Interview with Drummer Gabe Serbian

April 8, 2011

Interview with Gabe Serbian

Interview by: Mindiana Jones

Photo By: Robin Laananen

Gabe Serbian is one hell of a drummer. Seeing him drum live is simply inspiring. He excels in all areas of drumming- he is super humanly fast, strong and hard hitting, with rock solid timing.His beats are extremely technical and creative. He has the endurance of a machine. He is a master at odd meters, crazy fills, and sharp time changes. He has evolved and perfected his own drumming style which is admired by many. On top of this, he is an example of hard work and dedication, with a strong drive to constantly improve and grow as a musician. Gabe is best known as the drummer of the Locusts, but he is currently spending his time working on four other musical projects- Retox, Skin Walker, Le Butcherettes, and Rat Eyes. During our interview I was able to get some information on these projects, what is going on with The Locusts, and insight into how he became such a talented drummer.

How long have you been in Los Angeles?

It’s been about five months?

Is everything going good?

Yes, it’s going well.

Did you move here to work on a project?

Gabe: No, basically just to get out of San Diego. I felt if I came here there would be a lot more for me to do musically, and there defiantly has been.

Mindee: What is the main project you’re working on right now?

I don’t really have a main project, and I don’t want to say that I do because I don’t want to make any band members jealous. I am doing four active bands right now; three of them are LA based. I started a new hardcore punk band I drum in called Retox. J.P. of The Locusts sings in it and this guy Mike Crain from Festival of Dead Deer and Kill the Capulets plays guitar, and then this kid named Thor plays bass. So that’s one project that I am busy with, trying to write a new record. Then I just joined this band called Le Butcherettes, which is this lady Teri. Actually she is a young girl, she is twenty-one, and she plays guitar and sings. She writes really cool songs so I have been playing a lot with her. Then, Joey from The Locusts and I have a band called Skin Walker we are working on as well. I also sing in this band called Rat Eyes out of San Diego.

What about The Locusts, are you guys still working?

Kind of. We have about an albums worth of new songs that we wrote like two years ago. We have all this music we are just sitting on not doing anything with. I think everyone in The Locusts is busy with other things- Bobby is a really active student, and Joey is in this other band called One Day as a Lion with Jon Theodore and Zach De La Rocha, and he has been really busy with that. Justin and I have Retox and he has All Leather as well, and he is still busy running his label Three One G. So we are all kind of busy with other stuff. It is just on hiatus right now until we have time to get back at it. I think in a way though it is nice for all of us to not be so busy- cause you know The Locusts was like a full time job for over ten years- so it is just cool to have that go to sleep for a little bit.

How long have you been drumming?

Well…I’m 33 now, and I started when I was 13, so around 20 years, give or take.

That’s cool.

Yeah, I feel so old saying stuff live that.

Are there any influences that really helped shape your drumming style?

Well when I first started playing it was Slayer and Dave Lombardo, I really loved that shit, and stuff like Dale Crover. Growing up those were my main influences, and various punk bands.

So what is your least favorite part of playing drums?

Writing a part that’s cool but really hard to play and having to play it a bunch of times, because it makes me tired. Sometimes I feel like maybe I make things a little too hard on myself. Or I hate playing a lot of crazy songs back to back live because I feel like I am going to have a heart attack. There’s the adrenaline of playing live combined with playing too hard and too fast for a while and I feel like my heart is going to stop- personal safety is a concern of mine.

Have you ever had any bad drumming injuries?

No…well just busted knuckles and stuff, that’s probably the extent of it.

Ever broken anything?


Any Arthritis?

Oh, well my wrists sound like cement grinders when I spin them, and now my knuckles pop all the time, but nothing super bad. I have never had to get stitches or anything. I have had to glue wounds together, they actually make this stuff called liquid skin, have you heard of it? You put it on and it has antibiotics in it. If I smash my finger open I will put that on and it seals it and it works until you have to play again.

I was wondering how you write your very technical and fast parts? Do you write them slowly and then get faster?

Gabe: No, it’s usually easier for me to write stuff faster. So if I’m working with Skin Walker, and we have some songs that are slower paced, it’s easier to write them at a faster tempo. I don’t know why, but I do find it easier to write when it’s moving a lot quicker.

Mindee: Do you usually write your drum beats ahead of time, or do you revolve them around parts written by the other instruments?

It all depends. A lot of the times people will bring riffs or a part, and I will put my drums to it, and sometime I have an idea through drumming that kind of makes them change their part around- so we all bring stuff.  Then sometimes I will just be fucking around and make a part that sounds cool, and someone will figure out what to put over it.

Do you have any musical goal you have yet to accomplish?

I would like to travel and tour in weirder places than I have been. Yeah, travel more and just get better- I always want to get better. I don’t think I have achieved everything and I don’t feel satisfied yet, I still want to keep going.

Is there a favorite country that you enjoy touring in?

Gabe: I like going to Japan, but I have really only done Japan and Europe. We have done the US and Mexico. It would be cool to do shit in Thailand or Brazil, and I still haven’t gone to Australia. I’d like to try that.

Mindee: What do you do to keep your speed up? Is there anything you do other than drumming?

No. For a while I was going to the gym, but I fell out of that routine. There isn’t anything I do other than practice as much as I can. If you just play a lot your chops will be up and you will be able to go fast when you need to.

Do you ever practice on tables or practice pads?

It’s always on the set. I used to try and practice rolls and rudiments when I watched TV, but I don’t any more. It’s annoying to me. I really should practice that shit. I really play music so much everyday that I don’t need to practice when I am at home.

So how exactly did you become a drummer?

When I was in 6th grade you could play drums in the band. My step dad at that time was a jazz drummer so he had a drum set and taught me a rock beat. From there I switched over- I had played clarinet before that.

What are some of your hobbies other than drumming?

I draw and paint. I make home recordings by myself, and I ride motorcycles.

How do you do your home recordings?

I have logic on my computer. I have fun with it there are a bunch of amp simulators that are really fun to play with.

When you do home recordings do you put drums to it at home?

No, its mostly just guitars and keyboards. I kind of write a bunch of little goth songs and stuff.

Do you sing on them?

Sometimes, just fun shit, something I do to pass time. I feel like I have to stay busy or I start going crazy. I always have to be doing something, unless I am trying to fall asleep. If I were to sit around and just watch TV or movies all day, I’d go crazy. If I try and go to bed, I have to watch something to fall asleep or my brain starts wandering, and next thing I know I have all this anxiety about something.

So you use the thinker drums sticks right? 2Bs?

Yeah, well I was using 2Bs for a long time. Then Jon Theodor gave me a bunch of sticks, because I was poor and he got a bunch of free sticks. They were all 5Bs, so I just started using 5Bs a lot, and then I just switched over to 5Bs. So I don’t use the super thick sticks anymore. I am going to keep it that way to, I like how it feels. What do you use?

I used 2Bs for a really long time, and then about three years ago when I started playing in a metal band I switched to 5As, and even though they are thinner they don’t seem to break on me as often.

What brand do you prefer?

I use Promark, the Japanese Oak ones.

Fuck yeah! Those are the shit. They’re so hard.

Yeah I will buy um in bricks and they last for months.

Yeah that is what I have been using the 5B Promarks Japanese Wood. The worst ones out there are the natural ones. Don’t use them, they will break immediately. They are the worst, at least for how we would play, like being hard on them.

Alright, one last question. Are there any bands you would like to mention that you think people should go check out?

Yes, 400 Blows. They have been around a long time but their new line up is awesome. Some of the best drumming I have seen in a long time. Kevin Fitzgerald is there drummer, he’s fucking sick. Kill the Capulets, that band is a really cool local band going on right now.


 Gabe will be performing on June 10 at the Palladium, opening for the Deftones.

You can check out Gabe’s projects at these websites-





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