In the midst of Yungblud’s biggest tour to date we managed to grab a few minutes with drummer Michael Rennie to talk techniques, tips and touring.
Posted: 28 March 2019
What encouraged you to learn drums?
Originally when I was about 8 years old I used to play keyboards and hated it! My dad was a drummer when he was younger, and for his 40th birthday he got a drumkit at the same time I was slacking off at the keyboards so he suggested I give the drums a go. It came really naturally to me, so I played in high school and did a bunch of classes. From there I didn’t really know where I was going with it until a mate suggested I try a music college and everything just spiralled from there.
What's your practice routine?
Most of the time I just try and get in the studio to mess around. Fire on a playlist for a few hours and bash through songs or work on rudiments. Most of the time we are travelling so a lot of my practise is in rehearsals or soundchecks. When I'm backstage I'll get out a practise pad and bash out some rudiments for an hour or so before a gig... well as much as I can!
How does it work for Yungblud, are you based mainly in LA or over in the UK?
We're kind of based here (UK) and in LA. The label's in LA, and management is out there as well as in London, so there's two bases to go back and forth between.
You're on a massive world tour with Yungblud at the moment, how's it going?
Insane! Last year was pretty intense, we did 10 months of touring out of the whole year. We also had a European tour back in January that was sold out, and an Australian tour that was sold out too. Christmas was the longest period we had off and that was 3 weeks. At first I thought we were going to have the whole of December off but then we did some promo bits and ended up getting the show with Muse at the Royal Albert Hall and the diary filled up. I never complain about it though, it's amazing to get out and play in front of all these fans who want to come and see the show. The thing I love about Dom is that he never turns down a show. If there's a show we can do that means playing somewhere we've never been before, or playing in front of new fans then he wants to do it, so we're lucky enough to play across the whole world and meet loads of people.
You play a Natal Maple Originals kit, how do you have it set up?
Pretty simple really, I've got a 22" kick drum, 14" snare, 12" rack tom and 16" floor tom, and that's it. I've also got a ride and two crashes. I've not gone crazy with a huge kit with a million rack toms just yet!
So what’s next for you?
The last time we played the UK was September last year and it was only 4 or 5 dates but we’re currently on a proper tour and the shows have been mad. We played a great sold out show in Glasgow which is where me and Adam are from, and Manchester was insane because that’s around where Dom’s from. Newcastle sticks out too. The third song we played Dom got everyone jumping up and down and I’ve never felt a stage wobble like that. We had a couple of beers on top of an amp and because the place was moving so much they fell off the amp and I thought this is crazy!
We’ve got a bit of time after that to go in the studio then we’re into the whole American tour, which sold out in minutes, so it’s going to be a crazy year, which I can’t wait for.
There's a Yungblud live album coming out, do you have to adapt to playing live or is it the same as when you're in the studio?
Dom had produced all the songs from the first album so there’s not a lot of live drums or guitars on them, so when we were first starting out Dom had the idea of changing it up a little bit. For tracks like 'King Charles' and 'I love you, will you marry me?' we adapted them to be bigger and a bit longer. We worked on the breakdown sections and added some extra elements, so we will always get in and change things.
Even the new song 'Loner' is not the same live, there's some added bits and a bit of a different feel to add a bit more impact, and to get the crowd involved and sing along. We try to change it up as much as we can so that people are still hearing the record but they're hearing a different version of it live. Plus Dom bouncing across the stage for an hour and a half is quite interesting to see!
Who are your drum heroes?
To be honest I remember being asked this when I was at university, and there were probably twelve of us in this drum class and everyone started shouting out Steve Gadd and all these jazz drummers while I was thinking “I have no clue who any of these people are”! I always listened to bands but I never really followed a drummer for their style of playing. I just picked up my own thing based upon sounds I liked. When I was growing up pop punk was really in so Travis Barker was someone I did like, but looking back to the things like the Police and Sting, Vinnie Colaiuta was one of my favourite drummers, and then Chad Smith as well because he’s a very solid drummer. Also Matt Tong from Bloc Party. I think I’ve seen them five times live and from hearing the records to watching him live and seeing him do it is pretty insane, so he’s someone I’ve always looked up to.
What’s the best drumming advice you’ve been given?
Practise. Just no matter how difficult it gets or how many mistakes you make, or how many sticks you drop. I used to beat myself up when I made one tiny mistake on stage but more or less no one knows apart from you. Just keep practising and plugging away and you’ll get there.