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Mike Terrana

Interview with Mike Terrana from Mike Terrana
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 10 January 2008, 9:04 AM

During  Tarja's sound check a few hours before her debut solo appearance upon the Athenian soil METAL TEMPLE had the genuine pleasure to have a real nice talk with the drum beast Mike Terrana to get the latest info on his DVD release and his plans. Enjoy the reading as much as I did talking to the man!

How did you join Tarja and her band?

Well, years ago when I was with RAGE and were on the Ghosts tour we had NIGHTWISH as the supporting act; I used to see her every now and eventually we became friends. So, after she left NIGHTWISH she went on to do her solo CD by that time I had also left RAGE so she was kind to think of me as the drummer for her upcoming tour.

 You are a session drummer not a full time member of the band?

Yeah, there is one drummer (I think his first name is Earl and he is from the U.S.A) who did an excellent job on the album.

How is the tour so far?

I think the tour is really cool and to be honest with you is one of the nicest one I have ever done in my career.

 (interrupting) Why is that?


The people are very nice and I don’t say that because now I am here with Tarja, but she is probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with; her husband, who is the road manager, he is doing a very good job and personally I have a lot of fun with the rest of the band. Doug Wimbish is a great bass player and he has worked with ROLLING STONES and LIVING COLOR, Alex Scholpp is also a very good guitar player, very nice man, Tarja’s brother is playing drums, guitar, keyboards and he is also a very good singer and Maria Ilmoniemi, the keyboard player, is beautiful and a talented musician. As well as Max Silja and Markus Hohti the cello players are excellent to work with. Everyone in the band is a top notch musician and also a great person; so when you have good people you make good music and this makes sense you know but not all situations are like that (laughs)

Did you like Tarja’s album?

Yeah I like it! I thought that it would be something like NIGHTWISH but it fortunately it is not! Not that I have something against that music but I play a lot of that stuff and I was looking something different and this is different; more Dark, kind of classical, a little bit Progressive and actually a little bit of Pop.

You have also released and instructional DVD Rhythm Of The Beast; what is the feedback so far?

Well, people seem to like it and are impressed with what I did. Although, some people misunderstand me; they think that I am trying to impress them with a drum solo. For me doing a drum solo is a way to express myself and it’s really fun to do that because you get the chance to play with the audience.  And this seemed to be a problem when I was working with RAGE; they didn’t give my space and also did not want to have a drum solo on the show because they thought it was boring and I said Ok; but when we were on the studio, they were quantizing my drumming and covering it with samples. I think that this is completely sacrilegious; if you have a guy who can play drums and has a special groove and sound let him play! I don’t want to get ugly on this but this is why I left RAGE, for artistic reasons; I was pushed back as a musician and this is not fair.

So, all these things lead you to the new instructional DVD?

Actually, yes. I wanted to play like I did back in the 70s when I was happy watching all my idols Ian Paice, Cozy Powell, Tommy Aldridge, John Bonham… when you are listening to those albums you get to listen to their souls since every one has his own sound. So, I made this DVD that is the first part of an instructional series; this one is a performance DVD with me and an old school recording session without all this computer shit! Every one is using one! If they could find a computer to wipe your ass I am sure that a lot of people would let it do it; I wouldn’t trust a machine to wipe my ass… (laughs and other hilarious comments that cannot be printed ;-))

You have been in the music business for almost 30 years. Do you have any regrets?


Absolutely no. You it’s funny to ask me that because I was thinking about this a couple of days ago and I can say that I did what I wanted to do with my life; play drums even though it wasn’t easy all the times. To be honest with you there are a couple of parts in my career I wouldn’t want to do over again because they were painful (more laughs) but I think they got me where I am now.

You have been with several bands and played several music genres. Do you have any preferred sound or style?

Yeah I do. The style that I prefer is very difficult to make a living at and that is instrumental fusion music. It’s a lot of fun from a musical and expressing standing point. But I think nowadays nobody sits to listen to Jazz or instrumental music.

There are a lot of music styles and genres nowadays

There too much of everything these days and it’s not just the people’s fault; is the evolution of the music business and industry. Nowadays the kids have one world of their own where they get lost; the video games and actually are not that interested in listening to a CD.

What do you prefer; physical and powerful drumming or are you into more technical stuff?

I like both and this is because I have evolved as a drummer. As time goes by you get that experience to combine them and find the golden rule. I think too much of one of these is making things really boring.

Were you involved in the making of the music in the DVD?

Yes in some regarding the constructional arrangement but I have to give all the music credits to my good friend Cyril Achard who is a fantastic musician…

(interrupting) Did you choose the musical direction?

Yeah, Cyril is capable of writing anything… I asked him to write something that would last four minutes and could hurt me; so he came up with Detonator that actually did hurt me! It took me almost two months to get really into playing. But it was worth it because it turned to be something really nice and actually I used it on the last RAGE tour but they still thought it was long.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a new drummer what would it be?

Just one piece? Mmm I would say be realistic yourself; make up your mind of what you want to be and then go for it.

So, what are Terrana’s plans? You have been into a lot of stuff with bands like MASTERPLAN, ARTENSION now with Tarja


Indeed, I did twelve albums last year. I will be doing a lot of drum clinics, I will in the studio for the new MASTERPLAN album, a new album with a guy named Tony Hernando, I will make an instrumental fusion record with a Belgium guitar player and Tony Levin who is the bass play for Peter Gabriel’s band, I will do an Axel Rudi Pell album; Then get back in tour with Tarja in April I think and do some summer festivals with Axel Rudi Pell and also I will be playing with my fusion band TABOO VOODOO

Do you have time for all of this?

Yeah I actually make time for all of this. Last year I hired a person to manage me because things were getting out of control I was not able to coordinate things, it was too much! Now he is in charge of all the scheduling and this makes things less stressful for me and the guys who are working with me!

 Ok we reached my final question and actually the most serious one! Who gave you the title of the sexiest drummer of the world?

I have to say that I was the one who had that idea because none has ever told that I am sexy, no one. My mom said I was a good looking baby but I don’t know what happened after the age of five, something went wrong I think.\[add more laughs here]. So, I do it as a joke; you know there are a lot of good drummers in the world and obviously I am not the best one but I could be the sexiest!

Thank you for your time it was a hearty interview!

Dimitris thank you too and enjoy tonight’s show!



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