You have a very impressive resume. Having played with such a
dynamic range of artists, what would you cite as your favorite
situation to date? Which one pushed your boundaries the most.
Thanks! I’ve worked hard but I’ve also been very fortunate to have been able
to do the things I’ve done. It’s tough to answer which situation has been my
favorite because they have all been so different. I really love the band I’m in
now, the Gregg Rolie Band, because musically, it’s one of the best I’ve been
and it’s much different than a lot of the other things I’ve done. It’s a rock band
but with the Santana element, there’s also a Latin/Jazz/Blues flavor that really
makes it cool. Luckily I’ve played in many different kinds of situations over the
years so I’ve had some experiences that have really prepared me to be able
to adapt to a lot of different musical situations.
I also really loved playing in Richie Sambora’s band and Foreigner, for different reasons. Richie is just a really cool guy…great to
work with…and a great musician. We had a blast on his tour and I wish that would have lasted a lot longer. Foreigner was also a
great band and it was great to play all those hits, particularly with Lou Gramm at what was arguably his peak, prior to his medical
problems, which arose while I was still
in the band.
There have been lots of other gigs that have been really cool too…the David Lee Roth thing was cool for playing all those great
Van Halen tunes, Cher was interesting simply because it was such an over the top kind of show, with a huge set, dancers and all
kinds of wacky stuff and The Storm was cool because I was joining a band where I replaced Steve Smith, with 2 founding members
of Journey, I got to write for the record we did, we toured with Bryan Adams and a bunch of other people and I’ve remained great
friends with Gregg Rolie because of that.
Some of the smaller things have been a blast as well. I did a tour with Mike Finnigan and Bill Lynch that was great…if you’ve never
heard Mike Finnigan sing and play the B-3, you should check him out! I could go on and on…I’ve just been really lucky and had
lots of great experiences!
Who were your influences in your early days? Do you still look up to them, consider
them peers, or do you feel that you have surpassed some of them?
Well, I would never say that I’ve surpassed them! I have so many drumming influences
and musical influences in general but among them, John Bonham, Jeff Porcaro, Steve
Gadd, Billy Cobham, Buddy Rich, Vinnie Colaiuta, Ringo Starr, Stewart Copeland, Steve
Smith, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, all the Motown guys…there are just so many of them!
The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Police, Chick Corea (Return to Forever),
Steely Dan…just so many bands and artists that I’ve listened to over the years and yes,
I still look up to most of them!
Of course, there’s some great newer players and bands too…Dave Grohl and Taylor
Hawkins from Foo Fighters, Todd Sucherman, Josh Freese, lots of the new country
acts and drummers. If you look for it, there’s a ton of stuff out there and you can always
learn and grow. You can even get a lot out of hearing stuff that isn’t good…like what
NOT to do!
How do you feel that your varied background compares to someone who has played with a single
act for their career. Has being involved with so many artists kept things fresh for you. Do you feel
like at some point you may have rested on your laurels had you hit the stage with the same people
year after year?
There’s a lot to be said for sticking with something for a long period of time…you become
extremely proficient at that if you can keep things fresh and not get bored. Of course, a lot of guys
who are with one band for a long time, wind up doing side projects anyway to keep from getting
I don’t know if I would have rested on my laurels…I’m always interested and curious so I think that’
s one of the reasons I’ve found myself in so many different situations. I like lots of different styles
and I can listen to them and dig playing them all, where lots of guys only like one or two kinds of
things. It’s a bit of a balancing act though too because if you’re playing with the ‘rock’ guys, it might
not be cool to tell them you like or can play jazz because they might think you don’t really play rock
all that well…and vice versa.
I’ve always enjoyed working in different musical situations because it’s challenging and because of
that, I’ve wound up with a lot of different experiences, different kinds of gigs, with different kinds
of musicians, different kind of recordings…it’s really been very cool.
What would you consider to be your best recorded work? What were the circumstances
Hmm…that’s a good one too. I think that the new CD we just did with the Gregg Rolie Band – Rain
Dance - is among them. It’s a live gig – recorded at Sturgis a couple years ago – and it’s really us,
the way we sound. I think the playing of the whole band on there is really good. I also co-produced it
Some of the other records I’m on that are cool are “On The Blue Side” by Dave Meniketti, “Eye Of
The Storm” by The Storm (co-produced and wrote a couple of these songs), “Roots” by Gregg Rolie
(I also co-produced this one too), “The Best Of What I’ve Got” by Jesse Harms, “Night Life” by David
Lee Roth, “Live At The Mirage” by Cher. There’s lots of others too…I just can’t think of all of them
What are your long term plans?
Long term…who knows?! Right now, I’m working with the Gregg Rolie Band
on the road, which is a great gig and a ton of fun but you never know what
other things will come along so it’s hard to say what I’ll wind up doing down the
I also do a lot of sessions for people around the world, which I will continue to
do. I’ve got a really cool studio and it’s easy for me to record drums for people’
s records/movies/jingles etc., from there. I wind up getting people who send
me their files, I record the drums and then send them the individual tracks
back for them to mix. I’ve done literally thousands of recordings that way and it’
s worked out to be a really cool thing for me and for the people I work with.
I’ve even wound up producing several CD’s for people like that. There’s a CD
by a sax player named Charley Langer – www.charleylanger.com - that’s
about to come out that was done that way. I’ve only met him once, when he
came to a Gregg Rolie Band gig but we wound up working together on his
record. He asked me to get the other musicians together and I wound up
pretty much producing it and mixing it. It was a lot of fun to do and there’s
some great players on there – Matt Bissonette, Alphonso Johnson, Michito
Sanchez, Kurt Griffey, Wally Minko, Mark Morris, Ed McGlaughlin etc.
Anyway, you can find out more about the tracks I do at my website –
I’ve also been putting together a few other businesses with a partner of mine.
One of them, Total Control Audio – www.totalcontrolaudio.com – is a site
where we sell drum loops and other products for use with digital recording.
There’s a whole bunch of drum loops, including multitrack loops (which allow
you to mix them as you like) available there, most of which I played. We’re in
the process of putting together some other loops that other musicians played
– keyboards, guitar, bass, etc.
My partner and I have also built a new site – www.bitvibe.com - that is set up
for creative people to be able to Shop, Sell, Collaborate and Backup.
What I mean by that is, if you need any kind of digital content for use in your
creative projects – loops, samples, video, graphics, web stuff, etc. – you’ll be
able to find a lot of it there. You can also sell that kind of content if you’d like to
create it so if, for example, you’re a guitar player and you’d like to create
some guitar loops, you can post them there for sale.
You can also find other creative people to collaborate on projects with…audio,
video, whatever. You’ll be able to see what they’ve done, check out examples
of their work, hire them directly or post projects for people to bid on, etc. We’
re in the process of putting together some of the features for this part of the
site right now.
Lastly, we’ve got a really cool, automated Backup system that allows you to
backup all the files you’ve got on any number of computers, to one account (I’
m currently backing up over 150 GB from 5 different computers) and then
allows me to access those files from any of those computers via a “virtual”
hard drive or from our website – www.bitvibebackup.com – which means that I
can login from anywhere in the world, from any Internet connected computer
and get to my backed up files.
As you can see, I’ve got A LOT going on!!!
Oh yeah, and I help my wife with a boutique business that she and our
daughter, Jordyn, started. It’s called Jordyn’s Closet and you can see that at
You will soon be celebrating 20 years with Sonor. Were you using Sonor before
you became an endorser?
Yep, January of 2010 will make 20 years with Sonor! Time flies! I was not using
Sonor prior to that but I was very aware of it because I shared a house with 2
other drummers for several years, who also had Sonor drums plus, after that, I
shared a house with Tim Landers, who played bass in Vital Information with
Steve Smith, who was (and still is) a Sonor endorser. When the opportunity
came along, it was a no-brainer and the drums are amazing…they always sound
Over the years Sonor has lost some endorsers to other drum companies. What has kept
you on board?
Well, I’ve been approached by other companies and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered
it but I’ve always been a loyal guy and I never thought it was cool when I saw ads with
drummers endorsing a different brand of drums/cymbals/whatever every 6 months. It
seemed disingenuous to me and I didn’t want to be thought of that way. I’ve been a Zildjian
endorser and a Rimshot drumsticks endorser since the mid-80’s too and Remo drumheads
for quite awhile also.
I certainly don’t see the need to experiment outside of Sonor because as I’ve said, I love
the drums (and I’ve got tons of them!) but of course, I also can’t predict the future!
Tell us about your rig, and endorsements...
I have 2 Sonor Designer series kits and one Hi Lite Exclusive kit. They’re all pretty big so
I can use them in various configurations (one kick, 2 kicks, lots of toms, not too many toms,
etc.). I’ve also got about 25 snare drums so I’ve got a wide variety to choose from there,
depending on the situation.
Zildjian Cymbals – again, a wide variety of them, depending on the situation, Rimshot
Drumsticks (2B Longshot, with my signature on them), Remo Drumheads (Coated Emperors
on top and Ebony on the bottom). I also use all Sonor hardware.
Any words of inspiration or suggestions for drummers?
Well, I think the thing is to do what you love and love what you do.
Practice as much as you can and listen to as much different music and
musicians as you can…not just other drummers. Figure out what works
and why some guys work and others don’t. It’s not rocket science but if
you work hard at it, you can do great and have a ton of fun along the way!
All images and media provided by Ron Wikso and used
with express permission. May be subject to copyright.
Ron sent probably 150 audio tracks. I will a good
selection of them back on the page soon.