Bryan “Brain” Mantia, the former drummer for Primus and occasional member of Guns N’ Roses, taped an in studio video for EQ magazine recently with drum tips and talk of famous projects, including his work with Tom Waits and on Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy.
Brain’s Tom Waits story is funny, but not really surprising given Waits’ known penchant for found equipment. In the story (watch here), Brain said that he set up a $10,000 DW drum kit that was given to him as part of an endorsement deal at the studio. Then Waits arrived at the “Big In Japan” session. “He walks in and he looks at it and literally it’s like set up perfect like something you would see at a music store,” Mantia said. “And the first thing he says is like ‘Can you get that at Guitar Center?’ And I was just like, ‘well I didn’t get it at Guitar Center, but you can buy it at Guitar Center.’” Waits then started dragging rusty old equipment into the studio and insisted that Brain not use anything available at a retail store.
The Axl Rose bit provides some insight into how Chinese Democracy took so long. Brain says Axl demanded he replay the exact same parts recorded by previous drummer Josh Freese on 30 songs because Rose wanted Brain’s feel, but Freese’s exact fills and beats. Mantia had to get all 30 beats transcribed, post a giant transcription above his kit, and spend 2 weeks learning each song, while the rest of the band and crew “would be watching cartoons or The Exorcist” at a cost of $2,000 per day. He was done 7-8 months later, so I guess that accounts for 1 of the 15 years.
For Brain’s various recording session stories and drum lessons from the man himself, click here.