Watch First-Ever Video Interview With A SLEEP TOKEN Member: Drummer II

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For the first time, we got a video interview with a member of Sleep Token: their enigmatic drummer, II, sheds some light upon his influences, drumming style, and favorite drummers – among other things – in a revealing chat with Drumeo.

This interview is more than just a technical breakdown; it’s a glimpse into the beating heart of Sleep Token. II emerges as a skilled and thoughtful musician, shaping the band’s sound with intricate grooves and a deep understanding of their dark, ritualistic aesthetic. Listen closer, to hear the rhythmic undercurrents that guide Sleep Token‘s descent into sonic oblivion, and appreciate the artistry of a drummer who’s unafraid to break the mold.

When asked about his influences and drumming style, II reveals they lie in the pulsating rhythms of UK drum and bass and the smooth grooves of R&B and pop. This unexpected cocktail fuels his drumming, infusing the band’s sonic rituals with a hypnotic undercurrent: “I’ve always personally taken a lot of inspiration from the UK dance music scene. And listening to various subgenres of drum and bass specifically, allow me to incorporate stylistic traits from those genres into my vocabulary as a drummer. I’m also a big fan of R&B and pop which has worked its way into my playing. I grew up primarily playing metal, so the next obvious step for me was to blend these other styles in amongst heavier playing to add versatility to my drum parts.”

Evolution in Every Beat:

Three albums in, II‘s vocabulary on the kit has expanded, shedding the rawness of their debut for a more nuanced approach. He admits to battling repetition, constantly pushing himself to explore new rhythmic territories, a journey reflected in the band’s ever-evolving sound.

“I would say that while my stylistic approach and goals have generally stayed the same, my vocabulary on the kit has expanded. I tried to work on not always using the same phrases, or using those phrases in the same voicing, to ensure the parts remain somewhat interesting.” he shares. “However, this in itself is a continual work in progress. As a player, I will admit that I, like others, don’t always achieve this. But to me, that is very, very much all part of the journey itself.”

From Idols to Innovation:

“I’ve always been a big Eric Moore fan, and gospel drummers in general. But I’ve taken a lot of influence from a couple of Eric’s licks and find their way into my playing. As an example, I use an eighth note linear phrase, which is played as R-L-R-L-K-R-L-K. That, along with a phrase called the “3-1-3-2”, which is a triplet phrasing of nine notes played as R-L-R-K and R-L-R on the hands, and it’s finished with two notes on the kick (R-L-R-K-R-L-R-K-K).

What I particularly like about this phrasing is that it’s three notes short of resolving itself. So as a drummer, you’re forced to be creative with those last three notes and finish the sticking, the phrasing, in any way you see fit.

“Additionally, I’m a big fan of the standard paradiddle. I use this as a chop starter. I feel it’s an organic way to prepare the listener for a slightly busier section, meaning the drums themselves.

The Song as Canvas:

II‘s drum parts aren’t isolated entities; they’re woven into the fabric of each Sleep Token song. He listens intently to the vocals, finding accents that highlight specific syllables and weaving his drumming around the melodic lines. This symbiotic relationship creates a powerful synergy, where the drums don’t just accompany, they elevate the music.

“Most, if not all of the time, I try to pay close attention to the vocals and figure out any specific syllables that can benefit from accents on the kit. I sometimes use the vocal line as a guide of sorts to dance in between what’s being sung to. Filling in those gaps, if you will. Typically speaking, songs don’t start from a particular drum part. Although, this isn’t necessarily deliberate.”

Another element I look for when writing is any specific syncopation that the drums must match. This could be a pattern on the guitar, a breakdown of sorts, something electronic…but I feel this takes away a lot of the guesswork when initially writing parts and provides me with a clearer idea of the song in question.”

The Live Alchemy:

While the studio recordings lay the foundation, II‘s live performances are where his drumming truly shines. He takes creative liberties, improvising and adding variations that breathe new life into familiar tracks. This constant evolution keeps things fresh for both the band and the audience, making each concert a unique experience.

“I would say that most of the parts that I tend to play in a live setting vary drastically to what was tracked on the record itself. This happens for a number of reasons. Sometimes, when I have more time to sit with a finished track, while rehearsing for a tour, I can look at it through a different lens, and subsequently come up with a more interesting variation live.”

On the other hand, these things can happen more naturally and take on a different feel or sticking due to simply playing a certain song for long periods of time across touring. There are of course certain parts in each song that must remain true to the original. This could be a syncopated guitar part, or even an electronic part on the counts that serves more of a supporting role within the song.”

“I’ve always enjoyed playing a song from our first record entitled “Sundowning” called “Higher”. The parts in that song have always felt very interactive to me. Very fun to play while maintaining a fair deal of variance across the song itself.”

In regards to any newer material, I enjoy playing a track called “The Summoning” due to the live addition of a drum solo that gives me a little more creative freedom, as well as its challenging feel.”

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