Sick Drummer Magazine

Paul Wandtke - Life on The Road With Trivium - Part I
Friday, 12 February 2016 02:50

Hey Guys and Girls!

Paul Wandtke here saying what up! I’m on tour with my new band, Trivium! We are on our first run of the year in the U.S. and it’s going really well. Prior to our U.S. run, I made my Trivium debut playing in front of 40,000 people at Knotfest in Mexico on Dec 5, 2015.



Playing Trivium's "Rain" live in Ontario, Canada - January 2016




SDM: Tell us how you got hooked up with Trivium.

Paul: I was referred by Dream Theater’s Mike Mangini. Trivium is friends with Dream Theater and they asked Jon Petrucci if he knew any drummers and Jon asked Mike Mangini and then my phone rang, I seriously thought it was a joke at first. I was like… who’s pranking me? I studied with Mike Mangini at Berklee from 2008-2010, right before he left for Dream Theater. It’s so cool that Mike remembered me almost 6 years later. ;) I mean the guy has been traveling the world with Dream Theater. I’m definitely humbled and honored by this new experience of joining Trivium, and I can’t thank Mike Mangini enough.

SDM: How many practices did you get in before the appearance in Mexico - or how much time to learn the set?

Paul: I had three solid rehearsals with the band in prep for our show in Mexico. I myself had three weeks to learn the material.

SDM: Was it a hard decision to make, knowing how busy the band is?

Paul:  I thought it was a dream come true. Prior to Trivium I was drumming for the musical ‘Rock of Ages’ the last two years, and then I came home and was like… what do I do? I didn’t want to get a day job, so I really lucked out I guess! I just want to be out and traveling. I’m lucky to say that I have been to over 45 countries as a drummer.



SDM: How has the tour been so far? The venues, crowds, getting to know the guys...

Paul: The tour has been doing really well. It’s a small club “radio” promo tour and it’s been pretty great. The mosh pits and crowd surfers have been the highlights for me. I always crack up when I see the pit or a surfer hahah. The guys have been saying the crowds have never been so receptive live and they don’t know if it’s because of their new drummer (me) or what it is. I of course just pop my collar and grin haha. The guys have never been happier. I’m not one to boast, but they told me they’ve never felt so confident on stage, and they feel like they are playing better as a whole, cohesive unit. For me, I feel like the luckiest dude in the world man. I mean I get to play on two bass drums every night and travel doing what I love. IT’S NUTS! I feel like the guys are really getting along.

SDM: How excited are you for the Sevendust Tour? Will you be learning more songs to change up the setlist?

Paul: Totally stoked! I can’t wait man. Trivium basically has me learning their whole catalogue. So yes, we will rotate sets. Currently, we are rotating one song in and out of the set which something that they’ve never done before, so it adds a whole new level of excitement switching things up.

SDM: What's next after that? Are you still giving lessons?

Paul: Yes, I will give lessons while on the road and at home in Chicago between tours, as well as Orlando, where Trivium is based. Students can find out more info at Other than that we will be touring and writing.

SDM: What were you doing before Trivium?

Paul: Prior to Trivium, I was drumming for the hit musical ‘Rock of Ages’ and at home (for fun) I sing and play guitar for a Nirvana tribute, called ‘Smells Like Nirvana’ (not to be confused with the VEGAS version). Check out and I really love Nirvana and it’s real fun stepping out of my comfort zone as a front man :) I think it’s really opening up doors for my drumming because I’m thinking bigger, like the whole picture as opposed to overanylizing.

SDM: What gear are you using?

Paul: For sticks I’m using Vic Firth’s Extreme 5Bs. For heads I’m using all Evans drum heads, including their Heavyweight 14” snare batter, G2s on the Toms and Kicks. For cymbals I’m using all Meinl MB20s. I have 14” MB20 hats, 18” and 19” MB20 crashes, 20” MB20 ride, and a 18” MB20 china. For shells, we are using rental kits. I recently signed on with a new drum company, and the announcement will be in May, but the configuration is two 20 x 22” kick drums, two rack toms, and two floors, with one 14” snare.

SDM: Do you endorse all the companies you are using?

Paul: I’ve been a Vic Firth artist for the past 6 years, as well as an Evans artist for the past 6 years. I’m in the market for a cymbal sponsor and as mentioned, I signed on with one of the biggest drum companies in the world and I couldn’t be happier.

SDM: Any other news to share?

Paul: We got to meet Nikki Sixx! He came on the bus and then watched our whole set at the Roxy, he said that he loves Trivium’s new album. I told Nikki that I went thru a Tommy Lee phase when I was like 15 haha (who hasn’t though haahah).



SDM: Alright, thanks for keeping us up to speed Paul. We wish you continued health, happiness and success.

Paul: Thank you SDM!

Vic Firth, Trick, Meinl, Evans performing artist

Sick Drummer Magazine, Modern Drummer Freelance Columnist

Berklee College of Music Alumnus

“A must see drummer live” ~ Rod Morgenstein (Winger, Dixie Dregs)


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