> > > Drum Fest 2017: Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski Interview

The Drum Fest International Drum Festival has a long-standing tradition in Poland as this year marks its 26th anniversary. Every year in autumn, there is a lot going on: concerts, workshops, competitions, solo recitals – all things connected with drums and drumming. Between October 6 and 8, 2017, there was quite an intensive Drum Fest weekend. All the events took place at the Frederic Chopin Music School in Opole, Poland. All those who attended the event had a great opportunity to see and listen to great artists who were performing for them. The Young Drum Hero contest was the ultimate test for the younger skinsmen, and they all did geat job! Drummers who took over that weekend were: legendary extreme metal drummer George Kollias, notable sideman, session musician and educator Russ Miller, Polish live and studio ace as well as educator Maciej Gołyźniak, and two great drummers and Roland endorsers – Mariusz Mocarski and Michael Schack. This is not the end of the list. Among the performers was also the great Polish extreme metal export, Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski, whom we had a nice chat with after his workshop. Enjoy this interview!

Daray Tama

Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski talks to BeatIt

“My impressions from the Young Drum Hero 2017 contest are very positive, although it was very stressful for me. I’m not new to drum workshops but I’m always stressed out much more than before a gig. However, it’s the first time I’ve judged at a contest like this and I was freaking out about the fact that I had to pick that one player. The level was very high this year. I didn’t realize that ‘cause, for some time, I haven’t really been following what young drummers are doing. Sometimes, I will watch a drummer from a young support band at a gig. The contest was tough. There were two age categories: below 16 and below 23. I’m especially impressed by the younger group. Some of them were so good it was hard to pick anybody. They are all winners. I tried to tell them they are winners just for having come here and performed on stage. That will translate not only into musical experience for them but they’re also gonna be more self-confident in life. Also, they were performing for fellow drummers. And they were judged by masters so the caliber of the performance was twice or maybe three times bigger. That’s why I get so stressed out doing drum workshops and clinics. There’s drummers there, too. Young players have to understand that it’s not only about playing skills, but also about progressing and gaining more self-confidence through experiences such as this one.

To this day, technique is important to me, so I take a lot of time at my clinics to discuss extreme drumming, i. e. double bass, blast beats, fills, arrangement in metal songs, etc. However, I also pay more attention to the issue of managing one’s own career ‘cause I see a great deal of great players in Poland, and I’m stunned after this contest. I’m 37 but I don’t feel the breath of young drummers on my back. Many bands that want to record an album call me. I always ask: ‘Isn’t there a young drummer who could do it with you guys or become a permanent member?’. Turns out there isn’t.

Non-American jazz, blues or rock drummers find it very hard to make it in America. For some reason, extreme metal drummers don’t seem to have that problem. Greeks, Czechs, Poles, Austrians are doing fine all over the world playing this kind of music. I don’t know why that is. Once, I got lucky, but I didn’t take the opportunity and I regret it to this day, 10 years later. During my first tour with Dimmu Borgir, which was a big tour with Danzig as headliner, big clubs and everything. Towards the end of the tour, we played in Hollywood and had a day off the next day. The guys from ‘Jackass’ were really big then and we did a live gig on their show in our outfits, full make-up and all. After that, there was an interview. LA and everything… Later that night, a guy comes up and goes: ‘I’ve got a studio not far from here. Maybe you could stay a bit after the tour and shoot a DVD with me? You could also get some gigs ‘cause there’s a guy who’s looking for a drummer to make an album with a band’. I panicked. I thought about Los Angeles and all those great musicians. I decided I wouldn’t manage. He went: ‘Check the date on your visa and what day you can reschedule your flight to’. Turned out my visa was valid for two more weeks after the tour and I could have easily done it. He even offered to pay me some money but I panicked and told him I had to go back home. I regret it to this day. That’s why I’m glad those young guys came here and did it. It’s not about who won and who didn’t. In the same way, it’s not about how well I would have done back in LA It couldn’t have been so bad, but I would have made it happen. The worst thing is to regret something you haven’t done, especially when there is a specific offer. I’d just done that tour, I was in great shape both as a drummer and an English speaker. After you’ve been sitting at home without using your English, the first few days are always difficult. When I go to Norway, it’s the same thing. Back in LA, I was totally ready. I would have gone in and killed it. When I was doing clinics in Australia, I was really stressed out. The day before flying over, I was freaking out… I thought: ‘I’m not going. I can’t possibly manage that. All by myself, at the back of the beyond’. But I did it and was really happy and proud of myself. I went there and it was really great.

Some people laugh at me and say Dimmu Borgir hired me because a Polish worker is cheaper. I’ve seen such comments. I don’t know what it is. Sour grapes? I think it’s easier with drums in heavy metal because they are brought forward in the mix and on stage. Those are always huge kits, which are visible. The drummer is supposed to be visible as well, he’s put on a big raiser. Drummers in pop, though they are great players, have to play simple and can’t show off. Their place is behind the star of the show. In metal, the drummer is a star as well. There is a place for a drum solo. Plus, drum parts in songs are already very much like drum solos. The stuff I play with Dimmu Borgir is practically one big drum solo. There’s only a few more laid back moments. You see a drummer keeping it simple and it’s OK, but you see someone like me in action and you think: ‘Wow! Great!’. That’s illusive ‘cause those drummers that play simple stuff, for example with Adele, are the true masters.

Of course, it’s easier if you have a band and mates, who are always with you and you have a gang together. It’s worse if you live in a small town and none of your friends play music. You really want to play drums, you go to music school, you practice, but it’s much more difficult to cope on your own. In a gang, your friends will always tell you what’s cool and what’s not. That has its influence, sure. Yesterday, it was Russ Miller and today it was Maciek Gołyźniak who said to those youngsters: ‘Start your own bands!’. It’s hard to be the new Thomas Lang.

This fall, we’re kicking off a tour of Poland with Hunter. There’s some clinics coming up, but nothing’s final yet. A new Dimmu Borgir album’s coming out, probably in February of 2018. I recorded the drums for it in February this year and the mixing/mastering process was finished in March. So far, we’ve only confirmed a headlining gig at Wacken. We are supposed to do Hellfest as well. I’m also working on the second album with my band Proces. There is a new project with the singer from Antigama and the former Obscure Sphinx and Rootwater guitarist. We are supposed to record two songs in December. We’ll see what comes out of that.”