Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Q&A with Chris Hornbrook: drummer talks style, influences


Chris Hornbrook marches to the beat of many drums. The spectrum of genres in his musical repertoire varies from punk to electronic. Hornbrook plays with Big Black Delta and Senses Fail, but he continues to practice experimental techniques and grow in his experience though intensive practice sessions. Hornbrook’s ability to flourish under any genre is proof of his knowledge of drumming fundamentals and intense studying of other drummers.

When did you start playing drums?

I started when I was 12. There was a kid in my neighborhood that had a kit and I remember going over to his house and being completely blown away by the drums. He couldn’t really play that much; I couldn’t play at all, but I remember being really taken by it. Prior to that, my dad used to record in a rehearsal studio and I don’t really remember this, but my parents say that I used to run to the drum set. It’s always been kind of hanging out in my life in some capacity, but I started when I was 12.

Do you play any other instruments?

I can doodle around on bass, and I can doodle around on guitar, but I wouldn’t really consider myself all that great because I don’t really feel the same love for those instruments as I do when I play drums. There’s not the same intensity or obsession. I could sit down and put a few chords together and write songs, but by no means would I consider myself a good bass or guitar player.

What drummers have influenced your drumming style?

It’s kind of eras for me. When I was growing up, it was all the 90s stuff that was happening, drummers like Dave Abbruzzese, the second drummer for Pearl Jam, Dave Grohl, Matt Cameron, all those dudes were really big influences growing up. Even to this day, Matt Cameron and Dave Grohl are still pretty relevant and they’re still really great at what they do. The older I got, the more expanded out of that singular type of music I got. Currently, I listen to progressive guys, like Billy Cobham, a guy from the 70s who’s a really amazing drummer, hip-hop guys, like Chris Dave is really amazing. There are just so many.

What is it like playing for both Big Black Delta and Senses Fail, two bands with different genres?

For the most part, genre is different because one is electronic and one is punk, but the building blocks are all the same. They’re all pop-structured songs, so once you sort of understand structure and normal bars like how many bars are in a verse, how many bars are in a chorus, you start to see the patterns. Big Black Delta is super fun, super cool, but very simplistic. Whereas Senses Fail has a lot more nuance to what’s happening. It took me a little while to see the patterns with Senses Fail when I was learning the songs and writing with them. For the most part, it’s fundamentally the same. I’m pretty versed in both at this point, like I understand everything with Senses Fail and I understand everything with Big Black Delta. I understand what hat to wear.

What has influenced your drumming style?

I think fundamentally I always strive to do what the song calls for. Whether it’s a lot, or really simple, or whatever. I think that’s the most important thing. That’s the role that the drummer has, to hold everything together. Play a beat and be really musical. Not to say that I don’t enjoy overplaying, but it has to be the right sort of environment for that. I’m not a big fan of guys that like to do a lot and it sounds like they’re trampling over the music because they’re trying to prove whatever point they’re trying to prove. Ultimately, I look to serve the song and do exactly what it needs to be effective from the drumming department.

Is there a specific song that is more difficult to play than others?

It would be something from Senses Fail, because there are a lot of details in Senses Fail. There’s a lot happening. I’ve only been with the band for three years and prior to that, they had five records with their prior drummer. A lot of the songs were written on his strengths and his style and I play very different from him. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it just is. So playing with Senses Fail always takes a moment for me to get into because it’s not the normal thing for me to do. As time goes on, I’m kind of finding that they are becoming more second nature. You do so many tours with the band, and you start writing with the band, and being with them so you kind of start understanding the style and all that kind of stuff. But I’d say Senses Fail because it’s not how I would write those songs. 

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