Matt Halpern of Periphery details his evolution as a drummer, his signature snare and the future of NFTs on The Downbeat - Knotfest
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Matt Halpern of Periphery details his evolution as a drummer, his signature snare and the future of NFTs on The Downbeat

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Series on April 15, 2021

The veteran drummer keys in on the importance of being consistent behind the kit, the integrity he has in putting his name on anything, and how cryptocurrency is plagued with misinformation.

Take two.

Matt Halpern of Periphery sat in for a chat with Craig Reynolds on The Downbeat. The conversation was the second attempt the guys had as the first attempt was unfortunately deleted by accident. The incident was detailed in the first few minutes of the discussion.

From there, the drummers and friends dug into the specifics of their world ranging from the physical limitations of their trade, to the emphasis each has on getting the song right versus earning style points for the fickle internet critics. Halpern confided some of the instances where he second guesses himself and the value he places on being as consistent a drummer as he can possibly be – a priority he puts above all else when he is recording and performing live.

The guys also discussed, at length, Halpern’s signature Pearl snare and the painstaking detail that went into it’s design. Underscoring an emphasis on integrity, Halpern was adamant that if it was going to have his name on it, it had to be something he was proud of.

Wrapping with some talk about the future of cryptocurrency and the polarizing topic of NFTs, the guys concluded that there are obvious good and bad aspects to the new exchange, but that level of misinformation that exists makes forming any unbiased opinion is a tough task. There is even a mention that new Periphery music is in the works… stream the entire conversation below.

3:20 – Craig and Matt revisit how the initial conversation they recorded for the podcast was accidentally deleted thus, a second take.

5:35 – The drummers share jabs with one another regarding technique. Matt explains the importance of playing relaxed and not tense.

8:40 – Understating his expertise a bit, Halpern shared that while he doesn’t see himself as great at anything, the quality of being able to play loose and become the beat is something he is very confident in and something that will overall improve the quality of the performance.

9:28 – The guys dissect how their bodies respond behind the drum kit and how certain stretches and exercises can help them get the most out of their performance – particularly their feet for double kick.

12:08 – Halpern shares how guys like Federico Paulovich need to warm up their hands very night but he doesn’t need to warm his hands. Inversely, Paulovich never needs to warm his feet, they are always on point.

14:25 – Halpern confides that double bass is something he has struggled with his entire career. He acknowledges that some guys have the ability to play at the speed naturally and some don’t.

15:30 – Always advocating playing loosely is something that just come naturally to Halpern and it’s something that he needs to keep in mind when offering unsolicited advice. Because it is natural for him, he has to be mindful that it might not be for others. For effect, Halpern bends his pinky back to his wrist to demonstrate just how loose he is. Craig is grossed out.

17:37 – In an effort to switch things up a bit, Craig talks about changing his seat height to see if that helps or hurts his performance.

18:10 – Citing the likes of Sam Applebaum who sits low, versus the likes of Chris Turner, Travis Orbin, Mike Mangini or Thomas Lange who all sit above their kits, yet both manage to have insane foot control – the guys can only surmise that different body types fair better with certain styles of play.

18:56 – Mentioning the likes of Mario Duplantier of Gojira, Halpern explains how guys like that have the best of both worlds in that they can rip with their feet and groove with their hands.

20:20 – Discussing how drummers have completely changed the way they play and how emphasizing the double kick really does require significant changes that most guys aren’r prepared to do. This includes changes to the feel and sound of the drum that many players either won’t and can’t do.

26:00 – Halpern explains how he is able to use his entire kit to ensure that the notes are still there and consistent every night rather than trying to play every note with his feet for the sake of appeasing the drumming purists.

28:30 – When recording Periphery tracks however, Halpern will record the track the way it was written, even if it means having to use double kick. He will admit that he has to want the band that he will modify that in a live setting so that it’s consistent, but he is now thinking that he may record the tracks the way he knows he can pull them off live.

31:44 – Harping on the integrity that goes with being a musician, Halpern really takes stock in playing something the way it was written but has to weigh that against being consistent and playing it right. That is part of the dynamic he shares with his bandmate Misha Mansoor.

36:40 – The drummer confides that there is some self-doubt that he deal with. He says that those insecurities are usually accentuated by the few negative comments that always happen to stick out more than the positive comments.

39:00 – There is a level of anxiety for Halpern as Periphery is in the middle of written new material when it pertains to how he will be able to pull it off live in a consistent way. It’s something that does factor into the creative process. He is confident in his ability to nail the songs, just using what techniques and in what capacity.

41:41 – Referencing Tomas Haake of Meshuggah, particularly the track “Bleed,” Halpern and Reynolds absolutely gush of the drummer’s ability to be so precise and so consistent. Sharing that Haake took months to perfect the song prior to recording it, both Reynolds and Halpern struggle to find a mistake that Haake makes ever.

45:15 – Reynolds shared that streaming drums weekly has really helped him deal with the insecurities he has about making mistakes while drumming. Halpern however, details his reluctance to pull back the veil so much and show people the work in progress rather than the finished product.

47:20 – Explaining that he fucks up often on his stream, Reynolds has found that people love that he shows his work in progress with the fans. People love seeing him fuck up, fixing mistakes, and being human.

51:17 – Addressing the naysayers online, Reynolds confided that the collision of his own personal struggles and facing the Covid crisis has put things into perspective for him where he just doesn’t worry about much anymore – particularly biting his tongue so as not to offend delicate sensibilities that exist online.

56:11 – Halpern dives into the culture of being upset online and how prevalent that seems to be. People can very easily find a reason to justify their anger and once they do, they spread it online and it’s very unhealthy. Craig chalks it up to people being bored.

57:47 – Changing gears, the guys begin discussing Halen’s signature snare drum that he has with Pearl. Citing how proud of what he was able to dow with Mapex, the he transitioned to Pearl, he pitched being able to design his own snare drum and that was the basis for his signing.

1:00:36 – The snare was released at NAMM 2020 but that drum was not the same one that was recently released to public. In the time since NAMM 2020, the design has been refined more and more. The finished product that now exists is much more in line with what Halpern wanted. The adjustments were continuing up until as late as three months ago, that is the level of detail that went into this snare drum.

1:05:37 – A lot of the adjustments that needed to be made were to make sure that the premium features of the drum were in line with the market that would purchase this drum. If things would have proceeded unchecked, the features would have made this drum in the neighborhood of $1,200 alone and that was a no go for Halpern. So much in fact that he, along with Pearl took a hit on the profit margins of this snare drum just to ensure that the quality was tip top but the price was realistic for the consumer.

1:11:00 – The Pearl signature snare is so significant for Halpern because he already had a killer signature snare that had a strong following and was very high quality. To be able to level up from that is a big accomplishment for Halpern and a big indicator that Pearl was on board with supporting the integrity and vision of the artist.

1:15:30 – Reynolds echoed that integrity with applying his name to any product. He compared Halpern’s decisiveness with his snare to his on going discussion what a cymbal brand. The brand makes a cymbal that Reynolds uses and loves, but they dont have the ability to produce it en masse. Thus, Reynolds is opting to hold off until the company can produce them before putting his name on it – he wants to make sure the product doesn’t deceive the consumer and want to make sure his name is on something he actually uses and loves.

The conversation is then dominated for a good ten to fifteen minutes about cymbal talk.

1:33:30 – In a complete shift of gears, the guys begin a discussion about NFTs and the current proliferation of cryptocurrency. Citing information he has read, Halpern shared that when it comes to the kind of energy consumption that is happens as a result cryptocurrency, adding NFTs into the mix only makes a small difference.

1:35:10 – Referencing another article he has read regarding NFTs, Halpern shared that artists in third world countries are now able to feed their village because of NFTs. When positioned with having to do something that might potentially damage the environment versus being able to feed your family, the argument has a very human aspect.

1:39:00 – There is a level of misinformation about energy consumption and cryptocurrency that makes doing your homework difficult. Trying to find unbiased information makes for a difficult task and thus, people are forming their opinions without being presented with facts from a neutral place.

1:43:49 – The artists behind NFTs find parallels with musicians in that they are just trying to utilize their talents to earn living.

1:44:34. – Halpern confided that when Periphery even mentioned NFTs, it was the worst feedback that the band has ever got in their career.


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