Claus Hessler is a well-known drummer and educator located in Germany. He has authored several educational books such as Camp Duty Update, Drum Set Workout, and Open-handed playing Vol 1&2. He also performs with his funk/fusion band Flux. Claus does fly under the radar somewhat in the drum community but has carved out a long and prosperous career with education and performance.
What we talked about (in order)
- Claus talks about his rope tuned solid Ash wood drum in significant detail and gives me a small tour of his home studio.
- This interview was recorded January 3rd, 2019, so naturally, I wanted to know how Claus’ new year has been treating him so far.
- Claus and Dom Famularo go way back. Claus talks about how Dom played a big role in Claus’ development both in his playing but also with an opportunity within the industry.
- Claus is hugely interested in drum history. Swiss rudiments, medieval drums, techniques to name a few. I bring up the Tabor and the open-handed roll. Claus clears up some misinterpretation within this subject.
- We fall into a rabbit hole which, if I sum it up, is about intentions and purpose to drumming in music. We begin with the Tabor. A medieval drum that accompanied a fife and was played with one blunt stick. Then we end up talking about if and how different time periods affect a musician. This is highly speculative, but interesting subject matter.
- Camp Duty Update has been receiving some notoriety lately. With the 2018 Best Educational Material nomination from Modern Drummer, I had to ask what his mission was in writing that material.
- Claus has authored a great deal of educational material to the drumming world. He discusses with me how his students are his beta testers and allow Claus to see directly what needs to be included or not to develop a great piece of educational material.
- The mileage that you can get out of one rudiment opposed to memorizing fifty rudiments and barely scratching the surface, is a concept that Claus is very interested in. How to “hide” rudiments effectively in musical settings is what he believes more drummers ought to do. This part is like having a lesson with Claus.
- With educators, I sometimes sense that there is a lot of calculation in their approach to what they play and so it comes out sounding very “beige” and exercise-y sounding. That doesn’t apply to all educators obviously, and therein lies the question. How does a player, who teaches, maintain a sense of character and a distinct sound?
- Claus talks about his early career doubts and fears. He’s good now though. In all seriousness though, Claus gets into some great commentary about human nature and by sharing this stuff with other people is a sign of maturity and strength.
- “If you don’t sound like shit, you’re not practicing” This is a quote we all know and love, isn’t it? Of course, this statement is true, but does it lead a focus of persuading a student to focus on their weaknesses? Claus explains his point of view towards this.
- This conversation sparked a question that I didn’t anticipate asking, but I ask Claus what his thoughts are on pacing yourself on new material. I use an analogy where my fist represents my size of abilities. Then my other hand and fingers represent the new things that you want to add, that you will inevitably suck at. How much of the new stuff should you add, and how long does it take to fuse to the total sum of your abilities. This leads to perhaps the most interesting part of this episode.
Drumeo Gab's Socials
Music Production/Mastering - Kingmobb
Voice Over - Tom Knight
Drums - Me
Recording Engineer - Michael Marucci