EXODUS Drummer Talks Technique: 'In My Younger Years I Just Relied More On Brute Force'

September 16, 2010

Don de Leaumont of The Great Southern Brainfart conducted an interview with drummer Tom Hunting of San Francisco Bay Area metallers EXODUS prior to the band's September 3, 2010 concert in Atlanta, Georgia. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

The Great Southern Brainfart: EXODUS was on the road with MEGADETH and TESTAMENT earlier this year and you guys killed it here in Atlanta. We always hear mixed stories about touring with [Dave Mustaine]. Was this tour a good experience for you guys?

Hunting: Dave has always been killer to us. Both bands have a relationship and we go back 28 years. We've known each other since we were all kids. As far as our working relationship with him, it's killer. We're all from the same group and the same era of time. I learned so much from Paul Bostaph [TESTAMENT drummer], too, just watching him play every night. As you know, he was an EXODUS member for a while. I adopted a lot of his warm-up tips and things to do before going on stage. I would always go onstage cold and not warm up and he showed me that I should lower my drum stool a little bit. After I did that I realized I had been working way too hard. (laughs)

The Great Southern Brainfart: You have such a distinctive style of playing and after all these years you seem to still be able to play intensely enough without looking like you're totally hurting yourself.

Hunting: Yeah, in my younger years I just relied more on brute force and the vitality of being young. Now I try to apply a little more technique. I have a technique. I try to get in and get out on the snare drum. The faster you whack that thing with as much force as possible and the sooner you get out the more it's gonna resonate. I tried to teach [Shawn] Drover [MEGADETH drummer] that but he, you know, he's stuck in his glam metal. [laughs] Just kidding, Shawn. [laughs]

The Great Southern Brainfart: If you could put a dream band together of any famous musicians (alive or dead),who would be in it and what would they play? You have to be in the band as well!

Hunting: Oh that's simple! It would be Trent Reznor, Jerry Cantrell, Cliff Burton and myself. They're just musicians that I would give my huge left nut to jam with.

The Great Southern Brainfart: You mentioned Cliff Burton. Were you guys close at all?

Hunting: I knew him pretty well. He was a good man. We almost had the chance to jam together at a party one night in his hometown in Castro Valley and this dude who was playing drums wouldn't let me play his drums. Dude, they're drums. If someone steps up to me and wants to play I just hand them the sticks and say go for it. There is nothing you can do to a drum set that some other drummer hasn't done. This was a couple of years before he passed. That's a big "what-if" on my list of "what-ifs." Just give me 10 minutes of jamming with Cliff and that would've made me happy but I can still fantasize about it. [laughs]

The Great Southern Brainfart: Being that this music is very physically taxing, what do you do to keep up with this without hurting yourself?

Hunting: I try to eat as good as I can. Of course, sometimes it's hard on the road and you just get pizza and buffalo wings. I try to eat as good as I can and not eat too much before a show. I try to get good rest. I don't work out because I get good enough cardio for two hours a night on stage. That is my workout and you gotta hydrate. Especially in climates like this you have to drink Gatorade before you think you need to.

The Great Southern Brainfart: Do you ever get tired of life on the road?

Hunting: Um, I'd have to say yeah. I mean, it's not as hard for me because I don't have kids or anything but I feel for people like Lee (Altus, EXODUS guitarist),our other guitar player, who just had a baby boy. If this is what you do in your life, you give up other things. A lot of people dream about doing this, but some people who do this dream about having a family. If I did, I wouldn't want to miss anything, so I would have to give all of this up. In the whole scheme of things, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. It's what I've been doing most of my adult life and even in my teenage years. Shit, when I was in a crib I was watching Dean Martin's variety show and Glen Campbell's variety show going, "I wanna do that some day!" [laughs]

Read the entire interview at The Great Southern Brainfart.

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