I got a practice pad set when i was 12 and messed around on it every once and a while.¬† My dad is a guitarist and I was lucky enough to go to a lot of jam parties where I got to play real drums with an array of different musicians.¬† This taught me a lot about ther styles of music, other then metal, and a good approach to playing a drum set in general. I definitely learned a lot from the other drummers both through questions and visually watching them play. Basically being self taught I did most of my learning hrough watching any drummer I could.
I continued to mess around with the drums in some bands, more like jokes, for a few years and stepped away from playing when I was 15.¬† I got back into playing right around 18.¬† I spent a few years playing in bands that practiced 4 or 5 hours a week, not a hole lot.¬† Around 20 I stepped it up and was playing 10 to 20 hours a week.¬† I studied with a great local drummer for a few months and learned about other styles and techniques, probably one of the best things I ever did.¬† After joining Cephalic Carnage my playing began to take me around the world and has always challenged my playing.¬† I've since recorded several Cd's with Cephalic, a few Cd's with my dad, and a few Cd's with Secret Chiefs 3.
John Merryman Interview:
SD.com: When did you start playing drums?
John: I started playing when I was 12, quit for a few years from 15 to 18 and then got serious about my playing around 20 or so.
SD.com: Do you play in a school band or any drum corps?
John: I played trumpet for four years throughout elementary school and played orchestral percussion in my school bands in middle school and my freshman year of high school.
SD.com: Have you ever taken any lessons?
John: I learned to read and understand notation in elementary school with the trumpet.¬† As far as drums I considered going to college for jazz and commercial music at around age 22.¬† In preparation for this, trying to get a scholarship through my playing, I studied with a great local drummer for about 8 months. He taught me the basics about most other styles of music, other than metal, and brought me back to learning and teaching myself again.¬† Probably one of the best things I've done for my playing.
SD.com: What album do you think best represents your playing?
John: I've been lucky enough to have recorded several styles of music, both with all the variety of Cephalic Carnage to working with my dad and Tres Spruance.¬† I always strive to improve my playing with every Cephalic album, so our latest release, "Xenosapien", probably has some of my best playing. The new Secret Chiefs 3 CD, hopefully out in early 2008, also has some of my most challenging performances.
SD.com: Who are your top 5 influences?
John: My favorite drummer for the last 8 or 9 years is by far Carter Beauford from The Dave Mathews Band. The band might not be your thing but his drumming techniques and tastefulness is incredible and inspiring.¬† Some more drummers on my list would have to be Sean Reinert, Dave Weckl, Stewart Copeland and Gene Hoglan.
SD.com: Assuming that influences doesn't mean favorites, who are your favorites?
John: I love listening to anything Steve Gadd has recorded, he so plays for the music.¬† For variety and amazing musical expression I also love listening to Billy Cobham, Tim Alexander, Danny Carey, Phil Collins, Josh Freese, Gavin Harrison, Mike Bordlin, Johnny Rabb and Brann Dailor.¬† Thats just a few off the top of my head.
SD.com: Let us know 3 Cd's that are in your current personal rotation
John: Porcupine Tree - I Absentia, A Perfect Circle - Thirteenth Step & any Dave Matthews Cd
SD.com: Do you practice any specific rudiments or combo's regularly?
John: I practice different combos of singles, doubles, paradidles and flam's.¬† In creating between those 4 rudiments you can pretty much create any other rudiment combo.
SD.com: What is your favorite part of your drum kit?
John: That's a hard question, without one part the other just isn't as cool.¬† If I had to choose I would have to go with my cymbals.¬† I just signed with Meinl and now have a new and incredibly fun cymbal set up to play around with.¬† I love getting all the different expressions and sounds from each cymbal.
SD.com: If you could give one piece of advice to younger drummers, it would be...
John: Learn what techniques work best for you and commit to practice, starting at the beginning.¬† You need to learn through your patience, and starting at the beginning and not taking shortcuts will make you ten times the drummer ten times faster.
SD.com: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
John: Pink Floyd, Momentary Lapse of Reason tour 1987.
SD.com: If you had to stop drumming, what else do you want to do with your life?
John: Spend more time with my family, work more on my house and just enjoy the things I miss out on being on the road all the time.
SD.com: Do you play or teach any other styles of drumming in you spare time?
John: I teach a few students here in Denver, working with them on techniques, other styles and generally all the basics they've jumped past in their playing. I also hope to put together an instructional dvd soon