Apr. 30 2007
Brandon Barnes

Brandon Barnes

Rise Against

TAMA :When did you start playing drums?

Brandon : I think I was about 9 years old. My grandfather was a jazz musician in Chicago, and he got me my first drum set. Actually, my grandfather and my mom sort of got me started in the whole music world, and they both listened to jazz. They got me my first teacher; he was a jazz drummer that played all around the Denver area.

TAMA : So you had formal training growing up?

Brandon : I did. I started drum lessons when I was twelve. Then I was in marching band but only for about a month, and I was in the jazz band in high school and in college.

TAMA : What did you work on to develop your skills?

Brandon : Well, since my teacher was a jazz drummer, most of my lessons were more along the lines of jazz stuff. I took lessons from him until I was like 17. But I also always played along to rock records at home.

TAMA : Were you always interested in punk and hardcore music?

Brandon : Yeah, for sure. I was first exposed to it when I was about fourteen or fifteen. I was listening to bands like Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys, and I think the first real punk record I ever got was Pennywise, and then I kind of went back to the old stuff after that.

TAMA : How and when did Rise Against come together as a band?

Brandon : We started about seven years ago. Joe Principe, the bass player, was in this band called 88 Fingers Louis, and they had broken up. So he started a new band with the guitar player. They got the singer from a band called Baxter, and then Joe got my number through friends. So he called me and I tried out and got it.

TAMA : Had you played in many bands before?

Brandon : I wasn't in one at that time, but I was in bands before that. I was in a band in Colorado that did international tours. It was a punk band on BYO Records called Circus. It was the first time that I actually got to leave my city and go tour around. It was also what made me decide that I wanted to play drums for a living.

TAMA : Growing up, who were your biggest drumming and musical influences?

Brandon : Well, when I was playing jazz and in school taking lessons, I was listening to a lot of your star jazz drummers like Tony Williams and Elvin Jones. And I was way into rock, too. I liked John Bonham and Keith Moon. And then in the punk world I liked the drummers from Bad Religion and Bad Brains. And I liked the Frank Zappa stuff, you know, Terry Bozzio and all those kind of crazy jazz guys.

TAMA : The band's latest record, "The Sufferer and the Witness," was produced by legendary drummer Bill Stevenson (of Descendents fame). What was it like working with him?

Brandon : It was good. Bill and I have kind of become friends over the years which is really cool for me because he was in bands that I really loved growing up. And especially the stuff he did in Descendants, it was great. So it was good to even get to meet him, you know? He did our second record about five years ago and now he's done this one. He's just a really nice guy, he's got a lot of really good advice and he's an amazing engineer. So it's really cool to know someone that was like your idol as a kid and now you know, I call him on the phone and we're like buddies.

TAMA : Was it difficult being under the microscope of another drummer?

Brandon : Yeah. He and another guy, Jason Livermore, both worked on our record, and they're both really great drummers. So yeah, it's nerve-racking. But the good part is that there are lots of ideas. And Bill, Jason, and I just played the songs a bunch of times with different fills and different tempos, different everything. It's good to work with other drummers on ideas.

TAMA : What are some of your favorite tracks on the album and why?

Brandon : Let's see... I like "Drones". It starts off with a kind of drum and bass thing, and it sounds really cool. And I like "Survive", the very last song, cause it's one of the faster songs on the record and it's fun to play live. We always get a great crowd response from it. So those are probably my two favorites.

TAMA : Can you outline the kit that you use with Rise Against?

Brandon : I have a four piece Tama Starclassic Maple kit. It's flat black with black nickel hardware.
The rack tom is 12" x 9", and the floor is a 16"x16" and the snare is a G Maple snare, it's 14"x6" and the kick is standard, 16"x22".

TAMA : What are some of your favorite things about your Tama drums?

Brandon : I switched over to Tama from another company because first of all, they're bullet proof. I mean nothing ever breaks, which is good cause I tour like ten months out of the year and when this little tiny part breaks that makes the drum unusable and you're in a different country, it's kind of a pain in the ass. I've never broken anything on my Tama drums.
Oh, and the tuning is great. They're really easy to tune and they stay that way no matter what.

TAMA : What does Rise Against have planned for the rest of the year?

Brandon : Well, we're going to Europe for five weeks; we're doing the UK, Scotland, and Dublin and all of mainland Europe. Then we have a month off, and then we'll do a US and Canadian tour in three different legs this year. So it's good, we're staying really busy.