A vast array of rhythmic information flows just under the surface of Todd Sucherman’s incredible drumming. After watching him perform with STYX, a visual and aural metaphor of his unique style began to appear.
His playing can be most closely indentified with the natural motions of the ocean…thunderous waves crashing on the shore blending together with a subtle undertow. Gale force winds whipping up powerful storms after a delicate calm. An endless expanse of movement flowing seamlessly throughout a highly detailed portrait of the sea. Time and space combining to create an emotional flux of energy… Dancing delicately on the shimmering waters.
“Todd Sucherman is one of the premier drummers touring today. There are times when his approach reminds me of the way I played with Journey in the late 1970s /early 80s, except he's much better than I was! He perfected and honed the concept, infusing it with his deep musicianship and super-chops. His musical development is inspiring and he continues to grow as a player. We always have a great time hanging, trading ideas, and discussing music.
Carry on Todd!”
Your friend, - Steve Smith
“I started playing the drums when I was two… With my father being my first teacher. By the time I was four, my feet could reach the pedals, and at the age of six, I played my first paying professional gig with my two older brothers on bass and keyboards. I was fortunate to play every summer throughout high school at a resort hotel in Wisconsin six nights a week. At 14 years of age supporting such a wide variety of acts was the best musical education anyone can get because you are learning on the job and having to play all of these different styles with older seasoned musicians. Sadly, this type of gig sadly doesn’t exist anymore. It could be a sixteen piece big band with different charts or entertainers every other night. Being the youngest guy on the bandstand…Well, that was the finest education. By the time I got to Berklee, it was time to take things to the next level”.
“Three attributes stood out in recalling Todd Sucherman’s studies during his time at Berklee College of Music: focused, determined and dedicated. Todd would quickly grasp what was behind a particular exercise and be able to expand it in his own way. He was very focused, determined and dedicated and continues to do this in his teaching methods and is demonstrated in his clinics and DVDs.
He displayed his determination by sticking with what challenged him and continued to see what he could bring to bear from his explorations. His playing to this day still follows this ethic in his performances in all of the projects he is a part of. He was and remains very dedicated. He has remained steadfast to his craft, his friends, his bandmates and his lovely family. He personifies a person well worth emulating. It was my pleasure to spend time with him way back when, and still is as we cross paths in this century”.
- Skip Hadden
Berklee College of Music
“At Berklee, I studied with Skip Hadden, Ian Froman, and privately with Gary Chaffee. They helped shape a lot of what I had together, and had already amassed by the time I got there. They were three different types of teachers and used widely varied materials. I was getting all of this important information, and it took time to sift through it all. With Skip, we worked a lot on sight reading and very ethereal ideas and emotional notions. He would have me learn a Bebop saxophone solo and come in and phrase the solo on the drums. With Ian it was a bit more of a hang, we would sort of talk about things from a Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones sort of vein. With Gary Chaffee ,it was poly-rhythms, linear ideas and a bit more of a method. I learned a lot of the groove stuff from Gary. The fatback exercises out of his third book - that to me is the Rosetta Stone of 2 and 4 drumming. If drummers are hip to those exercises going through that whole system with all the different ostinatos…There it is - you can kind of play anything”.
“Todd is a real natural… right from the get-go. Amazing hands and technique. He is definitely born to drum”
- Ian Froman
Todd on the Importance of the Arts
“I take education seriously as the arts are in danger in a lot of school systems. My personal message is: As musicians and drummers, we owe it to the next generation to share the knowledge that we have gained in our lifetime pursuits of doing this. We have to continue supporting the arts… Get up off the couch - see and support the groups who come to your town. There is a world of difference between a live performance and watching it online. Pull yourself away from the computer screen buy a ticket and support live music. It provides a shared collective experience that’s visceral, cerebral, spiritual and unforgettable. You can’t feel that from watching clips on YouTube recorded from someone’s phone”.
Interview with Todd Sucherman
DB; What amazes me is your frequent use of traditional grip… How do you generate so much power as opposed to playing matched grip?
TS; Traditional grip is basically how I’ve played my entire life. It’s the very first way I learned to play the drums, and foremost, it feels like home to me. I’ve been playing this way since the age of six. Secondly, one can get tremendous power from the whipping motion. I can hit just as hard using traditional as I can with matched. You then start getting into more arm motions, or some ‘show business’ looking motions. But when you get down to it, the drum is only going to get so loud. It’s more about the whip and getting a nice full sound out of the drum. It’s not just hitting the drum so hard that you’re getting a sound pressure impact…That you are actually pulling a musical note out of the drum.
DB; Do you use any specific techniques ie: Moeller, Adler etc. or a combination of various other methods you have studied, or through your own development?
TS; Well it’s really a blending of all those things you’ve mentioned depending on what I’m trying to say musically. Technique is a means to an end and the ultimate end is – How does it sound ? So I try to employ any and all techniques in my bag necessary to successfully convey what I’m trying to say.
DB; How do you go about interpreting material that existed before you came into the band?
TS; With regards to STYX – Before I came into the band, they had already sold thirty million records and had released four consecutive triple platinum albums. Their music holds a significant amount of emotional meaning in peoples' lives…In presenting this material to the fans, it’s most important that the original flavor comes through
I’m a different human being, and any drummer who would hold this drum chair would bring their own essence to the parts. Original drummer John Panozzohad such a unique style that I had some very interesting templates to build upon. They were active and expressive. After careful listening, I’d go OK - I’ve got to keep this flavor, but can hip up some other ideas and figures. Some musicians might take notice since there is a subtext going on underneath which may not be recognizable to the average listener…But nothingthat would draw attention to the drum parts while re-living the original music. This music is a joyful reminder of who they were, who they are, what they’ve become, who’s been lost along the way…it’s a powerful thing.
DB; You also layer numerous parts, interweave rhythms over and under, cross the bar lines…Not just slamming the snare on 2 & 4 – Yet everything seems to work impeccably…Did that evolve out of your jazz influences, or is it something you developed on your own?
TS; The way I play in this band is a combination of all my experiences… Studying jazz is certainly in there. Yet, Styx is not just a 2 & 4 pocket gig – It’s a step towards ‘Keith Moon Land’…Kind of in the way Simon Phillips interpreted Moon’s drum parts on the 1989 Who tour.
DB; You’re playing STYX hits night after night - How do you keep everything fresh and exciting ?
TS; The nice thing about having hits is you have to play them. That’s a high class problem to have. Because the catalog runs so deep there are songs we can rotate in and out so you don’t have a Groundhog Day effect.
Also, there are people out who haven’t heard the band yet, or haven’t seen me play drums before. That provides the adrenaline burst while our returning fans know they are going to get a great show. We hold ourselves to a very high standard so there is never a bad show – Some are better than others, or more magical – but there has never been a time where we didn’t win the audience over, or thought what the hell happened tonight ?
I’ve played in a lot of bands and numerous projects, but I’ve never been in a situation with this high caliber of consistency… It’s unparalleled in my experience. There is a special excitement, sparkle, love, and energy that we put into our songs at every show. That comes from the top down… These guys are twenty years my senior, and they leave it all on the stage every single night no matter where we are playing. That is what inspires me to tackle the material head on, going full force at the happy cheering fans in front of me.
DB; Do you believe that some younger drummers are missing the point of what being a drummer really means?
TS; The first Methods and Mechanics for useful and musical drumming was meant to be a galvanizing voice of reason to hopefully direct the next generation to the notion of employability. There was a lot of sensationalism with chops so it was important for me to direct useful musical ideas. Conceptual ideas about playing for the song – listening to the music – trying to get the song across - knowing what the lyrics are. You have to get into the song and become part of the storytelling process and I think those that do will have an easier time finding employment than others who look at it like mathematics or playing things just to impress other musicians.
I always talk about ways to improve your chances of getting where you want to go in the music business at clinics. Notions like being on time, being prepared, having the right tools for the job, nailing the job and then leaving everyone happy that you were there. So many musicians can’t put all these things together. Those that do… Have a much better chance for success.
Todd Sucherman with STYX ~ Calvin Theater, Northampton, Massachusetts - 10/20/2016 Photograph by David Barsalou
I can fully understand why Todd Sucherman is so successful…Beside his incredible talents, he was kind and gracious with every one of my requests. Orchestra seats, photo and backstage passes were all waiting for me at the theater when I arrived.
The following day I interviewed him for 45 minutes. He answered all of my questions, and said to contact him if I needed anything else - or just to chat. Can't say enough great things about him…If every musician were like Todd Sucherman… The world would be a much better place.
Thank you Todd, David Barsalou
Todd continues to tour the world with STYX and record with various artists. He is also an in demand clinician and educator around the globe.
Todd has appeared on records released or unreleased with:
Brian Wilson (Imagination) (Brian Wilson On Tour DVD) (Gettin’ In Over My Head – along with Paul
McCartney, Eric Clapton & Elton John) (That Lucky Old Sun CD and live DVD) (Wilson Reimagines Gershwin)
Styx (Greatest Hits 1&2, Return To Paradise, Brave New World, Arch Allies, Cyclorama, Styxworld Live, Big Bang Theory, 21st Century Live, One With Everything with the CYO, Regeneration Vol 1&2, Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live))
Tommy Shaw (Seven Deadly Zens)
Peter Cetera (One Clear Voice)
Brian Culbertson (After Hours, Secrets, Somethin’ Bout Love, Come On Up)
Steve Cole (Stay Awhile, Spin)
The Falling Wallendas (The Falling Wallendas, Belittle)
Bob Mamet (Night and Day)
Henry Kapono (Spirit Dancer, Hits)
Adrian Galysh (Tone Poet)
Wade Hubbard (Insanity Lane)
Taylor Mills (Lullagoodbye, Under the Surface)
Harry Shearer (Can’t Take a Hint)
Neil Zaza (Peach)
Greg Ridley (Anthology)
Michael Bolton (Only A Woman Like You)
Morty Shallman (Love’s Oblivion)
Vinnie Zumo (Swinging Guitar Sounds of Young America vol.3)
Lee Nysted (One Word)
Billy Ocean, R Kelly, Survivor, Jim Peterik, John Wetton, Joe Lynn Turner, Fareed Haque,
Rochelle, Steve Kolander, Nicholas Markos, Tim Cunningham, Jim Brickman, Danny Kravitz, Into the Green, Bill Dickens, Kane Robberts, and others.
Styx, Brian Wilson, Eric Marienthal, Spinal Tap, Lawrence Gowan, Brian Culbertson, Neil Zaza, Steve Cole, Bobby Enriquez, David Hasselhoff, Dave Uhrich, Falling Wallendas, Bob Mamet, Darryl Jones, Sandy Torano, Bill Dickens, Fareed Haque, Peter White, Rick Braun, Michael McDermott, Josie Aiello, Lionel Cole.
Various drum clinics and festivals including Cape Breton Drum Fest, Montreal Drum Fest, Adams Drum Festival, La Rioja Drum Festival, Rome’s Batterika Festival, PASIC ’06 and ’12, and the Modern Drummer Festival 2008.
Film and Television-Radio spots:
Orange County (Soundtrack)
The Negotiator (trailer)
If These Walls Could Talk 2 (HBO)
Twice upon a Time (Lifetime)
Jingles–over a thousand spots, the likes of McDonald’s, Budweiser, Honda,
Pepsi, Reebok, Miller, Nabisco, etc.
Todd won the Modern Drummer Magazine Reader’s poll for #1 Educational DVD as well as #1 Rock Drummer for 2009, as well as #1 Clinician in DRUM!
2011 saw the release of the “Methods and Mechanics” companion/Transcription book as well
as the much anticipated DVD sequel, “Methods and Mechanics II” which won “Best in Show” at the 2012 NAMM show in Anaheim, California. “Methods and Mechanics II” also won best educational DVD in DRUM! Magazine reader’s poll in 2012.
James “JY” Young Lead vocals, guitars
Tommy Shaw Lead vocals, guitars
Chuck Panozzo Bass, vocals
Todd Sucherman Drums, percussion
Lawrence Gowan Lead vocals, keyboards
Ricky Phillips Bass, guitar, vocals