You’ve written two excellent and very successful memoirs. Do you have any plans for a third?
“Well, I’ve discovered that I really like writing, and I feel that I’m good at it. I’m mulling around in my head some more stuff. I’ve got several ideas. No more memoirs, though.” [Laughs]
You were saying how unique Ray was, but you're pretty unique yourself. To my ears, you and Ringo Starr are two drummers that other players can never quite copy.
“Maybe that has some to do with what Ringo said when they invented drum machines: ‘I’m the fucking drum machine!’ [Laughs]
Now, Ringo is left-handed but he plays righty –
“Oh, well, I’m the same. I didn’t know he was left-handed. Cool – if I ever see him again, I’m going to have to run that by him.”
You’ve talked about being influenced by Elvin Jones, but who else were some of your early influences? You do play with a traditional grip.
“Art Blakey comes to mind immediately. I sat right next to his hi-hat and stared into his kit at Shelly’s Manhole. I certainly copped and worked on press rolls – he was a master of that. I threw a couple of them in, I don’t know where… Wild Child and a couple of other songs. When I do a press roll, I use the traditional grip. Sometimes I flip it around; for a louder crack on the two and four, I use the new grip.”
There’s a nimbleness to your style, and it probably comes from jazz. You’re not a pounder.
“Yeah, that’s right. My hands are good, but my feet – God, when Billy Cobham came in, practically doing a roll on the bass drum with the right foot alone, my God, I just died! [Laughs] I’m still trying to get that technique, the way you sort of play with the ball of your foot and bounce it – I can kind of do it, but not like a lot of drummers. But my hands have always been good. I think that’s drum rudiments.”