Behold. The first recorded interview a member of Sleep Token has ever done. It is now yours. Worship.
This is II, the drummer of UK-based rock/alt-metal group Sleep Token, who released the highly-acclaimed album “Take Me Back To Eden” in 2023.
In this hour-long video, II talks about his influences, drumming style and how he writes – and plays through 12 Sleep Token songs.
Are you ready?
“I’ve always personally taken a lot of inspiration from the UK dance music scene. And listening to various subgenres of drum and bass specifically, allow me to incorporate stylistic traits from those genres into my vocabulary as a drummer.”
“I’m also a big fan of R&B and pop which has worked its way into my playing. I grew up primarily playing metal, so the next obvious step for me was to blend these other styles in amongst heavier playing to add versatility to my drum parts.”
“These days, I would describe my playing style as a mixture of that signature Abe Cunningham, Deftones inspired, heavier sort of grooving with a linear style gospel influence.”
On how his drumming has evolved from the first Sleep Token album:
“I would say that while my stylistic approach and goals have generally stayed the same, my vocabulary on the kit has expanded. I tried to work on not always using the same phrases, or using those phrases in the same voicing, to ensure the parts remain somewhat interesting. However, this in itself is a continual work in progress. As a player, I will admit that I, like others, don’t always achieve this. But to me, that is very, very much all part of the journey itself.”
“I’ve always been a big Eric Moore fan, and gospel drummers in general. But I’ve taken a lot of influence from a couple of Eric’s licks and find their way into my playing. As an example, I use an eighth note linear phrase, which is played as R-L-R-L-K-R-L-K. That, along with a phrase called the “3-1-3-2”, which is a triplet phrasing of nine notes played as R-L-R-K and R-L-R on the hands, and it’s finished with two notes on the kick (R-L-R-K-R-L-R-K-K).“
“What I particularly like about this phrasing is that it’s three notes short of resolving itself. So as a drummer, you’re forced to be creative with those last three notes and finish the sticking, the phrasing, in any way you see fit.“
“I also use the six stroke roll often in various elements of my playing, whether it’s groove or fill based.”
“When I first started playing, I – like many others in my generation – was heavily into drummers such as Joey Jordison, Matt from the band Mudvayne, as well as the more extreme speed players such as Derek Roddy.“
“Tony Royster Jr., Eric Moore, Thomas Pridgen. Simply slowing down the YouTube videos in a feeble attempt to understand their concepts, their stickings and influences.”
“Most, if not all of the time, I try to pay close attention to the vocals and figure out any specific syllables that can benefit from accents on the kit. I sometimes use the vocal line as a guide of sorts to dance in between what’s being sung to. Filling in those gaps, if you will. Typically speaking, songs don’t start from a particular drum part. Although, this isn’t necessarily deliberate.”
“Another element I look for when writing is any specific syncopation that the drums must match. This could be a pattern on the guitar, a breakdown of sorts, something electronic…but I feel this takes away a lot of the guesswork when initially writing parts and provides me with a clearer idea of the song in question.”
Does II stay true to the album when playing live?
“I would say that most of the parts that I tend to play in a live setting vary drastically to what was tracked on the record itself. This happens for a number of reasons. Sometimes, when I have more time to sit with a finished track, while rehearsing for a tour, I can look at it through a different lens, and subsequently come up with a more interesting variation live.”
“On the other hand, these things can happen more naturally and take on a different feel or sticking due to simply playing a certain song for long periods of time across touring. There are of course certain parts in each song that must remain true to the original. This could be a syncopated guitar part, or even an electronic part on the counts that serves more of a supporting role within the song.”
What are his favorite songs to perform live?
“I’ve always enjoyed playing a song from our first record entitled Sundowning called “Higher”. The parts in that song have always felt very interactive to me. Very fun to play while maintaining a fair deal of variance across the song itself.”
“Another song I enjoy playing live is entitled “Like That”. This is from our second record. Arguably, the drum parts in that song are, to this day, my favorite that I’ve written.
“In regards to any newer material, I enjoy playing a track called “The Summoning” due to the live addition of a drum solo that gives me a little more creative freedom, as well as its challenging feel.”
Learn Sleep Token Songs On Drums
To channel II’s drumming and enhance your own ritual, you can find Sleep Token songs in the Drumeo members area along with practice tools and sheet music to help you learn the parts. Click here to try it free for 7 days.
0:00 – SONG: “Vore” by Sleep Token
5:30 – Introduction
6:40 – SONG: “The Night Does Not Belong To God” by Sleep Token
9:17 – II’s influences
9:53 – SONG: “Chokehold” by Sleep Token
12:49 – The evolution of his drumming
14:17 – SONG: “Gods” by Sleep Token
17:56 – SONG: “Dark Signs” by Sleep Token
21:48 – Developing drum parts
23:38 – SONG: “The Apparition” by Sleep Token
26:55 – II’s drumming style
28:30 – SONG: “Atlantic” by Sleep Token
30:00 – II’s favorite rudiment
30:26 – SONG: “Alkaline” by Sleep Token
32:59 – SONG: “Like That” by Sleep Token
36:16 – Taking creative liberties
38:20 – SONG: “Rain” by Sleep Token
41:28 – II’s favorite drummers
42:00 – SONG: “Take Me Back To Eden” by Sleep Token
47:54 – Favorite songs to perform live
49:17 – SONG: “Higher” by Sleep Token
Istanbul Agop Cymbals
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