Life On The Road / 20 December 2017

Christopher Williams of Accept Talks FlyBys and Hi-hats

There’s just no stopping Accept. The fiery rockers have decades of experience in recording and touring behind them after the breakthrough success of Balls to the Wall in 1985. The German heavy metal legends look to continue going from strength to strength with each album, and even new band members have slotted in seamlessly as if they’d been playing together for years.

Revitalized and in the midst of a world tour, we managed to pull drummer Christopher Williams aside for a quick catch-up.

How’s the FlyBy holding up? What else is in the bag?

The FlyBy is holding up GREAT! MONO has seriously done their homework with this bag. The design is very well thought out and executed, the materials are quite stout, and it can pack a ton of gear. Simply picking the bag up allows you to feel how durable it is. I’ve already said it on social media and to our crew, but this thing is built like a tank! There are so many features with this bag that blow me away and I couldn’t be happier with it. Well done!

Which other drummers have you always admired?

It really depends on the musical genre. I have a background in many different styles of music, so the list could go on forever. However, off the top of my head right this moment:

Randy Castillo, Vinnie Colaiuta, John Bonham, Jerry Shirley, Gene Krupa, Jason Rullo, Peter Criss, Eric Singer, Eric Carr, Tommy Lee, Elvin Jones, Kurt Bisquera, Morgan Rose, Gene Hoglan, Simon Phillips, Fred Young, Virgil Donati, and many many others.

Do you have a particular song (from other artists, of course) you enjoy jamming out to?

Again, it really depends on the genre. Anything KISS, Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, Parliament Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire…. just anything with a strong, hard-grooving backbeat.

What are your thoughts and tips on an effective practice routine?

Outside of the drum set, I have a background in orchestral percussion and Drum & Bugle Corps. ‘Corps is where I really learned how to practice effectively – how to really play with a click (in front of, behind, & how to “bury the met”). This became useful not only in the studio when playing with a click, but corps also taught me how to listen within the entire ensemble and play musically within the group. In corps, we learned how to break down rudiments: what rhythm each hand was playing and how to confidently play those isolated rhythms “perfectly” before putting them together to make the rudiment complete. Same with hybrid rudiments. We often did what we called “looping”, where the ensemble or individual section would play a bar, two beats, four bars… whatever the phrase may have been in a “loop” until it was as tight and clean as it could be. This transferred into my drum set playing by allowing me to break down any ideas or rhythms I may have and in doing so, be able to execute them in the best way I could at various tempos.

Instead of simply sitting at the kit and “jamming” or “going off” (which is okay too!), I could sit down at the kit with a focussed approach to whatever I may be working on at the time. Making the most of the time you have to practice is crucial. However, that’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t just sit down and “go for it” once in awhile!

Have you come across any drummers with “odd” setups?

There have been a few and some have become friends of mine. Sometimes I look at a kit and the setup makes me cringe a bit, just knowing this person could set up their drums in a more efficient manner. However, whatever gets the job done. Other, more “unconventional” setups have inspired me and I’ve temporarily changed my kit around. Maybe it’s playing completely Lefty, or using a remote/cable hi-hat to the right of the kit and the pedal controlling it is to the right of my main kick pedal. Something like this would allow me to play open handed on the same kit, but with a left foot lead on a double pedal.

In this same scenario, I may move a floor tom to the left of my kit so that I’m playing open-handed, my left foot playing the kick, my right foot controlling the remote hat to the right of the kit, yet I can play left handed drum fills. Don’t be afraid to change things up on your kit. It can only help your creativity and independence.

What are your drum goals now, and how do they differ from when you first started?

In the beginning it was about keeping a groove, then I started building my chops. Nowadays more than anything it’s about making the song itself feel good. Not just the drums, but getting rid of any excesses and making the song shine.

With Accept, that’s still the main focus but we kick things up a bit live. However 95% of the other gigs I do are artist or singer-songwriter gigs, and the focus needs to be on the song itself. I always want to play for the song and as a drummer, but as we all know that can sometimes be challenging. The song has to come first. Other than that, I continually try to grow as a player and a musician. You can never learn or practice “enough”, there’s always room to grow.

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