> > > Drum Fest 2017: Maciek Gołyźniak 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, great sideman, session musician and educator Russ Miller, the great Polish extreme metal export, Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowski, two great drummers and Roland endorsers – Mariusz Mocarski and Michael Schack, as well as Polish live and studio ace and educator – Maciej Gołyźniak. Here is an exclusive interview with the latter.

Maciek Gołyźniak talks to BeatIt

“Drum clinics is a very broad topic. I’ve got some thoughts regarding all its aspects. To cut a long story short, I have a lot of ideas, which result from the fact that you’ve got more questions as you go along. You come to conclusions as you gain experience. At first, everything was new to me and I thought I was gonna conduct my clinics the way I would like to see them and participate in myself. Now, I know I have to make room for a bit of impromptu reactions because things don’t always go the way you want them to. You can go through the whole thing according to a fixed schedule, always the same, paying no mind to the people’s reactions, but you can also interact with them, follow them a bit, and that’s what I try to do. Today’s clinic in Opole was totally different than yesterday’s in Wałbrzych. I would go as far as to say the one I did yesterday was the best in my career so far. I’m speaking simply in terms of personal impressions, not judgement. Today, the workshop was a bit less gratifying because everybody was anxiously waiting for the results of the contest to be announced. I could have told the the juiciest anecdote or play the best fill I know and they still would have been some place else. The audience couldn’t wait to hear who the winner was. My congratulations to him. He appeared here last year as well, so I’m assuming he has made significant progress since he has won. Congrats to him again.

Conducting drum clinics is a learning experience for me, too. Except for sharing my knowledge with people, I also want to help young drummers in this difficult art. Not so much the art of playing drums, because they are great players, but the art of functioning in this business, especially after it has changed so much over the last 20 years. It’s a learning experience for me because you can’t hide behind the bass, guitar or the synth when alone on stage. You are the only performer there. Everybody is watching what you’re doing with your hands. Sometimes, they are just a few feet away from you and want to look behind your hi hat to see how you’re gripping the stick with your left hand. This makes your self-confidence grow, as Russ Miller said yesterday. I need it because I can also find something for myself at my clinics. That’s a mutual benefit. I assume people attend my clinics to get something out of them and I guarantee I get something out of them as well. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to learn about myself.

I have already been in the studio with your new gear. I don’t know what to say because I’ve made a dream come true, really. I’ve told you many times it would be nice to play a kit like that and it’s happened. It was no coincidence either. I worked hard to earn it, and a certain star alignment had to happen for someone to take interest in me. There’s lots of great drummers around. I always say it and you’ve said it on each of the interviews we’ve done together. That hasn’t changed. I still believe in that, I’m aware of that and that’s what keeps me grounded. Naturally, when it was possible to push the deal, I went to the Sonor factory and was able to collect quite an arsenal without going insane while doing it. Yes, I have already recorded those drums. Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that it was an excellent move. Sonor drums are the perfect fit for what I’ve been doing for some time, which is an organic sound and way of thinking. I took the drums from the boxes and I had no idea what I could do better because everything was right in its place. The factory heads sounded great. I thought: ‘What could I replace them with? Maybe I shouldn’t do anything?’. And it turned out to be the best decision. I didn’t cut out a hole in the kick drum head, didn’t put anything inside the drum, and it sounds exactly the way I wanted. Perhaps a psychiatrist would have something to say about how much of it is self-persuasion and how much is for real. But seriously… After 20 years of playing, being more or less sound-conscious, I can imagine what kind of sound will be produced by a bass drum of a given depth, with a given skin on, played with a given technique and a given beater. My new Sonor kit has opened new doors for me, i. e. I can see development prospects playing it with the sound concept I’ve had for some time. I can’t imagine things could get any better. If they could, it’s best I don’t find out about it soon.

It’s a full Sonor Vintage set, which the contract allowed me to get. I could have built an SQ set, which is a dream system allowing for a fully customized configuration. However, that would have been dishonest towards the company because I simply would have built a Sonor Vintage kit under a different name. I just fell in love with those drums. As far as mass-produced instruments, I’ve never had such a complete one. That’s including the snare, which usually is the least favourite element of a kit. This one offers more than I could have hoped for. I think it even outperforms some of the models I have tried out. It just doesn’t get any better. About the configuration: 10”, 12”, 13” toms, 14”, 16”, 18” floor toms and three kick drums, so I’ve got unlimited options.

The 13”, 16” and an 18” kick are used for all my alternative projects where I shape my own sound and don’t have to follow any standard. This means Sorry Boys, clinics and the Duda, Gołyżniak, Meller trio. For the latter, I also add a 24-inch drum because there are a few places where I would use it in the studio, so I want to keep that sound live. The 10”, 12”, 14” configuration with a 20-inch kick and a 14”x5,75” snare is for Natalia Nykiel. This kit is tuned a bit higher and there is a hole in the bass drum head. That way, sound engineers get better possibilities to push the PA that capture this popular music better. Actually, I have no other needs and I can’t imagine what I could think of.

It is the contract of my dreams, no two ways about it. One of every drummer’s dreams has come true for me – I can have each size of each instrument from a given series. If you asked me if I had an idea for some new sound, I would gladly tell you I do, but I don’t want to be too greedy ‘cause I’ve got everything I need. Those are outstanding and wonderfully crafted instruments, an exact copy of the 50s and 60s Sonor Teardrop series. I own one, so I know it’s all the same. Obviously, some new technologies have been applied, which has eliminated the weaknesses characteristic for old drums, such as threads. It’s all done the same way, but anew. The shells are unchanged, 180° bearing edges.
I know expensive custom-made drums where you have to pay extra for that. With Sonor, it’s simply there.

Funny thing [about me having changed a stick company] ‘cause, as you know, I never endorse things I wouldn’t use otherwise. I think it’s slightly unethical and utterly stupid to use some gear only because you got it for free or very cheap. I had a concert at the Kalisz philharmonic and I went to a store to get a few pairs of different models and I liked them already when I was warming up on my pad in the dressing room. I liked the painted grip especially. I thought: ‘I can finally hold a stick the way I’ve always wanted, which is actually not hold it at all’. It doesn’t slip. My hands don’t get sweaty, so I can never make up my mind between lacquered sticks and naked ones. The former slip out of my hands already when counting in, the latter in the second half of the first verse. That’s not the case with Wincent sticks. I can play the way I wanted to. Those Swedish sticks are very well-crafted. Stone querns grind each stick, so the pores don’t open. They are great to play with, durable and their weight is consistent.

Istanbul Agop offer such a unique, organic sound that you may never stop collecting their instruments. That could only be stopped by common sense, which, as a drummer and a drum gear lover, I lack. Yes, I have new cymbals. I’m no different from 18-year-old drummers who collect anything that can be played.”