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I first heard about Ilan Rubin when he was playing live with NIN (2009). There was a lot of buzz about him at that time: “Dude have you heard the new NIN drummer? He is crazy tight and super passionate and very creative.” People were telling me this over and over, and those attributes are exactly what I want a drummer to have. I checked him out and became a fan.
Ilan’s playing is firmly rooted in the rock world. His feel, power, and ideas are the best kind of Bonham tribute, with a bunch of the pop punk sound thrown in (he replaced Atom Willard in Angels & Airwaves and played all drums on the recent Paramore record, if that gives you an indication of his style).
Go read his wiki page if you want more biography info, or you can let his playing do the talking:
First off, his ideas and chops are awesome. The solo itself isn’t hugely mind-blowing or progressive, but it’s super rad nonetheless. BUT THEN he plays it all in near perfect pocket with the sampler track that he sets up (which is pretty cool on its own). That’s what I want to zero in on in this post.
We’ve all heard drummers play dope, complex, difficult, progressive, and creative stuff… and I love it. Shredding is shredding, and it’s cool at the right time and place. But many (if not MOST) of the shreds I see online or live or wherever are marred ever so slightly by small imperfections in time and feel. In fact, it seems like subtle sloppiness is even assumed to a certain point, as if the crazy chops required to really shred outweighs said sloppiness. Rushing is common, or unintentional flamming, or just an overall looseness.
Don’t misunderstand me, the looseness that lives in the Jay Bellarose or Pete Thomas styles is not what I’m talking about. That kind of looseness is awesome, mainly because it’s an intentional groove/feel thing that serves those styles of music. Most “gospel chops” drumming is NOT aiming for that kind of looseness. The Bellarose/Thomas feel makes the gospel chops stuff sound worse, not better.
Complicated and flashy playing needs to be executed with incredible precision, and I usually don’t hear shreds that feature the kind of precision that Ilan is delivering in the above solo. He is playing some crazy stuff – conceptually complicated and physically challenging – and he is just BURYING that loop.
People. That is HARD to do. Or at least it’s really hard for ME. I like to think that I can pull out some shred-fest if you back me into a corner, and I feel comfortable playing with a locked feel in a song that has programming and click track, but doing both is VERY VERY difficult.
So, for that reason, the above solo is one of the most amazing shreds I’ve seen in a long time.