By William Henneberger
There is no denying the musical impact of Megadeth. I don’t hold it against the band that the worst person I have ever met was a huge fan. In fact, when I had to hack that person’s email and guess their favorite band and color, thanks to Megadeth, I was already half way there.
I came of age, closer to the middle of the musical spectrum… The teenaged version of myself might describe it as ‘somewhere between punk and queer’. Either way. I knew I couldn’t confidently talk Megadeth with drummer Shawn Drover, so instead we split our conversation between the following… enjoy.
V:You’ve been with Megadeath for almost a decade, before you joined the band, were you a huge fan, and now, when you look out over your kit on stage, do you still feel like a fan?
SD:When I first joined, it was kind of a shock, to an extent… being thrust into the band six days before the tour started was when I joined. You settle into it after a while because you’ve got a job to do. I never lose sight of the fact that I’m in one of my favorite heavy metal bands of all time. It’s a great place to be and I’m proud to be here and happy to be part of this organization. I’ve been here nine years now, which is a long time and I look forward to many more years doing this. It’s a great gig for me, and a great opportunity, so I definitely don’t take it for granted.
V:Can you name a couple of people or things that you’d like to hit besides the drums?
SD:That’s a loaded question isn’t it… You know what I’d like to hit, and this is something I hit often, a golf ball. I’m a big time golfer. I try to play as often as I can both on tour and off. It’s actually a pretty funny question because our tour manager always brings his golf clubs out on the road when we play North America and we’ve already made plans, on days off to go out and play as much as possible.
That’s the thing about being on tour, a lot of time boredom is your biggest enemy because when you have a day off it’s all fine and dandy, but by 1pm you’ve pretty much done everything you want to do. To me it’s always a matter of trying to stay busy and stay productive on the road. Boredom is a real drag for me, so I try to stay busy and golf provides a lot of fun for me. So, if I want to hit anything, it would be a golf ball. That’s a passion of mine and something I try to do as much as possible.
V:It looks like you have a day off between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City, any chance you might hit the beach or do some local golfing?
SD:If we have a day off, let me tell you, chances are I’ll be on a golf course somewhere.
V:You started playing drums at 13… My son is 14 now and I play the drums a little bit, but he doesn’t seem to be into it very much. Do you think I should just see if it happens naturally or make him do it like some parents do?
SD:Absolutely not. You can’t force it. If anything I think nowadays that kids rebel against it. If they want to do something, they’ll let you know, and that’s something that they need to develop on their own. My son’s a drummer, he started when he was about 10 or 11, I never gave him a lesson, obviously he watched me play, but he kind of learned how I learned. Just by playing along to records and watching other players.
The benefit of growing up now is you can type in on Youtube, ‘drum instruction’ or ‘best drummers’, and get a thousand results, and really learn a lot from that. When I was learning we didn’t have that kind of thing, but what I did was just play along to records which is how my son learned to play and he’s a fantastic drummer, but he’s completely self-taught.
To answer your question, I didn’t force it. I didn’t say, ‘I’m a drummer, so you need to be a drummer’, ‘You need to be a musician’, I never said anything to him about it. The kit was there, if he wanted to play it he would and I’m glad to say that he did gravitate towards it and he’s a great drummer as a result. You can’t force that kind of thing. If it happens, let it happen naturally.
V:Do your kids share your musical taste, or are they into different stuff?
SD:My son’s really into a lot of heavy more modern kinds of stuff, but he likes old Van Halen and old Sabbath and stuff like Rush as well, but he likes a lot of the newer music like Killswitch Engage. His taste is quite eclectic; it’s not just brutal metal all the time. He likes a lot of different types of music, as do I. I think it’s good to shake it up a lot, just listening to one kind of music… you can become stale as a musician.
V:What artist do you listen to that most people might be surprised to hear?
SD:Frank Zappa. I’ve been listening to Frank since I was in High School. Since I was 14-15 years old, with my buddies, just listening to Joe’s Garage, Sheik Yerbouti, the list goes on and on and on. I think he had 60-70 records that he put out over the course of time. Talk about an eclectic genius, he’s one of the most stellar musicians to ever grace the planet. Terry Bozzio, one of the drummers he’s had, was one of my all time favorite drummers, based on the music that he played with Frank.
So that might be kind of a curveball that some metal fans may not know that I like but I like all kids of music. I can listen to Supertramp one second and put on Kreator the next.
V:With my first pawnshop drum set, the only cymbal I had was an old ride, so I put it where the hi-hats would have gone so I could keep a beat on it. You play with a ride cymbal to the left of your hats, is there a technical benefit to that?
SD:I did it because I was left-handed and I honestly didn’t know any better. When you’re 13 years old, you just kinda jump on a kit and I had no instruction when I was learning to play so I went with how I felt was a comfortable arrangement for the drums and cymbals. Come to find out, as you get older, there are drummers out there who do play open-handed like I do. Lenny White is a fantastic drummer, a Jazz drummer who played with Return To Forever.
There are really no rules for anything. If you’re comfortable and it works for you, have at it and go for it. You don’t have to play a certain way, and that obviously applies to every kind of musical instrument. Jimmy Page didn’t play like Jimmy Hendrix, they had their own style, and that’s what makes them unique. The same can be applied to drums as well, you don’t have to follow instructions or follow a way that somebody tells you. Do what you fell is right.
V:Before you go, can you tell us a little about making the new album Super Collider…
SD:There are a couple songs that are out of left field on this record. In other words, it’s not a total thrash metal album and all that kind of stuff, there’s a couple of songs, one being The Blackest Crow. There’s a real departure, certainly for me, and definitely for Megadeth, that’s probably the song that comes most out of left field, in terms of song structure. It kind of starts off almost like a Bluegrass kind of thing. I was using brushes on the snare and it was interesting, you know I had never done anything like that before so to apply that to a Megadeth record was a unique experience for me.
Obviously the things that I have the most fun with is the faster, heavier stuff… Don’t Turn Your Back or King Maker or a song that I actually wrote called Built For War, which is on the new record. Those are always the more fun things to do because I’m more of an advocate for the heavier kind of tunes, but all-in-all the whole experience of the record for me was actually a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.
Super Collider is out now on Universal, and if you didn’t already know, you can catch Megadeth on Gigantour with Black Label Society, HellYeah and more.