24 May Inside the Music Mind of Drummer, Michelangelo Carubba
The Music Industry is full of creative people. From the musicians on stage playing music to the artists that make the posters that the promoters use to get people to the music venues. All the different people involved in making the music industry work have skill sets to be celebrated.
We’re grateful former Turkuaz drummer, Michelangelo sat down with us to discuss his favorite memories and current projects…
MM: SO WHAT WAS IT THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MUSICIAN?
MC: It was just inside of me. I think that’s a universal truth. The discipline of being a musician is something you must work on constantly, but I think the vocation, the calling, to be a musician was something that revealed itself to me very early in my life. I was brought up with great music in the home. My mom would blast Earth Wind and Fire while cleaning the house. I would bop around while she cleaned and sang, and it gave me the opportunity to get inside the actual physical feeling of groove. I loved it and it’s always stayed with me. It has never let me down.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT MUSICIAN?
MC: A beginners mind. I had a conversation with Weedie Braimah during the pandemic. Weedie is a master musician and a willing mentor. At the time I was really digging into how and where African rhythms spread west, and relationships of the clave from west Africa to the Caribbean and South America. I was describing some difficulties I was having with 4 limb independence, and playing these HUGE grooves on drumset, which is basically being 3 to 4 drummers at once, and I wasn’t aware that my cart was pretty far ahead of my horse. He encouraged me to have a beginners mind. To be curious and not mad. To accept that I didn’t know, and embrace my desire to learn. There’s no final boss level of being a musician. Music isn’t something you can win and then it’s over. You’re always learning, growing, pushing, and evolving, until you’d drop dead. But the beginners mind is what will fuel that pursuit. I think that makes a musician great.
MM: WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS OF ALL TIME AND WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST OF THEIR DISCOGRAPHIES FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE BEING INTRODUCED TO THEM?
MC: Earth Wind and Fire. I don’t think you can go wrong with any starting point in their discography.
Rudder. Their first two albums, and Keith Carlock’s playing, changed how I heard drums as a conversational instrument. Also the way he tuned his drums gave them a voice that matched how I heard drums in my head. Big booming kick drum and open toms. It was big and bouncy and unapologetic. That had a huge effect on me.
Slipknot. Joey Jordison. When I heard the songs “Wait and Bleed” and “Surfacing”, that was a great moment. I had heard a lot of double kick work from Vinnie Paul, Dave Lombardo, and Lars and Tempesta and Hoglan, but the way Joey did it, it just sounded like two middle fingers in the air, and I loved it.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT SONG?
MC: Forward motion. That doesn’t necessarily mean speed, just forward motion. I want to be taken somewhere. I put my guard down and let the artist do what they will to me. Take me somewhere. If I feel like I’ve been moved, spiritually, emotionally, even physically, then that’s a great song to me.
MM: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GREAT ALBUM?
MC: A great studio album is so hard to make. A person listens to an album and it maybe has an hour long run time. Maybe 45 minutes. But that artist worked on those songs for hours, weeks, months. The actual time in the studio can be weeks or months. So you’re trying to make something that all sounds like you; sounds honest and organic, and it’s to be consumed by the listener in a matter of 45 minutes or an hour. When it really works, and a great album has been made, I think it’s a result of honesty. Honesty in performance, in production, in storytelling, in belief of one’s mission. I can hear that when I listen. I can also hear it when it’s forced or false. I’ve achieved making what I think is a great album, and I’ve been guilty of forcing things and trying to be something I’m not. It’s a hard game.
MM: WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM THAT REALLY GRABBED YOU? WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC THINGS ABOUT THE ALBUM THAT MADE IT SPECIAL FOR YOU?
MC: Chronic 2001. Dre. I think that album is perfect. The album sounds good in a car, on a huge system, on flat studio monitors, Shitty headphones. Great ones. I could play it anywhere, and when it came out, I played it everywhere. There’s a groove for every emotion on that album. “The Watcher” was on repeat for years.
MM: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE PEAK EXPERIENCES OF YOUR CAREER? ANY FUN STORIES YOU CAN SHARE?!
MC: Every time I play Red Rocks is incredibly special. Touring in Japan was life changing.
The people I’ve shared music with have had a huge impact on me as well. I had some moments with George Porter Jr that stuck with me. We were sound checking in Denver one night, and I was fooling around with a kick& snare vibe that was part second line, part drum corps, and part Steve Gadd. He stopped what he was doing, started bobbing his head, and when I finished, he asked “WHO WROTE THAT?!?” I replied “I just made it up” and he said “well you should write that down cus that shits killin”.
I think I’m still smiling from that moment, and that was 3 years ago.
MM: WHERE DO YOU SEE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN THE 30 YEARS?
MC: In the ICU, healing from the beating that it’s taking from corporate greed, financial interests, and marketing manipulation. Sad to think that, but I’m being honest.
MM: FOR THE SERIOUS MUSICIANS OF THE WORLD, IS THERE A REAL PRO TIP YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE, BE IT AN EXERCISE, A LICK, A PRACTICE HABIT, LIFE ADVICE, ETC.?
MC: Don’t play it until you get it right, play it until you can’t get it wrong.
Also, Sput has always told me, “Stay ready ain’t got to get ready”. That one pays rent in my mind.
MM: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG MUSICIAN THAT WANTS TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
MC: Go out. See music. Be in the community. Be kind. Be humble. Be on time. Be adaptable. Be strong. And learn to do your taxes.
MM: WHAT GEAR ARE YOU USING THESE DAYS? FEEL FREE TO SHOUT OUT SPONSORS, DISCUSS NEW ADDITIONS OR FAVORITE OLD GEAR. CAN BE YOUR MAIN INSTRUMENT, ACCESSORIES ETC.
MC: I’m still loving Ludwig after all these years. I switch between a ‘73 Ludwig Octa-Plus, and a brand new Ludwig Classic Maple. All Zildjian all day. Vic Firth. I’ve REALLY dug in lately on making my modern kit a hybrid kit. I’ve invested a lot of money in Roland’s products, and incorporated a lot of electronics in my new modern setup. It has really opened my ears, and re-energized my passion for drumming and making music.
MM: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE VENUES TO PLAY IN THE WORLD? FEEL FREE TO SHARE AN EXPERIENCE THAT MADE IT SPECIAL
MC: Red Rocks. I love the way it feels on stage when you look up and there’s 10,000 people and it feels like they’re towering over you and they’re all gonna fall down on top of you. There’s no feeling like it. I barfed directly after the first time I played there, it was so emotional. Hahahaha.
Blue Note in Tokyo was special for me because when I was young, pre Berklee days, my brother gave me Lettuce Live in Tokyo. Those guys are great friends of mine, and if you had told 13yr old me that I’d be personally so close with them, and that I’d be playing the same room in Japan as them, I’d have told you you were nuts.
MM: IN ALL YOUR TRAVELS, WHAT IS THE BEST MEAL YOU EVER HAD?
MC: Scarpetta, a Scott Conant restaurant in NYC, was the best meal of my life. I’ve eaten there multiple times, but the first time I went there, I was literally high after I left. Everything about the experience was stellar. The food was orgasmic, the service was perfect. I felt so taken care of. The wait staff anticipated all of my desires, and things would come to the table and leave the table exactly when they were supposed to. Their timing was impeccable.
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME RESTAURANTS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
MC: Pizza Delicious in New Orleans is crushing. Scarpetta in NYC is a must.
Mis en Place in Tampa is my family’s restaurant, and has been rated the best in Tampa year in year out. It’s always an exciting, boundary pushing culinary experience.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle in Manhattan is stellar.
M&P Biancomano in Hoboken NJ has the best Italian sandwich in America. I’ll die on that hill.
Guard and Grace in Denver CO is a great experience.
If you’re in Buffalo, go to Gabriels Gate. The wings are top notch. Grab a beef on weck from Bar Bill and then bang bang your way over to Don Tequila and eat a shrimp quesadilla and drink a jalapeño bulldog. Then call me and thank me before you fall asleep for two days straight.
MM: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED AN AWESOME HOTELS WHILE ON TOUR THAT YOU WANT TO SHOUT OUT! WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL?
MC: I love the Curtiss Hotel in Buffalo. I LIVE in Buffalo and I stay there sometimes because it’s just a great experience.
The St Regis hotel in Apsen CO is world class. Love it there.
My family owns a multi-unit VRBO style hotel in Pass-a-grille FL called the Berkeley Beach Club. It’s stellar. Super hip and right on the beach. The Dewey, the restaurant inside is crushing, and Chef Tony is always doing cool stuff, especially his seafood vision. There’s a smoked fish dip there that I would eat a bucket of if I could.
The Hyatt in Curaçao is gorgeous and I can’t wait to go back.
MM: COFFEE, TEA OR JUICE?
MC: Coffee or die
ABOUT MICHELANGELO CARUBBA: