Being one of the most requested and renowned session musician in the business, Mike Terrana needs no introduction; for sure, since he recorded tons, anyone of you reading this lines should have at least one album showing his powerhouse drumming. Rock And Metal In My Blood met the great man at Nadir Music Studio of Genoa, where he's recording drums for his new record, with his own band, Terrana.

R&MimB: Hi Mike, welcome to Rock & Metal In My Blood webzine, would you tell us what are you working on, here at Nadir Studio in Genoa?
MIKE TERRANA: Hi Guys, thank you for your interest! Well, it's a kind of top secret project but here we go: i've started this band years ago but i got busy during the years, so i had to postpone it. Basically i'm here to record some tracks for my new project, my solo band, a power trio called "Terrana"; it's a rock and roll band, something different from my other works, because i got back to my own roots, following the lesson of drummers like Cozy Powell and Tommy Aldridge. I'm also here to shoot a video that people will see in a not distant future.
It's not like Dream Theater but... i think it's rock and roll...

R&MimB: Your last album as Mike Terrana, "Man of the World", is eight years old, any news? Why did you choose the Nadir Studio for your work?
MIKE TERRANA: After the "Sinfonica " project, that i recorded in Pisa three years ago, this album that i'm recording here in Genoa will be my foray into the the world of rock and roll, with my rock and roll band?i think it's gonna be cool. I choose this studio for his facilities and i just want to say that people here are so kind for having me and letting me work in a really good environment. I'm creating this new work here and i've just recorded three songs; anyway even if the band has my name, it's a real band, not just my solo project.

R&MimB: What can you tell us about the two guys playing with you in this band?
MIKE TERRANA: They are both from Milan and both are singers: Fabio Carelli is on guitar and vocals and Alberto Boletti is on bass guitar and vocals. They are good musicians and good guys, very good players who are relatively known in the scene, maybe not as much as they deserve, but it's ok?it doesn't matter.
When you play in a rock band is like being married, it's a question of relationship, we have to be able to communicate on and off of the stage and work together. The chemistry between us is very cool and that's simply what i was looking for.

R&MimB: So with this band you also want to go back to the roots of metal; who, in this genre, inspired you the most at the beginning?
MIKE TERRANA: Yeah, i mean, i grow up with rock and roll because there was no heavy metal yet when i was a kid; the first two bands i saw which you could call heavy metal were Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, which i saw in my hometown Buffalo in 1977, and there were around 20-30 people in the club. Les Binks is still one of my favourite drummers.
I was inspired by heavy metal and rock and roll, by The Beatles of course, and even by punk rock, all mixed together because rock and roll is about rebellion, not about playing perfectly.

R&MimB: Let's talk about your collaboration with Tarja Turunen, how's working with the ex-Nightwish vocalist?
MIKE TERRANA: I've been working with Tarja for 6 years now, and i like her very much as an artist, but she's also a nice person; i like her music, especially her new album " Colours In The Dark" which i think is her best solo record. In her solo career she has more creative freedom, compared with her albums in Nightwish. Some Nightwish fan could get upset and maybe disagree, but if you really like Tarja you will appreciate this album.

R&MimB: In your curriculum you have lots of collaborations, which is the album containing what you regard as your best performance?
MIKE TERRANA: Mmm, it's not easy to say, I've recorded lots of albums?but i'm very proud of the solo record i did called "Sinfonica", with the classical music, because it was really a challenge. I don't expect everyone to like that record, but it was a personal work of mine. There is also a record of fusion music i made with Tony McAlpine, called "Evolution" (1995), with Tony Franklin on bass; i think it's a very good record with good songs, and i like my drumming on that record, but it's very underground music.
I think that, to this day, one of the best records i've made is this new Tarja album, it's got a lot of groove, and i also play in different styles and it's a mature record, so check it out.

R&MimB: In your career, have you ever found an artist you didn't have a good feeling working with?
MIKE TERRANA: Yes, there is one artist but i don't want to say his name because i think it's a kind of rude, and my mom always told me: " if you haven't anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"! Obviously there were some people i worked with in the past that were strange, a bit rude and hard to work with, you know i'm not saying i'm perfect, i also have my moments, everyone has highs and lows. I found people that only wanted to be famous and earn big money, and they wanna act like big boss, but for me this is not what music is about. Making music should be a kind of collaboration, a mutual respect among the musicians. Today, I was watching a very interesting documentary about Wayne Shorter, a sax player which is eighty years old and he is on tour right now, playing with Herbie Hancock. Like he does, we should go on stage trying to forget who we are and just make music; that is the key to make good music. I've played in a lot of bands with some guys that were better and some were not so good, but i think that the most important thing is making good songs, having something to say.

R&MimB: Is there any kind of music you never played before and you would like to try?
MIKE TERRANA: I would really like to play swing music, i've never did it before and i think it could be funny; when i am at home i listen to a lot of swing music but i've never had the chance to try playing it.
I think it's incredible, even when i was a kid i like it because my parents used to listen to it, so i can say that i've got it in my blood. Sometimes i think that it's as powerful as heavy metal and is very difficult to play.

R&MimB: Let's talk about the role of the drummer: musicians like Mike Portnoy and Dave Lombardo, with their drumming style, created a new perspective of the drummer. Do you think that also Mike Terrana could be considered a model for young kids starting to play?
MIKE TERRANA: Oh, maybe i do, i dont' know for sure. If my feeling as a rock drummer has inspired some young guys and they play my songs, surely that's cool and nice. I play drums because that's what i love to do and i'm happy that is my way of living.

R&MimB: Is there any new drummer who came out in the last years that you really appreciate?
MIKE TERRANA: I like The Rev from Advenged Sevenfold, that unfortunately is not alive anymore. I've seen him playing, he was very good and so young. Another drummer that i like is Ray Luzier from Korn, which is a friend of mine. He is not a young guy but he is a great drummer and i like Korn so that's cool. I also like Gavin Harrison?i don't really listen to Porcupine Tree, but i think he is an amazing and technical drummer, with a good sound. There are so many great drummers but i don't care if they play metal or other genres; i like a lot Vinnie Colaiuta and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, i don't know why but i don't dig the new stuff, i just go back to the old stuff usually.
It's sad to say, but if i wanna listen to something interesting, i go backwards to musicians like Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon and Ian Paice.

R&MimB: You worked with some guitar heroes like Yngwie Malmsteen, Roland Grapow and Kiko Loureiro; what about those experiences?
MIKE TERRANA: The Yngwie Malmsteen experience was highly stressful, it was only two years, and everybody knows he's a great guitar player, but working with him is not such a pleasure. Roland Grapow is a big friend of mine so it was a pleasure to work with him, and he is a really good songwriter and engineer that now has his own, new band, called Masterplan. Kiko is a great musician and i really enjoyed to work with him. He's very relaxed and also very intelligent; he listens to lots of different music, always learning something by this. He also play several instruments, more than the guitar, very well. I was in San Paolo in Brasil with Kiko, and i was shocked by the natural feeling that people have for drumming, playing percussions without taking any lessons. We went in this percussion shop, where there was a very relaxed and happy man that showed us some percussive objects and immediately began playing them in a very natural and instinctive way. It's not something he learned in a school, but he's got this in his veins.

R&MimB: What brought you here in Europe and where is your logistical base when you are here?
MIKE TERRANA: I came here for the chicks ahahahah (he laughts ndr). Well, i was playing with Tony MacAlpine, but the band broke up and i was living in Los Angeles where there was no job. I had been in Europe many times before so i moved to Holland some fifteen years ago and started to play with different bands. I think it's much easier to be an artist in Europe than in the United States. In America people don't consider your being an artist as a proper job, because there's not a right consideration of the cultural aspects, we've only got hamburgers and movies; while in Italy you have art, food, literature and science culture, that must be always kept in mind.
I'm a firm believer in the fact that sometimes you've got to take two steps back to go three, or four steps forward. Anyway, here in Italy i live in Tuscany, at Forte Dei Marmi, a very cool and beautiful place.

R&MimB: Do you prefer to be a session musician, changing setting everyday, or being part of an ongoing band situation?
MIKE TERRANA: I like to be a session musician because it's got lots of advantages: you don't have to care for the album cover, you don't have to compose but you have only to do what is told you to do, so if something goes wrong you still get paid. It's very stable but the risk is higher, because if the person that you are working for decide that he doesn't like your work, you're gone, if you don't execute "the orders", you're gone. I wouldn't say it's like working in a factory but, if you wanna work, making music in this way, some of the pressure is lifted off. The logic is very simple, i'm paid for doing that and i do that in the best way i can. But there are also some advantages being in your own project: i compose my solo stuff when i'm away from the other bands i work with, and it's a situation i can control with nobody over me, i have all in my hands.

R&MimB: What do you think of digital download?
MIKE TERRANA: Today is full of platforms such as I-Tunes and Spotify, where people can get music in a very simple way, but how an artist could get money from them? Strange as it is, but is always better to sell your own material at the shows. Nowadays if you want to earn money, you have to sell things that people can't download, like food, because you cannot download food. If you walk into a bar and grab a piece of focaccia without paying, someone immediately stops you, but you can grab music and steal it all over the web. Steal the artist's work it's ok and i accept it because i think that people will continue to play music in the future because people can adapt themselves to changes and things are changing very fast. Lots of bands are fighting this new world with old weapons. Today all our lives are in small boxes, but i still prefer to go buying in the record shops.

R&MimB: If you could form your own dream band, with famous artists from all over the world, which musicians would you choose? And if you could choose a band to join, which band would it be?
MIKE TERRANA: I can tell you right now: Doug Pinnick from King's X on bass and vocals, and Steve Lukather from Toto on guitar, always a trio, with me on drums. It could be a killer band, ahahah( he laughs ndr)!!
I really like Doug Pinnik, he's got a great voice and is a great bass player, and even Steve Lukather is a great guitarist and a very funny man, he's really cool. That would be my super group.
If i could join a band instead, i would choose AC/DC! I would love playing drums for them! I love AC/DC and they are one of my favourite rock bands, simple and powerful at the same time, that's rock and roll!

R&MimB: Which special tip could you give to all the young metal kids starting to play drums?
MIKE TERRANA: I could only say them to be realistic about their goals and their dreams. It's good to have dreams, i've got many different dreams about things i wanna do, and i've realized some of them, but it wasn't easy; it was hard and is not getting easier. So i think the best thing to do is to practice, have fun and enjoying playing drums and making music, but always being realistic about what to do with it, preparing also to the ups and downs. The first important thing to do is to find yourself in your instrument; you have to create your own personality and develop your style.

R&MimB: Mike, thank you for the time you spent with us...would you leave a message to our readers?
MIKE TERRANA: Yeah, i'm Mike Terrana, buy my f*****g albums ahahahah ( he laughts ndr)!! No i'm just kidding, i would like to say thank you for this interview, for coming here to talk with me, listening all my crazy theories, 90% of which are wrong and insane ahahah!! I hope to see you all somewhere, when i play live, and i hope you will enjoy it!