If you’re an up-and-coming drummer looking for a role model, you could do a lot worse than Brad Wilk. He’s a pretty low-key guy, happy to let the vocalists (and guitarists) in his band do the bulk of the interviews and press. He’s also happy to let his sticks do the talking on record and on the stage.
And for the past two-plus decades, that’s what he’s done. Playing for two multi-platinum bands from the early ’90s through the mid ’00s – Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave – he’s kept a lower profile in the years since. Not to say that he’s out of practice: last year, he played on Black Sabbath‘s insanely successful comeback album, 13, and also on a track on Dave Grohl’s Sound City film and soundtrack and on the subsequent tour as well.
Since then, he’s joined a new band, the Last Internationale, which also includes bassist/singer Delila Paz and guitarist Edgey Pires. The socially conscious Paz and Pires were friends with Wilk’s Rage/Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello, and when they were guests at his house over Thanksgiving, the duo mentioned the need for a drummer. Morello got them on the phone with Wilk, who eventually joined the band. Their debut, We Will Reign, is out now.
We sat down with Wilk to geek out over drums: specifically, his favorite drum solos. “I’m more about drum performances than solos,” he said. “But I do have a list for you.” And he did.
Buddy Rich’s “impossible” drum solo from 1970
“If I had to say my number one, it would be this Buddy Rich drum solo from 1970. At four seconds in, he knocks the overhead mic out. To me, he was just the epitome of a drummer. He was unbelievable. His fluidity, his power, his grace, his aggression, his momentum, he was a force to be reckoned with. What Buddy Rich could do on a hi-hat, most drummers couldn’t do on a 17-piece drum set. The guy was a freak of nature, and always a pleasure to watch. And also a pleasure to listen to. But not a pleasure to be in a band with! But to listen to the tapes of him talking to his band is quite comedic, if you know what I’m talking about. Not to mince words: he was an absolute motherf—er. But he was one of the greatest drummers, if not the greatest, to ever sit down behind a drum kit. I went to a school that mostly catered to jazz musicians. I was playing a lot of jazz before I was in Rage Against the Machine. Which, I guess, brings me to my number two pick…