Matt Nicholls (Bring Me The Horizon) interview
Drum Expo 2013: Since their formation in 2004, Bring Me The Horizon have taken the metal scene by storm. With another blistering album, Sempiternal, in the bag, it's safe to say they're spear-heading the young British metal pack. From the start, Matt Nicholls has been behind the kit. Since the band's inception, he's evolved on many levels, powering BMTH's rise from pub gigs to headlining huge venues. We caught up with him on the Vans Warped Tour to find out more about his journey so far...
Interview: Jon Stone
How have you evolved as a drummer since the first album?
"On the first album, I think I was getting away with murder really! I was really frantic and trying to be as metal as possible; doing things I couldn't really do. I was pulling it off but I was scraping by. We would go on tour and watch a lot of drummers and I would think, 'Why can't I do that?'
"As time went on my playing developed to be a lot more solid. Nowadays it's more controlled, more chilled, more complimenting of the music. In the old days I just wanted to go fast or slow. Now it's more complex and diverse. I've learnt a lot the past ten years."
For Sempiternal, did you have any goals with your drumming?
"I just wanted the drumming to be good! I wanted to be a lot more steady and not as frantic as the last few albums where there was a lot of foot work and weird fills. I just want to be solid when I'm playing live. I want everything to be perfect so that, when I play it live, it [sounds] massive."
"On the first CD we were 18 or 19 years old and wanted to be as metal as possible"
How have your tastes and influences changed over the years?
"On the first CD we were influenced a lot by Swedish metal - At The Gates and stuff like that. There's a lot of just fast playing. Whereas now our sound has matured a bit and we are influenced by more things. On the first CD we were 18 or 19 years old and wanted to be as metal as possible. Now we're into a lot more different stuff, a lot more influences."
VIDEO: Matt soundchecks to It Never Ends
How have you developed in terms of technique?
"My right hand has always been good but I find my left hand a bit stiff. I never seem to open my hand up as much. I've got a Korg Beatlab - it's the best thing I've ever bought to learn on. It's got a lot of different stuff on there and I practice with it for ages and build my left hand up. I'll sit there and do single strokes strokes to get my left hand used to playing like my right hand. It's definitely improved - not perfect, but much better."
What's your approach to writing tracks now compared to when you first started out?
"When we first started we would all sit in a practise room and just jam songs and figure out the parts. As time went on I started using things like EZ drummer. In practise, we would get the skeleton beat for the songs and I would take it back home and use EZ drummer to work out some fills and stuff like that. I guess now I spend more time thinking about it. Whereas in the early days it would have been, 'Here's a lick, put a beat over it and just do a little fill there.'"
"We didn't start as a band with aspirations to do big things - we just wanted to play live shows"
How do you think the band as a whole have changed?
"When we started, I didn't know what I was doing with drums. We didn't start as a band with aspirations to do big things - we just wanted to play live shows. It wasn't about being the best drummer or guitarists, it was about doing our thing and having a good time.
"As the band got bigger I had to take myself more seriously. I started warming up before shows whereas back in the day I would just get drunk. I was 18 years old and I'd been stuck in a van and given free beer and just loved it basically. Now I warm up before shows on a practise kit. I'll sit on that all day before a show. I feel like an actual drummer now, which is cool."
As the band has achieved more success, playing on bigger stages, how have you had to adapt?
"We were just kids when we started, but as the band got bigger and bigger we saw an opportunity to do something with ourselves. On the past two albums we've been playing to a click; I've got in-ears. I think for a drummer, in-ears are the best thing ever. I was always unhappy with the monitor sound and with the in-ear I have everything there for me. It's really changed the way I played live."