Catching Up With Fates Warning’s Bobby Jarzombek
I had another chance to sit down with one of my favorite drummers of all time in Bobby Jarzombek from FATES WARNING. The band was preparing to release latest CD Theories of Flight (out now, InsideOut Music) at the time, so Bobby took some time out from his busy schedule to have a chat with A&GS. In addition to sharing with us what music he’s currently groovin’ on, he gave us some insight into how he approaches writing music and a few other things. Check it:
Amps: I’ve had the new album Theories of Flight for a while now, and I have to say, job well done once again.
Bobby: Cool man. Thank you.I’m glad you dig it.
Amps: I thought “From the Rooftops” was a rather unconventional way to open a record. Tell me about that.
Bobby: I sent Jim (Matheos, guitar) a bunch of drumming ideas, about 12 of them. Just beats and some patterns, and he wrote the riffs around what I gave him. He used probably 90-95% of what I gave him. Then he programmed some stuff and sent me what he had when it was nearly finished. He said he needed one more thing. He asked me to record something a little different and not, you know, metal out, but something with an accent on the end of two, something with the toms and kind of light. So I sent him that pattern at the beginning of “From the Rooftops”, and he wrote that whole front end of the song. Maybe it worked really great with Ray’s (Alder, vocals) lyrics or, the guitars or something, but I think it’s interesting the way it all came together.
Amps: How quick do patterns like that come to you? Do they just hit you on the fly, or do you have to sit with ideas for a bit?
Bobby: That’s an interesting question. If Jim says, “Give me something a little lighter here” I won’t rely heavily on double kicks, or it might be something accenting the cymbals, like the rides or splashes. But I just get behind the kit and in this case where the accent was on the two I will either put it on the floor tom or the snare and try to come up with a pattern that is interesting but somehow has something that the listener can latch onto and hear it as a whole and sing it or visualize it. Things just start to shape up. I plan to break the pattern for “From the Rooftops” down in a video at some point, because there is more going on than what you hear. I think drummers will dig that.
Amps: How often are you coming up with drum patterns? Is it something you do often, or do you wait until there’s an album in the works?
Bobby: You know, I planned to do more before we started on this record. I sent Jim some stuff in different tempos and bpm’s. I’ll leave a click track on and come up with different variations within that same tempo. Whether it’s a lot of double bass, some tom fills, or some double stroke rolls. I have little ideas where I can piece things together. Sometimes I come up with three or four things easily, other times it’s more, usually over the course of four hours. That’s how long it takes me to start something and develop it, with each piece taking about 30 minutes from when I start it to when I want to record it as part of the whole thing. Jim likes it when I send him things before an album because he says it gives him a different perspective sometimes on where to start, you know?
Amps: How was the Sebastian Bach tour? I had to miss it here in Philly, which sucked.
Bobby: The tour was good. We did like 30 or 31 shows in six weeks. It was a very cool tour. It got real busy at times, six in a row, day off, then six in a row, day off. But the shows were great. It was nice to get out there and play. There were some great shows on that run. Sebastian’s been changing it up live, too, and trying some different things. When Give ‘Em Hell came out we did quite a few songs off that record but now that it’s out a while we didn’t so so much off it this time around. We wanted to come out and do sort of half acoustic, half electric sets. He likes to mix it up to make it different and exciting for us and the fans.
Amps: Do you have any particular standouts on this new FATES WARNING disc?
Bobby: I really like the whole thing. Obviously “From the Rooftops” is cool because of my involvement with it, but I also like “The Ghosts of Home”, it’s got a great story, and it’s a nice 10-minute epic. There is some really great stuff on this record. I can listen to it and really like what Ray did on the melodies. He’s so excited about this one because he put so much time into developing those melodies and lyrics.
Amps: Ray is such an incredible vocalist and I was not at all prepared for how great you guys were at Trees Dallas last tour. What a show!
Bobby: Thanks a lot, man.
Amps: What are the tour plans for FATES WARNING?
Bobby: Nothing I can confirm right now, but we’ll be in the States and Europe and stuff. The thing is, we always go out once or twice a year to Europe, but on Darkness In a Different Light, that was when we started hitting the U.S. again, and we covered a lot of territory. I think this record has a lot of cool songs for us to play live, and hopefully we’ll be out there for at least a couple of tours.
Amps: What is something that people might be surprised to know about Bobby Jarzombek?
Bobby: I don’t know, I think everything is probably out there. I’m really into gardening and planting trees, that sort of thing. It consumes ll my time when I’m at home, this whole green thumb thing. It’s something I grew up with because my father was into it. Up until about five years ago all I did was practice. Drums consumed me, I was all about being better. Now, when I’m off the road, if I don’t have to, I don’t sit behind the kit. But with that said, if it goes two weeks or so and I haven’t sat behind that kit, it grinds at me a little bit. So at that point I’ll go and work on ANYTHING, just to get into something.
Amps: What’s in your CD player/iPod right now?
Bobby: I stick with stuff that I like and listen to over and over. I really like KATATONIA and I listen to them all the time. PORCUPINE TREE, SOILWORK, some country music. I like old Ray Price or Johnny Bush.
It really depends on what kind of mood I’m in. One minute it’s classic country, and the next it’s SYMPHONY X, whatever hits me when I’m scrolling through the iPod.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans of FATES WARNING and the 3,000 other things you’ve played on?
Bobby: I just want to thank everybody who’s listened to my drumming over the years and enjoyed it, and maybe found it inspirational, or just cool. I want to thank you for all the cool comments I get on my Facebook page and YouTube channel. And I’m just looking forward to doing more stuff, and feel free to drop me a line with any questions, guys.
Bobby Jarzombek is a world-class drummer and a top-notch guy. I have thoroughly enjoyed both times I chatted with him, and I look forward to seeing him pounding those drums live and in the flesh again sooner rather than later. Be sure and grab your copy of Theories of Flight, out now!!