Exclusive: Czar’s Dan Brill Reveals Drumming Secrets To The “Aortic Flower”

You may or may not be aware of Czar’s forthcoming album, No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive. But now you are, so problem solved. You’re also informed that it comes out November 5th. Awesome.


Czar debuted a new song, “Aortic Flower,” at Revolver way back in September. Now the band’s drummer Dan Brill has uploaded this playthrough video so you can see for yourself all of the man’s licks, chops and fills. It’s good stuff. And unlike yesterday’s Oblivion video, this one is edited to focus on showing you what’s going on with the performance–always a plus.

The main gear I took note of, besides Dan’s sweet Zildjian Zil-Bel and K ride, is his Trick Pro 1-V direct drive double kick pedal. Axis has the more popular direct drive pedals on the market, but most players I know who have played both have said that they prefer the Trick one, if anything just for its superior durability. I did a brief interview with Dan to get his opinions on the Pro 1-V, recording with Matt Talbot (the guitarist/vocalist from Hum), and wizards:

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Gear Gods: I noticed you have the Trick Pro-1V double kick pedal. I’ve been a fan of their aluminum drums for a while, but they’re not the most well known company. How’s that pedal treating you? Have you played other direct drive pedals like the Axis? And if so, how does it compare?

Dan Brill: “The fine people at Trick Percussion are in my opinion Wizards. The design of the Trick Pro-1V pedal is beautiful, sleek, strong and elegant.  It operates in much the same way thanks to its superior engineering and limitless adjustments. These features, among many, allow the pedal to perfectly match and complement each player’s physicality and technique.  In fact, the pedal is so perfect that it will improve a player’s technique over time.

“There are many other pedals out there featuring “direct drive”, but this is not the X factor that sets Trick pedals apart from the rest. It’s Trick’s compression spring technology.  No other pedal has it. On arguably every other pedal, one will find a spring which stretches out as the pedal-board is depressed.  Much like a screen door, the recoil depends on that spring to contract bringing the pedal board up ready for the next stroke.  This is opposite of the Trick design.  In a Trick pedal, when the pedal board is depressed, the spring is compressed and ready to immediately give back what the player gives it.  It’s efficient.  Trick pedals are the most responsive, sturdy pedals I have ever used and I will use no others ever.”

GG: It’s hard to tell from the video, but it looks like you’re using lighter sticks, like 5A? Or is it just YouTube playing tricks on me?

DB: “I have substantial meat-hooks, so this might be the optical illusion one experiences in this video making my sticks resemble toothpicks.

“They are actually Vic Firth’s Danny Carey Signature model.  I’ve been using these for years and I absolutely love them.  Yes, I am a huge Carey fan, but the design is really great no matter the signature.  I would describe them as a tricked-out 2B stick.  The fulcrum is defined on these sticks by a slight indentation where one ought to hold any drumstick, resulting in maximum rebound allowing both power and finesse.  They serve me quite well as CZAR require such power.”

GG: How was your kit mic’d up in the studio? Bottom tom mics? Did Matt Talbot use a lot of room and/or overhead mics or did he keep it simple? And sound replacement?

DB: “My kit was given the royal treatment as Matt Talbot would have it no other way at his Earth Analog studios in beautiful Tolono, IL.  Both the top and bottom of my snare were mic’d as well as the inside and outside of my kick.  The rack and floor toms were mic’d only on the top side.  Matt used two overhead mic’s to capture the cymbals.  He did set up a room mic’ complemented by a mic’ positioned in the stairwell from the live room which led to the beautiful loft above which captured the ambience of my kit.  As far as sound replacement goes:  There was no sound replacement.  This is due to the incomparable quality of my C&C Custom drums.  Both beautiful looking and sounding, these tubs are arguably the best American hand-made drums one could ever wish to play.  The shell construction and bearing edges gives them a great attack and full bodied-tone with magical characteristics only found in some of the best vintage drums.  It’s complimentary that you might think sound replacement was used, but nay.  The wonderful and talented drum wizards that are C&C blessed me with a gold standard, world-class kit and I thank them.”

GG: What was it like working with Matt Talbot? I’m assuming someone in the band was a Hum fan? Or was that not a factor? Anything you took note of from his recording process?

DB: “Working with Matt Talbot is a total pleasure.  This is the second time we’ve made music together and CZAR feel truly at home with him at Earth Analog.  As his studio’s name implies, it’s an all-analog process.  This is an aesthetic that we sought out, and Matt’s studio is where we felt right to do it.  Yes, CZAR are HUM fans, but moreover we are fans of the sound.  Even though we are a heavier sort of band, we like the natural sound of analog complemented by Matt Talbot’s professionalism, work ethic and enthusiasm he thankfully has for us and our music.  He really gives a damn and wants gold to come out of those reference speakers in the control room just as we do.  The chemistry between us three and Matt has proved very good.  He knows how to get a great performance out of us.  Having had only 2 days to record “No One is Alone if No One is Alive” is a testament to our working well together at Earth Analog with Matt at the desk.  We are very lucky to be so geographically close to Earth Analog and to continue working with Matt as the fourth member of CZAR.”

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By the way, Czar just released another new song, “Lurvy,” at Decibel yesterday. So check that out, and keep an eye out for the band’s new record next month.

Written by

Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.

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