is supposed to be fun, if you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.
Having other interest in life besides drumming will have a positive effect on your drumming, and on your life as well.