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Drummer Andrew Hurley

Going the distance to live the mania ...

 

by Atom Willard

 

 

That fact that Fall Out Boy has flourished for over a decade-and-a-half, with its original lineup I might add, is not only a testament to their fortitude, but also to the positive mindset of this Chicago-bred foursome. Andrew Hurley might not be the face of the band, but he’s certainly the pulse of their driving beats and mega-hit success. You don’t live to see another year, or tour for that matter, in the music business without taking a few lumps and riding a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Experiencing this in his career and his personal life, Mr. Hurley has taken the good with the bad and is determined to go the distance to live the mania.

 

Atom Willard: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you walk us through what made you play the drums in the first place?

Andrew Hurley: I guess I got into playing drums because of Metallica and Slayer. Mainly (Dave) Lombardo and a lot of the bay area Thrash bands. I think I discovered Metallica when I was with my sister at a record store when I was four. Ride the Lightning had just come out and I was allowed to choose two records, so it was that and the first Van Halen album, but I think Metallica stuck with me more at the time. Metallica was just crazier and scarier, and that instantaneously made me want to play the drums. I remember mowing the lawn and daydreaming about playing the drums in a band. I was banging on pots and pans and things until I could join band in school and then get a drum set.

 

AW: Were your parents receptive to your attraction to the drums?


AH: They were. I think my mom knew I was a drummer from day one. I don’t know why this happened, but I started playing saxophone in middle school while I was taking drum lessons and I really don’t know why I did that. By the end of middle school I was in the percussion section, and in high school, I met other kids who would introduce me to different bands. It was always Metal, and I just got deeper and deeper into it.

 

AW: Do you still mainly listen to Metal? Anything new?

AH: Yeah, that’s mostly it. There’s a band Vektor, very much like Voivod, even down to their logo. Then another Thrash band, Lich King. I’ve always loved the new stuff. You know, there’s usually a very long list of misses too, but when I do find something I connect with, it almost feels like when I was a kid looking through magazines and listening to any band that had a logo that looked like another Thrash or Death Metal band I loved. When you finally find a band and music that speaks to you, it’s worth it. The journey and discovery is so much fun.

 

AW: Aside from the school band, what was your first Rock band experience?

AH: I had a friend named Leroy who was into Thrash, but also Punk like NOFX and Rancid. We started this band called Global Scam. I wish I had a recording of that stuff now because I’m sure it was all over the place! That turned into a band called Straightforward with friends from high school. That was the first ‘serious’ band where we were kind of on to something.

It was a great learning experience; we mainly played local shows in Milwaukee, but also some shows in Chicago. From there, I met some vegan kids and we did a vegan straight edge band called Killtheslavemaster. After that, I was asked to play drums in Racetraitor who were also from Chicago. That was the rst band that toured and played shows in California and New York.

 

AW: What year?

AH: 1996-97 was when I joined Racetraitor. I was still in high school when we would do those week-long tours on school breaks.

 

AW: So, the natural progression of playing a few shows, that turned into a few more, that become actual tours, taught you how to be in a band?

AH: Yeah. Unlike today, it was a vastly different scenario to get your music out and be heard. You were almost more protected as a shitty band in high school, just trying to figure things out. Then, as we played more shows and played in more bands, venturing out further and further, our skills were evolving. Whereas today, you can post something online and the whole world can hear and see it.

 

AW: And you don’t even really need to know how to play!
AH: Exactly. So, that’s when I started playing with Pete Wentz, who was in-and-out of that band. We did several bands together until we finally met the other guys and started Fall Out Boy. Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy’s lead guitarist) had been what we called the #1 fan of Killtheslavemaster. He met Patrick (Stump) at a Tower Records while they were both looking at the same record, and that was the band. The rest is history.

 

AW: With that background in grassroots touring, driving yourselves to shows, etc., did you find that you had missed that type of road experience once the FOB machine kicked into gear?

AH: I still do a fair amount of that type of touring, as well. When we had a hiatus, I was filling in for friends’ bands. I did an Earth Crisis tour and we were staying at crust punks’ houses, where they’ll stay up partying until 4 a.m. At that point, I could have got a hotel, but there’s something fun about those extremes.

 

AW: Well, you’re there for the right reasons. You’re there because you love the music and you love the scene.
AH: Yeah, it’s a community aspect that I appreciate. It was the social aspect which drew me to Punk and Hardcore, to begin with.

 

AW: I know you’re heavily into fitness at home. Was that always the case? Are you able to keep that going on the road?

AH: My fitness training came around just before we stopped working in late 2009 and I think it started at a perfect time where I could transition my focus a bit. The hiatus was a weird and very difficult thing initially because we toured for so long and had our schedule laid out a whole year in advance. It was really depressing, lonely, and scary going from that to just nothing. I think it was really good that I got involved with the CrossFit stuff when I did. There’s a place called Gym Jones and the guy who runs it, Mark Twight, is an old Punk Rock dude. They had a bunch of essays up on their site that really spoke to me because it was a very similar thing to what drew me to Punk and Hardcore. It was the same ethos and philosophy and it was really good for me to get into something like that. They’re in Salt Lake City, so I would fly in to train with them. It’s a real community thing. It’s so much better than going to a globe gym where everything is awkward. Through Gym Jones, I met Rob MacDonald who was on that Ultimate Fighter show. He became my coach and my mentor and helped me through that initial time. He’s still one of my best friends. Being vegan and straight edge, it was a natural progression getting into fitness. I was already pretty healthy, although I did tend to eat kind of shitty. (Laughs). Not that I don’t now, but I train pretty hard, so it offsets it a bit. I’m more mindful of what it is I’m eating than I used to be.

 

AW: How do your different projects compare when it comes to the physicality of getting through a set, from Sect to Fall Out Boy, or even The Damned Things.

AH: Well FOB sets are about 90 minutes, but I could play that for 3-4 hours, no problem. With Sect, we do a 20-minute set and I’m barely making it through them, just barely hanging on, especially because we’re only doing a weekend’s worth of shows at a time. It’s a totally different playing muscle, I guess. It’s fast and there are some blast beats and some D-Beat stuff. We practice beforehand, but during the show, I’m just grabbing the sticks harder. It’s rough. The Damned Things is a bit slower and groovier. I feel like I could do extended sets there, too. I’d be nervous if Sect had to do even a 30-minute set!

 

 

AW: How does TDT fit in for you musically? Do you see it as a bridge from the Hardcore world to the more poppy style of Fall Out Boy?

AH: Yeah, I could say that’s true. It was started as more of a Sabbath-ish/Down- type of thing before taking more of a Thin Lizzy-sort of turn. But yeah, it’s sort of a missing link between the two, being much heavier than FOB but people can still sing along with it.

 

 

AW: How does your set-up vary between these three projects?

AH: It’s pretty much the same. I just started adding a second floor tom on the right side for the heavier stuff, but I don’t really use it that often. I like the simplicity of a 4-piece kit. No matter what you’re playing, be able to master that, no matter what.

 

AW: Are you a double pedal guy?

AH: Yeah, I use a double pedal. It’s always there; I’ll either mess around with it for fills or sometimes add a straight double bass part in a Fall Out Boy song to make the other guys turn around and laugh.

 

AW: Is there a “looseness” with Fall Out Boy? When you’re in that setting with all kinds of production, are you able to change things on the fly or are you playing along with tracks?

AH: Yeah, I’m on a click and there are some keyboards and strings on a couple of the newer songs. I would say that out of the three bands, FOB has the most potential to have something change-up mid-set. We just have so many more songs, so there’s more opportunity. In fact, during our recent shows, there’s a part where Patrick will go out onto this other section of the stage and play the piano. There were some technical problems, so he just started playing these cover songs off the top of his head. None of us knew there were tech issues so we were just like, “What is he doing??” But it was really great. So FOB can be the most rigid and structured, but also has the potential to be the most chaotic.

 

photo: Dave Philips

 

AW: When you’re writing new music with any of your projects, how do you approach the drum parts? At what point are you con dent and comfortable with what you’re playing?

AH: I’ve been fortunate enough to work with songwriters who have a pretty good idea of what it is that they want to hear. So, they’ll already have some notes or they’ve programmed ideas and there’s already a template there. For me, everything is done on my off time. With Sect it’s during off time from Fall Out Boy, or vice versa. And we’re usually on a tight schedule to get something done, so there’s not a lot of time to work things out. We’re not the kind of band that will spend months in the rehearsal space writing a record. What we’ve been doing is have the other guys get the songs to a point where there’s something ready to record, I’d say about 70% done. Then I’ll come in, hear the song, and play something on it to take back with me. Patrick will give me notes for different things he’s got in mind, different accents or whatever, then I’ll come back and play on it for real. It all happens pretty quickly, really. Even after the recording, the songs kind of continually evolve for me. I’ll record them and it’s usually a ‘first idea’-type of situation, which I don’t mind because I think my instincts are usually not too bad.

 

AW: Has your drum kit evolved over the years?

AH: It’s pretty much stayed the same. I have occasionally added a second floor tom, an 18” right next to my 16”, but it’s nothing that’s been a permanent part of the kit. My kit has been the same forever. I think I’m more de ned by functionality; functional things make sense to me. I’ve found a set-up that works for me and until I get as good as Dave Weckl, it’s not gonna change...and that’s not gonna happen! (Laughs).

 

AW: Have you stayed with the same size kick drum?

AH: Yeah, anytime I’ve tried something different it just didn’t feel right. Shallower kicks have been coming into style lately and I’ve just stayed with what feels comfortable and sounds good to me.

 

AW: Do you have any musical goals that you’d like to reach? Anything left to conquer?

AH: I don’t think so. I mean, I want to continue to do things, but if I died today, I’d be more than stoked with all of my accomplishments. Well, we were supposed to play Antarctica and be the first band to play all seven continents, but it didn’t happen because of the weather. Then Metallica ended up getting there first. I’d still like to play there though because that’d be a story. I want to play all the weird places and as many countries as I can, so that’s something I still want to do.

 

AW: Is that your favorite part of touring, seeing things you’ve never seen before and going to places you’ve never been?

AH: Going to strange countries and seeing weird stuff while doing this thing I love, that’s pretty special. I think everyone should just do what it is that they want to do. Don’t be paralyzed by the fear of failure, failing is what teaches you the most. I think it’s just a matter of doing it. Do whatever it is, get it out into the world, and learn from it. The things that can seem so scary at first are just moments you need to get through, and then you realize it wasn’t that bad. So, do everything, forever.  -HC-

 

- reprinted with expressed written permission DW's Edge Magazine -

                                                                      

 

_______________________________________________

photo credits: Scott Sandberg & David Phillips

 



Atom Willard got his start at 16 years old recording and touring with Rocket From The Crypt. After he left Rocket, he went on to tour with the Alkaline Trio and Moth. Atom joined ranks with Pat Wilson of Weezer to release the record, "Land Air Sea" from their band, The Special Goodness in 2003, which saw Pat playing guitar and singing. After touring with The Special Goodness, Willard joined the Offspring and hit the road with them from 2003-2007. Atom joined Angels and Airwaves after his touring commitments with the Offspring and briefly toured with Social Distortion in 2010. Atom is currently touring with Against Me!

 

 

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