This interview with the American drummer Chad Walls was done through e-mail in May 2003 by Josh Ngolls.

Drummers are often an overlooked part of extreme metal bands. Along with the likes of Dave Culross, Derek Roddy, Tim Yeung and Tony Laureano, journeyman Chad Walls has recorded and toured with a wide variety of metal acts, from Metallica tribute band Misery to out-and-out underground death grind acts Pustulated and Dislimb. Fresh off a European stint with Paul Dianno of Iron Maiden fame, Walls graciously responded to my inquiries via email.

Your bio mentions you being a big Peter Criss fan. How did his simple style lead you into the advanced drumming of extreme metal?
Well, Peter Criss is just what got me into drumming; he for sure didn't lead the charge into extreme metal for me, but is the only reason I started and still play drums.

Do you find that playing in cover bands such as MISERY is necessary in order to survive as a metal drummer in original bands?
No, not really. For me, I just want to stay as active and as busy as I can. I am usually on the road about 9 months out of the year, which still isn't enough for me. I do plenty other than MISERY, mostly during breaks from tour, that just gets connected with MISERY somehow. If I could find one band that would keep me busy, I wouldn't have to be involved in so many projects, but that has not and probably will never happen.

You are no longer with BRODEQUIN, but seem to be prominently mentioned in the reviews of their material as a big part of their sound. Why do you think that is?
I have never payed any attention to reviews, or cared about what anyone says about my music or anything about what I do. But looking back on both Brodequin CDs, since there wasn't anything else going on musically, I guess if you had to pull at least something out of those recordings, I can see where the drumming might get noticed.

Still with BRODEQUIN, I noticed a huge jump in speed from the "Instruments..." material to the "Festival..." material. Was this due to physical improvements, a choice, or the band as a whole?
Well, a couple of my favorite albums are Fallen Christ and Mater Tenebra. After hearing "Abduction Ritual" and being blown away by Alex Hernandez's drumming, I always wanted to create an album like that, so it wasn't really a band effort. When we did "Instruments...", I was still learning how to play fast, and the recording was so quick, and everything was rushed. With "Festival...", we practiced alot, and I worked hard to get my chops up to do that album.

I hear that you used 1A sticks with BRODEQUIN. What kinds of sticks do you use for different bands and why? What about grip techniques?
I use pretty much whatever. The music stores around where I live pretty much blow, so when they ran out of my sticks of choice, Pro Mark 444 Bobby Rock Signature sticks, I had to come up with another stick real quick, and the Vater 1A's were the choice. But I have long stopped trying to be consistent with sticks. Touring all over the world, you pretty much have to take what you can get, and usually compromise with the standard 5A or 5B type models. I go through sticks like crazy, but I usually like a heavy stick, at least 17" in length. As far as grip technique, I was in band in high school, and marching and all that garbage, so I use matched grip.

Do you think blastbeats seem as fast if they're held uninterrupted with no contrast? When do you decide to slow or change things up and why?
I don't think either way, actually. Whatever works. Alot of guys will tell you they like rolls and fills, only because they couldn't keep it up. Others will say they like it full on, maybe cause they couldn't do a fill, I couldn't say. I only know what works for me, and if the guitar is doing something, a run or anything, then I might come up with a fill to accent that. It really depends. When it comes to creating music or parts, I don't have a standardized formula.

With MISERY you stick with what Lars Ulrich plays. Most regard him as not much of a drummer. Is it hard to hold back and play what he does?
Well, I play his parts 'cause that's what people expect to hear. I change a few things up here and there. We do all old Metallica, so it's a pretty cool vibe; I don't feel I'm holding back or anything, cause I just enjoy playing. If I didn't enjoy it, then I wouldn't do it. I guess I could be brutal or cooler than cool and only take the stage if I were playing death metal, and play maybe 5 shows a year to a handful of people and feel like I was doing something. But, I'd rather be me and be on stage playing drums and performing.

What's your opinion on drum triggers?
I like them. I just bought a full DDrum 4 rack unit from ex-Slayer drummer Jon Dette (thanks Jon!!!). I think if you use them right, they are great. If you use them to only enhance what you are already playing, then great. If you have the sensitivity set so you can clap and set them off, and things like that, I am not for that. Mostly I trigger the kicks and that's all, but with my new rack unit, I am going to work on the whole kit, probably for just recording, as I do alot of session work as well. Live I am not so sure, a bad sound tech could really ruin you if he doesn't have a clue. And there are alot of them out there.

What's your practice routine? Do you find it necessary to play the songs you need to know on your own, or just work with drills and rudiments?
I have no practice routine. I couldn't even tell you the last time I sat down to practice. In entering a new situation, I will know the songs I need to play, after being in so many different ones. I don't really work on the songs on my own- i'll just be really prepared, and know them, show up and play.

Here's a scenario: You're playing live and in the middle of a song you drop a stick. There is no time to play every note in your part while reaching for a new stick, so what do you do?
This must be a question just for me!!! Hahahaha. Well I drop and break plenty of sticks, and that happens a lot. Usually it's the snare hand stick that I break, more often than not, anyways. I have gotten pretty good over the years at covering up, so it's rare when I miss a note. What I usually do is just drop the broken one, or what I really like doing is throwing the stick in the crowd, that way they know something just happened, switch the hi hat stick to my snare hand, and grab a new stick with my hi hat hand. If there is a time I can't play every note, then I would just keep the pulse with the kicks, and make sure I don't lose my place. But that scenario happens every night, so I have gotten pretty good at recovering.

Why the name Captain Killdrums? It's rare to see metal drummers in the forefront - why do you think that is?
Well I spent 4 years in the US Army, so that's where the Cpt. part came from. During a talent show in high school, I did a drum solo, and afterwards I threw the drums off the stage, and kicked over what stands were left, there I was adopted "Killdrums", so eventually the two came to a head, and presto,!!! Hahaha. As far as drummers in the forefront, I haven't really noticed. It's ironic, the few drummers who are in the forefront, shouldn't be, and ones who should, don't wanna be. Go figure!

You've worked with many bands, from underground death acts like DISLIMB and PUSTULATED to Steve Tucker's new project CEREMONY. What makes a band member easy or hard to work with as a drummer?
Well it all comes down to personality. You can have a great working relationship with someone, creativity wise, and hate each other. So over time, that will wear off. Most things I have noticed, usually when you work with someone who has actually done something in their life, or their career, they are so easy to work with. It's the local "brutal evil" people who only live for the band photo so they can show off their most underground shirt and look as mean as they can that are the pain in the asses to work with, and they are in droves, believe me, I'm unfortunately on CDs with a few of those wastes of flesh, but I usually keep it open and try anything, which has hurt me more than helped me over the years, sorry to say.

Right now you're on the road with Iron Maiden's original singer Paul Dianno. How is the playing going? Are you playing old Maiden stuff?
Well I'm just back from touring with him, and he's the coolest. We'll be working together more in the future. And yeah, lots of old Maiden; he's done some killer solo stuff over the years, too, that has gone pretty much unnoticed, sad to say, but we do a few tunes off of those as well. But, he is known for Maiden, and that's the majority of the set. It has truly been a highlight to share the stage with someone whose poster you had on your wall as a kid, I am grateful for that opportunity!!!

Links of interest:

Chad Walls