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An interview with Bobby Arechiga

1) Tell us how a young lad from New Mexico got into drumming in the first place?

Well, I'm actually from Los Angeles, California. But I did begin my drumming odessey in Albuquerque,N.M.! I'd been interested in drumming for quite some time, but didn't really start "hands on" 'til I was 15. A combination of things really, my friend John Pace had a kit, the High School I went to then, Eldorado High, had and abundance of drumming talent, my Uncle Jim in Houston ,Texas is a drummer, but really, the prime catalyst was Ian Paice from Deep Purple! I heard him play and I was hooked!

2) What made you move to the UK?

I had lived in England originally when I was 8 yrs old, my Dad worked for the U.S. Government and my family moved here. Then I came back to England at 17 to finish High School, London Central High, a boarding school, as my folks were in Saudi Arabia! Finally, I came back at 28, to form  the band Strongheart with Billy Evans and Wilbur Hess. We were only coming here to write, rehearse and live out our Zeppelin fantasies, living in a country cottage in the North of England for a few months! We wound up getting  based in Sheffield via our then management, while getting a deal with AC/DC's Albert Productions in Australia, recording our debut in Sydney with the extremely cool legends that are George Young and Harry Vanda, producing! And so a few months has turned into 12 years! Last time I go on holiday!

3) Who were your early influences, and who do you like now?

The first drummer I dug was Ringo, still do! Then I suppose it was the original drum section from Santana( Micheal Shrieve on drums, Jose "Chepito" Areas on timbales, and Micheal Carabello on congas!) There hasn't been a better team to this day! Buddy Rich (obviously), because he was always on T.V. in the U.S.! I'm sure if you ask anyone from my era, they will acknowledge Buddy as the greatest of all time! And then there was Purple! Ian Paice will always be the man for me! After them it was a steady stream: Peter Criss from Kiss, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Neil Peart with Rush, Lenny White, Frank Beard from Z.Z. Top. Oh, and I stole alot off of Lee Kerslake from Uriah Heep! He was the first guy I ever saw Live in Concert! A major influence on my drumming recently has been The Mighty Jim Chapin! I met him about 15 yrs ago and didn't listen to a bloody thing he tried to tell me about about technique! I just liked the way he played! I've since listened carefully!As for now, I like the new(ish) boys, Travis Barker, Chad Sexton with 311, Mike Mangini, and I adore Johnny Rabb! On this side of the pond, Marco Minnemann has probably had the most influence on my drumming, as well as Andy Edwards and Russell Gillbrook! Craig Blundell is another drummer I admire. And  a great drummer who uses sound and colour like no other is Peter Fairclough, with Keith  Tippet amongst others! I'm damn lucky to count these guys as good friends as well! Every time I do a clinic, it seems I gain a new friend and inspiration!  This may read like a long winded answer, but trust me, I haven't even scratched the surface!

4) Over the years you have done numerous engagements with the legendary producer Andy Johns how did this first come about?

Can't really say "numerous", unfortunately! I first met Andy Johns at The Cat and Fiddle, an English pub in Hollywood! I was in a band with Mark Stein (From Vannila Fudge) and we were going into the pub and Andy Johns was coming out with Bob Welch from Fleetwood Mac! A good drink resulted in Andy producing some of Mark's and my stuff. Ronnie James Dio worked with us in that band as well, I learned quite a bit from all those guys!

5) You play a reasonable UN known drum manufacture “ Zicko drums” - can you tell us more about these drums and how you got involved with them?

Yeah, the first time I'd heard of Zickos Drums was in 1975, my aforementioned buddy, John Pace got a massive set of them! All acrylic, transparent, big sound, powerful and majestic! All the big names of the early '70's had 'em( Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, Keith Moon from the Who, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, Iron Butterfly,etc...). Then they dissappeared! They reemerged in the 90's and are back making superb instruments! You can check out their history properly on! So I had to have 'em(in addition to my three Ludwig kits, greedy boy)! I got in touch via email, they liked what I was doing and we worked out a deal! They are truly spectacular drums in every respect! Come see me play and hear/see for yourself!!

6) You also have an interesting drum set up could you tell us more and also the benefits you find in this set up?

Yowsuh! My set-up is kind of a schizoid thing! I've got a big "rock" size kit(26"x18" bass drum, 14"x6" snare, 14" rack tom, 16"and 18" floor toms) set up as a right handed kit, which is convenient, as I am right handed! But, set up right next to it, so it looks like a conventional double bass kit, is a small,"breakbeat" size kit(20"x16" bass drum, 10"x5.75"snare, 8" rack, 10" and 12" floor toms), set-up as a left handed kit! Identity crisis or what? I've always had set-ups with a view towards ambidexterity, and I wanted to go the Bozzio, Minnemann, Mangini route of getting all limbs involved, however, I also wanted a right kit /left kit configuration, not just to be different, but to afford myself the variety in sound and technique! In my tuition studio in Sheffield, I've got a kit set up for right handed students, and one for left handed students, at all times! When a righty comes in, I'll play the left! When a lefty comes in, I'll play the right! It helps me while I help them!

7) Rock music is very popular with the younger audience at present is there any major changes in the drumming over the years?

There will always be change! Evolution is one of the greatest things in music. Things go in cycles, with fashions and so forth, and strides are made with regard to technique, facility and innovation! But the best change comes from the individual interperetation and emoting of music! From  Baby Dodds to Chick Webb and Philly Jo to Ringo, Bonham to Copeland  and  Dave Grohl to Travis Barker, it's the way each person feels their own way on the kit where the real changes occur! The short answer would be: ah, NO!

8) You are building a good reputation as an educator with your clinics and teaching how did this first come about?

Because I'm Badass on the drums! But seriously folks( ba-dum pssshhh!), it all really started when Billy Evans went back to the States in '97. Strongheart was at a standstill for a good six months, at which point I began to study all of the things, books, videos, concepts in drumming that I had avoided all my drumming life. As a self-taught, unschooled drummer, it was the fear of sounding like a beginner again, or admitting that I didn't know it all that had kept me from studying properly! That and words like "studying", "technique" and "discipline"! Forget it , sounds like work! But as I had the time, I went for it! I also started to say yes to people asking for lessons, which I hadn't before. Because I was "discovering" all this great information, it was a whole new lease on drumming for me. I couldn't wait to share, show and tell! Then a good friend, Phil Oaten, who had been trying to get me to do clinics for years back in his rep days, opened his Repercussion Music in Hull! It was Phil that pretty much started me on the clinic side of things. I still teach there in Hull, as well as Nottingham Drum Centre and my own tuition room in Sheffield!

9) Finally what’s coming up for you in the near future? 

Strongheart guitarist Wibur Hess is returning to the November, having been back in the States, so we will be playing shows throughout the month, some with Saxon! Metal on! Also, ever more clinics, with Mike Simpson in Scunthorpe(Hey,only the garden spots for us!), and with Derrick McKenzie& the rhythm section from Jamiroqui in Northampton! Then it's to work on completing a book and video(my own insructionals, not something from the library and Blockbuster!!!). There will also be Sex, Food and Rock and Roll( Food, the new Drugs!)! Whack on, Y'all!

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