May. 08 2006
Ronald Bruner Jr.

Ronald Bruner Jr.

Stanley Clarke / Suicidal Tendencies / Marcus Miller / Lee R

TAMA :Ronald, we know your father Ronald Bruner Sr. was one of your main influences as a drummer. Can you tell us a little about him and how instrumental he was in you becoming a drummer?

Ronald : At a really young age, my parents saw rhythm in me, even when I was in my mother’s stomach. She said when listening to the radio I kicked to the beat (inside the womb), so they always had a sense of what I was going to get into. When I was three, I have memories of my dad allowing me to get on his drums and bang on them. My father figured that if I was going to do this, he had
better guide me. So he started turning me onto
records, and I remember my first record I got.
It was Chick Corea and the Electric Band, and I
remember studying that record. My father was really my guide. He was like, “Now that you’ve done this, listen to this”. He would take me to the drum store every Saturday and we would listen to a tape in the car. ’d listen to a great drummer and I’d be like “Whoa! Who is that?” He wouldn’t tell me, and instead he would just let me listen to it. Then he’d leave the cassette tape on the dash board or somewhere in the car and then I would recognize the cover. Also, my father would leave the tape sitting on the table somewhere, and over the weekend I would go and practice to it. I did that for years until I figured out that drumming was what I really wanted to do.

TAMA : Who were your other main influences?

Ronald : In the early years, the drummers at my
church. Dave Weckl and Dennis Chambers were also
influences.

TAMA : Can you tell us about your early days growing up playing drums in church?

Ronald : They wouldn’t let me play because I was always the wild kid. They were like “look at little Bruner”. I didn’t really understand anything. I just understood how to play a bunch of licks and wasn’t a time keeper in church. They were always like, “get him off the drums!”

TAMA : What was your first drum set like?

Ronald : My first drum set was a little Remo Jr. Pro kit that they used to make. It was a little pre-tuned 15 or 16 inch bass drum kit.

TAMA : Can you tell us how you prepare for a gig with Suicidal Tendencies opposed to how you would prepare for a gig with Kenny Garrett or Lee Ritenour.

Ronald : The difference in preparation, is adjusting your energy level. You have to learn how to gauge what’s going to go where. With Lee Ritenour, I don’t have to do as much, but I have to exert the same energy. So, you have to learn how to channel the same energy. Adjusting or preparing for each one of these situations involves a lot of mental preparation. You need to be able to relate to that style of music and put the right energy behind it.

TAMA : You are currently playing with Suicidal Tendencies, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller and Lee Ritenour. Are you currently working with any other artists?

Ronald : I’m working on my band which is called Ron Bruner’s Son and also, a solo R&B singing project. I have some gigs coming up with some other artists as well, such as Scott Henderson, and Scott Kinsey.

TAMA : What first interested you in Tama drums and why?

Ronald : When I was eight years old, my dad took me to see Rayford Griffin, and I remember seeing a big old colorful drum set. I remember seeing this cataclysmic assortment of colors spread across the drums. I remember being in a daze and thinking “that’s so cool!” That was my first run with Tama. Then I saw Billy Cobham play Tama drums.

TAMA : What do you like best about your Starclassic maple drums?

Ronald : I like the attack. I like how the tune of the drums are very clear. Regardless of the tuning, you could be a sucky tuner or a great tuner and they are very clear. The drums just have a great attack sound when you hit them, and they bring out the tone. No matter whether they are floor toms, or rack toms. The attack is there and I really like that.

TAMA : You use 13, 14 and 16-inch floor toms with Kenny Garrett. Do you use three floor toms for all of your gigs? If so can you please tell us why?

Ronald : Yes sir. I believe that especially in my situation, when you are developing who you are musically, you should have one drum situation that adapts to everything. I think you should be able to play a jazz kit on a funk gig or your jazz kit on a punk rock gig. It also depends on how you tune it. It becomes a part of your identity / personality. When people see you, they know who you are.

TAMA : If you had the opportunity to play with any artist in the world, who would it be and why?

Ronald : Oh that’s simple: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, & Wayne Shorter. That would’ve been the ultimate drum chair for me. I would’ve loved it! That music period, to me, was one of the most experimental and open times for creativity.

TAMA : What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Ronald : Play more drums!