Vlad The Enforcer: Drumming Biography
It all began about 40 years ago. At the age of 6 (almost 7) I took an interest in drums as an instrument. Probably because you got to hit them and make music. So I joined the summer music programs through the school system. Back in the day, the school music system was great. It has since been strip mined of course because politically sports are more important.
I played in the school system all the way through grade school. At one point I was in the actual school band, but some little biatch complained I was too loud, so I didn't get to continue with that. But I continued to get private lessons through the school with Mr. Virgil. At the time I really didn't care too much for dynamics and crescendos and such. I just wanted to be loud. Somewhere in this time frame I got my starter drum set, a Golden Beat. I started to toy around with that.
As I joined Middle School I entered the School band with Mr. Reed. And actually started to become decent. It was around my second year in Middle school that I got my first name brand kit. A Seven piece Pearl that was used, and came with some shit cymbals. But they were good enough. As I started to jam out it wasn't long before I realized I wanted double bass. So I bought another used set. A five piece Tama, and more shit cymbals. (One of the cymbals actually was all bent all over by the time I was done with it.) So basically I had 2 drum sets that made one. That means of course that I had two 12' toms, two 14' toms and two 16' floor toms. So I had to tune the Tama set down real low to make up for it. It sounded bad, but at the time I thought it was cool. As middle school went on I did performances with the band and started to get the orchestral experience.
It was in Middle School that I also started private lessons with Russ at Notable Music. We later found out his mom sold Pretzels at the High School, but that is irrelevant.
Middle School ended and High School began. I was asked to join the High School band but I opted out. I was starting to become cool, and didn't want to be a "band fag" as they were called. So I took a music theory class which was really a study hall.
I also started meeting people to Jam with in a garage band situation. The first person I met was Rogash, in my Spanish class. He was a quiet guy, and I was the loud obnoxious guy. We sat at opposite ends of class and actually started talking because our girlfriends were friends. I then realized he played guitar, and we started jamming. He knew Bighead, who was a bassist, and we brought him into the mix. We had several band names, but none are relevant, and we had several short term members. We had two sisters, one sang one played guitar. The guitarist was cool, but the singer was a flake. (Gee what a shock). We jammed awhile and eventually kicked the singer out. Her sister had voted against her as well. But the next week it seemed their parents made the Guitarist quit because of what had happened. So then we got Paul. Paul was absolutely horrible on guitar. Bighead had met him while Paul was working on his house. Why did we jam with Paul if we knew he was a terrible guitarist you ask. Simple, we were all 15, and 16. Paul was older and had not only a licence, but a truck to carry gear if we got a show. But then Paul borrowed Bigheads Faster Pussycat CD and went off into the sunset. (We later crank called Bighead after Faster Pussycats second release, claiming to be Paul and asking to borrow the new CD.)
It was in this time period, that I bought my first new drum set. Which is actually still my Drum set. A Tama Grand Star Custom, Heather Metallic, seven piece, with the Tower of Power. While I say that it is still my drum set, it has grown throughout the years. And currently has double bass, two floor toms, five mounted toms, an octoban (that itself counts as eight more drums), and two high hats, one ride cymbal, three crashes, two china, some splashes, a weird V shaped cymbal, some chimes, some cowbells, and latin things, and a bigger rack system that I tend to use as an instrument as well. But anyway we aren't there yet, but it was big enough that once we started playing out, it was referred to as "The Nuclear Weapon."
One day my cousin Melissa told me that two guys she knew were looking for a drummer. Dean and Rich. Frustrated with the way we weren't getting very good with Bighead and Rogash, I thought about it. I was friends with Bighead, but he was a weak link. So I accepted the invitation to jam with them, but under the condition that Rogash jammed too. That way the only person who could been angry was the weak link anyway. So the four of us got together, and jammed out some cover tunes. Mostly Metallica, but don't tell Lars, my old Idol is Lawsuit happy. Anyway, it sounded decent, and we all got along, so me and Rogash decided to ditch Bighead and stay with these guys. We started doing all covers, in the speed metal genre and started writing some originals. We became The Gladiators Of Pain.
The Gladiators raged on for several years. The set went from all covers to all originals. At about the half way point Rich decided to leave the band, and do something a little more mellow. At that point Rich actually found his own replacement, Stein, which eased the transition. We played several shows and made a four song demo. But after a few years Dean decided to move to be with family. The three remaining Gladiators wanted to go on, but never found a replacement.
I at this point was attending Jersey City State College for Media Arts. But the original reason I went to this school was the music program. Fellow Gladiator of Pain and close friend, Rogash was currently attending and spoke of a great music program.
Backtrack a minute: I had to try out for the music program and be accepted, which led up to me finding a great Drum teacher outside of school. Russ was a great teacher who had gotten me started years earlier, but I had outgrown him. I needed someone to get me ready for the college audition and was given the name of a high priced snooty man with a love of jazz who was supposedly the greatest thing since sliced bread. I spent a few months with him, and he refused to help me learn my audition piece because according to him I wasn't ready and had to start back at the basics because my technique had been ruined by years of evil metal drumming. Since his timeline for me being ready for the audition would have had me collecting non existent social security by the time I auditioned, I sought out a new teacher. I found a guy in Rahway at a place Loria Music named Cha-Cha, but called Barry, who said he would get me ready for the audition. Barry did indeed get me ready for the audition, I secured my place in the music program, and I continued to take weekly lessons with Barry as well, as he brought many diverse influences into my arsenal, and was a great teacher.
I only ended up staying in the music program I aced the audition for, for one semester. At this point I realized that the type of job I would get from this program really didn't interest me, and I didn't need the training even if it did. I had a real good drum teacher Barry from outside of school, and that was all he needed. Though only in the music program for a half a year I played many concerts, along with Tom from the band Snag, Clarence, and some others. These performances included The Operetta Die Fleidermouse, and various concerts with The Symphony of Winds And Percussion, and The Percussion Ensemble. As a favor to the teacher of The Percussion Ensemble, myself and Tom (who was also leaving) decided to do one more semester of just The Percussion Ensemble, because the teacher was stuck for members, and had always been cool to us. It was at this point That I recommended setting the drums on fire at the concerts while we were playing. Though Clarence and Tom were also into this idea, the teacher wasn't, so it didn't happen.
That brings to a close all the my formal training, other then lessons from Barry that lasted for several years.
So it was in Jersey City that I joined with two others to form my next band. Classmate, friend, and apartment-mate at the time The Whip, and new friend The Beholder. The band Vlad The Inhaler was totally original, with no boundaries. The band had a heavy base, but ventured into any genre you could imagine. The band had so much potential, but nothing concrete was written except a handful of songs, as it was more of a feel the music jam. We have about 20 or more tapes of good material that need to be formatted. Vlad The Inhaler lasted several years off and on, but something always halted the band when things started to pick up.
After the breakup of Vlad I joined another band of friends to do cover tunes in the hopes of making money. We went through several lineup changes, so although we had a decent amount of songs to play out, we never made headway because there was always someone learning. This new band became Vlads Mystical Minstrels, and I named the other two constants The Watcher and The Toker respectively.
Vlad then reformed one last time, and it was a merging. The original Vlad The Inhaler members with the two remaining members besides myself of Vlads Mystical Minstrels. But this incarnation was no different. An AWOL band member discouraged my two members that had come from the Minstrels. The two lost interest after missing a potential show at the hands of the AWOL member. Then it was the original three members of Vlad The Inhaler again. I brought in another guy, Drew. Starting over again with Drew went well but in the end the band fell apart yet again.
After this I hung up the sticks for a few years as it seemed to never get past a certain point, and also I had lost my rehearsal space and my drums ended up in storage at a friends house. After some time went by I did get rehearsal space back to at least practice on my own.
Then in 2010 The Whip was organizing a college metal head reunion. Since most people who hung out "back in the day" in JC were musicians in bands, it was a Reunion Show. The Whip contacted me, and I was on board. We contacted The Beholder (who had moved out of state), and Drew, but neither were interested. I jammed with The Whip to get prepared for the show, and as it grew closer to the reunion we discussed the no Guitarist situation. The Whip (who we renamed The Outlaw now) asked lifetime bud Rody to join us for the show.
The show was a hit, and we asked Rody to come on full time. He agreed and we have been playing since then, as well as even doing some shows at a few Horror Conventions, and Parties.