Animals As Leaders drummer Matt Garstka talks authenticity in art on The Downbeat

Animals As Leaders drummer Matt Garstka talks authenticity in art on The Downbeat

- By Ramon Gonzales

The revered percussionist details his songwriting process, his dream festival and explains how compelling art can't be formulated.

Sitting in for a conversation over a cup of espresso and a proper pour of bourbon, drummer Matt Garstka guested on the the latest edition of The Downbeat podcast with host Craig Reynolds.

Using the roast of the beans and the quality of the bourbon as a bit of a jumping off point, the guys spoke about their love for both and how they find interesting parallels in being touring musicians. The guys came to the conclusion that artists who have invested their passion in their craft appreciate other craftsmen. Whether it be harvesting and roasting coffee or perfecting off-time drum fills, the time, process and dedication required to make something precise is admirable.

Quickly shifting into heavy drumming discussion, the guys delved into the language of percussion as it relates to the most recent release from Animals As Leaders, Parrhesia. After getting Garstka to reveal some of his preparation process and how he gears up to explore his full potential on the kit, the guys spoke about the track "Monomyth" and how the song evolved fro it's earliest iteration. Given the prowess of a band like Animals As Leaders, it was illuminating to hear how the band works in creating such brilliant works - all of which circles back to the idea of appreciating the art form.

Speaking both to the drum community and the greater music community overall, the guys exchanged some thoughts about authenticity in music and the problem of edited drum videos being passed off as something real. Citing virtuosos like Chris Turner who does unfathomable things on the kit, both Garstka and Reynolds explained how Turner's prowess is not only amazing but it especially impressive in that his captured performances aren't edited to be something they aren't.

That talking point went further for Garstka as he shared that the soul of and the character of art is a fundamentally human experience and something that really can't be programmed or formulated. Referencing legends like Dave Lombardo and his early recordings, Garstka explained how the best art is raw, unpolished and captures emotion in a way that is memorable and that is what makes art what we all know it to be.

In what has become an essential segment in the current era of The Downbeat, Reynolds asks Garstka to lay out every last detail of his dream festival - from catering to location to talent to amenities. Including a zen garden, a sound bath, health-conscious catering and a stage that will feature the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Meshuggah, and Animals As Leaders, the drummer explains how environment is important in the equation of musical experience.

Animals As Leaders are set to join Lamb of God later this fall on the massive 'Omens' Tour. Get a complete list of tour dates that include Animals As Leaders headlining plays and supporting appearances with Lamb of God below.

Stream the complete episode of The Downbeat Podcast with Craig Reynolds and special guest Matt Garstka of Animals As Leaders here.

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