Bobby Jarzombeck. His name is synonomous with powerful drumming. It was by listening to Riot that I first heard his playing and was totally blown away. Yet my attention was really put on alarm when he joined Rob Halford's band and recorded and toured with them. From there, he joined Iced Earth filling in quickly for the departed member Richard Christy and is now working on PainMuseum, a release from Demons and Wizards as well as a new Halford CD. When you add to this his drumming DVD you will not believe that he actually had time to answer these interview questions. Yet, he proves how ambidexterous he can be for his supporters. Enjoy these words from his mind directly.
An interview by Ken Pierce.
Ken Pierce/SoT – Hey Bobby, thanks for taking the time to do this, as I know you are a very busy guy these days. For starters let me congratulate you on the position in Iced Earth as well as the new release you have with "Metal" Mike Chlasiak, and Painmuseum entitled "Metal For Life". Let's get started.
Bobby Jarzombeck - Cool, let's do it.
Iced Earth Stuff:
K – I have to say how impressed I was with how quickly you jumped into the Iced Earth drum throne. Please tell us about how you handled the learning of the tunes and the quick need to perform in a live setting.
BJ - After Richard recommended me for the gig, I had a couple conversations with Jon (Schaffer) about the songs, click tracks, etc.. They sent me 2 sets/versions of CDs. The first set of CDs were the songs as they appeared on the IE CDs. The 2nd set of CDs were rough mixes of what we're listening to in our in-ear monitors while we're playing the songs on stage, including the click track, orchestration, cannons, marching percussion, etc.. Pretty much what the audience hears also - except for the click track. These CDs were very important because after I learned the songs I needed to practice with the click track CDs to listen for the cues, count offs, etc.. After talking with the rest of the guys, I found it surprising that everyone had the click pretty loud in their ears, including Tim. He loved it. During certain sections (of the songs) without drums, he found it much easier to sing in perfect time with the click going.
K - Now while I read that you are Friends with Richard Christy, did you think he was crazy for stepping down while the band was touring this career defining album "The Glorious Burden"?
BJ - No, not at all. Maybe the timing wasn't the best, considering that the audition for the Stern show was going happen at the same time that IE was on tour, but for Richard, it wasn't crazy at all. It had been a dream of his for a long time. We talk every once in a while and he's very happy with his job on the show. If he had passed up that opportunity, he would have regretted it for the rest of his life.
K – When I first saw the Iced Earth US shows in 2004, there were people complaining that Matt Barlow was gone and Ripper was in his place. Did you find a similar hesitation when you joined in, how were the fans to you?
BJ - No, I think the fans were very receptive to me. But then again, drummers usually aren't as closely tied to a band's sound or identity as singers tend to be, so me coming in for Richard was probably easier for most fans to accept than Tim replacing Barlow. I think fans get used to one certain guy and no matter who is singing - they aren't gonna dig it. The fans that aren't accepting Tim don't have a clue how good Tim really is.
K - I enjoyed your performance in the band more than his I have to admit. Not only were you adding a little more double kicks but you were also singing. I don't recall your predecessor doing that. Did John ask you to do this?
BJ - Yeah, Jon asked if I would be into doing a little background stuff. It's not like I'm singing the upper harmonies over Tim over anything like that. I'm mostly just doubling some of the choruses parts to make them bigger sounding.
K - My favorites live would have to be "Dracula" and "Gettysburg" . Which are your favorites to perform in concert?
BJ - I really like "Red Baron", the "Something Wicked" trilogy, and "Iced Earth."
K - How many shows did you do offhand, and please give your thoughts on them.
BJ - I'm not sure. A month of dates in the States and a couple European festivals.Nowhere near enough for my liking having just joined the band but, unfortunately, Jon's back problems got in the way of doing a full-fletched tour - especially over in Europe where IE are huge in certain markets. We definitely have a lot to make up for in terms of touring but I have no idea when we might get out there again.
K – I know that while Iced Earth is on hiatus that you are working on the next Demons & Wizards album. What did you think of doing that piece? Any chance this will tour, even thought it's a side project to John and Hansi.
BJ - I really enjoyed working on and recording the Demons & Wizards CD. I'm not sure if D&W will do any live shows. I think there might be an opportunity to play festivals at some point.
K – How was recording the D&W record different from anything else you have recently done, are you a fan of these projects that performers have on the side of established acts?
BJ - The process of learning and recording the songs wasn't very different from anything else. I was pretty much done the same way everything is done these days. Someone writes the songs/demos, I get a copy of the demo versions with either a drum machine or a click track on them (preferably the click track/drum machine on one side and the guitar/bass/vocals on the other). I learn the songs on my own time and they book the studio. We might rehearse a couple of days to finalized the parts and then I go in and record them (usually by myself) with a click track. I don't know if I'm a fan of recording this way but it's just the way that its done these days. Not many artists have the budget to have guys write and rehearse for a couple of months especially with band members living in all parts of the country. Am I a fan of these projects? I could go on talking about this forever, taking either side of the topic. Next.....
K – Regarding the future of Iced Earth, has John tossed any ideas around to you for input, or is there any clues on what the new CD will encompass.
BJ - I spoke with Jon a couple of weeks ago. He has a few ideas (for the next CD) that I think Iced Earth fans are gonna love. I don't know how much creative input I will have - that's really up to Jon.
K - The new CD is incredible. An experiment in guitar madness and double-bass drumming. Clearly this has to be some of the heaviest material you have recorded thusfar, am I correct?
BJ – Yeah, it's the heaviest! During the time that I was learning the songs, I listened to a lot of the great Death Metal drummers for inspiration and ideas.
K - What tunes from this are you most proud of from this piece?
BJ - I like the Japanese bonus track "Scars In Black", "Dogs In A Cage", "Hosanna, Hosanna."
K – With Mike working in Testament and you doing Iced Earth and now D&W, I am wondering if there are plans to tour the United States on the horizon. I am sure you will find a most positive response to that sort of news. Any thoughts on this you like to share?
BJ - There is nothing planned right now. It's hard for a new band like Painmuseum to tour and stay afloat financially on the road, especially without the support of a label. Demolition Records have released 'Metal For Life' in Europe and Japan but over here it is out through Mike's company so any tour support would have to come out of our own pockets if the opportunity to tour presented itself. I think doing festivals here and there is more feasable for us at this point.
K – The first time I saw Halford perform as a solo act was at Madison Square Garden. The CD "Resurrection" had just come out and that had to be a thrill for you all, as it was a sold out venue with the full capacity in place as soon as Rob hit the stage. Do you remember this performance at all? If so, some thoughts please.
BJ - Yeah, I remember a few things but that was early on in the tour and I don't think the band hadn't reached the level that we did later during that tour with Maiden. The great thing about that first Halford tour was that it ended with the "Rock In Rio" performance, which I think was one of the best show that we did. Everything about that event was just massive and it's pretty mindblowing to have been a part of it all.
K – Was it during Halford's "Crucible" tour that Metal Mike got the idea for the Painmuseum?
BJ - I can't remember at what time during Halford-era that Mike decided to form Pain Museum. I remember that we were going to have some time off and Mike had the idea to start his own band.
K – Some of the material was very Halford-like when I listened, is this because perhaps Mike was helping to write the potential final Halford CD?
BJ - Sure, Metal Mike was a big part of the writing for "Resurrection" and "Crucible" so his style, sound, and riffs are definitely gonna come through.
K – Thinking of any remaining Halford pieces, is there any left over tracks or live video that might still surface? There was talk about a "Halford In Rio DVD" set for release but it never came out. I think the fans across the board would enjoy to have that, and its also a feather in your collective caps.
BJ – There are maybe a couple of tracks left over from "Crucible", and a few more from "Resurrection". I have no idea if any of those songs with ever be released. There hasn't been any sort of release date set for the "Rock In Rio" DVD but I know that it will come out at some time.
K – What went through your mind when the announcement came that Rob would be returning to Judas Priest?
BJ - I was happy for him. We didn't know exactly when it was going to all go down but as things were shaping up for the reunion, we were informed. I thank Rob and John (Baxter) for keeping us updated as things were going down. I recorded 2 studio CDs and a double live CD with Rob and the Halford band. If someone told me, "Hey, you're gonna play drums with Rob Halford, record 3 CDs, and tour around the world for 3 years but then after that, he's gonna go back with Priest" I would've been totally stoked. I certainly have no regrets and I'm grateful I got to do what we did.
K - Who are you listening to these days in your free time? Any favorites?
BJ – I just got the latest Soilwork, "Stabbing The Drama". Dirk (Verbeuren) is insane!!!
K – How about a few comments on your Drumming DVD. I am sure there are some big fans of that sort of thing reading this.
BJ – All the info is on my website at www.bobbyjarzombek.com . It's doing very well! It's great having a company like Warner Bros distributing it. I can go into a Guitar Center or Sam Ash and see my DVD there in the racks or playing on the TVs in the stores.
K – What is the equipment setup these days? You don't have to outline every piece, but what is the overall preference in terms of gear, cymbals and the other essentials.
BJ – I use Pearl Drums (2 kicks, snare, 3 rack toms, and 1 floor tom), Paiste Cymbals (I have a bunch of them), Vic Firth Sticks (love 'em!), and Evans Drumheads (the best heads in the business). You could say I'm a pretty happy camper.... er... drummer when it comes to gear.
K – Any closing comments you wish to add?
BJ - Well, thanks for the interview, Ken - I hope your readers will check out some of the albums I've played on whether it's Halford, Riot, Spastic Ink, Painmuseum or the new Rob Rock and Demons & Wizards, which will be out in late June. Also, I'll be touring with Sebastian Bach's band this summer (see my website for exact dates) - should be a blast with Metal Mike on guitar and Steve DiGiorgio on bass. C'ya out there!
K - Thanks a lot Bobby, I hope to see you perform again soon. You are truly one of the most killer drummers in the world of Metal today. Thanks for keeping it heavy.
BJ - There are a lot of great metal drummers out there. Thank you for the compliments.