» Mike Terrana - Rage

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Mike Terrana is a drummer that is figuring in many good bands and projects, and has made himself a name as a very respected and damn good drummer in the scene. His mainband Rage is about to release a new album in late Sptember, and we decided to have a few words with Mike about that and his persona in general.
The following is what he shares with us..........

Mat: Let's kick off with some information about what kind of person you really are. How would you describe yourself both as a private person and as a musician? In what ways do you feel that these two sides of you interact with each other and what expressions this can take?

  • Mike: I consider myself to be a private person. I guess this happened because I spend a lot of time alone practicing my drums approximately six hours per day, Weight training and running. These are solitary activities. However I really enjoy being around people, socializing and joking around with my friends. I played a lot of sports when I was younger, American football and Ice Hockey. I liked the aggression of the game. I guess people see this in my drumming style when I play live; however I am not an aggressive person. When I get on stage behind my drums I only have one mission… too kick some ass! I liked to get focused and get into a zone before the show, just like an athlete.

    I love to play and when I do, I play for keeps. I like to play every show like it was my last. I am just an adrenaline junky. I like to get wild behind my drums and have fun. When the crowd is wild I it drives me into higher orbit. I really like the energy exchange between the crowd and myself. It is the best drug in the world; and most importantly it's clean and it's free! When I am off the road I enjoy relaxing at home. I like to cook, read and play DOOM & Quake Arena 3
    (a Quakeplayer!? - damn, this is my kind of man!! //Tommy)…. you know the basic normal stuff.

Mat: When did music start to be a really important element in your life and when did you first start playing? Was this trigged by a certain event or the likes, or did you just know that drumming was your thing? How come you chose the metal genre originally?

  • Mike: Music was always very important thing in my life. I love all kinds of music. I get bored if I listen to a specific style of music for too long. This also applies to my drumming. This is why I like to record on different projects, so I keep my playing fresh. When I was young I enjoyed the music of the Beatles, and for some reason still unknown to myself I gravitated toward playing the drums. I guess I liked the look of all the chrome and because I could make a lot of noise and be very physical on the drums. I started playing drums when I was 8 years old. Even as a boy I played very loud and hard….I am not sure why, but this style stuck with me and eventually led me to the path of being a hard rock metal drummer. In the 70's the microphones and PA systems were not very powerful. So for a drummer to be heard he had to hit hard. I was not a very good player at the time, but I could hit very hard and this helped me to start make my name in the heavy metal world.

Mat: You have played in a lot of well-respected and good bands as a freelancer over the years (Yngwie Malmsteen, Metalium, Axel Rudi Pell, Rage to name a few....), but are considered a fulltime member of Rage nowadays as far as I'm informed. What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages with being on your own compared to being a member of a band?

  • Mike: Yes, I am a full member of Rage. I must say after all of these years of floating around in different bands I can say I am happy to be a solid member of Rage. Being a member has many more advantages than being a sideman. I am directly involved with all business decisions and musical decisions that involve Rage. I feel like I have more control over my destiny. I think it is fun, although it can be a little stressful when not everyone shares the same opinion. However this seldom happens and we all get along quite well and in the end I think we always manage to do what's right for the band and the fans!

Mat: The new Rage album Soundchaser is already recorded and due for release soon. Are you happy with the results of this album, both your own efforts and the new material? How do you think it will be received worldwide? Have you already got any indications concerning this?

  • Mike: I am sorry to say I am seldom pleased with the final outcome of most of the records I make. I always hear something that bothers me, or that I could have done better. Sometimes this drives me crazy; especially because I spend a lot of time trying to create the most tasteful drum grooves and fills for all of the compositions.I think what really matters at the end of the day is what the fans think. If they like it, then we did a good job. I am too self critical to be objective of my own work. I would much rather listen to some else play than listen to myself. Then I can enjoy the music without analysing it. I think sometime this is a curse for most musicians. I listen to music in a different way than I did when I was younger. From what I have heard and read so far about the Sound Chaser CD, the critics seem to be positive. I hope people enjoy what we have made and come to see us play live.

Mat: Within shortly you will also once again work with Axel Rudi Pell on his upcoming album. All is veiled in some secrecy of course but is there anything at all you tell us what we can expect of this one? Have you already taken part in any song-material or such that you can share with us without breaking any code of silence?

  • Mike: Yes…your right, I cannot even penetrate Axels veil of secrecy. He is the James Bond of Rock & Roll! I am sorry, if I did tell you anything I may know…I would have to kill you…. Just joking! I am sorry to say, I have no idea of what the CD will be called. I never hear the songs until I check my drums and start to play along to the pilot tracks in the studio. That is how Axel has always worked. All I can tell you is I will start recording this CD on October 14th.

Mat: Axel Rudi Pell has described you as "the funniest guy he has ever met in this fucking music business", and also as "one of the 3 best drummers in the world". How would you comment this and describe Mr. Pell himself? How is it to work with him when it comes to professionalism, musicianship, friendship etc?

  • Mike: I would have to agree completely. I am a funny guy; as a matter of fact I may dare to say that I am the funniest man in Germany! :) Axel is right, he is always right even when he is wrong! :) Well…as far as being one of the 3 best drummers in the world…I am not so sure. I think it is strictly a matter of taste; however I think that was very nice of Axel to say that, but there are many fantastic drummers in the world. I am just thankful that I can be somewhere in the crowd. I like to work with Axel. He is very relaxed and has a good sense of humour, which is very necessary if you want to hang out with me. ;-) When we go on tour we always have a great time. Lots of laughs and lots of good German beer! :) Our last tour was so fun it seemed like it was over before it started. They say "Time fly's when your having FUN" It's true…I have tested this!

Mat: What do you spend your time between recording, touring and promotion with? Neither Rage nor Axel Rudi Pell do especially extensive tours, so there must be space to have other commitments. Do you currently hold any workshops or classes in drumming or in other ways act as some sort of teacher or such? Or does the time in between consist purely of training, or...how does it work in your case?

  • Mike: Well your right. Both bands offer the opportunity for me to use my free time. I have many different projects ranging from fusion to new metal to classical. I love it all. I also love to practice. This is very important for me, because when I was younger I was struggling so hard to stay alive from music I had no time to practice. Now I have a lot of time to spend with my instrument. I have also been studying piano for the past 3 years, because I would like to be more involved in the process of song writing. I love to play piano because it is completely the opposite of drumming. I don't have to get all sweaty when I play piano. Sometimes I play late into the night with headphones on. It is very relaxing and fun. I could sit and listen to someone play piano all day. I think it is one of the most beautiful and challenging instruments. I do teach drum lessons when I have the time. I actually learn from teaching too, it is very challenging sometimes to show someone a concept.

    Also like to see my students make progress, because it makes me feel like I have given away a piece of myself. I think this is a very important aspect of being a musician. Musicians must communicate, share and help one another along. It is a long hard road, but I must say I have had a few helping hands along the way and I will never forget those who helped me. I am playing many workshop tours in countries like Spain, Germany and recently I performed a very nice clinic in Moscow. It was the first Premier Drum day. I was honoured to be part of that historical event and the crowd was amazing. I had a great time! You can se many photos of this on my web site.

Mat: We won't ask you to choose a favourite artist or band you have worked with, but could you name a favorite song you just love to play from your career? Perhaps also a favourite album, where you feel like "Man, that one was a real killer!", both the ready result and also the making of it and please also motivate your answer.

  • Mike: I loved working with Tony Mac alpine. He was definitely the best musician I have ever worked with. He is a fantastic naturally gifted musician. He is incredible guitar player and piano player. I made a very nice record with Tony Macalpine and Tony Franklin on bass (Blue Murder, The Firm) called Evolution. I think this is a great sounding instrumental CD and I like what I played. It was a period of change for me, a metamorphosis so to speak. I was in a transition between metal and fusion. I think I have a good fusion feel on this CD. I have also recorded a new CD with my own band called Taboo Voodoo. I love this music. I think it is also one of my best recent recordings. However it is instrumental music and this is not in fashion. I made the CD purely for artistic reasons. The composer Guitar player is named Cyril Achard. I think he is a fantastic musician. I really enjoy working with him, and I learned a lot about melody and rhythm from him. I hope to make another Taboo Voodoo CD.

Mat: Together with Cyril Achard you formed the band Taboo Vodoo and the debut album Somethin's Cooking is already recorded. It is described to be a mixture between rock and fusion but could you develop this a bit further and also give a brief presentation of the band? Are there are any longterm plans for Taboo Vodoo or was it a one-time occasion?

  • Mike: The Taboo Voodoo project took almost 2 years to make because Cyril live in the south of France, and I live in Hamburg Germany. It was a long distanced relationship. Then we got a deal and we had the money to get together and start playing and writing. I enjoy this music. It is close to my heart many people think it is old fashion or too complicated, but for me, it is something I must do. It makes me feel good. We played a lot of shows in France and Germany and hope to continue recording and playing live. Unfortunately it is hard because many people don't understand the music. I want to keep it going!

Mat: You seem to rejoice in the big swing bands and you obviously like to use a lot of influences from swing, fusion jazz and funk when you play. How do you feel that you succeed with this? Do you think that you get enough room to incorporate such elements in the metal bands you record with? Are there even bands where this is easier or even harder? I can for instance imagine that it is perhaps easier when playing together with a guy like Victor Smolski who is known for his classical influences, but help us fill in the blanks here...

  • Mike: Yes….I love this kind of music. It gives me a great feeling. When I am on the road or at home this is the kind of music I listen to most. I believe these musicians were the best of their time. You don't hear this anymore. I love Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. I can feel the class, power and good times in the music they made. They were the kings of their time and they were real entertainers on and off stage. I enjoy reading about their lives. It seems to me that it was a better perhaps simpler time for music and artists. With regard to my playing style: I feel that I am free to create what I like when I record and many time I am playing things that were influenced by jazz, swing or funk. The key is to play it heavy if I am playing metal. If I am playing fusion I just play the idea with a little less power. It is just a question of balance and taste. I think this is what helps a band develop a different style. If everyone is listening to the same kind of music then everyone may be inclined to create the same kind of music. This is boring!

Mat: I've also come across information about you that says that you're of the opinion that many drummers nowadays sound very much alike and don't have that "extra" that make it more personal and interesting. What advice can you give younger drummers and metal musicians in general of today to avoid falling into that trap and develop a more interesting sound of their own?

  • Mike: Be polite, be yourself, believe in your self, never take NO for an answer and the hardest thing of all…never…. ever… stop practicing & listening to all forms of music.

Mat: I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought for the future?

  • Mike: I would just like to say it was a pleasure and an honour for me to share my thoughts with you and your readers. I can remember a time when nobody cared about my playing - I am truly flattered that someone out there cares enough to hear what I think and to see where I am from. Thank you!

That was all I had for now, Mike - the staff at metalcovenant.com wish you all the very best for the future, and we sincerely want to thank you for keeping the spirit of Metal alive!

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