Stix Zadinia: Always lowering the bar
Early on in his career, Stix Zadinia made a name for himself by covering rock classics with Sunset Strip geniuses Steel Panther.
The Panther would pack clubs week after week playing metal staples by the like of Van Halen, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. So, it’s safe to say that he’s a decent judge of classic drum records.
In his 14 years with the Panther, Zadinia has bolstered his ability to sniff out drum parts that make spandex-clad hips shake by laying down four Steel Panther albums. The latest of which, Lower The Bar, saw the tatt-covered drummer continue his quest for the perfect rock sound.
“I used my DW [on the album], the leopard finish kit. Those drums sounds ridiculous. We don’t sample drums, we keep the real tones from the real drums. I like to use a kit that I have used before, that way I know what to expect sound-wise. With Steel Panther it’s more and more and more of the same, we don’t change. This album is more song orientated that part orientated. People are going to get off on this album.”
Ahead of the record’s release this week we put Zadinia’s nose for a killer record to the test and asked him to name his ten essential drum albums.
Rush - Moving Pictures (1980)
I’m just going to say this because it has to be said, if you don’t have Moving Pictures, as a drummer, then you lose. You lose right away. You have to have the Professor in your collection.
“Moving Pictures would be the definitive album and then you can branch out into the crazier shit. It’s a toss up actually between Moving Pictures and Fly By Night.
“I don’t play like Neil Peart. I’m more straight-ahead with a couple of flash moments. He is insane. If you want to hear impressive technicality drumming then you go to Neil Peart. More than anything I first connected with the first note on the song Tom Sawyer.
“For whatever reason they had some magic for that very first hit of that song. I heard that and went, ‘Yes please. Can I get a large? Can you Supersize that and I will eat it all day.’ Neil Peart is a freak in the best possible way.”
AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)
“Every drummer has to have Back In Black. If you don’t have it you need to go get it now. That is four on the floor defined.
“That album is a masterclass in driving the bus. That’s when you’re in the middle of the road and everybody is either on the bus or off the bus but you are the bus.
“Just listen to the song Back In Black, Phil Rudd is just diving straight through it. It feels so good. You will never see somebody not rocking and moving their head to Back In Black.”
Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy (1973)
“I want to take you into a little Led Zeppelin now and I would choose Houses of the Holy.
“I love The Rain Song and The Ocean. As far as feel goes, I’m a John Bonham guy. Any Zeppelin song feels amazing and that record has some amazing songs on it. Zeppelin played to Bonham’s clock, they played to the way that he felt the songs.
“I don’t imagine that there will ever be another John Bonham. Jason Bonham is, of course, blood to John Bonham and Jason is a phenomenal drummer, but I don’t think there will ever be another John Bonham.”
The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
“I’m taking you into Stewart Copeland’s world now. Just listen to the frenetic energy that Copeland plays with on that album.
“I like to think of the perfect drumming as being a mix of John Bonham and Stewart Copeland. Copeland plays with such fire. He has these little drags and rolls. His playing is so tasty. You can hear his playing breathe, it gets relaxed some times and then it gets intense at other times.”
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast (1982)
“That is such a classic album in terms of execution and tone. That is heavy metal defined. That truly is heavy metal.
“I loved that album and was a big Clive Burr fan, but actually [later on] I was even more of a Nicko fan. Every player that has gone through that band has been great.
“Those guys provided the soundtrack to my youth. Today, Nicko is a special drummer. It’s mind blowing that he is killing it at whatever age he is. He makes it so relaxed sounding.
“He is playing all of these parts and he’s doing them like he’s just sunbathing. And with no double kick. Suck my dick, double kick; that should be the name of his solo album.”
Dio - Holy Diver (1983)
“Vinnie Appice is great on that album. It is recorded so dry, it is recorded so good.
“Nowadays all of these drummers edit their parts, it’s all about perfection and fixing everything. Holy Diver is just one of those records that is one take stuff. That’s when you used to have to be able to play the song from the beginning to end.
“You can hear that in the performances on that album. Songs have a beginning, middle and end and if you play them live in the studio as one piece then they breathe. That was what was so special about that kind of recording.
“When you have a bunch of edits you don’t get that because you’re getting every little part perfect. It loses the emotion. You get that with a lot of new bands who get perfect takes with no vibe. It’s like they got a vibe sucker and put it on maximum. For me, Straight Through The Heart is the definitive song on that album in terms of feel, fills and tastiness.”
Alice In Chains – Facelift (1990)
“I’m going there. You can hear a lot of imperfections on that record in the coolest way.
“He’s not playing to a click, I don’t think. I think they play and he is just doing what he’s doing. There are these moments of rushed fills and it is great. It’s human. It’s like they went, ‘Well, that’s what we did and we’re keeping it.’ That is seriously cool.
“I love the way that he plays and the way that record sounds. Dude, if you write off grunge you are a fool because there’s a lot of great songs in there. Yes, it replaced heavy metal as the biggest genre of music but something was going to and it just happened to be grunge.
“I don’t subscribe to the flannel and shoegazing, but some of the songs back there are really great. You had guys like Matt Cameron, real beasts on drums. The drums were really behind the beat, it was great.
“Alice In Chains are one of my favourite bands and guys like them and Soundgarden were kings of bringing different time signatures into that genre without it sounding weird.”
Van Halen - Van Halen (1978)
“Running With The Devil is all you need to hear to know that this album is essential.
“I don’t even know how to describe it. It is just a defining song and album.
“I loved Alex Van Halen having big kits as well. That was always really cool to see. He always plays his ass off. Four bass drums is always bitchin’ to see when the drummer only has two legs.”
Rage Against The Machine - The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
“This is a modern example of AC/DC style drumming.
“You can hear all of these guitars and a funky, heavy riff but the drums are just right down the line. [Brad Wilk] is so good, his groove is so good. He really reminds me of Phil Rudd in a lot of ways, and that is a big compliment.”
Mötley Crüe – Mötley Crüe (1994)
“I didn’t want to say this because [Tommy Lee] wasn’t the coolest guy to me ever, but I’ve got to say that Mötley Crüe record because those drum tones are huge.
“Songs like Hooligan’s Holiday and Uncle Jack, Tommy Lee is killing it. Just because he was jealous of the chicks we were getting [when Steel Panther toured the UK with Mötley Crüe] I can’t deny that he killed it on that album.
“The tones alone are incredible. If you listen to that album with headphones on then it is just game over because the tones are so huge.”