Drum&Percussion - Mike Terrana: Precise as clockwork
When Mike Terrana came to Europe nearly ten years ago, he definitely had not planned which path his career would take. Currently he is on tour with Tarja Turunen, the former singer of Nightwish, and trying to veer away more and more from the usual metal genre.

We invited Mike to an interview and a photo shoot, which turned out an exceedingly entertaining day that Mr Terrana enjoyed visibly. For currently, he is so much on the road that a permanent home is more or less unnecessary and he lives in hotel rooms or out of his suitcase respectively rather than at a single place of residence.

How did it actually come about that you pursued the way of the musician?

"In actual fact, I started to drum because my parents locked me into the cellar when I was a child. I was so ugly, had no toys and therefore pounded all sorts of things that stood around in our cellar. - Nah, that's of course poppycock. I grew up in Buffalo, New York, a stronghold of the steel industry, in that you are, as a rule, faced with the choice between two jobs only: You work in the factory or you become a steel worker. Neither a brilliant outlook. Rock stars can be found there only fairly rarely, and in family there was no musical predisposition. For this reason, my parents found it pretty hard to understand me and my penchant for drumming. When I was fourteen or fifteen years old, it was already clear to me that I wanted to play the drums professionally, but I couldn't talk about it to anybody. In the early seventies, MTV didn't exist yet and so on, and musicians were rather the guys who tried to flee from the real world to live in their own. That was the way my parents viewed it, anyway - and well, just imagine trying to change that attitude! I grew up with the music of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles and wanted to be an artist like them. At the time I played a lot of ice hockey, the sport number one in Buffalo. That's probably also where my athletic streak in drumming comes from. I've mixed all of this, and the nice thing about the drum kit is, after all, that you batter the drums but they don't hit back! It's a "safe" instrument, much safer than ice hockey. You gotta know, I'm a wimp, you see!"

That is to say, you didn't really have a teacher either who fostered your interests?

"No, I had a few lessons in elementary school in music classes. There, we were taught a few rudiments for our school's marching division, but that again I found totally dull. Drumming with 2B sticks on a wooden plate isn't the right thing for an eight-year-old, you see. My uncle had gotten hold of an old drum set for me that stood in the cellar. On that one I could run riot as long as my parents allowed. Of course rudiments are extremely important and form the foundation of the playing, but as an eight-year-old you want to have fun and simply kick off. That was something the teachers at school could not convey to me. For that reason, I loved watching other drummers, which is the case to this day. But I liked practicing to records best. Drumming to Beatles songs was the greatest thing to me. You play the beat, try to copy it as perfectly as possible, and at the same time you listen to great music. What more could you ask?! When I saw a good drummer, I was mesmerized. That was like magic to me. I still remember a vacation with my parents in Puerto Rico: In the evenings, all the children were running around, and I was sitting spellbound in the lounge and watching the hotel band. From a modern viewpoint, the band was certainly not good, and I also know that it is not always fun to play such music - but I still recall exactly the drummer's gold-sparkle kit and the fact that I was sitting there and drinking coke. I was simply fascinated by him. I did that every evening in that vacation. My parents must have thought I was crazy. Then I started to acquire more and more equipment. All the money I had or earned through small jobs I invested in drum equipment - of course nothing terrific, but a similarly large kit as my hero back then, Neil Peart of Rush. Then, I was sixteen years old, had seen the band in a club in Buffalo, and that changed my life totally. I got hold of inexpensive chrome film, pasted up all my drums with it and had now a huge 'chrome' drum kit. Of course it didn't really work, and so I had to provide reasonable equipment little by little, of the kind that withstood my hyperactive, powerful style."

So did you have your first professional job in Buffalo then, too?

"Sure, by then hard rock was just becoming more popular. I played in various bands and got several offers, probably because I was a tad louder than other drummers in the area, too, you see. I enjoyed it incredibly. I was fairly naive and had no idea yet of the highs and lows that would be in store for me. The sole point was to drum, make music and have fun. Gigs were fun, and money didn't play a large role yet. We had a practice room at a friend's house then. There, we could practice the whole night and we had, like on the stage, colored light to boot. That was really cool, I gotta say, and an awesome stage in my life. To satisfy my parents I stayed in school until graduation. But from then on, there was only music left in my life. Nowadays, with 48, I can understand part of their misgivings better: To be a musician is a quite unusual job indeed. You rarely know what comes up to you next. Life isn't exactly conducive to a relationship, and it isn't really safe either. People who need safety in their life or fear competition should not seek their fortune in this area! It takes a lot more than only mastering your instrument. I've been doing it for thirty years now and I've experienced quite a lot, but I've never regretted it either as it was the fulfilment of my dreams and I simply enjoy this kind of a creative, free life and wouldn't want to do without it."

When did you decide to go to Los Angeles? And why exactly there?

"I did have a band that was already fairly professional in Buffalo, you see, and we frequently supported Talas, where Billy Sheehan played bass. Billy is from Buffalo, too, only that he was already more successful in the business. My band was Zillion, and we almost got a record deal as well. But only almost, you see. I went to Toronto then to drum with a band called Hand Over Fist. That was in about 1984. That band recorded an album, went on tour as support for Saxon, and those were my first experiences at the studio as well as in the tour bus. I got a taste of what it is like to be on tour. Previously, in Buffalo, gigs in New York City were a riot already, but that now was the real musician's life! After two years the band broke apart because the deal was not renewed. I went back to Buffalo, managed to get by with various jobs, was once for a short time even at the garbage collection, and then entered a cover band called The Trolls. There, I stayed for two years and saved as much money as I could to move to Los Angeles. That was in 1987, and there I started to gain ground more and more. One of the most popular musicians I worked with was certainly Yngwie Malmsteen, one of the early guitar heroes. Moreover, I've worked with Tony Macalpine as well and recorded a lot of disks, but Yngwie was the first employer who allowed me to tour Europe and so on as well. I didn't know at the time what would await me but I was impressed by the countries and people. Germany in particular had fascinated me. Back in Los Angeles, I told friends of mine of my impressions and that I had the feeling that people in Europe somehow had a better attitude towards life, lead a better life. Of course I was not believed and not really taken seriously. But as we toured Asia as well I even got to know a lot more of the world, had an idea what life outside the States was like and what was better or worse. That helps you to move forward in life, too. You can appraise (and/)or enjoy the personal things better. Yngwie gave me my drum solo every evening, and I could realize myself completely creatively. Unfortunately he had massive issues with drugs and alcohol then, and that disunited us. Working with musicians who are on drugs or alcohol is close to impossible and one of the less attractive sides of the music business. As I was always 'straight', that was all the harder for me - and after two years, I left his band."

I think at the time, at the start of the nineties, it was hard to find musicians in your scene that didn't have a problem with alcohol or drugs?!

"That's right. That's become a little better nowadays. To me, my body is extremely important. I look at it like an engine, as that which keeps me personally alive and that which I make my living with. Why, then, should I do all those things to him? So I returned to Macalpine, worked on some things with him and returned with him to Europe as well, where I became aware that especially in Germany I occupied an entirely different significance with my kind of drumming. When the Macalpine band then broke apart in 1997, I had two options: Off to the hairdresser and the search for a job or off to Europe and just give it a try. I opted for Holland, where I had some friends, placed the rest of my life in a storehouse in Los Angeles - and haven't regretted it to this day."

Whereas your career really gained momentum only in Germany?

"Exactly. As Roland Grapow of Helloween recommended me, I suddenly had plenty to do. I worked with Gamma Ray or Axel Rudi Pell, and that resulted in my relocation to Hamburg, where I lived for many years."

For some time one had the feeling that every other German metal record had the same studio drummer. You were obviously very sought after since you also possessed the precision in the execution that, ten years ago in our region, not many metal drummers exhibited.

"To be honest, timing couldn't have been better, and I simply had a lot of luck to be in the right place at the right time. The metal scene was quite large, my reputation good and my manner of working at the studio was established. People knew my style and in addition I turned out a rather nice guy, to many people's surprise. That is something that is tremendously important for the younger generation in particular. Of course skill, technique, etc., count, too, but nobody wants to work together with an unsufferable a**hole at the studio or even on tour. That can be as good as it gets then, it just doesn't work out, and that is a crucial aspect nowadays that is often neglected. You should be nice and co-operative and support the project that you've been hired for as positively as possible. I always give 110 percent, and that should be any professional's attitude. For you will be invited the more frequently if all those elements coincide."

The last one and a half years you spent in Scandinavia and have lived in Copenhagen because the city appeals to you?

"Yes, but I think that in this day and age it doesn't really matter where you live. To me, the computer, the Internet and good flight schedules are much more important than a fixed residence. Especially in Europe all that is a non-issue since you get pretty quickly from A to B. Scandinavia was simply good for me as I could speak more English and my German is not really good even after all those years. It should be better - but, hey, I get hired as a drummer and not to write or even sing German lyrics."

Did you, during your time in Europe, never fear for your livelihood or think about your future, not only as a musician?

"To be honest, as a drummer with the imagination to be a drummer, those thoughts never come to you. The problem is simply that the real world does not show respect to your dreams. So you have to fight for them and defy all displeasure. I am a strong personality with a deep faith in myself. Come on, I went to Europe at the age of 37. That's an age where most guys are already firmly committed with wife and kids and several mortgages. I never wanted such a life, I love the daily change, which also keeps my creativity fresh. Of course, I need to give some thought to money and insurances, too, which sometimes pushes my dreams back into their limits, but I still lead a fairly free life. When I was a child, they always told us at school: 'Be yourself! Learn to express yourself! Live your dreams, go out and be free!' When you actually do that later on, you run into problems: Some people don't like your music, others object to your look - but that should not keep you from still trying. If you believe in yourself, you need to be prepared, too, that things aren't always simple in life. I have created my own reality, the upside of being self-employed. Look at it this way: Your life is a book with all blank pages and a pen with it. You can now give the book away and let others write into it, or you keep it and fill the pages on your own. I've went for the second way. For this reason, I also need to answer for things that just happen. That's not everyone's cup of tea, because many people need someone to take the blame for them. You need to get that completely straight in your mind. In a way, my reality may even be far more realistic than that of many other people. You see, I don't think of myself as a 'rock star' either and I think anyway that such a thing doesn't even really exist. It is rather a term invented by the press for something they cannot pigeonhole that way. Today's world of media communicates something there that's unhealthy for the young talent. A lot of bullshit is propagated that isn't good for the music. I view myself as a 'working musician', no more and no less! Someone who does his job because he loves it. That was always my goal. It's not about getting rich. If you want that, there are plenty of other options. The music business is simply too corrupt, CD sales are strongly declining and free downloads are more in demand than ever. Sure, again and again some manage making an extreme amount of money. But at what price?! My art and passion is drumming. That's what I'm living for, and I can live by it. That was and is the definition of my life. It is important to me, and I still practice daily because it is simply fun. It's my life! I love being together with my drums in a room, to create something, modify the set and so on. That may sound crazy, but that's the way it is. Moreover, this instrument and the music have made it possible for me to travel the world. I have seen and done things that would otherwise surely have been impossible for me and that an average citizen would never achieve. Especially nowadays where everything becomes more and more expensive. I've only recently been to Brazil and could intensify my contacts there very much. You get the feeling there that drums and rhythms are in fact philosophies of life that in Brazil even somehow come to fruition. I have savored it and learned a lot from Brazilian culture. Taking part in that is something that classes and DVDs can never convey to you. I believe all those journeys have made a better, more open-minded person out of me, as I think of myself rather as a world citizen and not as American, German, or whatever. When you drive 3,000 kilometers in America, you still meet the same language and behind every corner there is a McDonald's. So much for the term 'united'. In the EU you drive two hours, and language and culture change completely. I like that, and people's mindset is shaped by that, too. You act more open-mindedly."

So you would still not like to call a permanent home your own?

"Not really. Having a few days off to relax is always nice, to be sure, but I'm always happiest when I can travel and in the evening, there is a show upcoming. Just take the past days: I started a tour with Tarja in Mexico, then we were on the road in Brazil, recorded a song with her in Brazil, and then I recorded the drums for Kiko Loureiro's [spelled totally wrong in the original text, though later correctly, translator's note] new solo CD in Sao Paulo. Then I was in Italy for four ddrum clinics, flew from there to Korea, where I recorded a video and some tracks with the Korean metal band Downhill. Then it went off to Hamburg, where I put together the set for today's photo shoot. Overall, I've certainly been more on the move in airplanes and on airports than elsewhere, but I've enjoyed every minute of it. I like this life and the fact that I am extremely busy. Moreover, I get to work with people from the most diverse cultures, which is very refreshing. I work at different studios throughout the world and make new experiences almost every day. When I have a day off, then, it does happen that I don't touch the sticks anymore for one, two days. But then it starts to tickle again. Once this year I had two weeks off straight, didn't touch the drums in the time, and that, too, did me good. I had the feeling to drum better afterwards, simply more freshly. Too much practice isn't always a good thing, either, it curbs your enthusiasm."

How far does your current planning reach at all?

"My appointment book is well stocked now in August until the end of January 2009, with tour and session days. Tarja is number one here, and I work the rest out around her plans. The new Masterplan album is due, several gigs with Tarja, whose new CD we've completed at Peter Gabriel's studio, several gigs with Axel Rudi Pell and a lot more still. I simply like it that 'busy'."

Is Tarja's tour band now also the same that records the CD?

"Her first CD was recorded by studio musicians. On tour, however, she noticed how good the chemistry inside the band was, and now we've already recorded parts of the second CD and we're going to record the rest, as well. The band has simply grown together, has become a unit, and that fits well together. I'm glad to be involved, and to be finally allowed to show my other drummer side, too. To many people I'm only 'the drummer with the fast double bass figures', you see. But that isn't all. When you listen to my solo CDs, you'll find a totally different Mike Terrana, one who rather makes fusion music and departs from metal."

Whereas I, however, claim that you operate with the same sound and style as in rock bands. Why, then, these fusion CDs?

"That's the music I've grown up with. I love this seventies fusion style. Jaco Pastorius is one of my absolute favorite musicians, an amazing bassist, and a terrific drummer, too. This kind of music simply suits me - even though I agree with you that I play fusion like a hard rock or metal drummer, too. But I simply like making this kind of music. With Tarja, for example, the thing is that the arrangements are fairly complicated, and still the groove is in the foreground. First and foremost, I support her voice and her way of singing. To me a really new type of challenge, and I enjoy it. The energy that comes from the audience is phantastic, and I've even got a solo spot again that she gave me because she had the feeling that the audience loves a good drum solo with entertainment spots. Of course I don't want to bore the audience with thirty minutes of Moeller technique, but I'm responsive to the audience. In his DVD, Jojo Mayer said something like, 'technique without soul and creativity is mere practice material'. I can only agree with that. The audience has paid to be entertained, and I use my technique to communicate with the audience, as I believe that I can express something with the drums, too. I have something to say at the set. In metal music the thing is, I think, that many people make the music out of a wrong reason. For in fact, they don't have anything to say, and that makes the music turn boring with time. It turns into pure masturbation, and loses expressivity."

Is that one of the reasons why many records nowadays sound similar and aseptic, why they don't have life inside anymore?

"OK, so let's talk about today's kind of modern recording technology. I grew up with drummers who all had a language of their own at the set, an identity. Whether Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Billy Cobham, John Bonham or Stewart Copeland - you immediately knew who was drumming there. And that was the age before click tracks, Pro-Tools or samples. Nowadays, the art to tune a set perfectly, to make it sound perfectly with few microphones and so on, has almost been lost. Through modern technology at the studios, many musicians' identity has disappeared. If you like listening to a perfect drum computer, that's OK, but leave us drummers in peace with that! I have been striving for years to preserve my identity and my style at recordings. But that's a tedious struggle, even more so in the metal genre. There, people believe too much in perfection, and everything has to be played accurately to the point one hundred percent, which is also possible with the use of Pro-Tools, of course. Everything is quantized, overloaded with samples, and the human being and his personality fall by the wayside. Where do you still want to go with such recordings? In a live performance, such perfection is impossible, let's say inhuman, since we all live, breathe and are no machines after all. And given that everything's supposed to be that perfect, it sounds sterile meanwhile, that is to say boring. There is simply no life in the music any longer. Music, however, needs to breathe and live. I have listened to a Frank Sinatra CD on my way here. This kind of people aren't there any longer. Their music was captured in perfection and will stay up to date for decades to come, which isn't the case for most music of the present time. Alas! This music lived, it had an identity. The musicians had something to say, they could express themselves without being forced into a perfect schema. That's only hard to achieve nowadays."

Is that the reason why many bands - and it's not only Britney Spears and so on that we're talking about - deliver only playback shows?

"I think it is simply outrageous and I wouldn't want to spend money to listen to a tape and watch a crowd of pantomimes in effect. My attitude to triggering isn't the best, either. I can't understand why you get yourself an expensive drum set and then screw triggers on it to call up samples. Tune your drums, play them and assemble something independent on your own! All that triggering, quantizing and so on is terrible, isn't it! Especially younger drummers frequently give me their CDs, and then you don't hear anything but that lifeless perfection. That can't be it, can it! These lads go to the studio and, thanks to Pro-Tools, sound ten times better than in the flesh. To be honest, I've reached that point where I only record that which I also can play. I know my limits, playing-wise, and within these confines I can work quite well. I don't need a technician to make my drumming perfect and turns me into a drum monster at the computer. That's not honest and that's why it's not my cup of tea, either. It may sound like a step backwards in many ears, but to me, this is a path to reality. Back to the roots of music."

The entire music industry is currently suffering. Nobody still sells a lot of CDs - but bands that are really good return to the stage and play live. The way it used to be once and the way it should be. Do you think that's a positive development with respect to music?

"Sure, I've played in bands that changed me, who didn't want drum solos at concerts and so on. And what am I making my living with nowadays? With the fact that I can drum well and play creative solos - every evening. With the era of grunge, those were buried and small sets with bass drum and two toms were hip. That's OK, too, but the pure piff-paff is hardly of interest any longer, isn't it, and many of those fellows are now out of work, as opposed to myself. As a creative musician who's got to say something you'll always survive. That's never going to go out of fashion. The form how music comes into being, is distributed and marketed nowadays changes nearly every day, and only those are going to survive who can keep up with these changes. Nowadays, you see, everyone can make a good CD thanks to technology, which used to be impossible. These days, many people make music with wrong ambitions. They want to communicate something without actually having something to say. And you know, it's pretty easy to open a MySpace account, put a few bad songs on there and poison the world by that. We don't have a need for even more bad bands on this planet! I guess in the future it's going to go back to good musicians who play live and express themselves in music, because they actually have something to say, you see. Heart, soul and everything I'm currently missing in music are hopefully going to make a return. I'd be happy about that."

Can you see any difference in the metal scene of Germany, Japan or Brazil? After all, you are still active in that scene, even if not as intensely anymore as only a few years ago.

"If you take old school metal, many musicians from other countries look to the German bands. German bands have set up rules in this genre, which is actually unexplainable to me as to me, rock'n'roll always meant a sort of rebellion against rules. As an artist, you don't wish to act in a limited space, but you want to be free. The problem of the metal genre, however, are its rules, and for this reason, many bands simply sound the same and have an identical look, and from my perspective, that's incredibly boring. Only few metal bands have developed in a positive way. That's what the scene is suffering from. You compete for few fans and lead yourselves down a vicious circle. In large parts, German metal simply sounds recycled to me, is a lame rehash and partially pretty boring. Nobody dares anything and takes risks. That's why I'm grateful that I can work with different artists, serve various styles and can even get away with making mistakes and sink into the ground for them. Hey, I'm a human being, not a machine, after all!"

Does that mean that you decline many incoming offers nowadays, too?

"Yes, I would like to work, as much as possible, only with people I really like - with people who appreciate my creativity and don't want to control me down to the last detail. People who hire me know that I can contribute something to their music that can be positive and so people simply give me free rein. I'm open to anything and I'd like to have fun at work, too. This luxury meanwhile works for me quite well. There isn't that much money floating about in this industry anyway for people to even fight about it a lot."

It's taken you quite a few years to arrive at that insight, hasn't it?

"[Laughs]. Sure, but that's what it simply is like at times. Bands are like relationships, and in the beginning usually everything is fine and dandy, and you are on cloud nine. The first three years are still good, then the problems start, and you try to solve them, talk about them and so on. If it's going badly, you stay together only for financial reasons, and that usually doesn't go well for a long time. I used to be in such a band relationship that wasn't working anymore and two years ago, I finally drew a line under it. I simply had to get out of there, and it was the best thing I've done in years. Now I'm free again, happy at work, music and I'm working with people I like, who like me and accept me the way I am. Making this move wasn't easy for me since it was also a move into a period that was financially insecure at first. But that, too, is part of a musician's life. Sometimes you need to do things even if they initially provide some insecurity. To outsiders it often looks as if popular bands earned insane amounts of money. That's not always correct since the production costs of a tour often eat the advance payments and income from CD sales up again. As a musician, you need to be a business person as well and deal with things that may not suit you. I'd even claim that the proportion is 90 to 10 where 90 stands for business. If you only ever walk around with your head up in the clouds, waking up can be quite painful. Over the years, I've gathered a lot of experience in this business and I know that many bands only lose money on tour. You only tour to promote a new album, and for that you need financial help from the record label, sponsors and so on. Since, however, nowadays record sales are extremely bad, touring has become difficult. As a result, you need to save where you can, and that makes touring even harder than it is anyway. I've experienced all that already, I've slept in wardrobes, cars and in airports because there was no other way. I still do that today from time to time if there is no other way. I'm used to it. As a young person, you tolerate this sort of things better, but the older you get, the more you appreciate a minimum of comfort. You can make money on tour, too, if you go about it in a clever way, the band is popular enough, and the demand for merchandise supports the whole thing helpfully. But you should simply know that this isn't the rule. - In Italy, a young drummer came to me once and said his dream is to play drum clinics. I know what he meant, but that has nothing to do with music anymore, you see. It reminds me rather of a sort of circus where everyone displays their technique and gymnastics and the music has faded far into the background. Myself, I have started to drum to make music, and this is the way it should be with the young generation as well. That's the whole point. I personally am a heavy metal drummer who's practiced a little too much and that's the reason why I can take part in that workshop circus. But I've made records with my own music, too, and never rushed to the bag of tricks only. A lot of those fellas can't support a simple song at the studio because they concentrate only on their ostinatos - and exactly that is something that no pop or rock song needs. There, the point is simple, effective grooving. Nothing else. Shuffles and so on - that's what counts. Look at it this way: The drumset is in principle a fairly simple instrument, you see, there's no reason to take it somewhere it doesn't belong at all with all the technique. The point is the beat, good timing and supporting the music. Drumming is only the frame for the rest that a good song consists of, you know. Jojo Mayer says in his DVD that it's time that we drummers return to take over the drummer's job in music. For nowadays drum beats are often made by producers and DJs, and they are those who set the tone in music. That's not what it's supposed to be like, and it's time to change it. I can only agree with Jojo here. For the music industry suffers from the fact that it is dominated by too many non-musicians."

You're talking about support. In this context, how important is an endorsement deal to you personally?

"To me it is enormously important because that way I have certainty and receive good support worldwide. In return, I play clinics and that way I can give something back, and help the companies to sell their products. Here, the question-and-answer section in clinics is a part where I keep learning new things myself, and I really like sharing my knowledge, I'll show everyone who is serious about it everything I'm proficient in. Clinics are a kind of social forum to exchange information to me. To me, the equipment is my tool, and there, having support is helpful. If you are on tour more than eight weeks and then have to buy your, say, sticks at the store, you go home hungry after the tour. In addition, I'm lucky that Vic Firth has custom-tailored the sticks for my needs. That's really an honor, and that's why I support Vic Firth whenever possible. Similar with Meinl: They, too, have supported me from the beginning on, when I came to Europe, and always believed in me. That was really a big help, and Norbert Saemann deserves all my gratitude. I think there's a sort of mutual respect necessary, too, to deal with one another like that. Trick-Pedale is a great company - still young, but with good ideas by Michael Dorfman. Ddrum has signed me slightly more than one year ago, and there is a signature snare drum in the works with bamboo kettle and clamping rings out of bamboo. A great sounding instrument. And with Meinl, too, there are several things still in the work that is due to be completed next year. That's an important part, too, with an endorsement deal to me: That not only you get support, but you can also carry out ideas of your own, which in turn other drummers benefit from, which
simplify their work. Cympad is one of these small companies that make good accessories. But to work with such companies you need to offer something as well. Endorsement deals don't consist of one-way roads, and if the whole point is free or low-priced equipment, this is not the right way forward. It's always a give-and-take, an investment of companies in a musician. And to that end, you also need to be a good businessman, again!"

Viewed from this vantage point, how helpful is the Internet to you?

"The Internet has become extremely important, if employed properly, to communicate and to promote yourself. To do that, you need a name in the first instance, of course, otherwise all that doesn't really help you along, either. You need discipline as well not to get lost in the virtual world. And here again you need to make decisions that make making music easier for you. I've decided to hire a personal manager, and Christine Stefan has been doing a great job in my case, for nearly two years. I was on the brink of drowning in E-mails, faxes and all the paperwork such as GVL, GEMA, flight bookings and so on. It simply got too much for me, and I didn't have time for the essential part in my life anymore: music and drumming. The point for me isn't to be cool, along the lines of 'talk to my manager'. To me, having someone who does all these things for me, who makes my life easier - and along with that, costs money, too, of course - is a luxury. But you've got to view it realistically: Office work isn't one of my favorite jobs, and I've got enough other things to do and this way, I can devote more time to music. And as the saying goes: The more money you pour into it, the more you can make. That's the way it is, and to me that was another great decision. I've got more and more control about my own work. And in doing so, the Internet is helpful, of course. It makes the job easier. But young people spend too much time on the Internet and at the computer nowadays. They'd better go to the rehearsal room and practice. That would be more of a help."

Where do you see your personal future? Would you still like to continue touring excessively like at the moment, or do you have other definite plans with your life?

"I'm approaching fifty now, and that's an age where many people already think about retirement. I love my job, and as long as I stay healthy, I want to keep drumming. Buddy Rich kept drumming all the way to the day of his death, and that's the way I want it to be, too. Surely I won't be playing in a heavy metal band any longer, but I hope I'll still be making music. That's simply my life, and I hope it'll still go on for a long time. I love every second of it, and today's photo shoot and this interview, I'm enjoying it, too. I don't have a plan for the future - certainly lots of different projects, but that's it already. I'll put out another DVD, titled 'Formal Function', that's going on to tie in with the 'Rhythm Beast' concept. Surely I'll record further CDs and make music, you see. 'Life is what happens while you make other plans', they say, and there is a lot of truth in it. You know, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, and I don't even want to know about it. I'm happy about my life and that I can do what I love. I want to stay flexible and I'll have to. For example: 18 months ago, I came home after a Masterplan tour, and thought, for the moment I'd have time off. Two days later, the phone rang and I had the job with Tarja, and ever since I've been on tour again, basically. You just never know what can happen, you see - and there's always going to be something happening. At the moment, Tarja Turunen is my main job, perhaps the best gig I've ever had. I'll do everything to support this woman, who, by the way, is everything but a diva. You know, I've worked with male divas who where far less popular than her. She's doing a fabulous job, and the band supports her as well as can be. In 2009, we'll keep touring the world, and it's an incredible lot of fun. We've got an excellent mixer and a perfect in-ear system that makes your job easier. - I'm gathering all of this for my later life, and once I'll be old I'll be sitting in a rocking chair and thinking of it. And not of things that I've never dared to do. I'm living my dream, I'm a happy person! I'd like to have an inspiring effect and be inspired. In fact, I get paid for having fun. Look at it this way!"