Interview With Paul Bassett

By Angela Monger (March, 15 1999)

Angela: Hey! How are ya?

Paul: Pretty good, how are you?

Angela: Fine. Well for starters could you tell everyone a little about yourself? Age, where you are from, etc?

Paul: Well, I just turned 30 (ouch!!!) and I was born and raised in the Bay area (outside of San Francisco), but I now live in Las Vegas, NV.

Angela: Could you tell us how you became a drum tech?

Paul: I started taking drum lessons when I was 13 from a guy named Rick Herns (who later on went to play with the Pointer Sisters) and joined my first local band when I was 15. After a few years of playin' I went to an audition for another local band named "Flame" who was just signed to Warner Brothers. There I met Jimmy Degrasso who was also auditioning. Jimmy went before me and just blew me away. When Flame did not take him I knew I had no shot, but Jimmy and I started talking and I told him that the national band Y&T was also auditioning drummers and that he should try for that...well needless to say, he joined Y&T a week or so later. I ended up working for him and the band as they rehearsed in some Bay area clubs for a new record. I guess you could say that I was in the wrong place at the right time.

Angela: How did you become Eric's drum tech?

Paul: I had met Eric several times at the NAMM conventions in Los Angeles before I actually worked for him. But, I had received a call from a friend of mine; he told me that he was booking some shows for an "all star" band called Don't Touch Grandpa and they were just looking for one tech to help out on a small west coast tour. I said sure. He and I went to L. A. and met up with Ryan Roxie (who was playing with Alice Cooper). Ryan was one of the guitar players, the other was Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N' Roses), the bassist was Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne), and the drummer was Eric.

Angela: How long did you work for Eric?

Paul: Well, at that time, Eric was still a member of KISS. All of the guys in the band just wanted to do a side project that was fun and had no real stress involved. We ended up doing a few rehearsal shows in Arizona and then started our mini tour in Las Vegas. The tour only lasted a few weeks, but after that, Gilby hired me to tech for his solo band "Gilby Clarke And The Tequilla Brothers", which featured Phil and Eric along with Teddy Andreadis (also ex-Guns N' Roses) on keyboards. This was the line-up for the first part of Gilby's tour for his Hangover record. We toured for about 3 months at this time. Since then, Eric has been in and out of The Tequilla Brothers due to other projects like Alice Cooper and Brian May.

Angela: Have you gotten to work for him while he's done these projects?

Paul: We still do The Tequilla Brothers whenever we both can.

Angela: Did you get to work for him while he was in KISS?

Paul: I went and helped out on the first leg of the Convention Tour, Kenny Barr was Eric's tech on the Revenge Tour, but went on to work for Stone Temple Pilots, so that's when I started giving him a hand, during the KISS Conventions.

Angela: Some of the drummers on my list wanted to know what an average night involves (setting up, behind the scenes, and tearing down).

Paul: For Eric, it's really not too tough if you know the basics. I would arrive at the club around 3:00 p.m. and set his kit up first. Usually the guys would go and do a radio interview or check into our hotel while I set up. Then, around 5:00 p.m. the band would show up for sound checks. After that, I would go over the kit and fine tune all the heads and polish the drums and cymbals. Usually Eric's drum heads would last two or three shows, then I would change them either after a show or early the next day. Remember, I was also doing Gilby's guitars, Phil's basses, and Teddy's keyboards

Angela: Damn you were busy. Did Eric go through a lot of cymbals as well?

Paul: Yeah, he cracked a few. I have the first one he cracked from the Las Vegas show; he was nice enough to sign it to me. I have it up on my wall along with a signed picture. I hung them next to a KISS gold record that I have, along with several other things that I have for various other people that I have worked for.

Angela: How many drum sticks did he go through a night?

Paul: Lots!!! He would usually break between four and seven a night, plus he would always end up giving away a few new ones. I have a couple of those too.

Angela: What are the specifications to Eric's kit (brand, model, heads, cymbals, hardware, and sticks)? As you can tell I have a lot of drummers on my e-mail lists.

Paul: Eric used a Pearl Masters custom kit and Zildjian cymbals. His kit is a one of a kind rainbow sparkle with 12" & 14" rack toms and 16" & 18" floor toms. He uses 22" kicks with all Pearl hardware. His sticks are also by Zildjian. (This is the kit he brought out on the road, at his house, he has several different kits as well).

Angela: What are his favorite rudiments and could you explain what rudiments are for those of us who aren't familiar with that term?

Paul: That's a tough one. Eric is a really, really good drummer. He never uses just one. Rudiments are almost like scales on a guitar or piano, except you can use them on one or more drums. They are basically little "tricks" that a drummer uses to enhance a beat or fill. I will say this though, Eric always warmed up doing several different rudiments with weighted metal sticks to get his hands/arms/shoulders loose. I'll tell you, those sticks were anything but light!!!

Angela: Is that kind of like the ones Peter Criss uses for his arm problems? I believe he said his were weighted.

Paul: Peter uses custom sticks when he plays. I do know that Pete goes through a series of exercises before he takes the stage.

Angela: I believe he said he uses pads. Is that to practice, to exercise, or both?

Paul: Both. Eric uses pads too.

Angela: Any idea what Eric's chrome kit on the Revenge tour was made of?

Paul: That's another custom kit made by Pearl. I believe the wood was maple with a thin layer of chrome on top (Blas Elias from Slaughter uses the same kind of kit, except his is by Ludwig).

Angela: What happens to drum kits after a tour? Are they used in the next one or is there a new one for the next tour?

Paul: It depends on how the kit has held up. Eric, on the Revenge Tour, actually used three different kits. Sometimes after a tour, a drummer and/or band will donate some of their gear to a Hard Rock or to some charity, but usually they'll just keep it and eventually get rid of it by selling it down the road.

Angela: How did Eric learn to play and read music? Was he self-taught or did he play in his high school band?

Paul: I really don't know for sure. I know he can read music and I think the bulk of what he knows and does is self-taught, but when I have asked him about his past and growing up and learning about drums, he usually starts telling me about when he was playing with Gary Moore...I guess his youth was just too long ago for the old man to remember. That was all meant with love.

Angela: I'm sure. This interview is being done out of love for Eric. Who else have you been a drum tech for and how does Eric differ from other drummers you've worked for?

Paul: Oh man...well, I just recently finished the "Rock Never Stops Tour" which I worked for both Blas Elias of Slaughter and Vikki Foxx of Warrant. I have also worked with Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses), David Lauser (Sammy Hagar), Kelly Kane (Pretty Boy Floyd), Mikkey Dee (Motorhead)...and Jimmy Degrasso (who is now with Megadeth). Like I said, Eric is a really good drummer! I think the best thing that I can say about the guy is that, from the very start, I did not only consider him a boss, but a friend as well.

Angela: How does his style of playing differ from other drummers?

Paul: Believe it or not, Eric has not had it so easy playing with all of the bands that he has. Remember, he joined bands that were already established (except Badlands), so he kinda had to play along to their styles. I think that Eric is an all-around drummer, he can use alot of flash and speed or just lay back and keep a solid groove.

Angela: Going back to the KISS Conventions how many did you do with him and what was that like?

Paul: The conventions were cool. I just did the ones on the west coast (including L. A. where Pete joined the guys). KISS fans are easily the best! They're crazy! I also had the chance to tag along on the "Bad Boys Tour" that Ace and Peter did about four or five years ago. I just went and helped out where I could. I knew all of the guys in Ace's band and I wasn't touring at that time, so i figured...what the hell!!! So when it came around to the conventions, I had already known what I was in for as far as the fans go. Gene and Paul are also very cool. Gene is very business, but also very, very funny. Paul, I knew from when I worked with the Dean Markley company; he endorsed their strings. At that time Paul had just had his baby, so he was in "daddy" mode (which was really cool to see).

Angela: What is Eric like as a person?

Paul: Eric as a person? Short! No, just kidding. Eric, he's great. The very first time that I worked for him he showed up late for rehearsal so I had to set his kit up without really knowing just how he wanted things to be. When he came in, he and I went over just a few things and that was that. Before I knew it, Eric, Ryan, Roxie, and I were out in the back of the Galaxy Theatre playin' basketball. He and I never had any differences. I learned his kit fairly quick and we did our thing. Although I don't see him as much as I'd like to, we still keep in touch. He, along with all the other guys in "Grandpa", came down to the Warrant/Slaughter show in L. A. He was nice enough to stick around to talk for a little bit after the show. Eric is a very talented person, and not just with his playing. He actually goes out of his way to remember people. He is truely someone that I consider a friend and I would do anything for.

Angela: Paul I thank you for taking time to talk with me about Eric.