Sh*tty Starter Kits and Overflowing Schedules: An Interview with Chris Hornbrook (Senses Fail, Poison The Well, Big Black Delta)

Ouchthehertzpic

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chris Hornbrook, a professional drummer with an impressive, practically mile-long list of credits, including- but not limited to-  Poison The Well, Senses Fail, and Big Black Delta.

An integral part of the hardcore and punk scenes of the ’90s and 2000s, Chris has been slamming his way through a vastly extensive musical career, coming back recently from touring with Senses Fail on the Vans Warped Tour (and subsequently heading back out on the road again with Silverstein this winter).

We talked about a multitude of things- from awful starter kits to learning methods and crazy schedules and everything in between!

Ouch That Hertz!: So, I know you started off playing guitar and alto sax when you were a kid, but what made you pick up percussion instead?

Chris: To be honest, I just wanted to shred and pump out some preteen aggression and frustration. Literally, to see how long it would take me to rip through a drum head. That was my first conceptual thought for wanting to drum. I would watch Dave Grohl play with Nirvana and just wreck his kit. His playing was always so powerful and musical to me. Plus, fuck, a 15×15 rack tom is just begging to get pummeled.

OTH!: What was the first kit that you ever played on?

Chris: A five piece CB Percussion “ little shitter” drum kit.  22”, 12”, 13”, 16” with a 14” metal snare. Not sure of the actual material, not that it really mattered.  It was probably ply wood (joking). I think the kit also came with CB Percussion cymbals and hardware, as well.  They were something special, let me tell you. lol

OTH!: You’re (mostly) a self-taught drummer (which, by the way, is mighty impressive!) and an extremely accomplished musician. Do you ever regret not taking more private lessons? 

Chris: Thank you! Well, I’m predominately self taught, but I did take about two years of lessons when I first started out. I honestly don’t remember much from them, just this one quad groove that I still dick around with from time to time. From what I can recall, the guy teaching me was totally phoning it in most of our lessons. I only really cared about playing and imitating the drummers I was obsessed with back then. I think he thought that it was more important to learn from books, which now, I don’t disagree with that notion.  I’m sure dealing with me for thirty minutes couldn’t have been easy. Back then I couldn’t be bothered with learning how to read, I just wanted to fuck shit up.

Somewhat recently I took lessons with a notable Hollywood drummer that helped me refine my hand and foot technic. It greatly helped me really utilize the energy that I was communicating through my limbs and make things easier when I play. There is something serious to be said about consolidating and refining your tools and knowledge.

OTH!: Alright, I’ve always wondered this: What hardcore/punk band/bands caught your attention and made you realize that you wanted to play heavier music? What was it that you heard that made you realize, “Yeah, this.  I want to play this.”?

Chris: The local South Florida hardcore scene really did it for me, I couldn’t just pin point one band. I remembered being in awe that you could make this really heavy and intense music, record records and then play some shows locally and out of state. It seemed like such a foreign concept to me at the time, but something that was really enticing. It really went against what I was told “how things went” from my dad.

OTH!: I know a lot of musicians who have pre-show rituals to get their jitters out before they take the stage. Do you have a pre-show ritual and, if so, what does it involve?

Chris: I normally sit on my practice pad and warm up for about 30 – 45 minutes. After that I’ll stretch out for another 10 – 15 minutes. Internally, I try to stay calm and focus, while consolidating my energy for the show. I’ll actually get a little tired right before we go on.

OTH!: How was playing Warped this summer (besides swelteringly hot)? Any advice or words of wisdom for those who wish to embark on this tour in the future?

Chris: Yeah, way too fucking hot! But, no, I was cool,  just very different from prior years that I had performed. Obviously times change and the festival has to adapt every year to the changing climate in music and culture.  I would say if you’re going to perform on the tour, wear sunscreen everyday, bring lots of wet wipes, be prepared to wait in lots of lines, and try not to get involved with drama. That will make your Warped Tour experience pleasurable most indeed!

OTH!: So, you had a couple of Poison The Well reunion shows this summer, you just wrapped up tour with Senses Fail, you’ve got new Senses Fail material releasing soon, new Big Black Delta material is on its way, you’re a session musician, and you have a side-project in the works- how on earth do you keep up with it all? Any tips for other musicians who’d like to tackle multiple projects?

Chris: I’ve been really fortunate so far to have all my schedules coincide nicely with one another. When one thing ends, another one picks up. Obviously this won’t always be the case, but for now, I’m grateful and stoked that is has been. I love what I do and want to spend as much time furthering that love.  I feel like because of that, it doesn’t feel like work, so it’s somewhat effortless to make it all happen.

OTH!: Speaking of Poison The Well- can fans expect some new music heading to their ears any time soon?

Chris: That would be super cool, but I can’t confirm that as of now. I honestly have no idea if it will actually happen.

OTH!: If you could dabble in any other genre of music, what would it be and why?

Chris: Hip Hop. Mainly because of how opposite it is from what I do. Lots of staccato playing, but it all has great feel to it. I’d have to be way more light handed.

OTH!: In previous interviews, you’ve stated your favorite drummers and/or main influences. Do you have any favorite (current) underdogs/rookie drummers?

Chris: Can’t say that I do off the top of my head. I’ll probably think of a few after the interview is over.

OTH!: I know it’s a super cliché thing to ask, but where are your top five places (cities) to play in the U.S.?

Chris:  OC/LA area, San Fran,  Miami/ Fort Lauderdale, Portland, and New York City.

OTH!: I always like to end my interviews with a fun and odd question: If you could watch any “celebrity” (including musicians, actors, etc.) mud wrestle an alligator, who would it be?

Chris: Donald Trump because FUCK THAT GUY. I hope the alligator fucks him up. 🙂


As mentioned above, Senses Fail will be hitting the road again this fall/winter on a co-headlining tour with Silverstein, featuring support from Hundredth and Capsize.

You can check out the promotional flyer below.  Dates and Tickets can be found on the official Senses Fail website.

sensesfailtour

 

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