WES­LEY MITCHELL BULLY

Power and con­trol drives new US alt-rock quar­tet

Rhythm - - BEAT! -

One of the new­est sign­ings to the iconic Sub Pop la­bel (once home to Nir­vana etc), Bully make raw, two gui­tar/bass/ drums al­ter­na­tive rock, fronted by the cap­ti­vat­ing and fan­tas­ti­cally-voiced Ali­cia Bog­nanno. Hole drum­mer Patty Schemel is a big cham­pion of the band, and it’s Wes­ley Mitchell’s skilled and up-in-the-mix punk rock drumming that is the real driv­ing force in the band’s mu­sic. Check out su­perb tracks like ‘Feel The Same’, ‘Run­ning’, ‘Hate And Con­trol’, ‘Kills To Be Re­sis­tant’ and the ti­tle track from their sec­ond and newly-re­leased al­bum, Los­ing.

What was your in­tro­duc­tion to drumming?

“I be­gan play­ing snare drum in a school band whenI was 10 years old. In mid­dle school I just played here and there and never took it se­ri­ously. The real drive to play be­gan at the age of 14 when two strangers, now my clos­est friends, in­vited me to play with them in their punk rock band. I was the weak­est link in the band, but we were only hav­ing fun. How­ever, be­ing the worst player in my punk band and high school band quickly turned into mo­ti­va­tion to bet­ter my drumming. I started set­ting small goals to im­prove and worked on them re­lent­lessly any time I could un­til I achieved what I con­sid­ered ac­cept­able.”

Who are your drumming he­roes?

“John Bon­ham, Dave Grohl, Travis Barker, Chad Smith and guys from un­der­ground punk bands like Chas Sny­der from Tanka Ray. I can’t get enough of Mark Guil­iana, Benny Greb, Jojo Mayer, Stan­ton Moore and David Garibaldi. Those guys are push­ing the bound­aries and in­no­vat­ing drumming on a whole dif­fer­ent level.”

How did you come to hook up with Ali­cia as Bully’s live drum­mer?

“Nashville is small. You don’t have to at­tend too many shows be­fore you meet a lot of the work­ing mu­si­cians in town. Ali­cia ran sound for some of my bands at a lo­cal venue in Nashville called Stone Fox and I’ve been good friends with our other gui­taristClay­ton Parker for a few years. He in­tro­duced me to the band mem­bers when he joined Bully. I was lucky enough to get the call when they needed a drum­mer.”

Which Bully song per­fectly cap­tures your sound and style?

“That would be a toss up be­tween ‘Hate And Con­trol’ and ‘Feel The Same’.”

What has been your proud­est mo­ment with the band so far?

“I’ve al­ways wanted to in­stil the same de­sire to play drums and pur­sue mu­sic on to oth­ers as I did from drum­mers like John Bon­ham orMark Guil­iana.A few years back I recorded some drum les­son videos and threw them up on YouTube as a hobby and a cou­ple of those videos were re­ceived a lot bet­ter than I could have imag­ined. That aside, I’ve been ap­proached a cou­ple of times on the road by in­di­vid­u­als who have ex­pressed how much I may have helped them with a tech­nique, or in­flu­enced their play­ing style through my YouTube chan­nel. The fact that I’ve even in­spired one or more drum­mers to work hard and fol­low their dreams is quite an ac­com­plish­ment for me.”

What’s the best drumming ad­vice you have been given?

“My first drum in­struc­tor would point at the drum­mer in a band and say, ‘If the au­di­ence isn’t danc­ing, you’re not do­ing your job right.’ Me­chan­i­cally, you may be play­ing the part ‘cor­rectly’ but is the feel right?”

How do you ap­proach play­ing live?

“Stay­ing fo­cused yet re­laxed at the same time. It’s an odd combo and hard to de­scribe. The more I play a song live the more com­fort­able I be­come with that par­tic­u­lar song. In re­turn, this frees up my abil­ity to lis­ten more ac­tively to my role within the group as a whole and fo­cus less on play­ing the cor­rect pat­terns as my body is al­ready nat­u­rally do­ing that. This is when I take note of how things feel men­tally and ad­just things that I feel aren’t be­ing rep­re­sented cor­rectly. Bully is one of the first bands I’ve played in that isn’t meant to be su­per-loud like 90 per­cent of the time. That doesn’t mean it’s not heavy! The dy­nam­ics are ex­pressed within the dif­fer­ent parts of the songs and much more sub­tle things like a vari­a­tion on the kick/snare pat­tern or a change of feel from one part to the next. Cre­at­ing ten­sion and re­lease is al­ways my goal.”

What’s the key to a great live per­for­mance?

“Stay­ing re­laxed and be­ing able to breathe. Lots of mu­si­cians hold their breath and tense up dur­ing im­por­tant parts of a song such as drum fills or gui­tar so­los, which dras­ti­cally af­fects how your body is op­er­at­ing. If you’re hold­ing your breath, your body be­gins to panic and in­versely boosts all those nerves you tried to steer clear of be­fore get­ting on stage.”

What gear are you us­ing?

“An early 2000’s Tama Star­clas­sic Birch Kit. I love the idea of less is more, so it’s one up one down 12" and 16" with a 22" kick and 14" steel snare. The cym­bals vary from time to time butI stick with Meinl mostly. My typ­i­cal cym­bal con­fig­u­ra­tion is a 22" crash ride on the right with an 18" crash on the left and 14" hats.”

Patty Schemel is a big fan of the band, is she a drumming in­flu­ence for you per­son­ally?

“I’ve al­ways loved her drumming I can’t wait to pick up a copy of the new mem­oir and give it a read on our up­com­ing tour.”

Wes­ley Mitchell: a fan of the ‘less is more’ ap­proach when it comes to his kit choices

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