The Gayatri [or Savitri, a Hindu prayer] has always been really powerful for me. [It’s] always been a good one for clarity. And I love saying the Lord’s Prayer. It works every time. I’ll also make prayers up for myself, which I find really powerful.
When did you realize that playing the drums was a spiritual experience for you? Has it always been?
I think so. [I remember] walking down the street as a kid next to the big bass drums of a marching band. I mean, that sound feeds my soul.
In the early days the perfect show, the really good performance eluded me, but now it doesn’t because all I do is give it up to God. And acknowledge that I’m not in the driving seat.
Can you tell me about the experience of playing with Krishna Das?
One day in 2000 I was walking past a store in Boulder called Tibet, with my fiancé, and we heard this music coming out of the store. We both walked in and split up as we walked into the store. [Later] we met at the back of the store and the both of us had tears rolling down our cheeks. Afterwards we realized it was Krishna Das singing.
A week later a very good friend of ours who works for Sounds True, [told me] he was working with Krishna Das. He invited us to go up to Boulder, and I met with Ty Burhoe, the tabla player. A few days later I was on stage playing with them. It was just so magical—that’s how it’s been with Krishna Das. Whenever he calls me I don’t even ask questions anymore. I just say, ‘I’ll be there. Where do you need me to play?’
The three days we spent in the studio in New York were tremendously powerful. Three days after the recording sessions I was in a hole. I was in such a bad place, because I was dealing with the fallout of being so euphoric.
There was a high—and then a low?
Yeah. I didn’t see it coming. Everything sort of just went downhill, emotionally. So I got on the phone with Krishna Das and I said, “K.D, what’s the deal?” And he said, “The masters—they don’t come down [from the high].” [laughs]
It makes me feel like I want to run away with Krishna Das and just go play with him all the time. Then I’d never have to come down. But unfortunately, I have to deal with life like everybody else.
[Playing with him is] so good for me. I don’t feel like I’m a nutcase anymore. With all these experiences that I’ve had it’s helped [me] get involved with as many different beliefs and philosophies as possible, and really taking them at face value. They all have something, but when you put it all together, that’s when the magic happens.
How does that spiritual experience compare with the kind of drumming you do with Def Leppard? You say that with the Krishna Das project, it chose you. But with Def Leppard, you chose it.
I’d say that Hare Krishna has more energy attached to it in terms of thousands of years of being uttered than “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
"The first rhythm you ever heard was your mother’s heartbeat..."
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It does. But I also ask for protection. When people are having a good time [they] are releasing stuff all over the place, and it’s not all good.
There is a very clear intention that goes into…before I play. I want it to be for the good of everybody but I also have to be sensible and protect myself. It’s a slightly different experience with Krishna Das in terms of the ancient nature of the actual mantras themselves. They have a profound effect. Whereas my intention for the show is very powerful, I don’t claim that it’s such a huge experience.