Periphery's Matt Halpern picks 10 essential drum albums
Since the release of Periphery’s 2010 self-titled debut album, drummers across the globe have been sending Matt Halpern huzzahs and hosannas. But the Baltimore-based sticksman, ego firmly in check, would rather have you get into the band’s music first and appreciate his own playing second.
“I’m a song guy,” Halpern notes. “Whenever I put on a record, whether it’s something really heavy like Slipknot or something more jam-based like Dave Matthews, I want to like the whole thing – the band, the songs, the vibe. Then I’ll be more analytical and focus on the playing. I hope people are the same way with Periphery, liking us for the whole experience and not just certain elements.”
Juggernaut on the road
As they have for the past few years, Periphery will spend the bulk of 2015 on the road – this time touring behind their recently released dual albums, Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega. The constant travel affords Halpern plenty of time to settle back and savor some of his favorite albums.
“That is one of the upsides to being on the go so much – you have big blocks of time to listen to music,” he explains. “I don’t have a stereo system or record player that I carry around with me, but I have a huge catalog of music on my phone and laptop. I can either hit ‘shuffle’ and listen to a bunch of things, or I can just lose myself in one record from beginning to end. I’m never at a loss for things to listen to.”
On the following pages, Halpern runs down his picks for 10 essential drum albums, all of which, you can be sure, are locked on his portable devices and ready whenever the road beckons.
Screaming Headless Torsos - 1995 (1995)
“This one was very influential to my playing at a very pivotal time. Jojo Mayer is the drummer, and he’s mind-blowing.
"He has a very fun approach to groove and dynamics, which made this album great to learn from. It inspired a lot of the ways I play now.
“I had already been playing – I was going from high school to college and was playing a lot of different styles of music. This record gave me a new perspective on my style.
"Hearing the way that JoJo executed the Moeller stroke efficiently on the hi-hat and the ride cymbal helped me with my placement of notes. He’s a clever player, and he showed me that there were a lot more possibilities one could explore as a drummer.”
Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)
"A very inspirational record. Scott Travis plays drums on it, and everything single thing he does is memorable. There are some incredible double-bass parts where he consistently demonstrates power, speed and a lot of creativity.
“The way he gets out of fills and transitions is very unique to his style – I paid a lot of attention to that. Plus, the album as a whole is sensational: Great songs, amazing riffs and solos – everything fits together beautifully.
“I was already a Priest fan before this album, but it’s a standout record for me. This is the one that features truly amazing drumming.”
Deftones - Around The Fur (1999)
“Abe Cummingham is an extremely artistic drummer. On this album, he absolutely kills it by playing the perfect part for every moment of each song.
"He’s got a fantastic ear for the kind of music the Deftones write. No matter what he plays, it’s the right choice.
“He’s got personality, which is something you can’t say about a lot of drummers. It’s kind of a cliché to say, but he can play just two notes and you know it’s him; two beats and people know exactly what song you’re playing. That’s amazing.
“He’s hard-hitting, powerful, memorable, tasteful and groovy as hell. I love his playing on this album.”
Dave Matthews Band - Crash (1996)
“It’s hard for me to pick a Dave Matthews record because I think all the albums have very well-written parts; they’re very creative and strong song-wise.
"I’m going with Crash because it’s an album I used to put the headphones on and play along to. I’m a huge Carter Beauford fan – a very talented drummer who can do a lot of stuff extremely well.
“Hearing the way that Carter uses his vocabulary in these mainstream songs helped me to figure out how to do certain things in even the kind of music that I play.
"The Dave Matthews Band is such a cool-riffing group, and it was very interesting for me to hear how they tied their parts and the drum patterns in with the vocal melodies. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s all done beautifully.”
Slipknot - Slipknot (1999)
“A badass drumming record. Such an aggressive approach to the style – it can be a little overwhelming – but the parts are totally memorable. I can sit down and play a couple of parts for friends, and even if they don’t play drums themselves, they’ll know exactly what song I’m doing.
“It was very inspiring to see someone like Joey Jordison at this point in his career, a drummer who was so raw and aggressive and who knew just what to do. I hadn’t really seen anybody approach the drums in quite that way before.
"Slipknot’s music was definitely a fresh spin on metal and a few other styles, and Joey’s drumming solidified everything they were going for. He’s been a very big influence on me.”
The Dillinger Escape Plain - Ire Works (2007)
“A killer record. Gil Sharone plays drums, and he’s just fantastic. Amazing parts. All of the band’s albums are insanely explosive when it comes to the drums – you really couldn’t pick better players – and Gil is just out of this world here.
“It’s been very interesting to see the way that Gil played these parts and then to see how their current drummer, Billy Rymer, plays them. It’s a cool contrast of styles. This record is very melodic and a little more mainstream than some of their other ones, but it’s still massive.
"The drumming is very true to the music, but when you see the band play live and see the drummers improvise and expand on it, that’s a whole different story.”
Korn - Follow The Leader (1998)
“I saw Korn this past weekend, and they were freakin’ amazing. Ray Luzier is unbelievable behind the drum kit. On this album, David Silveria played drums, and he’s outstanding as well.
“Again, such well-executed parts. The way the drums were tuned, recorded and played – it’s very clear and very fresh. I just love it.
"If you listen to this record, you’ll be amazed at how many time changes take place, and I don’t think they recorded to a click. Pretty impressive. Even if the timing isn’t spot-on, everything is very fluid, and that really inspired me.”
Sevendust - Animosity (2001)
“A great record, great songs, definitely my favorite by this band. Morgan Rose writes some terrific parts. The record was produced by Ben Grosse, who gets such a huge drum sound.
"It’s one of those records where the sound of the drums – the way they were produced and mixed – really stood out to me.
“It became a reference album when I started working with producers. I’d play them the record and say, ‘Hey, hear the quality of the drums on this album? I want the same thing for my drums on what we’re doing.’”
Tigran Hamasyan - Mockroot (2015)
“This is a newer record, that I’ve become totally enamored with; it’s becoming one of my favorites. Go listen to it – you’ll understand. Absolutely incredible playing.
“There are two drummers who play on it, one is Dave Wood and the other is Arthur Hnatek. Both are incredible New York jazz drummers with a completely free-flowing sense of time and meter.
"It’s such a fucking cool record. It’s heavy metal progressive groove-fusion performed on the piano – that’s how I’d describe it. Whatever you want to call it, it’s wild! I would implore all drummers to listen to it. Your minds will be blown.”
Extreme - III Sides To Every Story (1992)
“This is a very unique drum record because it’s got a relatively simple approach to playing, but it’s no less incredible than other records where the drummers go wild. Paul Geary plays the perfect parts for each song. This is a great example of ‘less is more.’
“The fills are planned out nicely, and there’s the appropriate amount of cymbals – they’re not overdone. Everything is where it should be.
Paul lays down a beautiful foundation for the band, particularly Nuno Bettencourt, to be as free-flowing as possible. And I should point out that Nuno’s guitar parts are so rhythmically percussive – they’re almost like drum parts. He has such rhythm. It’s as if he thinks like a drummer.
“This is a terrific album for drummers to hear how you can play simply and tastefully with the right guitar player. You might know Extreme from a collection of their songs, but be sure to check out this album. You’ll get a lot out of it.”