We hooked up with Filter at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo, NY on 6/28 for a quick interview with the new drummer, Mika Fineo. Thanks to Bari at MSO for coordinating.
* If you would rather watch the video interview, it's posted on the Sick Drummer YouTube Channel .
SDM: So, you have been playing since you were about 9 and also playing piano for 15 years? Is this correct?
Mika: Yea, since I was 3, so most of my life
SDM: Are you still playing piano?
Mika: Yes, I use it more for writing and stuff like that. I wouldn't say I'm going on tour with anyone playing the piano anytime soon...haha
SDM: One of my questions was going to be about how you ended up with Filter, but we know that you hooked up with the guys at Pulse and Richard. Without rehashing everything that everyone has probably already asked you, what was it like going from Red Skeleton & Waking Season to Filter?
Mika: I was with Waking Season down in Florida, which was basically a Rock, singer-songwriter band negotiating deals. That fell through and I moved to L.A and started working with Red Skeleton, the singer was a friend of mine from Florida. We got a deal with Geffen and were doing pretty good, had a good deal, had a bunch of money put into it and recorded at Pulse (which was were filter was). So I had like two years invested and had a lot of blood, sweat & tears into it. When the Filter gig came up, I kinda knew that Geffen was on rocky road, so I was just keeping my options open at the time. When I got the call from Filter it was pretty much a guaranteed yes, so all the time I put into Skeleton was pretty hard to walk away from. It took me about a week of not sleeping (really didn't sleep for about a week) trying to figure out what I was going to do. I just trusted my gut and it turned out Skeleton got dropped from Geffen, 3 days after I said yes to Filter, so I guess I did the right thing.
SDM: So were the guys in Red Skeleton looking to attract other label interest with you playing, after Geffen shut down?
Mika: Yea, they are writing a new album that's not going to be part of Geffen. So it's good to be out of that whole situation and probably just go Indy. I mean, screw the major label system, it's just a waste of time anyway.
SDM: In a lot of the things I've seen and heard you play, it's mostly jazz and more down beat rock music. I see your DW9000's over there and I wonder, did you do much double pedal work prior to Filter?
Mika: I've always been a fan of it really, but I was never one of the Derek Roddy type guys who just set their feet on go and do wierd things (I hate you Derek...haha).
SDM: Did you find yourself having to work on the doubles, to play some of Filters songs that required it?
Mika: Not really, it's not anything that crazy, you know. It's more just for accents and some blasts through certain parts. I'm using them a lot more than on the album I've noticed, but it's been fairly simple. I've had them my whole life and I still get a kick out of them. If they're not there it's kinda weird when I'm playing rock. I've actually been going through this double bass thing lately that's killing me! Where one of my ears has been going in and out when I'm going for things. So I'm going through this little psychological thing in my mind where I'm sucking right now, but don't know... It's strange.
SDM: We covered that you play piano, so we know you can read music. Do you read & write drum notation as well?
Mika: Yes, I studied with a lot of drum corp teachers and it sucked, but I'm glad I did it.
SDM: Did that come into play at all auditioning for Filter? With the amount of time you had to learn the material, did you have to chart at all?
Mika: Not really... I knew the music really well. If anything, I would just use a notepad, you know. 8 bars, 4 bars, rest etc... Like my own jibberish, but I din't have to learn any music from sheets or anything. It's all fairly straight forward and from the ear.
SDM: Talking about some of the projects you've done and working with guys like Steve Rucker of the Bee Gees, who was your teacher correct? (Mika: yes) Whether it be a project or a teacher, what would you say has done the most to advance your personal playing and comfort level behind the kit?
Mika: Technique! Steve would break down everything, like: muscles, form, posture, everything and completely rebuilt the way I was playing drums. It was hard as hell at first, but once I got it, it became a relaxed way of playing rather than forcing it out. Now, it's really the only way to play. He got me into some really weird technical things. He would give me charts like the anatomy of the arm or hand and show me what I was using, it was just crazy stuff! Teaching me about matched grip and how to leave space between the fingers and all about the movement that goes into it.
SDM: (talking about his sticks) I saw you holding that there, is that brand new, with the signature?
Mika: Yea, I just got these Vater sticks, which are actually the universal size
SDM: I was talking about the signature on it...
Mika: Ahhh, we just got them in today
SDM: Well congrats, that's pretty cool man
Mika: At least I can think I'm cool... haha
SDM: Well you know that Sick Drummer Magazine is promoting the underground extreme metal drummers and it seems to be going very well. Are you into any of that type of music personally?
Mika: Oh yea... Necrophagist, Nile, Hate Eternal... all those guys. I definitely get my metal in when I can
SDM: Do you ever like to play any of that type of stuff?
Mika: Yea, well you probably couldn't do a lick of it on this kit. When we get the 8" 10" 12" 14" going on, I sure like to shred when I can. It's always fun to sit back and torque out on that stuff! I just don't think I can get away with that right now.. haha
SDM: Well it's a beautiful looking drumset right there, so how are you enjoying working with Spaun?
Mika: They're Great! Brian is one of the nicest guys I've met and he really takes care of me. Anything I need he just hooks me up. They make great drums, great product and he made these hoops by hand. They didn't just order them from Yamaha or something, he made them. I wanted the heads to sit like this and have the collar recessed under the wood hoop and Brain was like, Why? But he did it anyways... So these one's here you can't see the collar, but on this Yamaha snare you can. Just little stuff like that, you know. He's very nice and takes care of his clients very well, so I'm proud to be an endorsing artist to those guys.
Sabian has been great too! Chris is my guy over there and they are really just an amazing company to work with. They really bent over backwards to get me set up with a studio line & a live line and I just couldn't be happier. Everything is working out great.
SDM: Did you ever think you would be sitting behind Richard Patrick playing drums in Filter?
Mika: No, at least not in a band that I liked.
SDM: Has it been like culture shock or something?
Mika: A little bit I guess. When I made the move out to L.A, I kind of had the game plan. I figured I would get a gig with a band that I wasn't really into, but would be a great opportunity. Then this came along and I get to go on tour with a band that I really like, so it's been a trip every night. Playing these songs is not like work for me. Once I sit up here I'm just relaxed, so it's different from getting a gig with someone who's huge, but you don't really enjoy playing the music. You just do it because the pay and situations are right, but with Filter it's fun. They are the nicest guys I've ever worked with and they're all great musicians.
SDM: Do you guys always try to do these kinds of things before a show, like go where you are about to go?
Mika: We try to if we can. If we're in the backwoods we just mess with each other and do pranks or stuff like that. But if we can get some hang time in there, movies are pretty cool during the day. You know, we like to shoot dogs and hunt people too.. haha just kidding.
SDM: Thanks for the interview Mika. We wish you good luck and continued success with Filter and your endorsements. We're glad to be here and hope to see you again.
Mika: Thank you, I appreciate it and Thanks for your time...