BY JOE AZEVEDO
Anup Sastry turns today’s music production on its ear! Instead of programming drums and mixing it with live guitars, Anup “heavily edits” guitars and everything else, except the drums. He lays down monumental grooves that leaves djent fans thirsty for more awesomeness. Anup currently has over sixty drum play through videos uploaded to Youtube and self produced multiple albums on his Bandcamp page including his new EP Bloom. He recently joined Monuments and we can’t wait to see what magical rhythms these guys will create! Anup answered a few questions for DRUM! covering topics such as dogs to winter apparel.
Drum!: Who/what inspired you to start playing drums? What Age?
Anup Sastry: I used to play the clarinet in the 4th grade up until the middle of 6th grade. At that time, my best friend was a drummer, and he would let me mess around on his drum kit whenever I went to his house to hang out. So it was at some point soon after I switched to drums. I didn’t have a drum kit though for another few months. So I would just play on furniture, pillows, and the floor. I think I was about 11 or 12 when I started playing.
What was your first kit?
My first kit was a 6 piece Pearl export. My parents were, and always have been very supportive of my music career. So they surprised me one day by randomly taking me to the music store closest to our house, where they bought me my first drum set. I was so ridiculously overjoyed and happy.
Why did you start posting drum videos?
I started posting videos in hopes that it would help me connect with other musicians and bands. I was in a local band for several years. So as soon as that came to an end, I didn’t really have much else going for me. I thought it would be a great way to force me to practice and challenge my self, and eventually it could lead to other opportunities with music.
What made you start programming guitar for your drum videos?
I didn’t program guitars necessarily for my drum videos. I wanted to start writing my own music to challenge my self and improve at writing/producing. However, Im not a guitarist, and I’ve never really had the time to properly learn. So I started ‘programming’ guitar to write music. Its not really programming though. Its more so just heavily edited guitars. I always use the term ‘programed’ to describe the process because its very similar to using midi-based sample libraries. Im just ‘cutting out the middle man’ and working directly with the samples, which I record and edit my self while writing.
How long have you been involved with audio recording/production?
I’ve been into recording almost just as long as I’ve been playing drums. I used to have a really cheap 4-track cassette tape recorder. I’d mic my drums up with some cheap Radio Shack microphones just so I could listen back and hear my self play. I owned a few different types of digital mixers and interfaces later down the road. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I took it much more seriously though. I went to a trade school for audio engineering called Omega Studios. I was going to Omega by night, and I was attending community college by day as a Music Theory major. So to answer the question, probably about 7 or 8 years now.
What happened to your SHINE kit you were using in the early play through videos? (The black with red hardware kit)
I ended up selling that to a friend in Canada. It was a fun looking kit, but it wasn’t getting any play time once I joined my artist roster for drums. So I decided to sell it.
Why did you choose Paiste cymbals in the original videos?
My second drum teacher that I took lessons with when I was younger was a big fan of Paiste cymbals. Also, my best friend Joe Benny owned a bunch of Paiste Cymbals. So between the two, I started getting more and more into Paiste cymbals.
Why did you rock that red jersey in your early videos?
There isn’t really any particular reason for it. I used to play a lot of shows with my old band (local band I was talking about earlier) while wearing the red jersey. So it just became a standard for me to play drums in the red jersey. And that continued for a bit longer while recording videos.
What stick size do you use?
Currently, Im using MS2’s by Vic Firth.
What kind of dog is Kobi?
Kobi is a Shiloh Shepherd, which is basically a German Shepherd… But just really big. He’s amazing, and beautiful, and I absolutely love my dog. He’s the best part about going home every time Im away traveling.
How did you get endorsed by Meinl?
I contacted Meinl just before I went out on my third tour with Jeff Loomis. Matt Halpern (Periphery) was also very helpful because he put in a good word for me with Meinl before I contacted them.
What’s your favorite series from Meinl?
My favorite series is probably the Byzance lineup! Meinl has some BEAUTIFUL cymbals, a lot of them residing in the Byzance series (in my opinion). I use a lot of Classics Custom primarily for their durability. A lot of the Classics Customs Dark cymbals sound amazing for being heavier cymbals. But yea, the Byzance series has some really unique sounding cymbals.
I’ve noticed your crash is mounted very close to your hi-hats so that when you hit the crash it also touches the hi-hats, they’re almost like an extra crash. Any reasoning behind this?
I dont mount the crash with the intention of it hitting my hi-hat. I’ve always liked keeping my cymbals fairly low though. And sometimes, depending on how I hit that left crash, it’ll hit the hi-hats. Its never really bothered me all that much when recording. If Im every working with another engineer at another studio though, I wouldn’t mind at all raising the cymbal so it doesn’t hit my hi-hats.
That colorful Pearl Export you played in some of your videos, what’s the story behind that unique finish?
That is my first kit! It used to have a piano black wrap on it. My vocalist from my old band (local band I was referring to earlier) suggested I take the wraps off and he’d paint it for me. So yea, I did exactly that. I took the wraps off, handed him the drums, and said ‘go wild’ [Laughs]. But yea, that colorful Pearl Export is my first drum kit. I’ll never get rid of that git because it has too much sentimental value.
The black Pearl Reference with the gold hardware is so dope! So is that green sparkle kit you used for Intervals. Are these kits retired now in some special vault guarded by Kobi?
The green sparkle kit is not mine. That belonged to Intervals.The black Pearl Reference is still sitting in storage, but not being guarded by Kobi. I’ve toyed around with selling it, but its also a very beautiful drum kit. I feel like it could come in handy when I record a band or work with another artist out of my studio. So Im not too positive what I’ll do with that kit at the moment.
Were you endorsed by Pearl at one point before Tama?
Yes, I was with Pearl before Tama.
Are you still using the Pearl Demon Drive pedals?
Im not using the Demon Drives anymore. I wanted to initially when I joined Tama, but it wouldn’t have made sense for me to use another companies drum pedals while with Tama. I wont lie, I was very hesitant about going back to a chain pedal, but I have absolutely no regrets at all with using the Speed Cobras. It didn’t take long at all for me to get used to them. I actually prefer them over the Demon Drives now because they feel much more ‘human’, and I feel like I have a lot more control with the Speed Cobras. Im also able to get a lot of power out of the Cobras.
I’ve seen a lot of the Tama kits you’ve been posting, which one is your favorite and why?
I currently have two Tama kits, both of which are Starclassic Birch Bubinga. They sound absolutely incredible, and words cant describe how beautiful they look in person. My favorite would have to be the White Oyster kit I have, primarily because I have a lot of extra drums with that kit. So I have several options for tom and kick sizes. At the end of the day though, they both are absolutely stunning kits.
Monuments was more of a timing thing. Intervals was going downhill for me through out the beginning of 2015, and it was pretty obvious after a certain point. The day after I sent the email saying I was leaving Intervals, Monuments’ vocalist called me up asking if I was interested in filling in, potentially joining later down the line. Monuments had actually contacted me late 2014 to fill in for their tour with Devin Townsend and Animals as Leaders. I turned it down because I just got home from a fairly long tour with Intervals. I didn’t feel like going directly back out on the road again. Regardless, Im excited to record and play with Monuments.
Looks like you’re working on some Monuments drum play through videos, can you give us any hints on how many you plan on uploading?
I plan on uploading as many as I can do! I know about 10 songs. Some songs I need to go over a few parts. But yea, I plan on doing as many as I can do. Im really busy though between balancing my next EP and my touring schedule. So finding the time to do drum videos isn’t as easy as it used to be. I still have plans to do a lot of videos for Monuments, my own material, and other random covers, etc.
How do you approach Mike Malyan’s drum parts? Do you add your own style or keep the drum parts relatively the same?
Mike Malyan is a beast. I’ll start by saying that. His playing is so ideal for Monuments, and his pocket is insane. In order to deliver that with Monuments, I have to embellish the parts with my own style. So Im playing a lot of the same grooves and hitting all of the same accents. But I may throw in my own transitions and fills for sections. For the most part, Im trying to play the grooves just like how Mike did. I need to do this, because the guitars and bass lock in so tightly with the drums.
Are you currently living in Maryland? How does the long distance relationship work with Monuments?
I am living in Maryland. The long distance thing isn’t really an issue. We never rehearse until right before playing a show/tour. As for writing, majority of it is done by Olly and John, and the ideas are presented to everyone over the internet. For that kind of music, its not really ideal to get into a room and ‘jam’ unfortunately so a lot of the writing is just sharing ideas back and forth.
You mentioned you just got back from touring with Monuments, how did that go?
It wasn’t really a full on tour, just a bunch of spread out festival dates. They went well! It was difficult for me because it was hard to settle into the music due to the lack of consistency in shows. The festivals were so spread out to one another, and we only rehearsed twice in a room total. We were basically winging it. One of the shows in Romania, we added a song we had never played together at all, and it went surprisingly well [Laughs]. Regardless, it was a lot of fun traveling. We had the opportunity of going to South Africa, which was absolutely amazing!
Any tour horror stories you’d like to share? (gear malfunction, crazy people in the crowd, etc)
On my last tour with Jeff Loomis, our van was broken into and robbed. All of our laptops, cameras, any passports, all of our money, everything was taken! The van was literally empty. That was pretty horrific, and it was tough to continue after that, but some how we did. Luckily, all of our gear was in Soilwork’s trailer. So none of the actual gear was stolen, just all of our personal items. It still sucked!
What do you like the most about drumming for Monuments?
Its all groove! Its super easy to dig into the drums and just find the pocket. I can also get really into the songs live because its all at a moderate tempo. Its basically ideal for my style of drumming.
I know you’re currently busy with Monuments, but do you have future aspirations to play your solo material in a live setting?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any plans to play my own material live. I’ve thought about it many times, but it just wouldn’t be practical. I’ve thought about getting other musicians to perform with me, but it wouldn’t be the same because some parts are literally impossible. Also, I don’t write my music with the intention of a guitar player being able to recreate it. So I wouldn’t want to perform my own material with other musicians on stage. At the same time, I feel that it would be weird if it were just me and a backing track of everything. It would be a lot of fun, but I don’t think it would make sense to tour my own material. I enjoy staying at home though and writing music. I’ll leave it at that for now!
Tama Starclassic Birch/Bubinga in Lacquered White Oyster:
- 12″ x 8″ Rack Tom
- 14″ x 14″ Floor Tom (left)
- 16″ x 14″ Floor Tom (right)
- 22″ x 16″ Kick Drum
- 14″ x 6″ Brass Starphonic Snare Drum
Tama Drums Starclassic Performer Birch Bubinga in Molten Brown Burst:
- 14″ x 6.5″ S.L.P. Brass Snare
- 12″ x 8″ Rack Tom
- 14″ x 12″ Floor Tom (left)
- 16″ x 14″ Floor Tom (right)
- 20″ x 18″ Kick Drum
I also rotate a 14 x 6.5 Starclassic Bubinga Snare into my setup. Im using all Tama hardware, and Im using Speed Cobras for my kick pedals.
Some of the Meinl Cymbals Anup uses in his videos:
- 20″ Classics Custom Dark Crash
- 16″ Classics Custom Trash Crash
- 13″ Byzance Extra Dry Medium Hi-Hats
- 18″ Classics Custom Dark Crash
- 20″ Byzance Dark Ride
- 19″ Classics Custom Dark Crash
- 18″ Classics Custom Trash Crash
- 18″ Byzance China and 16″ Mb10 Medium Crash (stack)
- 18″ Classics Custom Extreme Metal China
I rotate a bunch of other cymbals in and out of my setup, but this is my most recent configuration.
‘Bloom’ is available on Anup Sastry’s Bandcamp page for free, and is also be available on iTunes.