My first introduction to Wayne Static came back in 1999 in the form of “Push It”, the first single off Static-X’s platinum-selling debut album Wisconsin Death Trip. I was an instant fan. Never before had I heard such a unique and deliberate stylistic approach so neatly melded with an industrial rock sound. It was born, Wayne Static’s mad genius had created the Frankenstein that would become known as “Evil Disco”. Twelve short years later, that brazen young newcomer has transformed into solo artist, CEO, and the godfather of modern industrial rock. I recently caught up with Static to talk about everything from rap-to-the recording industry-to-rusty Oldsmobiles. So relax, have a seat, and get ready, your consultation with Dr. Pighammer is about to begin…
AWAY-TEAM: First, I’d like to congratulate you on the release of Pighammer, your first ever solo project which was just released on your own label Dirthouse Records…
WAYNE STATIC: Thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to talk to you a bit about that later. But first I’d like to know, when did you decide that you wanted to do a solo album? What was kinda the driving force behind that?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, I actually first wanted to do it back in 2001. It was when I was finishing up writing the Machine record, and realizing that it was just kind of me, writing everything by myself, while the other guys partied and did whatever they wanted, did their own side projects. Then they’d come back, and I’d have to compromise and argue with them about this and that. By the time we recorded the record, I was already sick of all the songs, and felt that some of the original energy and excitement was lost from the songs. So, it’s been in my head for over ten years, but I kinda had to wait for the right time because for me to do a solo record it meant I had to put Static-X on the shelf for a while. I knew that we still had a lot of stuff to do, so after the 2009 tour was done I felt like it was the right time to do it. Everyone was kinda ready to take a break from the band and do their own thing, and I was definitely ready to take a break and do my own thing, so here we are.
AWAY-TEAM: There’s actually a bit of a story behind the Pighammer character, explain that to me.
WAYNE STATIC: Well, the theme of the album is transformation, and we were trying to think of a cool way to depict that. It’s sort of a dark comedy type of thing where, I’m this mad plastic surgeon who changes my wife into a pig with this Pighammer surgical tool that we made up. Some people try to take that too literally, and try to read into what it is, but it’s really just sort of a humorous look at transformation.
AWAY-TEAM: I know you were once featured in the Eternal Descent comic book series, is there any chance we see Pighammer in a similar situation? Or maybe even a movie?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m always open to that kind of stuff, ya know. The last comic book thing, the Eternal Descent thing, kinda came my way through the guitar company I was working with for the last few years. I think it’s cool, I think my look lends itself very well to that sort of animation. So any time anyone makes me an offer for that sort of thing, I think it’s cool, I like to see the way it comes out. So if you wanna make a movie that sounds cool too.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I’ll get working on that! (both laugh)
WAYNE STATIC: Alright let’s do it!
AWAY-TEAM: I understand that prior to making this album you and your wife sold your house in L.A. and moved out to the desert, what prompted a move like that?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, we both grew up in small little farm towns, and then we both ended up in the city… and Tera never liked L.A. she just came there for me, and I kinda grew to hate it there too. There’s just too much traffic and congestion, and we’ve had the house out in the high desert in Joshua Tree for a long time, and we used to just go there for the weekends. We were like ‘Well, what if we just moved out there and forget about L.A.?’ So it worked out pretty well, we love it, it’s kind of come full circle. Ya know, we live in the middle of nowhere, just like where we grew up.
AWAY-TEAM: Back to basics. Now, the first single “Assasins of Youth”, the video for which by the way is visually brilliant, I have to commend you on that…
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man.
AWAY-TEAM: …that song is actually about your last days of drug use, and it took several years to write. You actually wrote the first part during a bit of a bender, tell me about that. And when you perform the song now is it more of a ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ feeling? Or is it more of a liberating reminder of what you’ve overcome?
WAYNE STATIC: That song, and the whole album, was written and recorded while we were getting off drugs, and withdrawing, and going through these changes. So that’s really like the biggest transformation of all, so that song in particular I thought was a great first single because it kinda sums it all up. Ya know, I started writing that song in 2007, and finished it up during the Pighammer recording sessions. But in general, the whole album deals with that. Ya know, we didn’t go to rehab or any crap like that. I still drink alcohol, I’m not a quitter.
WAYNE STATIC: There was a point where we kinda realized that it wasn’t fun anymore. For me, it was just not healthy, so while we were actually making the record we spent some time cleaning up. So that’s really what a lot of the record is about.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you still drink alcohol, it’s funny you said that, because I had read an article a while ago about Scott Weiland and he still drinks. And I had always wondered, is that something that kind of let’s you say ‘Hey, I do have some self control’, is that an accurate assessment?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, I think people that have to go to rehab, maybe they don’t really wanna quit doing drugs, ya know. For me, it was a choice, and it’s not easy but when you know you gotta do it, and you wanna do it, you just deal with it. I don’t see any reason to quit drinking. Fuck, I’ve been drinking since I was 20, I’m 45, I’ll be 46 next month. So I’ve been an alcoholic for 30 years now, so why should I quit drinking? (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Amen to that! (both laugh) So back to the “Assasins…” video, was it hard shooting a video with a full time chub?
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) It was a fun and difficult shoot at the same time. It was a lot of fun, cuz the video is supposed to be funny, if you take it too literal then some people have problems with it. I knew it was kind of a risky move to do something like that. But it was kinda tough, because we did it with no money, and we kinda did it guerilla style. A friend of ours, Matt Zane, shot it by himself with no help. We were at this little hotel room, up in the high desert, and they didn’t know we were shooting it, because we didn’t wanna spend any money on the video. And it was the summer time, so it was like over 100 degrees in the room, and we were there for three days, so it was kinda brutal in that respect. But I think the video turned out great, and it seems like everyone really digs it. It’s a really fun, kind of different video.
AWAY-TEAM: I was really impressed with it. So being on the road and trying to maintain a sobriety is a bit of a daunting task. What kind of support system do you have with you to keep you from the temptations of the road?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m not even tempted anymore. I mean you could chop up some Oxycontin and put it right in front of my face, and I wouldn’t do it because I just don’t want to. I mean, I’ve seen the dark side of drug addiction and I don’t ever wanna be there again. So I don’t need a support system, I’m just over it, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: That’s great!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of your wife, the first single from the last Static-X album was “Stingwray”, which is an ode to both your wife and her car. There’s another song on the album called “Z-28″ , so one can only assume that you’re a big car fanatic…
WAYNE STATIC: Definitely. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: What was the coolest car you ever owned? And also, what was the biggest piece of shit you’ve ever owned?
WAYNE STATIC: The biggest piece of shit was definitely my very first car. Which a friend gave to me, because it was a worthless piece of shit. This was back in the 80′s, it was an old Oldsmobile Delta ’88. It barely ran, it was all rusted through, so I spray painted it black, and spray painted the KISS Army logo on the back of it, put a plastic machine gun in the window, and got pulled over all the time because the cops thought I had a real gun in the window. (both laugh) So that was definitely the biggest piece of shit. When I moved to L.A., I couldn’t give the car away. I drove it to the dump and they gave me $80 for it, so that was a sad day. (laughs) Probably the coolest car, ya know it’s hard to say, we’ve got a bunch of old muscle cars, and a couple cool little trucks. I guess I’d have to say the 2008 Challenger SRT8 that we got. It was the first edition numbered car, one of 6400 made, 450hp from the factory, just a badass car. We used to take it out once or twice a month and drive it, and keep it in the garage most of the time.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow! Yeah, when I heard “Stingwray” , I’ve wanted a Corvette ever since I can remember, so I said I gotta ask him about that!
WAYNE STATIC: Yeah, Tera’s car is awesome too, it’s all original. It’s a ’79, original paint, original interior, so it’s really cool. Before we got the Challenger, my Z-28 was my favorite car, but after driving 450hp with traction control and ginormous brakes so you can go fast and stop when you want it to, we don’t even drive the other cars anymore. (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Also on the Static-X front, what are the future plans for Static-X?
WAYNE STATIC: I don’t have any plans right now. I haven’t even talked to the other guys in the last couple years. Everyone’s doing their thing, I’m having a great time. I’ve got my band together, we’re finally on the road, my album’s finally out. So for me it’s just kind of the start of this whole new journey, and that’s all I see in the near future. I’m not opposed to putting Static-X back together at some point, but right now I’m gonna see this project through.
AWAY-TEAM: Okay. Now you recently received the “Best Metal Frontman”, award, deservedly so, at the Vegas Rocks! Awards. I look at something genuine like that, and then I look at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They’ve snubbed some of the greatest musicians of all time, and then I just saw recently that the rap group Eric B. & Rakim are nominated for this year’s class. What are your thoughts on that? And if they came knocking, say ten years down the road, would you accept the honor?
WAYNE STATIC: If anyone wants to recognize something I’ve done, of course I will accept it. But I agree with you that the Hall of Fame, as much as the Grammys and all of that is just a political thing. People like us, we realize that, but alot of the rest of the world doesn’t. When I was younger I didn’t realize that the Grammys weren’t real, ya know. (both laugh) I mean I would definitely graciously accept any award like that but, it is what it is, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve been in the music industry long enough to see the evolution from cassettes-to-CD’s-to-MP3′s, now the latest wave of the future is streaming. There seems to be mixed reviews on that, some think it helps sell records, others think it takes away from sales, what are your thoughts on streaming and it’s impact on the artist or label?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, in general, I hate the internet. I wish it would die, I wish it would go away. I think it ruined a lot of things. It ruined music, it ruined people’s social skills, it ruined print, it ruined the world in my opinion. (laughs) It’s fucking Skynet from The Terminator, it’s gonna be the demise of civilization as we know it. But, having said that, it is here to stay, and I use it to promote myself, because that’s just the way it is now. As far as streaming, I think it’s cool. I had my album streaming for an entire week before it came out, because if it’s good people are gonna talk about it. The people who really go andd buy CD’s are gonna buy it, and the people who don’t buy CD’s are not gonna buy it either way. So I’m all in support of it, obviously the streaming thing is a lower quality audio, and you can’t download it and all that crap… I mean, I’m sure you can, I’m sure they make programs for that… but it still sounds like shit. So the people that are gonna buy the CD are gonna do it, and I think letting people hear it, they’re just gonna talk positive things and more people will end up buying the CD in the end.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, there’s no such thing as bad promotion. Last, but not least… I know you’re probably sick of hearing this, but obviously over the years you’ve been compared to the dude from the Slim Jim commercials…
WAYNE STATIC: Not so much lately. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) …Well that’s a good thing! So much so to the point that there were rumors that you were asked to be the spokesperson. I want you to set the record straight, is there any truth to any of that? And if not, can we give the people who still refer to you that way one final ‘Shut the fuck up!’?
WAYNE STATIC: It’s true that they did approach me at one point to do some promotional stuff for them, and I turned it down. Because I don’t think the way I look is a joke. I look the way I look, because I think it’s cool. I mean, I realize that some people think it’s a joke, but whatever, the reason I did it in the beginning is so that people remember me. If you think I’m dumb looking, if you think I’m cool looking, either way people will remember me. I’m one of the most recognizable rock stars that there’s probably ever been.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely, you’re like a fucking brand!
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) Right. But I did turn that down.
AWAY-TEAM: Good for you! I see the reasoning behind it, and I definitely can appreciate that. Wayne, thanks so much for your time. It’s been a great pleasure and an honor. Best of luck with the new album, the label, and everything that you do!
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man! It’s been nice talking to you.
AWAY-TEAM: You too, take it easy.
WAYNE STATIC: Bye.
For more Wayne Static including tour dates and to purchase music visit his official website here.
Special thanks to Wayne Static for so graciously giving me his time, and to Sammy Mazur at VQPR for making it all happen.
Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy Osbourne… aside from being iconic figures in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, what do they all have in common? They’ve all had the honor of calling Tommy Clufetos their drummer. Ever since he picked up the drumsticks at the age of seven, Tommy Clufetos has lived and breathed rock ‘n’ roll, doing more in ten years than most people dream of accomplishing in a lifetime. It’s that kind of dedication that has brought him from keeping time for the Motor City Madman to tearing through the Diary of a Madman. Recently I had a chance to speak with Tommy about what it’s like to play with rock royalty, covering everything from the Prince of Darkness to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. So sit back, grab a cold one, and kick up your feet as we delve into the mind of one of rock’s great stickmen….
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to start by congratulating you on the success of the current tour, and on semi-recently being named the new full time drummer for Ozzy Osbourne.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys are currently touring with Slash as your supporting act, I know you’ve had the chance to play with him before, how did that come to be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You mean how did it come with me jamming with Slash before?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was doing this thing with Alice Cooper, not when I was in Alice Cooper’s band, he just asked me to help him out and do this thing called the MAP Fund, which is affiliated with the Grammy’s and it helps those with substance abuse addictions. So we played at this concert, and Slash jammed with Alice when I was playing drums, I think he played “School’s Out” or something. So we played together then, and he just asked me to jam with him a couple times out of that. He’s a total gentleman, Slash, I love his guitar playing. Ya know he’s one of the last guitar hero rock stars out there, so… I can’t say enough about that guy, he’s such a great guy, and great musician.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, he’s legendary!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Right.
AWAY-TEAM: Now I spoke with Gus G. a few months ago, and he hadn’t yet met Slash, and I asked him this very question, but he didn’t have the answer yet. So now it’s time for an update… have you guys played any songs on this tour with both Ozzy and Slash on stage at the same time? I know they played together on Slash’s album.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Ozzy sang on Slash’s album, yeah. But they don’t do that during the concert, because we fly in and out of the shows, so it doesn’t really leave much time for us to… ya know, sometimes we’ll get there when he’s already on stage, and we have to get ready, so. The schedule is quite compact, so I don’t think it technically leaves room to do that. But that would be cool.
AWAY-TEAM: Sure would.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: But the package of Slash and Ozzy together is going over really well, and I think it’s a great thing for fans. Alot of tunes that people are familiar with, and alot of tunes where people go ‘Oh, I forgot about that song’, so it’s a great night of rock ‘n’ roll hits for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: I think the great part of it, is we haven’t seen something like this in a long time, and I’ve said this before, it kinda brings you back to the days of the old Monsters of Rock tours and things like that.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Yeah. I mean Slash is just an icon, and so is Ozzy, so it makes for a great night for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. So how did you get the gig with Ozzy? Did you have to audition? Or did they call you and say “Hey, what are you doing? We want you to play with us”? How did that work out?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was kinda in the right place at the right time. I was brought in to help out during Gus G.’s audition, he came in from Greece, and their drummer at the time couldn’t make it, so I was asked to do it just so Gus could be comfortable and focus on playing guitar… and the music would be solid. So that’s what I came in to do, and then they asked me to play at a thing called Blizzcon in California, which again Mike Bordin, who’s an amazing drummer, could not make due to commitments with Faith No More. They asked me to do that, and out of those couple experiences they asked me to join the band. So I was very lucky, and excited, and so ecstatic to say ‘Yes’.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you left Rob Zombie’s band to take the gig with Ozzy, I understand Rob was a little bitter when you left him. Have you spoken to him since, and managed to salvage your friendship?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I have not spoken to him. But I have nothing but great things to say about Rob and my time spent there, and ya know I base our relationship on what I saw when I was there and I have nothing but great things to say about that. I wouldn’t say anything negative, just because of a couple statements in the press. So, no hard feelings on my end. I wish him, his wife Sheri, and all the guys nothing but the best. I still think the world of all of them. So, that’s how I feel.
AWAY-TEAM: These days Ozzy seems to be a bit more energized than he has been in the past few years. I’m sure in part it has to do with some of you younger guysbeing around. With guys like yourself and Gus being closer in age to Ozzy’s kids, than the man himself; do Ozzy and Sharon treat you with more of a parental instinct? Or are you still just one of the guys?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: The age thing doesn’t really come into play. We play in his band, and it’s business. But this is more like a family than anything I’ve ever been involved with. They’re super cool, and super nice, and ya know we just played an L.A. show and Ozzy’s whole family was out there. They couldn’t be better to us, they treat us all great despite the age. Whether you’re old or young, it’s all the same thing.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s all rock ‘n’ roll. And speaking of that, Ozzy’s still going at age 62, where do you see yourself at age 62?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I’ll still be rockin’ n’ rollin’ my friend!
AWAY-TEAM: Kick ass!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I just hope I die on stage. That would be… not too soon! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah. Let’s not rush it!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I can’t stop. So I’ll probably be that dude up there that people are saying ‘Why won’t he quit?’
TOMMY CLUFETOS: At least I know it right? (laughs) I’ll probably still be taking my shirt off when I’m a fat guy!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I gotta ask this question… the whole metal world let out a collective ‘What the fuck?” when we first heard that Ozzy was working with Justin Bieber, in fact I even read somewhere somebody said ‘I hope Ozzy bites his head off’ (laughs)
TOMMY CLUFETOS: (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: How did the guys in the band feel about it, see when we first heard we didn’t know it was a commercial, we just heard they were working together so it obviously created a bit of a storm in the media. So how did you guys feel about it? I mean did you bust his balls a bit?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I mean he’s doing a Super Bowl commercial, so who wouldn’t be in a Super Bowl commercial? It’s like the biggest thing in the world, and I mean he’s Ozzy Osbourne he can do whatever the hell he wants. So I think it’s great, Ozzy is more than music, he’s a cultural icon! He’s like Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is just fucking cool, and so is Ozzy. So, I mean we go up on stage and Ozzy just rocks balls! Harder than anybody out there, harder than any punk kid. He’s the real deal, so whether he’s in a commercial with Justin Bieber, or in The Osbourne’s, he still IS rock ‘n’ roll. He’s the definition of rock ‘n’ roll, and he proves it when he gets on the stage, and we’re there to back him up on it!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of backing him up, current band not included, if you could pick an all-time, all-star lineup for Ozzy, consisting of former band members who would it be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh man, that’s a tough one. He’s always had such great bands. The No More Tears era was a great band, of course the Blizzard era was a great band, ya know I just feel honored to be in the Ozzy Osbourne band legacy. That’s what I feel lucky about. My name is in those ranks, and that’s just a great feeling, because he’s always had and always found the great musicians. Ozzy’s so good at getting great musicians in his band, and he can see talent, so I feel blessed and honored to be in that category. I’m not saying I’m in that category, but just to be mentioned with the same guys is a great feeling.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I think Gus put it really well. He said you guys get to “…go out there every night and play the Bible of Heavy Metal” That’s pretty fucking cool!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: When we played in Los Angeles the other night, Tony Iommi was out there and Bill Ward came into our dressing room… sweetheart of a guy, total monster, amazing drummer. So it was great to meet those guys and have ‘em at the show.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s awesome. So how did you get started playing drums?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: My father was a musician, and I got drums for my 7th birthday, and from that moment on I’ve known what I was gonna do with my life. So it was full on instantly, blinders on, to get to doing what I’m doing now. So it’s been an endless, relentless pursuit of quality and determination to get where I am now.
AWAY-TEAM: What was the first song you ever learned? And who did you idolize, or style your play after growing up?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Wow, first song I ever learned (pauses) I think it was, my dad was a musician, so I think it was growing up a song called “C-Jam Blues” which was a Duke Ellington thing. Kinda like a little swing number, and it had little breaks for me to do some fills in, and stuff like that. That’s the earliest thing I can remember doing. I started so early, it just sort of came easy for me. I could just play tunes instantly, so um, ya. Once you look back it’s kinda funny how quickly it goes by.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I idolized my parents. Ya know, as you get older it’s harder to have idols, but my parents; I give them the greatest credit for me doing what I’m doing now. They never told me I couldn’t… I mean my mom, I can’t imagine the noise she had to deal with for 20 years in the house, at all times of the day blasting music and playing drums. And my dad always made sure I had drum stuff, and took me out and saw music, and put me in his band, so. The support was always there, and they always told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put the effort in. So they gave me the tools to have the confidence, in order to go out and do what I do. That’s really who I’m gonna give credit to. To do music, ya know, you gotta have that right mindset. Being able to play your instrument and be good at it is almost the easy part. Your mind has to be together, and you have to understand your place and your role. So it’s very easy, ya know we’re staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and just got off a private jet, it’s easy to start thinking you’re a big shot. But you gotta remember where you came from, and remember why you’re there. You gotta stay grounded, and I credit that to my parents for instilling those values in me. Ya know, when I did wrong, they put you in your place, when you did good, you got credit for it. So I carry those lessons with me to this day.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you got your first real big break with Ted Nugent, how did you end up playing with him? Had he known you from the Detroit scene?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I got to first play with Ted, a guy in Detroit, a great sax player named Alto Reed whose played in Bob Seger’s band for the last 30 years, asked me to play on a movie soundtrack that he was putting together. Ted Nugent also played on it. So I first played with Ted during that, and didn’t have any idea of what music we were gonna play, he just sat down and wrote a song, and I immediately followed him. We did one take of it, and we cut it. Then we did another one in one take, and I think I impressed him because he called me the next day to go on tour with him. So, ya know, you get certain moments in life where you go “This is my shot.” If I didn’t buckle down and kick ass, Ted Nugent is not gonna give me another shot. You can work for ten years busting your hump, and eventually your break will come in a round about way, and you get that one opportunity to go to the next level. And I knew that was my moment, my one moment. I’ve had numerous moments like that, that have led me to where I’m at. But you don’t get those moments without the years and years of hard work and preparation in order to lead you to be prepared to take advantage of that moment.
AWAY-TEAM: Right, it’s all about what you make of it. So being with a guy like Ted, it’s almost a requirement to be into guns…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You know what, Ted doesn’t give a shit. Ted only cares about you working your ass off, and being professional, and doing your job. Of course he’s gonna take you to shoot guns, but he doesn’t care if you’re a vegetarian, if you’re black or white, as long as you kick ass and do what you do to the best of your ability, your his best friend.
AWAY-TEAM: So what’s the sickest weapon you ever shot with him?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh my god. We went out in Texas, he would fly us out to these hunting ranches for his birthday and shoot like, I don’t even know what they’re called. But like insane crazy machine guns, like you’d see in movies, like in Red Dawn. Just stupid, stupid stuff. I’d be firing these things and be like “What am I doing right now!” For me it was crazy, being the city guy, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Right. Having played with so many greats over your career, do you ever get jaded? In other words, let’s take someone I know you’ve never met, at least I hope you’ve never met! Elvis walks by, is it ”So what it’s Elvis he’s just another guy like me”? Or do you still get a little starstruck?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You picked the one guy, I mean I’m an Elvis nut…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: …so if he walked by, I’d really be going crazy. Second of all, I would have loved to play for Elvis, that’s one guy I would’ve loved to play for. I am an Elvis fanatic! To me though, we’re people. Elvis would be the one dude that I would freak out about though. But, we’re all people, and at this point you’re either an asshole, or you’re not an asshole! (laughs) So sometimes you meet famous people and they’re fucking assholes, sometimes you meet famous people and they’re the greatest people in the world. So, ya know, we’re all just people. I don’t really let anybody freak me out, cuz who cares. You can’t be intimidated by people either. You can be excited, and have a certain charisma that makes you excited to meet them because they’re exciting. But it’s not just because they’re a star, ya know. Like Ozzy has a certain charisma, where you’re like “Oh my god, this is Ozzy“ It’s fucking cool! But it’s not just because it’s Ozzy, it’s because he’s a cool person. If that difference makes sense.
AWAY-TEAM: I know exactly what you mean!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Like there’s certain guys I’ve played in bands with where I go “Oh my god, this guys a douchebag!” But the guys I play with now, everybody is so cool, everybody is on the same page, and so professional, it’s just a joy to be around. We’re having a riot out here…Blasko, Adam Wakeman, Gus G, Ozzy…all top notch supreme gentlemen, and highest level musicians.
AWAY-TEAM: Of all the legends that you’ve played with, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy, what’s the best advice any of them has ever given you?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Best advice anybody has ever given me… that’s a tough one. (pauses) I have no idea. I learned alot from Ted Nugent, he gave me my first big break, we’re both from Detroit, share alot of the same influences, come from the same place and look at things the same way so I learned alot of things from him. But most of the stuff, my parents gave me the tools, I knew what I was doing. I was ready when anything came down the pipeline. I’m talking emotionally, and mentally I was ready. The best advice I can give somebody, if they wanna do this, is to keep the music number one. If something else comes in front of your music, or whatever you wanna do in your life you will not make it. Everything I do during the day has to do with me wanting to play music for the rest of my life. And when you get away from that, when you start getting into drugs, and start drinking, when the partying becomes too much eventually, it may take years, you’re gonna fall. I don’t care who you are, when you stop practicing as much you will lose your chops. You will lose it, I’ve seen so many drummers that are like “Oh yeah, I don’t really pick up the sticks in between tours.” WHAT? You don’t pick up the sticks? I have to pick up the sticks, I have to play, I have to stay hungry for it. Or year, after year, after year you will become dull, and you will lose it slowly. You gotta keep the hunger, and you gotta keep the music number one. So that’s my biggest advice, and everybody who I’ve worked for, that’s what they do and they have 42 year careers because of it. So they may not say something, they may not say the advice, but if you’re smart enough and perceptive you can pick it up on your own. Watch and learn.
AWAY-TEAM: Very true. Excellent pearls of wisdom. Tommy, thank you for your time, it’s been a true honor.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it, and all the best to you!
AWAY-TEAM: Same to you. Best of luck with everything, and I look forward to seeing you behind the kit for many years to come.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Appreciate it. all my best.
AWAY-TEAM: Thanks buddy! Talk to you soon.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Bye.
Special thanks to Tommy Clufetos for so graciously giving me his time, and to George Vallee at Sumerian Records for making it all happen.