Interview with Ethan Ardelli
August 22, 2001
Q: What first got you interested in playing drums?
A: When I was a kid…I don’t know, I just kinda liked it. Dad got me a little drum and I started playing that, then I got into the school band, started playing drums, and that was it.
Q: What kind of music were you playing in the school band?
A: Concert band stuff, jazz for the most part.
Q: Big band jazz?
A: Yeah, there were no charts, it was all just play by feel. They just gave us a couple of rudiments to learn and that’s about all.
Q: Was wanting to play the drums a natural thing?
A: Uh huh. My first memory of playing drums was at about age five. I remember having a little snare drum and I beat the stick right through the head of it.
Q: When did you get your first full set of drums?
A: When I was about 14. They were Yamaha DP series, with Sabian and Paiste cymbals.
Q: At that stage were you taking lessons?
A: No, I was self-taught. I was listening to whatever was on the radio. I especially liked Queen, not so much the drummer but the music.
Q: Were there any local musicians other than drummers that inspired you or helped you with your development?
A: Nigel Waye (bass player) showed me a couple of tunes, around about the same time I started taking lessons with Bruce Aitken. The first thing I noticed was my reading improved, we were studying the Ted Reed book on Syncopation for the modern drummer, Stick Control by George Stone, New Breed by Gary Chester and lots of other material. Bruce really opened my ears up, big time! As a result, my independence also improved immeasurably. Bruce gave me access to lots of music and styles. I really got into John MacLaughlin. He is one guy I really like a lot. In fact, there is not one (MacLaughlin?) CD I’ve listened to that I don’t like. Another favorite of mine is the CD Paint my World by Chick Corea. I reallly like fusion, big time.
Q: What fusion drummers inspire you?
A: Gary Novak, really awesome, Bill Cobham on the McLaughlin stuff, amazing how fast and clean he can play, Trilok Gurtru; all his music. His cymbal work all the auxilary percussion work, he is probably the most inspiring international drummer I’ve heard.
Q: What about (How do you feel about)Steve Gadd, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, jeff Pocarro, Steve Ferrone, Bernard Purdi, Ringo, Charlie Watts?
A: Ahhhh, the groove drummers. Steve Gadd has really inspired me. I love the rudimental stuff. I have “Close Up”. It is the greatest snare stuff. And the others playing unselfishly…for the song.
Q: What do you think are some of the most important assets a drummer can possess?
A: Timing is very important. You have to keep it steady; going all over the place is not good. Using a metronome is essential. Playing along to CD”, that really helped my timing and feel. How other drummers play, how they use musicality to deal with fills, etc. Listening to their ideas, playing and listening, what fills and grooves go with what music styles, learning rudiments – this helps with stick patterns, especially in fills.
Q: What equipment are you currently using?
A: Pearl Session Series drums, 10″ 12″ 14″ toms, 20″ bass drum, 14″ x 15″ steel Yamaha snare, various cymbals (Sabian, Paiste) The drums are Sunburst, beautiful sound and look. I have a single peddle Pearl Power Shifter and I have recently been experimenting with a Pacific Double peddle. Pro-mark sticks, Peter Erskine sticks (vic firth) and Remo Drumheads.
Q: How do you find the single peddle compared to the double peddle?
A: Speed, the different variety of rhythms. I can achieve different fills and grooves. I have to work on my left foot, but I find the “New Breed” book has really helped with this. All that independence work, really gets me up to speed (literally!). It’s a very important book for development in any drum set situation.
Q: Do you have any views on health issues for drummers?
A: I always use ear protection. I don’t want to blow them out. Your back, you have got to watch your posture. That’s a big thing. Eat well, exercise, don’t do drugs, love your mother and father.
Q: Going back to CD’s, are there any surprises from the past?
A: Yes, lots! I love Phil Collins. He was way ahead of his time with all that Genesis stuff. His odd time playing is the best, so subtle and groove oriented. His playing is revolutionary. He never gets much credit for his drumming, and what a singer! He has it all in one complete package.
Q: Everyone talks about Buddy Rich. Did he influence you in any way?
A: Not as much, but a legend.
Q: Recently you did some recording at Lakewind Sound Studio (Fred Lavery & Gordie Sampson). How did that go?
A: I did a track (Ethan’s first) with Mike Kennedy (Toronto). That was an awesome experience! I did a track called “Time Ain’t Nothing”. I was last on; the music was all recorded and I had the “click” (???) and just went for it. I’ve worked a lot with a nome so the click is ok. I did it in three takes and I’m really pleased with the end result. The CD is being released in September, 2001.
Q: To date, what has been your biggest thrill as a young, up-and-coming drummer?
A: Playing at the Cape Breton International Drum Festival. Meeting and mixing with all the world class players, that was pretty cool, and great leveller, and an amazing learning experience. Being fortunate enough to have Bruce Aitken as my teacher, and grateful for all he ahs shown me. He is a really understanding person, with a wealth of knowledge.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Cape Breton International Drum Festival in relation to what it means to drummers on Cape Breton Island?
A: It gives the local drummers the chance to show their stuff and show the world there’s a lot of quality players around here (Cape Breton) like Matthew Foulds, Brian Talbot and Shawn Paris. The Paris brothers (Shawn and Aaron) really inspire me. They do some really cool stuff!
Q: Where do you see yourself in the future, and any last wise words you might like to add?
A: I’d like to be the best that I can be. I don’t know what that is yet, but I hope to play drums for the rest of my life. (As for words of wisdom…) Don’t be a musical snob; there’s always something to learn from everyone.
(Ethan Ardelli is a 17 year old drummer from Sydney, Cape Breton who attends Sydney Academy High School. He was a member of the Academy drum line that recently played at the Cape Breton International Drum Festival held at UCCB in Sydney on April 17 & 18, 2001.)