Interview: Adam Jackson at Download 2016

How does it feel to be playing at Download Festival 2016?

Wonderful, always great to be back. It’s such a cool festival, we didn’t do it last year so it’s been a couple of years for us but it’s great for us.

The new record has been out a few months now, how’s the reception been since releasing Earthbound?

It’s been really good, it’s always nice to get out and do the shows with the new songs cause that’s the litmus test for how it’s going to go. Response online was obviously great, but we had to wait a little bit to go out on tour and test it.

We did the Parkway Drive tour in February and went out to Europe with it in April and the response everywhere has been incredible. This is our only UK festival this Summer, so we’re hoping it’s going to be really special.

You’ve been using Natal for a little while now, so tell us a bit about your setup?

I’m using a Walnut kit, 12” rack, I’ve got two floors, a 16” and 18”, 14” Snare. I’ve got a few different snare options which is great. It’s been incredible, I use all Natal Pro Series hardware – pedals, stands etc, and it’s been great.

I’ve played most kits and most hardware, and I do hit pretty hard, and it’s stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it which is great. I’ve been working with Natal for a few months now, but we had about six months off from shows for writing the new record etc, so it took a little while until I could go out and tour it, but it’s been amazing.

It sounds great, I kind of always wait to hear what our sound guy said when it comes to kits because he knows the finer details and he was super happy with it. Sounds massive, really comfortable to play and looks great, and it holds up to everything I have to throw at it so I’m really happy.

What’s the defining thing you like about Natal drums?

They sound great, look great. For me it’s important to have a kit that looks nice on stage – to get it set up and stand back and know it looks great, but obviously it’s important that it sounds great too.

It sounds wicked in any situation, small venue, or a massive venue.

What inspired you to pick up the drums in the first place?

When I started I was listening to the standard Blink 182 and things like that, because it was in the mainstream and it was alternative, and I found myself tuning into the drums more than anything else and I started air drumming. I played on a couple of kits that people had and felt very natural, and I just wanted a kit and wanted to be in a band.

I started this band years ago with friends from college, and it’s the only band I’ve ever been in. I got a kit, and a week later I started what would become this band. I’ve always liked drums more than anything, but for me it’s more than that, it’s about being part of something musically.

It’s not about being a drummer. I don’t want to sit there and play drums by myself, obviously that sometimes has to happen, but it’s about the whole package for me, not being an individual.

I love drums, but if I were to just sit in a room and play drums by myself that would be nowhere near as fun as being in a band and playing shows. I think for some people that’s not the case, but for me that’s what it’s all about.

What is your favourite thing about playing live?

I think it’s when you get to a level where you’re getting something back from the crowd. It’s the stereotypical things, seeing people having a great time to your songs in the same way as you did when you went to see your favourite bands. We’ve been lucky enough to get to a decent level, far bigger than we ever thought we would, and you have this reality check and think ‘this is mental’ – especially when you get the chance to play at something like Download Festival, on these huge stages.

We’ve done main stage here, main stage at Reading & Leeds, and I remember going to those festivals and watching people on the main stage and thinking to myself ‘they are untouchable’, and we’ve been lucky enough to do it. My favourite thing is getting the response from the crowd and knowing that the music you play means so much to people.

If you had to describe the sound of Bury Tomorrow to someone who had never heard you before?

The simplest terms are that it’s really heavy, it’s metal, but it’s also melodic. We’ve always tried to mix our favourite bits of those things into what we are. And I think we’ve got to the stage now where we’ve got our own sound, where you could listen to a song and go ‘Oh that’s Bury Tomorrow’.

It’s all the best bits of those things. It’s taken us a few years to work out how to make that sound work, I think if you go back to some of our earlier stuff and the change from heavy to melodic might not flow as well, or there were parts where it wasn’t really heavy, it was hovering in between. But we’ve got to a stage now when it’s really heavy it sounds like a metal band, when it’s really melodic it sounds more like a rock band.

We’ve always strived to write songs that will fill the biggest venues, and I think this is what we tried to push even more on the latest album. While it is really heavy, there is so much melody behind it we feel like there’s something for everyone.

If you had to sum up your career so far in one word – what would it be?

Mental. We’ve experienced so much, we’ve done some incredible things, but also been through a lot of really rubbish stuff and anyone who has read interviews with us before will know that there have been various points, not so much in the last few years, but various points where we didn’t think we’d make it to a second album. We had a lot of stuff going on a few years ago and we didn’t think we were going to carry on.

But we’re doing big shows now, and there’s challenges everywhere. You find yourself in situations where the music industry is a very unforgiving place and it’s very hard to survive in it, as you all know there’s so many bands calling it a day.

For someone who is starting on the drums – what one piece of advice would you give them?

Get the basics down first. I think there are so many people, especially if you’re getting into the heavy music world, there are so many incredible drummers and sometimes people want to skip the basics and go straight up to blast beats.

Concentrate on keeping a steady beat and at the end of the day, the drummer is there to drive the rest of the band and keep it all together. I see so many drummers in smaller local bands trying to do too much, trying to run before they can walk, and you lose the impact. Sometimes it’s better to do the most basic drum beat than try and do something that is more intricate but not as tight.

Work on being in a tight band, and if you have to simplify that’s absolutely fine – there’s nothing wrong with that.

Me personally, I’m definitely more of a rock drummer than a metal drummer. I didn’t grow up on metal music, I transitioned to it through a number of other things, but my formative years as a drummer I was listening to a lot of lighter bands. So I don’t class myself as a metal drummer. I’ve had to learn to do certain things that metal drummers will do and suits the music, but my natural style is very rock driven and is simple and keeping a groove.

I think that has really worked in our favour. When you get up on a stage and no-one knows your band and you’re trying to impress them, and they don’t know your songs, you’re trying to get your songs out to them as powerfully as possible and I think one of the best ways to do that is to take a step back and keep it simple, and obviously there’s nothing wrong with doing flashy stuff if you can learn it, but learn your craft first.