Derek Roddy is a speed metal lover’s dream team drummer. His speed blasting is epic, and his ability to power through marathon-like feats of endurance is the stuff of legends. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find someone with faster feet than this extreme metal drummer.
So how does Roddy get his feet ripping along so fast?
In this article, I’ll explore Derek Roddy’s double bass technique for raging speed and power. Plus, Derek Roddy’s top tips for endurance and speed on the drum kit. So strap in and get ready to improve your double bass technique. Oh, and you might want to wear a helmet. This could get dangerous!
Derek Roddy, Extreme Drummer
If you’re not familiar with Derek Roddy, you should be. He’s probably best known as the second drummer for Florida-based death metal band Hate Eternal. As well as having played with Nile, Malevolent Creation, and his own instrumental band, Serpents Rise.
His speed is nothing to shrug at. He can blast 16th notes at a blistering 270 bpm, which requires stamina, endurance, and a whole lot of training. Roddy is ambidextrous, playing two independent bass drums and a very balanced, symmetrical kit.
He pushes beats fast but also keeps things highly technical. Switching through time signatures like a jazz drummer on amphetamines. Roddy uses Meinl cymbals, and Remo heads on DW drums, and he uses Vater sticks.
Derek Roddy’s Double Bass Technique
Anyone who has spent time listening to his drumming always asks the same thing. How does Derek Roddy play the double bass drums so fast? Admittedly, he uses an unusual technique and a whole lot of “power on through” attitude. He also admits to not liking the idea of studying technique for technique’s sake.
Rather believes each drummer gets better through practice and focus. Well, in that case, what follows is not his signature double bass technique. It’s just what he does.
Roddy sits on his throne a bit high so that his knees form angles a little greater than 90 degrees. This allows him to get over the pedals and use downward thrusting power from his hips. Roddy claims that nearly all the power in his feet comes from his hip flexors.
How many techniques are there for simply bashing a kick drum? Turns out there are lots. Heel up, heel down, heel-toe, skipping, feathering. What does Roddy do? He uses what he calls a flat-footed technique. But this doesn’t mean his feet are always flat on the pedals.
He plays from his hips, as I mentioned earlier, and generally holds his feet in the same position they’d be in when they’re resting on the ground. His feet would be flat on the floor, not heel or toe up.
Translated to the pedals, he stomps on the balls of his feet with not a lot of ankle movement. His ankles do stretch as the pedals move, but only barely. So he’s basically pounding on the balls of his feet with all the power in his hips.
Roddy claims that he feels the beats on the quarter notes, even if he’s playing 16th or even 32nd note blasts. Although he’s playing incredibly quickly, this gives his double bass sound more groove and texture.
And that’s it for technique. But how did Derek Roddy get so fast, and how does he keep up his speed and endurance? Some of his answers will surprise you.
Derek Roddy’s Top Tips for Improving Your Drumming
Rather than suggesting techniques or training exercises to follow, Derek Roddy believes in good old-fashioned practice. In other words, work on playing your songs and playing through your ideas. Here are some of his top tips for building speed and endurance in the tough world of extreme metal drumming.
Yep, that’s Roddy’s number 1 tip. If you don’t have the right amount of hydration, Roddy says you’re going to get tired, fast. Extreme metal drumming is more of a sport than just a performance. For that, you need to be in good shape and take great care of your health.
If you’re trying something difficult, especially something like a complicated timing pattern that requires all of your focus, it can be perfectly natural to forget to breathe. But holding your breath can be death for any athlete, including a metal drummer.
Your muscles simply won’t get the oxygen they need to perform all the insane pounding they need to do. Roddy suggests using the music and breathing through a count of bars to help you relax even as you’re tearing through beats.
Work on balance and core strength
Specifically for double bass drumming, balance is hugely important. While most single-bass drummers are used to keeping a foot planted on the hi-hat at all times, for double bass drumming, this can hold you back. It’s important to have balance between your two feet so they can both move quickly and effortlessly.
One way to break out of the habit of planting your hi-hat foot is to build up core strength so that your abs are supporting both legs equally. A way to work on this that Roddy suggests is to sit comfortably on your throne and then lift both feet off the floor (and off all pedals too). Hold them up in the air a few inches off the ground for as long as you can. Rest and repeat.
Practice at full speed
Most drum teachers dole out that age-old advice, “Play it slowly, then gradually build up speed.” Roddy has a very different philosophy. He understands that sometimes drummers need to slow down to mentally work out tricky parts of songs.
However, he thinks that practicing at full speed is the only way to build endurance. After all, if you can’t play one song at full thrash speed, what’s the hope of playing through a whole concert?
Once again, Derek Roddy’s philosophy is that metal drumming requires athleticism, and that requires fitness, strength, and training. Fast, heavy training.
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Derek Roddy’s Double Bass Technique – Final Thoughts
If you want to play double bass like Derek Roddy, you can try out his sitting position and foot placement and see if that works for you. But by his own admission, he isn’t focused on technique so much as dedicated hardcore practice. If you keep up your strength and endurance and take good care of your body, you’ll learn to power through songs as he does.
Work on your balance and control so that both feet build up speed and strength. Practice a lot at full-throttle, breakneck speed so your body will be ready to perform when it’s time. And whatever you do, don’t forget to breathe.
Until next time, may the beat go on.