With the band gearing up to release their brand new album V on September 18th, we figured it was time to sit down with one of the members of Scale The Summit and ask a few questions. Offering up his perspective on his recent addition the band, recording the new album and of course, eggs, is drummer J.C. Bryant.
What led to you becoming the new drummer for Scale the Summit?
J.C.: It was a fairly natural sequence of events. I’ve known the guys for years and they knew my work with Tetrafusion and I guess that made me a solid candidate for the position. There was no real audition or anything like that. Scale The Summit had an album that needed drums and I had two and a half weeks to get it done, so I made it happen. Also, Mark and I have known each other forever and both cut our teeth as members of Tetrafusion, so I was excited to rekindle well over ten years of chemistry working together as a rhythm section.
And you spent some time on the road with them a while back, right?
J.C.: Haha, yeah. Back when Mark joined in 2012, I had some downtime, so I toured with them doing merch and other odd jobs. It was grueling work, but I always had a blast hanging with the guys. I can’t help but feel like that set the stage for everything that panned out this year. I hustled and bled for this band long before I ever dreamed of becoming a member, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Tell me a little about the writing/recording process.
J.C.: All the drums were written in about two and a half weeks. From the day I got the phone call to the day I showed up at the studio, I pretty much spent all my time locked in the practice room getting the parts together. I had the whole album mapped out, and then we sort of experimented with some different parts and variations in the studio. It was fun working with the guys in a collaborative setting. When I showed up to record, the final guitars were already tracked, as well as some of the final bass. It was a little limiting writing to these set-in-stone parts, but that was just the name of the game this time around and I had a blast, nonetheless. However, I look forward to playing a more active role in the creative process next time around. We’ve already got some pretty cool ideas brewing. The parts for this album came together in 2.5 weeks. I can’t wait to see what I can do with several months of preparation.
Jeff Penalber tracked the album for us and got great sounds, then we sent it off to Jamie King for the mix and master. Absolute pleasure working with both of them.
I’ve seen some pictures of your kit floating around. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
J.C.: Yeah, absolutely. I recorded the album on this massive C&C kit, and we ended up with some great sounds. Okay, it’s not that massive, but it’s big for a C&C kit. The only bigger one I’ve seen is probably Joey Waronker’s Beck kit. They’re all luan mahogany shells with these beautiful bearing edges. They have this amazing low end response I’ve never heard from another kit. If you’ve never played a C&C kit, you’re missing out. Great drums made by great people. It’s also worth noting that I used big drums on this album. The smallest tom is a 12 and the largest tom is an 18. I’m still blown away by the tom sound we achieved in the studio. I used two kicks — a 20×14 and a 26×12 for different sounds in different sections. Haven’t decided if that setup is going to come out on the road with us yet. It’s super fun to play.
What do you believe your presence and chops bring to Scale the Summit’s sound?
J.C.: The guys were looking to bring a little more groove into the equation. With that general direction established, the guys not only trusted me, but encouraged me to bring my own voice into STS. You’ve got to play like yourself. There’s just no other way of going about it. Pat is a fantastic drummer with a unique voice and there’s just no emulating that. I can play Pat’s existing parts all day long, but if I tried to write like Pat, then it’d just come across forced and contrived. The guys wanted me to play like J.C. They wanted me to play whatever felt natural to me, and that made for a comfortable entry into the band. My personal aim was to support the melodies and give the songs what they needed. I just kept it real and played what felt right. I didn’t have the time to overthink anything this time around.
How does it feel to know that your drumming will reach so many listeners with this record?
J.C.: Above all, it’s the reason I do this. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’m reaching out and connecting with people through my music.
Who came up with the idea for the ‘Stolas’ music video? The Pop Up Video style was very fun and kept me actively interested in the video.
J.C.: Glad you liked it! That was actually my idea. It was a really last minute thing. We were all wracking our brains for ideas a few days before the scheduled shoot and we had nothing. I was browsing YouTube looking for ideas. I came across an old VH1 pop-up video and a lightbulb just came on. I pitched it and the ideas started flowing and we ended up with this ridiculous video. We had a blast filming it. My favorite part was the splatter painting. I’ve always wanted to do that.
What types of things are in store for Scale the Summit in both the near and distant future?
J.C.: We have a lot going on right now. All I can say is that STS is going through a huge transition phase, and we’re gearing up to come out of the gates stronger than ever to bring fans the absolute best from Scale The Summit. Lots of cool things on the horizon. Wish I could say more.
Any new gear you’re stoked on?
J.C.: Absolutely. Meinl cymbals. I’ve never been happier with my cymbals than I am right now. Chris Brewer and Meinl have been tirelessly helping me find my voice with Scale The Summit. They’ve sent me all these unbelievable cymbals so that I could experiment and find these specific timbres that work for my playing style and mesh with STS’ overall sound. I feel like I’ve finally found the sounds I’ve been searching for all these years. It’s important to play gear that inspires you, and I definitely have that with Meinl. Very thankful to be working with these guys.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
J.C.: I’ve been following Heavy Blog for years and think it’s one of the best sources for news in the scene. I just want to thank you guys for taking the time to interview me.
How do you like your eggs?
J.C.: Over medium sitting on top of some “all the way” hash browns from Waffle House. Getting hungry just thinking about it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!