An Exclusive Interview with Animals as Leaders Drummer Matt Garstka


Earlier this week the recording software company Toontrack released Metal Fusion MIDI, a collection of grooves programmed together with Animals as Leaders drummer Matt Garstka. The expansion pack for Superior Drummer 2, EZdrummer 2 and EZdrummer offers “intricate grooves that touch on jazz, soul and gospel – all infused by the unmistakable traits of true, hard-hitting metal,” created in collaboration with one of the best drummers in modern metal.

In the quick Q&A with Garstka that follows we talk about not only his new product, but the gear he uses, the influences that’ve shaped him as a drummer, the pros of using e-kits and more. 

Toontrack Metal Month is soon coming to a close! To learn more about the products they’ve released just for metal musicians — including the Progressive Foundry drum expansion pack and the Metal Guitar Gods 3 guitar tone kit (featuring tones by Adam D., Ola Englund and more), visit this link

Talk a little about how you got started and what led to you being the drummer you are now.

I started out as a rock drummer at eight years old, then eventually got into Rush, King Crimson, Chick Corea, Mahavishnu Orchestra and other jazzy/fusiony/progressive bands. I extracted my groove from Latin and R&B styles, used the technical facility from jazz fusion and put them all in an aggressive metal context.


You are an avid e-drummer. Give us a rundown of your setup.

I prefer the silicon pads from Yamaha DTX kits. They have the most realistic feel. But I use a Roland KT-10 for a kick trigger. As far as sounds go, I usually use it as a pad kit when practicing but when I record an idea with it I use Superior Drummer. Usually the “avatar” kit.

What are the most obvious pros and cons comparing acoustic and digital drums?

The biggest pro of digital drums is that you can track and archive an idea very quickly. This is especially useful if you want to write melody and harmony to the idea. Another pro is that I can practice/record quietly in my apartment without having to drive 30-45 minutes to my practice spot. It’s also helpful to program an idea before I can play it; that way I can hear it and learn it in a shorter amount of time.

In the past few years it has become common to record albums using e-drums and work with MIDI in album sessions. What’s positive about this development?

With MIDI drums you can program drums that you or a drummer can’t yet play. You can also change parts, drum sounds and time signatures at any point in the recording process.

What is your happiest drum memory… and your WORST?

My happiest and saddest drum memories usually all occur in my practice room, haha.

If you could pick five players for an all-star band, who would they be and why?

Victor Wooten, Chick Corea, Allan Holdsworth, Tigran Hamasyan, and Fredrik Thordendal. They are some of my favorite musicians and I am extremely curious what we would create!

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