Interview with Guido Wyss in August 2008 - The Missing Lick

Are you thinking heavy metal drumming cannot be combined with jazz influences? Maybe you know the mighty WATCHTOWER and say that there are no jazz elements in Rick Colalucaīs drumming at all. Maybe you know the Norwegian masters SPIRAL ARCHITECT and say that there are only hints of jazz in Asgeir Mickelsonīs drumming. Maybe you know the resurrected CYNIC and say that there are almost no metal elements in Sean Reinertīs drumming. But Iīd bet you donīt know Guido Wyss, a young drummer from Switzerland who shows that a fusion of jazz and heavy metal is possible. Take a look at his videos on youtube and your jaw will drop! Read this interview and you will know the secret of Guidoīs drumming!

ragazzi: "With ENIGMATIK you play death metal - isnīt that style a bit too limited for a drummer like you?"

Guido: "No, I do not think so - in my opinion Enigmatik is the band where I have the most creative freedom... I can play whatever I want and my band mates even ask me to play more crazy drum stuff... In Enigmatik we want to bring other styles (jazz, élèctro, contemporary) in our music."

ragazzi: "In LYSERGIC SUNSHINE it is sort of psychedelic punk and might be even less demanding for you."

Guido: "Physically it is not comparable to Enigmatik, but the musical implication is similar. I am playing for more than ten years now with two of the other members of Lysergic Sunshine and in this band the things that are most difficult to handle are the dynamics and the feeling for improvisations."

ragazzi: "Are metal and punk among your favorite playing styles?"

Guido: "Yes, since the beginning of my career as a drummer I was rocked by the riffs of heavy metal. Whenever I play this musical style I am feeling the power and energy of the music especially by playing blast beats. Furthermore I like playing very fast and these styles imply the highest tempos at all."

ragazzi: "Do you have any other bands or projects at the moment?"

Guido: "Yes, I am playing for a long time with Derrick in a trio (bass machines, voice and drum set); we will play our first concert from grindcore to polka. I also have another project (noise electro) called Commando Noïse Terror with various speakers."

ragazzi: "Are you also working as a session drummer?"

Guido: "I am working with technical death metal band from Switzerland which is called Dark Rise. We are started recording an album in September which will be produced in the Herz Studio in Poland (Vader, Decapitated). At the moment I am building a recording studio in my house; that will make it easy for me to record my drum tracks at home. Some gigs are also in sight and I am going to record a double CD with Last Sacrament, a progessive death metal band from Orlando in the end of 2008, one CD will be based on a film with atmospheric and experimental sounds and the other one will be progressive death metal."

ragazzi: "By the way how did you develop your impressive technical skills?"

Guido: "I am always looking for my limits with Enigmatik. Playing these extremely fast tempos allowed me to develop my speed of double gravity by using quadruple pedals.
On the other hand I am practicing polyrhythms a lot."

ragazzi: "Do you have a special practice method or concept?"

Guido; "I practice my various sets (Enigmatik, Lysergic Sunshine etc.) with playbacks several times a day, always with the click then I am working on new exercises which I transpose into a book. By adding syncopation or using several other concepts I am gettimg many different groupings and finally grooves."

ragazzi: "Did you learn with drum-teachers or on your own?"

Guido: "I started taking drum lessons at the age of eleven with Dominick Paoloni. From 1995 to 1999 I studied classical percussion and double bass at the Music Conservatory in Neuchatel, taking classes of the respected teachers Laurent Decennick and Marc-Antoine Bonnanomi. From 1997 to 1999 I have been attending drumming courses at the EJMA School in Lausanne with François Bauer and Marcel Papaux. From 1999 to 2005 I studied at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern taking classes of Ueli Müller and Billy Brooks who introduced me to the jazz language and philosophy."

ragazzi: "Did or do you still have role models in terms of drumming or music in general?"

Guido: "Yes, King Crimson because this band has always been state of the art and really progressive for this reason!"

ragazzi: "Do you have a favorite groove?"

Guido: "It is a double gravity blast beat; I play it with my quadruple pedals. Another one is an incredible groove which is on the Spectrum album by Billy Cobham - the song is called "Quadrant 4". It is a sort of speed shuffle played on double bass drums and I play it as a tribute on a piece of Enigmatik called "Green Fairy"."

ragazzi: "Your videos on youtube show that your playing style is highly sophisticated; how many years did you need to develop it?"

Guido: "I playing the drums since 1992 and the techniques of one hand roll and the giant step pedals since 2000."

ragazzi: "Your drumming is the best proof that music has no boundaries; did you already find a band to show the whole spectrum of your abilities?"

Guido: "Yes, I just contacted King Crimson ;-) I would like to find the perfect line up for playing music without boundaries but it seems to be very complicated!"

ragazzi: "Wouldnīt a band like SPASTIC INK be an ideal playground for you?"

Guido: "Yes, that would be fantastic! If ever Bobby injures himself I will be there."

ragazzi: "What style or what kind of music should your dream band play?"

Guido: "Contempory electro jazz brutal grind slagger!"

ragazzi: "Do you plan to record a solo CD?"

Guido: "Yes, I am peparing for such a project in 2009."

ragazzi: "How about releasing a showcase DVD?"

Guido: "Yes, I plan to realize a DVD which will deal with new techniques, the use of cymbals and the use of samples. At the end of 2008 we will release an Enigmatik live DVD."

ragazzi: "You run a music school, so what is more fun to do: teaching or playing with a band?"

Guido: "Teaching is great because it strengthens my basis to the instrument enormously and it allows me to pay my bills and to manage my different projects which demand a lot of time, but my real life is on stage."

ragazzi: "Isnīt it a little obstructive for your career as a drummer to teach drums regularly?"

Guido: "Not at the moment because I am teaching only for three days a week and there are holidays at my Music School too. I can handle my lessons very flexible if I have to play gigs or recording sessions."

ragazzi: "Please desribe your set-up and why you play especially these brands and sizes."

Guido: "Okay but describing my set-up will take a little longer... I use a Sonor Delite drum set with two 22" /17,5" bass drums. I use this size for its sound but especially for the touch concerning my pedals. I am using short toms in 8", 10", 12", 14" and 16". I have to use them with Aquarian Classic Clear skins for getting the right attack. The snare drum is of the same range like the toms. It has the size 14"/5,5" for a very precise and fat sound. I use two Sonor Giant Step twin effect pedals, they are incredible because you can play them like normal pedals but by playing them with a different technique you get double speed! I also use some other Giant Step twin pedals for various instruments. On my left I have a Roland TD-12 drum kit which allows me to generate lots of cool sounds. Cymbalwise I use Meinl: two Rides, a huge stack, six Crystal China prototypes, some big and thick crashes and a whole arsenal of effect cymbals. I am bery happy to be to endorsed by all these great companies that allow me to use such fantastic instruments."

ragazzi: "What are the advantages of an electro-acoustic hybrid set-up?"

Guido: "I am rather compulsive as a drummer and I always added a multitude of elements on my left (tom, snare, percussion). There I have an electric drum kit with a whole arsenal of sounds and I also use it to start samples in live situations."

ragazzi: "Did you ever play classical percussion in a symphony orchestra?"

Guido: "Not really, but in 2002 I played in an orchestra."

ragazzi: "Can you imagine leading a world percussion orchestra with players from every continent?"

Guido: "Oh yes, whenever and wherever you want!"

ragazzi: "Do you have a dream relating to music?"

Guido: "To be able to make a living from the music that I like without any compromises."

ragazzi: "What do you do to make this dream come true?"

Guido: "All that is possible!"

ragazzi:" What plans do you have for the next six months?"

Guido: "Recording a live DVD with Enigmatik at Rock o'z arènes (13.08.08), out in 2009 on Thundering Records, recording the new Lisergic Sunshine album (1.09.08 - 5.09.08), out in 2009 on Label Verte, session recordings for Dark Rise from Lausanne (17.09.08 - 27.09.08), out at the end of 2008, session recordings for Last Sacrment from Orlando (1.10.08 - 15.10.08), out in 2009, recording the new Enigmatik album (1.11.08 - 21.11.08), out in 2009 and last but not least preparations for my DVD (hyper blast beats, polyrhythms, quadruple pedals, creative use of cymbals etc.) The release is planned for 2009."

Frank Bender