Nick Rich is the grandson of the greatest drummer and one of the greatest musicians of all time, Buddy Rich. He carries on the family legacy as a drummer, having played for Falling In Reverse, Otherwise, Ray J, and is excited to now be apart of the impressive rock band, The Beginning. I caught up with Nick to talk about Buddy, The Beginning, life as a drummer, his road to sobriety and Christianity, and much more!
Alex Obert: With your family history, how has Buddy Rich influenced you throughout the years?
Nick Rich: Buddy was the first person to ever put drumsticks in my hand and introduce me to the drums. I would say that it’s a huge influence on my drumming. And with music, I would say he introduced me to music. My early experiences were going to see him play, even when I was in my mom’s stomach, always going to shows and always hearing the big band jazz. I think even before birth, it was infiltrating my years. It was what it was going to be, from birth, was me being a drummer. It was inevitable.
Alex Obert: What is it about him that you enjoy?
Nick Rich: Well obviously, his playing, just the God-given talent. Having the right grit rooted in everything that was not taught to him. He just came out of the womb knowing the right way to play. The feel and the way that he swung the band and all that. Just his approach to the music, he played for the music, rather than just being a great soloist.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on something he revolutionized, the idea of a drum battle?
Nick Rich: Drum battles are cool, man. But for me, if I thought about soloing, can you lock in with your band, can you groove, can you play two and four solid? It’s all about playing for the music. I think drum battles are cool, but if you can’t groove, man, it’s pointless.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on his drum battle with Animal on The Muppet Show?
Nick Rich: It was awesome. That’s the kind of footage that is timeless right there. My kids today watch that and just are floored by it. That’s one of those things that I think will be around forever just because of how creative and how revolutionary that was. Buddy’s playing has transcended all generations and all forms of media and all of that, so it’s really cool to be apart of that.
Alex Obert: In regards to your current band, how did The Beginning develop?
Nick Rich: I heard about it from when I was doing a record out in Chicago. Through me working in this particular studio in Chicago, I met the frontman and guitar player of The Beginning, Dan Brunk. We kind of became friends through that and he ended up starting his own band. A year or so later, he contacted me again to build this relationship. He asked me if I would be interested in being apart of it. After hearing the music and knowing him as a person, I definitely committed to it and that’s what I’m doing right now. We’re about to do our album in LA, about to finish the drum tracks. We’re doing that at Matt Sorum’s studio, whose the drummer for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver and The Cult. He invited us to his private studio out there to do all the drums and mixing and mastering as well.
Alex Obert: Another band that Matt Sorum is in, are you aware of Camp Freddy?
Nick Rich: Yeah, absolutely!
Alex Obert: What is your opinion on that type of band, a supergroup jam session with many different musicians, consisting of rock covers?
Nick Rich: Yeah man, I think that’s cool. Any way to express what you do musically is cool by me. I love playing and writing music and playing originals, but it’s always fun to jam out covers. I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s cool.
Alex Obert: What does it mean to you to play a Buddy Rich tribute show?
Nick Rich: It’s interesting. I wouldn’t do it for a long time. I played it for the first time in 2008 when I did the memorial concert with Neil Peart and Chad Smith and all those cats. It was nerve wracking, man! Buddy mastered what he did and the only way that I was gonna approach what he did was doing it my own way, my style. I wasn’t gonna try to go up there and copycat a man that nobody can come near, drumming wise. I went to Japan last Summer and played the Blue Note Tokyo for a week and a half with the big band and with Peter Erskine. I just approached the music my own way. I interpret it how I play drums, not how Buddy did it. I do it my way. I do it that way because no one can even come close to what Buddy did. I don’t claim to even approach it like that, I’m on my own. My own drummer. My own artist.
Alex Obert: With all this talk about drumming, who are some of your favorite drummers?
Nick Rich: Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, a lot of those funk-oriented cats. Dennis Chambers, Max Roach. I’ve got a lot of favorite drummers, man. I would say those are my top.
Alex Obert: When you’re on the stage, what’s your ideal setting for where you want to play?
Nick Rich: I like playing theaters. I played the Hammerstein Ballroom out in New York. That’s awesome right there. Fifteen hundred to two thousand people. Just a solid room, man. I like something that size. I’d say that’s my personal favorite.
Alex Obert: What else has been going on with The Beginning lately?
Nick Rich: We just had our first week of rehearsals. I was in Chicago for the last week and a half. It’s going amazing. Everything is just really, really flowing great from the first day that I was out there. We’re actually auditioning an amazing guitar player out in L.A. on Monday, who just graduated from Musicians Institute. Once we play with him and we decide if that’s the guitar player to go with, we’re gonna have our full band ready to go. And after the record, we’re gonna start touring.
Alex Obert: Over the years, how have your various bandmates influenced you?
Nick Rich: Well I mean in some bands, I’ve been influenced negatively. (laughs) I got heavy into the whole drug and alcohol scene for a while and got lost up in that. I would say bandmates can influence you positively and negatively. I’ve been through it all with bandmates. But I say in this current band, we just want to elevate each other and just push all of us on a positive playing field. We’ve all done the negative stuff. So I think we’re all in a place today as a band where we want to take the high road today.
Alex Obert: How has life been for you as a sober musician? And how do you view musicians who are sober such as Henry Rollins, Eric Clapton, and Alice Cooper?
Nick Rich: I really support the sober musicians! It’s a tough business to maintain sobriety, but I surround myself with a good support system. I always used to think you needed substances to be creative, but on the contrary, I actually am more creative and more focused on my craft while sober! God has opened up a whole new world, that I never could experience on drugs and alcohol!
Alex Obert: Regarding your road to sobriety and Christianity, do you have any songs or lyrics that helped inspire you along the way?
Nick Rich: Yeah, definitely! I’d say some songs that really helped me out throughout the way include Memphis May Fire with their song, The Sinner. That’s definitely a song that helped me through a lot of stuff. An artist named Kristian Stanfill, a song called Always. I’d say those are some big songs on my road to recovery, songs that have definitely helped me out.
Alex Obert: You’re also a big tattoo guy, do you have any tattoos of lyrics?
Nick Rich: No, I don’t. I have tattoos of a lot of other things, just not of lyrics. I’ve never been a quote guy on my body.
Alex Obert: What tattoos do you have?
Nick Rich: I have a whole stomach piece for Buddy. It’s a shield that says BR with wings. I have some tattoos for my kids, for my wife, all kinds of stuff. I have tattoos that symbolize what I used to be with a lot of pain that I used to deal with. Every tattoo I have really means something to me and it’s really a timeline for my life in a way. So it all tells a story and it will continue to.
Alex Obert: The Beginning is a new project for you, but I’m curious, how do you discover new music?
Nick Rich: Usually just keeping my ears in the streets and talking to my other friends who are in bands and whatnot. Usually they’ll slip me a link to something, I’ll check it out. I’ll go on Soundcloud. Just keeping my eyes and ears open to new music, just checking stuff out. I don’t really go by what’s on MTV or anything like that. I try to go a little more underground and see what the real musicians are playing.
Alex Obert: Do you have any particular record store memories?
Nick Rich: I was never really the cat that went to record stores to pick out vinyls. I’m twenty nine, so I’m from the Napster age and I just would download it for free. At the time, that’s what I did. But when iTunes was available, I’d buy everything. Before that, going to Tower Records and buying CDs. I always wanted to support the bands. If I ever downloaded anything on Napster, I always would support the band somehow, buy t-shirts, I’d give back somehow. I feel like they deserve that, they work hard on that stuff.
Alex Obert: Getting back to live shows, who have you seen?
Nick Rich: I’ve seen Rush, As I Lay Dying, Stolen Babies, great band, ‘N Sync. I’ve seen everybody, I’ve seen it all. I’ve literally gone to see every band that’s ever toured.
Alex Obert: I must ask, you mention them, so they have to be something amazing. What’s an ‘N Sync concert like?
Nick Rich: Dude, I’ll be honest, man. Anybody can hate on ‘N Sync, they can hate all they want, but I’ll tell you from a musical angle, they have an amazing drummer named Billy Ashbaugh. He was playing with them at the time, just a solid band, man. Solid singers. It was great. And people can hate all they want, but the band was killer. Killer drummer, just real solid, man. It was refreshing to see that. Live vocals, it was just really well done.
Alex Obert: It was pretty cool to find out that Lance Bass is a big fan of eighties rock, namely Guns N’ Roses.
Nick Rich: Nice, I like that!
Alex Obert: You also mentioned Rush, what is it that you love about them and their music?
Nick Rich: Well, I’ve known Neil my whole life. Besides my personal relationship with Neil, I just love the band and the fact that they’re a three piece. They’re just killer, man. They’ve revolutionized rock and roll. And progressive rock. I respect what they’ve done for music.
Alex Obert: With music being revolutionized and moving forward, how do you feel Buddy would have viewed modern rock?
Nick Rich: It’s worse today, lyrical content has just gotten worse, image has just gotten a little worse. I don’t think he would dig it, Buddy was pretty old school, man. If you can’t swing, if you’re using lights and using a whole bunch of crazy stuff on stage, Buddy felt like they were using those effects to take away from the true talent of playing the instrument. Where I’m at today, I’ve realized that in 2014, it unfortunately takes a little more than a killer band just to get the attention of people. Lights and LED stuff and screens, that’s almost required with a band these days. It’s kind of like a whole experience rather than just a band on stage playing the songs.
Alex Obert: With all these concerts you’ve been to, what are some of your favorite venues?
Nick Rich: House of Blues in Vegas is a cool venue, I like that venue. The Vic Theater in Chicago is a cool spot. The Roxy Theatre in Atlanta. The Troubadour in L.A. is cool, I’ve played there a couple times. It’s awesome. Blue Note Tokyo, that’s awesome. Awesome little club for jazz and whatnot.
Alex Obert: Here’s an interesting question, if you could be in any band, which would it be?
Nick Rich: The Beginning, man! I’m in the band I wanna be in.
Alex Obert: What’s in store for 2014 for the band?
Nick Rich: We’re gonna get this record done, get it completely mixed and mastered, completely finished. And then we’re gonna hit the road, man. I can’t really name any acts yet, but we’re in the process of booking a big tour with a huge act. We’re in the process of getting all of our product in order and then we’re gonna hit the road, man.
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I’d like to do a speed round with you, I’ll ask you various questions and just answer off the top of your head.
Nick Rich: Okay.
Alex Obert: Favorite music video?
Nick Rich: Michael Jackson. Thriller.
Alex Obert: If you could listen to one band or musician for the first time again, who would it be?
Nick Rich: Blink 182.
Alex Obert: Coolest musician?
Nick Rich: I’d say Buddy Rich, man!
Alex Obert: Favorite one hit wonder?
Nick Rich: Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground.
Alex Obert: Song you wish you wrote?
Nick Rich: Every Sting song.
Alex Obert: Musician you would love to hang out with?
Nick Rich: Joey Fatone! (laughs)
Alex Obert: Concert you want to see before you die?
Nick Rich: Paul McCartney.
Alex Obert: In closing, do you have anything that you want to plug at the moment, any websites?
Nick Rich: The Beginning is on Facebook and so am I.
Alex Obert: I’d like to thank you very much for your time!
Nick Rich: Thank you! Appreciate it, man!