Kiku (K): Yoroshiku Onegai-shimasu.
Jimmy (J): Good evening.
K: Welcome back to Japan. How were the shows during this tour in Japan?
J: I thought that the shows were really good. I think I had a better time, this time than the last time that I was here in Pumpkins. I think that songs are better, and musicians are better. So I enjoyed my staying in Japan much more just because I think the band is better. Much better than the Pumpkins.
K: What do you think about the difference between Japanese audience and US audience?
J: I think the Japanese audience is much more attentive, and they pay attention. I think Japanese audience go to the venue to see the show, where the American audience go to party. A lot of the people in the crowd in America are there because there are other people there, not necessarily because the band is there. I think everybody in Japan is there watching the band, I mean if you look at the crowd you can see. You can pretty much meet everybody gazed at some point. Everybody's paying close attention.
K: How about Europe?
J: I think Europe's somewhere in the middle, I think Europe fall somewhere between Japan and America. I think the south in Europe is more attentive, people are like Italy, Spain, South France and closely you get to Bergian, Germany, and other ones are more westernized.
K: After the final Metro show, how did you feel?
J: Relief. (Laugh) I mean because we decided to end the band six months before that, so it was a kind of like driving in a car, but knowing that some point down the road, you'd gonna get an accident you just did not know when. So I mean I thought it was good, I mean it felt like the right thing to do, and it felt like if we had continued we would have just ended up with being like Aerosmith or you know, for some reason, for some money. I think stop the pumpkins and re-challenge yourself to make something better in another band are really good thing to do because... it became harder and harder to face people playing in the pumpkins, just because it seemed like really hanging out in something that was going away . And I think we just let it go in a natural way, and say that OK... So this kind of relationship means the music is over, it does not mean I can not start a new one, you know, I think Billy (Corgan) and I were young enough to where we can start another band, so stopped to think about shutting At least we wanted to do. Because in the pumpkins we had to be the pumpkins, you know. And we got to be tiresome to be that guy all the time. And I think by letting that go, by kinda reinventing ourselves, and we brought up some new fresh music. Because I don't think, if we stayed in the pumpkins, first of all we did not have the talent in the band that we are playing now. And I don't think we would have even tried to create what we are now creating, because we would not have confidence in the people in the band. .........sorry my answer is so long...
K: After the Pumpkins, did you start creating music with Billy soon? With no intermission?
J: When we played the last show, we shook hands and we said no more music for one year. "We take one year off and I'll call you." And then three months later I called him on the phone, and then I said 'Really really bored." Three months is too long not to play, you know. So we decided to get a hold of Matt Sweeney, and ran to the studio. The idea was just to go out and write some songs just to get together to play again. And three of us had such great chemistry together that we said "Let's just start a band". you know, let's just go again. Let's just take these songs to another level. And let's continue to write, continue to play, and try to put a band together and see what it happens. Three months later we were ready to do some shows, but it was just three of us, so Sweeney suggested that we would need to get David Pajo to play bass. So when Pajo came in to play bass, it was great, I mean we had a great great chemistry. But David is such a great guitar player, it seemed like a waste to have him play bass, because it's not always a good idea to have a guitar player to play bass. It's better to find somebody who just plays bass. And it wasn't just until February last year that we finally... we auditioned (counting numbers) twelve bass players in Los Angeles, professional bass players like the guy from Suicidal Tendencies, and the guy from...... And then Sweeney got Paz (Lenchantin), and asked her if she would be interested in coming out to jam, because she was in a perfect circle at the time. So finally we got down to Key West, Florida to play, and like a week later we decided we were going to be a band that quit her A Perfect Circle, which I don't think she was very happy about. But I think for her it was really important. I mean I think she was totally happy in A Perfect Circle, but I don't think it really gave her opportunities to write and sing as much to have much fun. ...The story is long.
K: I have A Perfect Circle album. I know Paz.
J: Yeah. They are good.
K: I heard a rumor that Paz quit A Perfect Circle, but nobody knows she selected Zwan, not A Perfect Circle.
J: Nobody knows that she quit A Perfect Circle and then joined Zwan? I just think she was not so much with the music in personal as the fact that A Perfect Circle was a kind of like a side line for Maynard and Josh, the drummer that was doing lots of other things and he was playing in some other band at the time. So A Perfect Circle was a kind of a band like when they want to get together they get together, and in Zwan we are like we gonna be a band, we gonna drink and sleep together and play music all the time every day. And I think that's really attractive to her, I mean, you know, aside from the musicianship in the band, we come lotterly and song writing. And her own ability to contribute more, as opposed to some of these things "Here is a song I want you to play like this". In Zwan, we only write loose outlines of songs and everybody brings their ideas. I think that's really appealed to her. In fact she can write melodies and Billy can write songs around them, you know, we can all talk and have a good time, and we are always together. I think it's a great opportunity for her, for everybody in the band, I mean, everybody in the band had written something in the new record. It's not like A Perfect Circle where I think Billy Howerdel's writing materials and just telling everybody what to play.
K: So Matt Sweeney and Billy are old friends.
J: Matt, Billy and I are very old friends. Billy and I met Matt at the same time in '89 in New Jersey. We were playing in a place called Maxwell's. Matt was very young at the time, I think he was twenty, and he gave Billy and me a demo tape whose band was at the time Skunk. Billy and I had listened to it and completely blown away. We said to Sweeney, you know, we had to be a band and we gotta be in a band together, you know. Then we kinda lost in touch with Matt for a while, and Billy ran into him in New York after the Pumpkins had broken up. Billy invited Matt to come out to play jam. But I've known Matt forever. I've known Matt for fifteen years. Whenever we were in New York or New Jersey, we'd always go to Matt's house and jam in his basement. So we played together 13, 14 years ago. We wanted to be in a band with him, and he always wanted to play with us. So it was a kind of dream had come true, when I heard Billy got a hold of Matt Sweeney and go jam because of just like revisiting 1989 or whenever it was. Matt's very talented and he's a great great great guitar player.
K: What kind of impression did you have when you first met Matt Sweeney?
J: You mean in 80s when I met him? I mean I just thought he was a young kid with a lot of talent. And when I met him again, I thought he was an old man with a lot of talent. (Laugh) I was just kidding.
K: When you first made music with Matt and Billy, how many songs did you record?
J: About twelve songs. About tweleve we started off with. And then it was a kind of work in progress, you know. And then we played in Salt Lake City and our next plan was to go to New York and record. Just three of us went to New York and just tried some demos of some songs, and tried to pull out what was good about the songs.With the idea we were going to a professional studio and do these songs with Billy, Matt and I. I was at my house in San Diego at the time, and just about to get a plane to go to New York, and the 9.11 happened. So I had to drive from San Diego to Chicago, and rent a car and pick up my car and drive to New York to be with my friends because they were both in New York when it happened. So I had a little worry about that. So I drove all night from Chicago to New York ten hours and fifteen minutes and I made it. I drove real fast. But we started working right after that. Five days after it happened we started working again in New York, and it was really weird, weird time. Military and every street corner army geeps were running around. I had had so much fun time in New York, but I had never seen such lockdown. Everybody was a kind of freaked out. So it was a kind of weird time to be out there creating music, but I think some of the tension, doubt, and just a kind of creepiness, and a kind of doomy groove were really reflecting some of our music. I think the reason the music is so up and so happy is because when you realize you may not have longer to live, if war comes, you learn to celebrate your life a little bit better than if you take life for granted. When you realize that life is very fragile and you could end it any minute, and you start to celebrate the good things in life. It's good to think about what's good about your experiences.
K: Do you remember the first Zwan show?
J: You mean just Billy, Matt and I? That was amazing. I mean, because when you start a new band, you don't have expectations. You are just out there testing water. You are just out there dipping your feet in the pool to see if it's hot or whatever. So I mean I think that relaxed atmosphere was really carried on. Things are a little more intense now because we have a record now and we have expectations to meet. Back then, there were no expectations and it was just what it was. The band was put together more on people's personalities than it was on their musicianship, because when you know somebody, whether they are musician or not, if they were musicians you know what type of musician they would be, like I know what type of musician my sister would be when she would play instrument, even though she does not. It's like with David, Matt, Paz and Billy, I know what's gonna come out of them emotionally. So it's a lot easier to play with someone like that and to build a musical relationship based on heart and spirit. The main reason everybody's together is because we are friends. It was kinda lucky the everyone's total musical genious.
K: Is there any difference with your play between on stage and on record?
J: Yeah. On record you have a captive audience. So when somebody's listening to your record, they are listening to your record. And they are listening focused. When you are playing to an audience, you don't necessarily have everybody's attention. So you need to push and pull a little bit harder that kinda suck people in. So I think the dynamics, if these are the dynamics of the record, then this is the dynamic of a large show. You gotta make it interesting to watch as well as listen to it. I mean Billy doesn't stand up there doing this kind of stuff in studio.
K: About the way of recording, is there any difference between pumpkins and zwan?
J: The main difference is everybody played their own parts. (laugh) It was a lot easier just because I felt like I was one of their best friends, as opposed to people there I was working the job with, you know. It's like I said before, Zwan is a labor of love, and the pumpkins were just a labor. (laugh)
K: Did you change your drum play from Pumpkins to Zwan?
J: Yeah, a little bit. I opened it up a little bit more off the Zwan. The way we kinda visioned the record was that the drum is a kind of being this lead instrument that would be up in the middle like always in your face, and the guitars and melodies would be kinda out here. So I kinda streamlined my playing for that vision where I played busier and tried to play little more here as opposed to being supplemental, you know what I mean? In the Pumpkins I was always playing behind the songs, and in Zwan I think I am playing in front of the songs, like opposed to playing back here.
K: What was difficult for you when you were recording songs in the Mary Star Of The Sea album?
J: I think it's really funny because the things you would think really difficult like the song Mary Star Of The Sea which has all the crazy drumming on it, was probably the easiest thing I did on the record. Just because there is no parameter. It's just basically go crazy on the drum set, which I'm really good at, you know. I can play like that all night long. There were the songs like El Sol, Honestly, some of the more controlled stuff that had to be. Because we didn't do a click stuff, so the stuff that was more pocket-playing I had a hard time with, because in the pumpkins we really never explored that type of four and four drum beat. We never played that in the Pumpkins. If we did it, we usually used drum machine on top of the drums. So that was a good experience for me, just starting experimenting simple like Charlie Watts type of studying. That sounds like Come With Me and El Sol. Those were probably the two hard songs. Honestly was pretty easy, but it sounds like Mary Star Of The Sea, World Goes Around (Ride A Black Swan) and Endless Summer were very easy to do. For me because that's the way I play, that's the way I always play. And I never play like this: Just two-four. It is like breaking new ground for me.
K: I love your playing in Ride A Black Swan, with perfect groove, perfect rhythm, and perfect composition of phrases and beautiful phrases....
J: Thank you. That stuff for me comes much more with natural rhythm, just having sit back, you know. I never played that type of playing in the Pumpkins, you know what I mean? Like Tonight, Tonight, the stuff like that was always really orchestrated and the drums came all over the place. But just to play a back beat, it was a great challenge, you know. If the tempo is here, then so many emotions would exist before the tempo and after the tempo. Like if you are a little ahead of the tempo, the song sounds pushy. And if it's a little too behind, the song sounds lazy. So to find the perfect pocket sitting for those songs that really fits in the vocal and emotion of the vocal was quite undertaking for me.
K: What kind of process did you go through when you were making the MSOTS songs?
J: How did we make it? We were still writing the record when we started recording it. So basically the way of the drums we done was we would go to our rehearsal space, come up with an arrangement, figure out an arrangement and I would write it down. Then I would have the lyrics. We would figure out good tempo for the song, do a click. Billy would play a scratchy guitar and some scratchy bass sometimes, and then just a scratchy vocal, and I would go to the drums to the click tracks, and we would add guitar, bass and vocals later. We'd erase all the scratchy guitars. It was a pretty good way to work because we ended up doing about a song every other day. So we moved pretty fast and drums were done under a month. And 15 of those days we just spent getting snare drum sounds and bass drum sounds. Alan (Moulder) was there and Alan and I were really good relationship. We spent about five or six days just moving the drums around the room and trying to find the best area to set the drums. And then we experimented different sizes of bass drums, different symbals, and we used about seven or eight different snare drums on the record. So I mean it's a really tedious process, but I mean for me I'm real professional when it comes to drum tones, you know, gone everything to sound like I hear to my heart, that's almost impossible, so it takes so long time. But a "GA! GA! GA!" for hours. And then I come back, "Oh no, that's no good" and then move it over to "GA! GA! GA! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!". So I mean that's really painstaking. Once you get rolling with a good sound, you can pretty much just blow to the record.
K: Did you change your drum set from the pumpkins era?
J: A little bit. Not much. It's a little smaller. I just took the toms off over here on the left-hand side. I just wanted to try to do a little bit more of glass, and try to achive the same power without all the bells and whistles, you know, like triangles and tambourines and timpanis and gong, you know, a roll of toms. I kinda evolved into the kit in the pumpkins just because I used electric stuff in different songs. In Zwan I only use the drum set you are looking at on the record and I am not going to add any right now. If I use more on the next record, then I probably will start using those again. But I like playing a small kit. It makes you think things through a little bit better. I didn't think it was a good idea to bring all those drums on the road. I did not play them anyway. That's all the drums I used in the studio and that's really all I need. And I think I'm gonna stick to playing a little smaller kit. Because I think we have three guitars. Drums don't, because there's so much going on with the guitars, I feel a lot comfortable to let them do the show, as opposed to when I was in the Pumpkins, my job was just beat all over the head night after night, because there was all to watch. ...And it was pretty much like a core blues band, you know.
K: Why did you select Yamaha drums?
J: Because they make the best drums in the world.
K: I think Jazz drummers love Yamaha, and Rock drummers love other drum companies like...
J: Those are junk. Those drums are made in some other countries. Those companies don't even make their own drums. They buy them from drum factory. I know the artists in Yamaha, I know everyone of those people working in Yamaha for more than twenty years and I know every guy to put together my drums and I know them personally, and I have a great relationship with the company, and I'm a jazz-based player, so I play jazz drums and I just play them in a rock band. Hagi (Mr. Takashi Hagiwara: Product Planning and marketing Yamaha Drums) and the people in Yamaha are great. They've been great to me. When I went to Yamaha, they totally made me blown away. I really like the sound and I'm really interested in making the company better. It's a great family. You can not get them from American drum companies. These people have been doing this for thirty-five years. They are genious. Hagi, the main guy of Yamaha, has been to every one in my Japanese shows, and he is a guy I talk to on the phone all the time. We've been developing a snare drum for a long time, and it's just an amazing relationship. And they accompany with Dave Weckl, Elvin Jones, Steve Jordan. The masters of Yamaha are all best drummers in the world. Joey Kramer would play on Yamaha, you know, and he never will. Because they are not interested in selling drum sets to Aerosmith. They are interested in top talent. When they come to see me playing, it's an honor. For me these are like the people still my other family. I feel like with Hagi we talk about everything. These guys are taking care of me and even when I was out of the Pumpkins my relationship with Yamaha was totally solid. It's the same with all my drum companies like Remo, Zildjian and VicFirth. They are just the best in the business and that's the only people that I'm really interested in working with. You can not be the best golfer without the best golf clubs. You can not be the best drummer without the best drums. Like I said, I know these people in Yamaha, and I've trusted them with my career for eight years, and they've never done me wrong. Then I know they never will.
K: Is your main snare now your signature model?
J: Yes. I play a 5.5" *14" , steel shell, a kind of raminism of old Ludwig Black Beauties in 70s. Ludwig Black Beaties snare drums, which I think are great snare drums. Yamaha was capable of making snare drum better than that, and that's what we came up with. And I think it is better. For me it's exactly what I want. Let's go back to relationship with Hagi, and Hagi, he knows so much about drums and he's somebody you can just talk on the phone, telling him what sound you are looking for, and you show up in Japan and he has a drum for you. "Here is what I made for you," and it sounds like exactly what you wanted. It sounds amazing. I have been to Yamaha factory three or four times now, I know exactly what goes in making all drums are exactly the same twenty-five people that work there. They've made every drum I've played. You go to a company who buys shells in some other country, and how are you gonna meet the person who makes the shells? How are you gonna establish a relationship with someone like that? You can't. With Yamaha, I know I can get on the phone and I can come to Japan, and then I can go in there and make my own goddamn drums if I want. I know how, I mean, they told me how to make drums. There are a lot of top drummers out there playing crap, crap. This just sounds like junk. ...Sorry.
K: Don't you play wood snares?
J: Wood? Yeah, I do when I record. When I record I use a lot of wood shell snares. It's just because it's a little more controlled sound and a little deeper. But when I play live, I like to have a loud and cracking snare. That's why I have been using the steel shell snare. But I have over fifty snare drums. All kinds, all new prototypes and old drums. For recording, I like to use a lot of different snares just to get different sounds. But I don't think you really need to look any further than Yamaha now. I think maybe sixty years ago I would be using some different name snare drums, but now pretty much all I need is Yamaha, and for live, only Yamaha. It's just made by the best people, and you can feel, you know, the loves by playing on the drums, "Boom!" It's always perfect.
K: When you were recording MSOTS, did you change your snare drums on every song?
J: No. But I used Yamaha Manu Katche model snare, for World Goes Around, Lyric, Settle Down and Cast A Stone. I used the Yamaha brass snare for Honestly, El Sol and some of the softer pop stuff. And then for Desire I used Akira Jimbo. Do you know Akira Jimbo?
J: I used his snare for that. I can't remember what I used. I think I used an old Yamaha recording series for Of A Broken Heart, just because it's a great brash sound, which I mean I had gone through twenty snare drums for that one all day long.
K: Do you want to play the drums forever?
K: Oh, great.
J: Elvin Jones is 75 this year, and he is on tour. Roy Hanes is 78, and he is on tour. So Jimmy Chamberlin on his 90, he will be on tour.
J: I mean I don't know how to do anything else. Now I can go back to mat-making, but playing drums is pretty much all I can do. I like it that way. I think it's important for my wife and my daughter to see, I think it's good to raise a child who can look at her father and mother and see that they have commitment to career and that type of integrity and that type of self-respect and that type of discipline. If you bounce around job to job, I don't think it's a good way to raise a child. I don't think a child needs to see that. The important things in life are self-respect, discipline and commitment. I think that's the way to have a successful family.
K: What are your recommended CDs?
J: Recommended CDs to listen to for drummers? I would say Bill Evans Trio, 1964. Larry Bunker on drums. Miles Davis, Jimmy Cobb, any Art Blakey, any Elvin Jones, any John Coltrane, any Tony Williams. Especially for rock, I would say Tony Williams Lifetime with Allan Holdsworth, Tony Newton, and Tony ... I can't think of it... oh, Alan Pasqua, who was a keyboard player, Tony Newton, Tony Williams and Allan Holdsworth. Tony Williams Lifetime's first album "Believe It" is amazing. And then also Tony's last record was a tribute to Miles right after Miles Davis died, they did this tribute record. It was Ronnie Wallace on trumpet. It was Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Ronnie Wallace. Amazing. Any Kenny Clark... and there were so many great drummers. And even now there are some great drummers out there, like Danny Carey for Tool, an amazing drummer. I think when the Pumpkins and Nirvana and Jane's Addiction and Alice In Chains and Soundgarden in the late 80's and in the early 90's, I think it was, drummers like Steve Perkins, myself and Matt Cameron who really made it possible for drummers to play like drummers again, I think we were a kind of first... because before that it was a kind of REM type of pop... but I think when the grunge thing came around and we were very capitalized to have all over the place like crazy, We got back to more on when it was like Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple of the 70's. Because the grunge thing was based on it, it was just a re-interpretation of 70's rock, I mean, with guitar solos and big drums. I think anybody plays drums with their own spirit and it sounds different. The sounds like they want to sound is worth listening to. I really like the guy from Violent Femmes, and I think he is an amazing drummer, even though some people would think the drum is sloppier, but I think that has real soul to it, I mean, you know, like anybody who is an innovator, the drummer for James Brown, you know... I'm going on and on all night long for those drummers, but I am not going to... I think those of the first records I said are the most important ones to me anyway. For my playing to achive the type of power Elvin Jones achieved. Those guys were totally reinvented the way of playing drums, and any of those guys really made it possible for people like me to be around, and those guys bought my house. That means that's how I feel. If I hadn't had listened to it as a kid, I would have never got it. So all of those guys are great. It goes back to Hagi, and Hagi is Elvin Jones' best friend. So, to be in that family, when I was thirteen, I never thought that I would meet Elvin Jones. Now I find out these people are really accessible and they are open to being your friend. They want to teach you. and they want to make music better. That's all I really want to do. I just hope people listen to me, and get inspired, and take one step further, you know, don't take it backwards. I want to hear a lot better drumming on that. Then I can do drumming for twenty years from now. When I'm old, I will still play same old shit that I always play.
K: Who's your young noteworthy drummer?
J: I don't know many young drummers. I mean I really don't. I mean I don't listen to radio. Danny Carey is probably my age and Matt Cameron is the same age as me. I only know my contemporary is really old drummers. I couldn't tell you. I don't turn on radio because I create pop music myself. I just listen to Art Blakey. (laugh)
K: May I have your message to your Japanese fans? And may I have your message to young drummers? Very young drummers visit my site.
Dear fans of Zwan...
K: So that's it! Thank you!
J: Thank you!
Interviewed by Kiku ( JC website / ZWAN.jp )
All words captioned by Kats ( Burpsonline )