|Cyrus Bolooki can't wait to tell us about his Guitar Center experience. His buoyant personality is indicative in his drumming for punk upstart New Found Glory, and even more evident in his enthusiasm during our recent interview. While the band may have grown in stature since their 2000 self-titled major label release, Cyrus remains as sunny in his disposition as the kid he was when he started eyeing his first drum set. Recently, Cyrus sat down with Guitar Center's own Dustin Hinz and got his chance to tell us about that and other tales of new found glory.
Cyrus: I have a really good Guitar Center story to tell.
GC: Great. I'm all yours.
Cyrus: Basically, the drum set and pretty much most of the hardware that I used on our major label debut, our latest album, was bought straight from Guitar Center. It was a DW Satin Oil drum kit that had been at Guitar Center that's right near my house in Hallendale, Florida. It had been there for almost a year on the floor, but for like 8 months it wasn't played at all. It was kind of packed in the back and I went to that store once a week for a year, looking at that drum set, wanting to buy it. Finally, my parents actually bought the drum set for me. I wound up recording the album with those drums and our producer told me that those drums sounded amazing. It was bought straight from Guitar Center.
GC: Tell me about your current drum kit.
Cyrus: Right now I use an Orange County custom drum set, but I also use the DW. It (the DW kit) has an 18" by 22" kick, 9" by 12" rack tom and 13" by 16" floor tom. Those are the basic shell sizes. I bought that kit when I wasn't really into drums, or at least too knowledgeable about drums. I just knew DW drum sets were amazing and it was a really good deal from Guitar Center. The second I bought those drums and set them up, I actually ended up recording. All three of our albums had been those DW drums.
GC: What about Vater sticks, Remo heads, DW hardware and Sabian cymbals?
Cyrus: I can guarantee you that I've been to Guitar Center before almost every single tour, buying some of that stuff. Even though I have deals with a lot of my equipment, there's a lot of times when you need something right away and luckily for me there is a Guitar Center five minutes from my house. I frequent that place a lot. And if it's not to go play around with all of the electronic drum sets or play around with different guitars, because I play guitar as well, I'll get a pairs of sticks there. Guitar Center has such a great variety of stuff. They have so many different manufacturers of sticks, different sizes. Cymbals? I've cracked so many cymbals and it takes, even with deals, sometimes weeks to exchange cracked cymbals for others. When I don't have time to wait and I want good stuff, I would go down to Guitar Center and almost always I'd find something I needed.
GC: Do you have a specific reason on why you choose the sticks you use, the heads you use and the cymbals?
Cyrus: You know, it's to that point where we can play a show and throw out sticks and chances are somebody is going to catch that stick. Then, two months down the road, even though the person who caught the stick isn't a drummer, one of their friends is going to see it and find out that I use a certain type of stick. They're going to go out and try that type of stick because of that. That's the actual reason why I started using those sticks. My friend caught a Vater stick from the drummer of the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones at a show. It was a Vater Fatback 3A and that is exactly the type of stick that I started using.
GC: Suppose I'm a drummer who's just getting started, and I don't have a whole lot of money to spend. What's the first thing I should get?
Cyrus: My guitarist's little brother just started playing drums. I don't consider myself that great of a drummer. I never took a lesson in my life. So I really don't know a lot of stuff. But when I heard he was starting to play drums, he kept saying, "I want a drum set. I want a drum set." And I'm like, "You shouldn't worry about the drum set yet." I went out and bought him a little practice pad, one of those real feel practice pads. I bought him a pair of Vater sticks and I bought him this book that Guitar Center had in the store. It's just this little five-dollar book that's got all the rudiments in it. I bought him a little metronome, one of those chord metronomes. I gave it to him and said, "Listen, you start practicing with this stuff. Don't worry about the drums yet because if you start practicing with this and do this for four or five months. When you sit down on a drum set, you're going to know way more than you would've known if you would've started straight on the drum set." So, I'm trying to teach him things that I never learned, myself. I want to show him that a lot of the technique is very important. It's not just sitting down on the drum set and learning how to play an actual beat. It's learning the technique behind it and the sticking is like one of the most important things in drumming.
GC: Suppose I have a basic drum set and I want to expand, what is the next thing I should get?
Cyrus: Right now I play a five-piece drum set. The latest thing I added was the floor tom, which is on my left side. Before that, I had been using a four-piece drum set- two toms and a snare drum- for the longest time. And basically I figured, "Why add another drum? It's just going to confuse me. It's going to be harder to play." Instead, I started with my cymbals, adding more cymbals. It'll change the sound a little bit. And for me, it made it a little more fun for me to play some songs because you have more to choose from. So, I added a china a bit after I started playing. Then from the china I started experimenting with different types of cymbals. I tried different sizes and crashes, different thickness and brands. That's pretty much what I've been doing for the last three or four years. I think if anybody was looking to expand, the first thing that you should probably look at is extra cymbals. Try cymbals first and then go for the drums. If you want to you can add nine more toms and a gong behind you and look like Alex Van Halen. But in the meantime, don't worry about expanding too much. Just take it slowly. Add little things.
GC: This is like your first big major label record and I'm sure that things were done a lot differently than they were before. What was one of the most memorable situations or experiences that you had in the studio?
Cyrus: One of the most awkward things for me on this newest recording, being that it was a major label recording in a very nice studio with a producer, was we used a click track. We had not used a click track before on any of our previous recordings. So it was very difficult for me because I had only been used to playing live where tempo can change. And a lot of times it does. There's adrenaline going when you're playing live. And sometimes the feel of a song is better when some parts are a little faster and some parts are a little slower. So I come in the studio and I have to really, really concentrate because it's a click track. I'm noticing that everything I play is a little faster than what it's supposed to be. It took a lot of getting used to, but at the same time it made me such a better drummer. I realized, especially on these new songs, that tempo is very important. That's one of the reasons why, compared to our other two albums, I'm so proud of my drumming because it's right on. It's perfect because of that click track. It made the songs so much better.
GC: What's your most memorable live experience?
Cyrus: One of the funniest live experiences was a year ago. We were playing a show in California with this band called the Hippos. They were headlining so they had their big banner behind us. It was a great show. When we were finishing up our show, I thought I'd do something special because a lot of times people don't recognize the drummers in the background. So the very end of our show, I took a stick, threw it in the air and on the way down, I jumped up. I caught the stick right when I hit the drum throne. I hit the last note and finished the song. Of course, when I came down onto the drum throne, I really wasn't looking and I landed on the very back of it and flipped backwards off of the drum riser. I guess I was a lucky man that day because the band before us had left their snare drum right behind me. My head cracked the snare drum and my head gashed open. Because it was our last song we have the crowd participating. The second I hit my head, I hit the floor. When I opened up my eyes there were five girls hovering over me. They're like, "Oh my god, are you alright?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'll be fine. Just kind of leave so I can get out of here without anybody else noticing this." That was totally embarrassing. I never expected that to happen and it did.
||GC: Do you warm up before a performance?
Cyrus: I do. I think it's very important. I usually try to warm up anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour if I feel like it before a show. I don't really have any patented techniques because like I said I didn't take drum lessons when I first started. But I know that the key to warming up is getting your muscles loose, getting your wrists loose and just in general getting your arms loose. So I just do different exercises, a lot of stretching, a lot of rolls or single strokes with each hand. It's just basic stuff. I don't know anything crazy to play. But I'm just doing stuff to like I said stretch out the wrists and get a little loose. You can spend ten minutes and just do single strokes with each hand, then kind of balance it a little and switch hands. Go back and forth and stretch your arms a little bit and you're ready to go. In some shows I feel a little more on the edge and I do some more exercises, but it all boils down to the same thing. It's all just stretching. I totally notice if I don't warm up or I only warm up for a couple of minutes, by the fourth or fifth song my arms are very tight and sometimes I have trouble playing a lot of songs. Warming up is very important for me.
GC: What's the coolest recent addition to your setup?
Cyrus: The coolest recent addition is on my new Orange County set is a third tom. It's a floor tom. I put it on my left side. It kind of splits the drum set right down the middle. I put a china on either side of me so I have this little symmetrical thing going. It's more fun for me to play our songs now because I'm starting to do a little bit of opened hand stuff where my left hand is being used a lot more than it would be used before. It's not being used for the snare so much. Now I'll use my right hand for the snare and left hand for the high-hat or a cymbal. So it kind of opened up my drumming. I get to practice some new stuff when I do this.
GC: What's the next thing you'd like to get?
Cyrus: I'm starting to be a big guy on snare drums. When I bought my drum set I got two snare drums with it. I have an old Pearl drum that I bought at a Guitar Center four or five months ago. I'm getting another snare drum from Orange County pretty soon. That's just something that I'm looking at. I want to have a good collection of snare drums so I can start doing live (what I do on the record) if I wanted to or when we come to the studio, I don't have to use other people's drums. I'll have drums at my disposal that sound different than one another. I can use them on different songs to achieve different feelings.
GC: What is your practice regiment?
Cyrus: I practice whenever we play shows. I still live at my parents' house, as with everybody else in the band and even with all of the silenced pads and everything else you could buy, my parents still didn't really like me playing drums in the house. So my practice became whenever the band would practice or at shows. Luckily for me, we tour enough where I can take two weeks off from playing the drums, but we're going to be on the road for like four weeks playing 28 shows. It's almost every night. So practice to me now is just playing shows every night. Playing the same songs over and over again, obviously you get a lot better.
GC: Does the band have a songwriting routine?
Cyrus: Oh yeah, we do now. When we did this new album we figured out our little process for writing music. Usually it will start with Chad (Gilbert), our guitarist. He'll come up with a riff and put it into a basic song or organize a couple of riffs together. Then it will filter through me and through the rest of the band. As far as arrangements go, we'll get a basic song structure down and then it gets passed on to Steve (Klein), our other guitarist. He's our lyricist. He sits there with a rough tape of the song, writes lyrics to it and then coordinates with Jordan (Pundik), our singer, as to how they sing and what's going to go where. We'll get a rough idea of the song with lyrics and with vocals. Then it will go back to the band and the band will kind of put our final touches on it. In the end, everyone has their own little thing that gets added into the song. That's kind of what makes New Found Glory, New Found Glory. You know, the fact that all five of us, we all come from completely different musical backgrounds as far as what we use to listened to. So everybody kind of adds their own little two cents into the song and it changes from your normal punk song to a punk song with that New Found Glory attitude or New Found Glory thought. It's hard to describe exactly what kind of music it is, but it's just New Found Glory music.
GC: What advice would you have for a player who might want to model their career after yours?
Cyrus: I tell everybody this. First off, follow your dreams. I've been dreaming about being in a band. I've been dreaming about being able to go into studios and record, playing concerts, stuff like that, for the longest time. I had a lot of people in my life tell me that music was the wrong career to get into, that it's something that's never profitable. But totally follow your dreams because I did that and they're coming true. The other thing is that if you want to follow your dreams, and you want to do this, you have to work hard. Nothing's going to really come to you. You have to work hard and if you do work hard at anything you get, you can look back and say you deserve this. We went out and toured for two, two-and-a-half years straight in a van going here and there, booking shows on the Internet, playing for two kids or 200 kids. It didn't matter. Finally we got a record label and things have started to happen pretty quickly since then. It's all from the hard work. Even though we're on a big record label now and we have a CD that sounds really good and selling well, one of the main reasons why it's selling well is because we're still on tour ten months out of the year. This is something that we all look at each other and say, "You know what, it's worth it. It's worth touring so much. It's worth leaving our families, putting our social lives on the side and playing music." We notice that from doing two-and-a-half years of straight touring, it got us the entire families that we have right now. That's the biggest thing. We tell everybody who has a band and wants to do what we do or wants to just get recognized, you've got to work hard. That's what bands we love told us.
GC: What's next for you and New Found Glory?
Cyrus: More touring. Our album came out the end of September. We're doing the first week or so of the Warped Tour this year, which is on the west coast in California. From that we're immediately starting a ten-week tour with Blink 182. That's like a dream come true for us. That's one of our favorite bands and now we're going to be able to play with them. We're doing ten weeks with them, which will cover the entire U.S. as well as Canada. We have radio shows here and there throughout the year. Once we're done with that Blink tour, we'll probably do headlining stuff in the fall. So it's a lot of shows that we're going to be playing this year. We hope to record by the end of this year to get something out by next summer.
GC: You've talked about shopping at Guitar Center in the past. Do you still?
Cyrus: I shop at Guitar Center all the time. Like I said before, luckily I have a Guitar Center five minutes from my house. So if it's a pair of drum sticks right away or I need a cymbal right away, even guitars, I buy from Guitar Center. My older brother and my little brother have bought guitars from Guitar Center. I've bought acoustics from there. Guitar Center has such a wide variety of stuff. It's great to be able to know that you can go in the store and there are 40 other items that are just like that (which you're looking for), plus a lot of stuff that you may have not even known that they carry. You know they can always meet your needs in whatever way that you need them to.
GC: Thanks Cyrus. I appreciate your time.
Cyrus: No problem.
» Interview with New Found Glory's Steve Klein