Tag: Stuck Mojo
After wrapping up their all-star recording sessions with Grammy-winning super producer Ben Grosse, Oklahoma City’s Aurora Sky are now putting the final pieces into their sonic puzzle. They will be holding upcoming auditions for a permanent bassist, and just this week they announced the addition of the ultra talented Toby Weston as their drummer. Recently I had the chance to talk with their new timekeeper about everything from Morgan Rose-to-musical influences-to-Muppets.
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on being named the new drummer for Aurora Sky.
TOBY WESTON: Thanks man. I’m pretty excited about it.
AWAY-TEAM: You had come highly recommended by the likes of Corey Lowery (STEREOMUD/DARK NEW DAY/STUCK MOJO) and Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose. How did you get turned on to Aurora Sky, and end up becoming the band’s newest member? What was that process like?
TOBY WESTON: Well, after everything that happened with my last band, I had stopped in to say “Hi” to Corey, and show a friend his studio…and I’ve been friends with Corey for years, ya know I knew Morgan first, and met Corey through him. And Corey kinda brought it up to me, and got me in touch with Craig (Aurora Sky manager Craig Stegall) Ya know, Craig called me and we talked, and they sent me the songs and that’s pretty much all she wrote. It was all more or less a word of mouth kind of thing, and the rest of the story we’ll see… hopefully we’ll go down in history, ya know. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding you guys. Now you mentioned that you and Morgan Rose are good friends, and you bring a lot of the same flair and energy in your playing. When did you first start playing, and who are some of your biggest influences?
TOBY WESTON: It’s kinda funny, when I was younger I was always “rhythmically inclined” as my mom would’ve said. I got really big into playing drums, probably the first time I heard KORN’s “Follow the Leader”. I wanted to do something in music, and I tried playing guitar and it just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t get my fingers to move the right way, I mean I don’t wanna say I couldn’t do it, I can do it now but at the time being like 13 it was kinda weird. But the real reason I started playing drums was because of David (Silveria) from KORN. I was really big into them at the time, and watching him play live he was a badass. But he’s not playing with them anymore. I waited for three years to get my first drum kit. I would play on other people’s drum kits. I did the whole church gig for a while, and I got invited to go to this show, and it was Sevendust and… you know Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers was a huge, huge, huge influence on me. Even to now, I still think Chad is the most talented drummer as far as playability. I’m not trying to not give anyone else any credit…but the first time I saw Morgan Rose I was about six feet back right between Lajon (Witherspoon) and Vinnie‘s (Hornsby) rigs and I’d just never seen so much force coming out of one little dude. And knowing him now, at the time I thought he was a lot bigger, but we’re like the same size. And, ya know, like Shannon Larkin…when you get up on stage and play drums, you gotta be the back beat, you gotta be the guy throwing down the rhythm and stuff. But to me the more fun you can have with it, the better. I mean, it’s all about beating the shit out of ‘em and let’s see how crazy you can make yourself look. To me if you go up there and look like you probably need to be in a straight jacket, that’s a good thing. (laughs) But honestly, the biggest thing that inspired me with Morgan, and guys like Shannon Larkin (Godsmack) who in a sense is the same style drummer as Morgan, and seeing these guys not only play their drums really well, but also make it look awesome while they’re doing it…I don’t wanna be the guy up on stage, and it’s a rockin’ song, and I’m just sitting there. That’s no fun. Nobody wants to go and see a drummer just sit there. I mean, even the guys that are in bands that have massive drum kits…like Lamb of God‘s drummer Chris Adler is the man, but he’s one of those guys that, just like, sits there. He gets away with it, because you can’t really see him anyways because his drum kits so huge. You might see the tip of a drumstick every once in a while, but you know. (laughs) But to me if you can go up on stage, I mean Chad Smith‘s really goofy about playing drums, he looks a little like Will Ferrell I think. (laughs)
TOBY WESTON: He’s definitely got a twin brother in that guy! (laughs) But you know everybody’s got their own little niche. I can’t go and sit behind a drum kit and not hit it as hard as I can, and rock out on stage. To me if I get off stage and I haven’t hurt myself in some form or fashion, or I don’t see blood on my drum kit and feel completely worn out, then I haven’t done my job.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s funny you talk about that, because when I asked you about the influences, I was gonna say “No ‘Animal’ from ‘The Muppets’ “? (laughs)
TOBY WESTON: (laughs) Oh dude, I mean it’s funny because a lot of people have actually told me that. They’re like “You look kinda like Animal from The Muppets“ I gotta be honest, ya know maybe a little bit, yeah. He’s a cool little dude, ya know. I’m not gonna lie, I gotta give it up for Jim Henson and his Muppets. Kermit the Frog is the man…(laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: And he plays a mean banjo. (laughs)
TOBY WESTON: (laughs) I’m gonna be the guy sitting in the bus watching The Muppets right before we go on. I gotta get amped up so I gotta watch Animal go crazy. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Talking about that…with the authority with which you play, how many drum heads do you burn through in an average month? Then again, maybe we shouldn’t talk about that. We don’t wanna scare away the sponsors. (laughs)
TOBY WESTON: (laughs) Yeah, well, I mean realistically it just depends. I mean I play hard, I’ve played shows for a couple of weeks at a time, I like my drums to sound as good as possible. And I’m the type of guy, I guess I’m kinda snobby about it because when you go up on stage and perform, I want every note that I hit to sound just as consistent as what’s on the record. If you’re not just a good drummer, but you’re consistent, then you’re doing your job right. But drum heads man, I’ve played shows where in the first song I’ve busted out drum heads. It just depends, because I can kill a drum head in one set, where sometimes I can kill a drum head in three sets. It just depends. The biggest problem that I have is drumsticks. I’ve used drumsticks before, where one crack on the snare drum, and the drumstick just snaps in half. And I don’t wanna talk bad about cymbals, but I’ve burned through quite a few cymbals as well. But to me, it’s all part of the game. But it depends, sometimes drum heads last me for a while, sometimes they don’t. I’m not talking bad about sponsors, but it really boils down to what I get. Not everything you get from everybody is tip top 100% shape. And they’re not all the same, and they’re not always gonna be consistent, but. I mean I’ve played shows where top snare heads have gone out. In more than one case, I’ve had snare drum bottom heads just completely blow out on me. It’s kind of weird, because I’m sitting there playing a show, and it doesn’t throw me off, but it kinda throws me for a loop for a couple seconds. I’ll have the drum mix in my monitors, and I’ll be playing and all of a sudden the whole entire tone of my drum changes, and it’s because the bottom drum head’s blown out on me. When I was in my old band I was going through about six pairs of sticks a week, probably more than that. I’d say I go through about 50 drumsticks and drum heads. I don’t like to play more than two shows without switching out the heads. It’s all about how you play the drum. If I’m sitting there just tapping on them and not really doing much damage to ‘em, then they can probably last me for a while. I guess it just really depends on the show, and how I feel before I go on. Because I kind of have this little routine that I do, and it depends on how much aggression comes out I guess. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) How bad Animal was before the show?
TOBY WESTON: (laughs) Well, I’m not an angry person. I don’t get mad about things very often. I can’t say I don’t get mad, but 95% of the time, I’m like really chilled out. I’m a really easy going guy, and I pride myself on that, because I don’t wanna be an asshole to people. I don’t wanna be that guy, but sometimes you have to be. All the stuff that I get upset about, or I get mad about, I won’t say anything and I just bottle it up. And it’s almost like playing drums is like an anger management course. It’s a good release, but it’s fun because at the same time you get to be creative with what you’re doing.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you guys have a few label showcases coming up, starting this week. Being just welcomed into the band a few days ago, how has the preparation and learning process been having to learn these songs on such short notice? Have you all been able to rehearse together yet?
TOBY WESTON: No. We haven’t had the opportunity to rehearse yet. It’s one of those things where, going to something like this I think the main focus is just gonna be getting used to each other. With the songs the way that they are, they’re gonna be a lot of fun to play. I think the trickiest part of it all is just gonna be figuring out what I need to do to make the songs look fun on my part. I think it’s gonna be one of those things where we go and get in a room together and just start jamming. I don’t think it’s gonna be more than the first couple times playing the songs, for us to be able to kinda move on. I think we’re all kind of at that level where when we get in the room together, I have a good feeling about it. I think magic’s gonna come out of it. But as far as rehearsing goes, I think that as long as I got my part done, I know those guys are on point with what they’re doing, and it’s gonna be a breeze. We’re gonna go in there, and I think we’re gonna do really well together.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah I think so too. You’re really getting yourself into a good project here.
TOBY WESTON: Oh yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: Well hey Toby, thanks for your time. Congratulations again, and best of luck to you. I’m sure we’ll be having many more of these conversations, hopefully for years to come.
TOBY WESTON: Oh absolutely man. I appreciate it, and thanks so much for the interview. Hope to talk to you soon buddy.
AWAY-TEAM: Sounds cool man. Talk to you soon.
For more info on Aurora Sky, as well as to hear their music visit http://www.auroraskyband.com/
Thanks to Toby Weston for so graciously giving me his time, and a special thanks to the band’s manager Craig Stegall for making it all happen.
“You may have never heard of brand new band Aurora Sky yet, but you will. Former Stuck Mojo/Stereomud/Dark New Day bassist Corey Lowery digs the band so much that he decided to co-produce their new record. Through a series of serendipitous events, the demo ended up on Lowery‘s desk and the band is getting its liftoff. “It is teetering between more aggressive modern rock music and active rock,” guitarist Chris Shy told Noisecreep. “It’s overall a more aggressive modern rock band for fans of bands like Shinedown, Seether and Filter.” ”
Check out the rest of the interview here.
For more AURORA SKY click here.