Jun. 26 2007
Dan Torelli

Dan Torelli

Madina Lake

TAMA :When did you join up with Madina Lake, and how did that come about?

Dan : The four of us got together about two and a half years ago. We were in two different bands in Chicago that happened to be managed by the same company. Nathan [Leone, vocals] and Matthew [Leone, bass], the two brothers, were in a band together, and Mateo [Camargo, guitar] and I were in a different band. We started opening shows with them (they were doing a little better than us at the time) and we all became really good friends. After some time we had reached a certain point; we were all kind of tired of where our bands were musically. The four of us would find ourselves sitting on each others' decks or at bars and clubs at night just talking about music and everything and we finally just said, "You know what, let's just make it happen. Why waste any more time?" And that was it, we broke up both bands, and we formed one together.

TAMA : The band's name, Madina Lake, has a pretty compelling story behind it. Tell us about it.

Dan : Well, we had already been hanging out and talking a lot about a million different things, aside from music too. I mean life, politics, pop culture, and all that stuff. So what we decided to do was to not only write songs, but to put together a story and a whole other dimension to the band. So we created another place that existed in another time, and named the town Madina Lake. We kind of wanted to use it as a metaphor for real life so that we could make certain points without having to name specific names or anything. That's what we were afraid of when we were talking about this whole concept. We didn't want to come across as one of those super preachy bands where we're talking about specific people politically and in pop culture. So if people want to dig into it and try to figure out what things mean or what we're talking about, then that's great. And if they don't, if they just want to listen to music, then that's great too. We're kind of hesitant to say that we wrote a concept album because we definitely want the music to supersede everything else that we do. But, if anyone is really into the band and the music, then hopefully there's a lot more levels that they can get into.

TAMA : The band's debut album, From Them, Through us, To you was recently released in stores. What was it like recording the album and how do you feel with all the positive feedback it's received?

Dan : It's been like a dream come true ever since it happened. I can't even believe it. When Mateo and I were playing in bands together way back in the day, I remember when Bleed American from Jimmy Eat World came out and it was like our favorite record. And we were huge fans of the producer, Mark Trombino. We loved every record he produced. So when we signed with Roadrunner, it was pretty wild. They asked us to make a list of ten producers that we would want to have, even if they seemed out of budget or impossible to get. They just wanted to get an idea of what kind of sound we were looking for whether these guys were attainable or not. So the first guy on our list was Mark Trombino. A few weeks later they told us that he really enjoyed our music and that he was willing to do it with whatever budget possible because he thought it was great. We were freakin' out! So we stayed two and half months in Los Angeles working with him. It was a pleasure and a joy, and it came out exactly the way we wanted it. And the fact that it's been getting good reviews and is doing pretty well for our debut record is pretty exciting. We're loving it.

TAMA : When did you start playing drums?

Dan : Probably about twelve years ago. I think I was in 7th grade and I started out on piano. Then someone gave me a drum set. I played around with it here and there, and then somewhere along the way I started listening to rock and metal music. I bought Metallica's album, ...And Justice for All, and it was like my first CD that I had ever bought. I just freaked out over Lars' playing. So I started taking lessons, and that was it. I never touched any other instrument again. I'd come home from school every day and put my headphones on and play. I took private lessons until I was in high school, and that's all I've ever wanted to do since then.

TAMA : So you had formal training growing up?

Dan : Yeah. My first teacher was a guy named Greg Zeller from Keller's Music in Westchester. He had such a huge influence on me and he was super cool, and I just looked up to him so much. I took lessons from him for about three years. And then in high school I was in marching band and jazz band and all that.

TAMA : Who are your major influences and favorite drummers on the scene today?

Dan : Well, my initial influences were Lars Ulrich, Will Calhoun from Living Color, and Stewart Copeland. Then there was a natural progression that I notice pretty much every drummer goes through when they get really into playing. They'll start going back and listening to the older stuff like Neil Peart and everything. So I did all of that. And now, lately, so many people inspire me. Any type of music that I listen to inspires me in some way. But as far as rock music goes, I've been really into Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers).

TAMA : It's kind of cool now that you're playing with these people and that you are at that level with them.

Dan : Absolutely. We go on tour with some of these bands and I can't believe that we're there and that they talk to me [laughs]. We did a radio show in Dallas with Muse, and it's one of our favorite bands. We love those guys. And when they got on stage, we were standing right next to the drummer for like three songs. It was insane! We eventually got kicked off by security but it was awesome anyway. So yeah, it is pretty wild.

TAMA : So, what got you interested in Tama drums?

Dan : Well, the very first kit I ever got was a Tama Rockstar DX. And I think it's because I saw Lars Ulrich using that white double bass kit with the black hardware. That was it for me. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I played that Rockstar kit for years and years. Then I played a couple of Starclassics and now I have a Superstar Hyperdrive. I've played plenty of other kits. I used to work at a music store and sometimes I would use their drums for gigs or to practice on, whatever they could supply. But I just never quite felt as comfortable playing anything other than Tama. It's weird, you just get a feel for a certain instrument, and it's true, they really do feel different. It feels right, it sounds right, and the tuning is great. The hardware is by far the best to me. It's super sturdy, super adjustable, and it's not overly heavy. I see all these bands that carry around hardware that weighs like eighty million pounds, you know? And it's not like it holds up any better because of that! So yeah, Tama has absolutely always been my favorite.

TAMA : us about the kit you will be getting and what made you decide on it?

Dan : It's a TAMA Superstar Hyperdrive kit, which has the shorter toms and a shallower depth, which I've been wanting to get into. I've always played the 16"x16" floor toms and deeper rack toms. I wanted go with the shorter toms because I'm a pretty short dude, so I figured it would be more comfortable for me, and I can get them lower on the 22" kick drum. I also like the punchiness of them. I played some other kits with the shorter toms, and you can get a lot of tone out of them, and they're super quick. Plus that finish is awesome- the White Satin Haze with Black nickel hardware. I was looking at everything available online and I saw that and I was like, "Oh man, that's the one!"

TAMA : Can you outline the setup?

Dan : It's an 18"x22" kick, 7.5"x12" tom, two floors, 12" x14" and 14"x16". Also, a 5.5"x14" snare, and I have a Kenny Aronoff Trackmaster. I also use the Tama Iron Cobra pedal and hi-hat stand, and all the rest is Roadpro hardware.

TAMA : What's next for the band?

Dan : The tour we're doing now is our very first headlining tour. We've been touring pretty much nonstop for a year. I think we've had a total of three weeks off sporadically if you add it all up, and we're doing this until the end of June. We're also going to film our second video called "Here I Stand", which is going to be the second single off the record. Both the single and the video should come out in July. And then we're doing the Projekt Revolution tour which starts in July and runs through September. So we'll have two weeks off in July which is really the first break we've had in over a year. We're super stoked about that tour. And when that ends we'll probably go back to the UK. It'll be our fourth time there this year.

TAMA : Are you involved in any other projects or are you pretty consumed with the band for now?

Dan : No other projects right now. It's been such a whirlwind with Madina Lake. Once we started doing this it's just been 110% from everybody.