Jul. 17 2008
Jason Rullo

Jason Rullo

Symphony X

TAMA :Let's start from the beginning. When did you start playing drums? Did you take any lessons?

Jason : I started when I was 11 years old, took lessons but was more interested in playing Van Halen songs than practicing my 5 stroke rolls, so that only lasted for about 6 months.

TAMA : Were you always interested in heavier music?

Jason : Not really, I was raised listening to a lot of funk and r&b, and then Led Zeppelin and classic rock bands, I did get into jazz but that was after I was into the metal stuff, around age 16 I guess it was. I basically listen to all kinds of music.

TAMA : What did you work on to develop your impressive speed and dexterity on the kit?

Jason : Oh man, how much time do you have? Early on I would just play along to the fastest (cool) stuff I could find, which when I was 12 were bands like Slayer.
Then as a teenager I started to get serious and I would do anything I could find for the hands with the feet as well, some of the most helpful books for me are Master Studies by Joe Morello, for stamina and control, and The New Breed Series for dexterity and independence. I should also mention that I studied with Sonny Igoe and that changed my playing tremendously. It was like starting over, and I was 16. He taught me the importance of proper technique, reading and discipline.
Aside from that I would create my own excercises based on different approaches, things like odd groupings over ostinatos, linear combinations, etc...
The other major factor in the dexterity part is Latin Music, studying that at The Collective right after high school was a huge help in understandng rythms and making everything groove, as well as dealing with the independence challenges it creates. Let me just add that the main things when it comes to speed are good technique and putting countless hours of practice into it.

TAMA : Which drummers influenced you the most growing up?

Jason : Alex Van Halen, Neil Peart, Nicko McBrain, Simon Phillips, Terry Bozzio, Dennis Chambers, Manu Katche, and Buddy Rich.

TAMA : Who are some current drummers that you've been impressed by?

Jason : Jojo Mayer, Chris Pennie, and Gil Sharone.

TAMA : Prior to Symphony X were you in any other bands?

Jason : I had an instrumental fusion band called Hectic Red before SX, but we were really just a live band, together for about 5 years.

TAMA : Can you walk us through your current kit setup?

Jason : Sure I'd love to! This new kit looks and sounds amazing, it just got off it's first tour and got nothing but compliments.
Starting with shells my left to right I have 2 Octobans (deep), flowing into rack toms 8", 10", and 12", all with 8" depths.
The floor toms are floor mounted (I prefer the feel) 14"x12", and 16"x14". Over the floor toms I have the 2 deepest Octoban sizes and a 20" gong bass. The gong is great for making a statement, it's so deep and distinct and has a ton of attack giving it a very unique sound. The kick is 22"x18" and has great lows but still has excellent response.I use 2 snares both 14x5, one is Bubinga and one is maple, I switch them out just for fun as they both sound sweet. Sometimes I use a 3rd snare which is a brass Warlord Athenian which is great for the orchestral stuff.
It's all mounted on a 4-sided"double barred" rack for extra stability with boom arms supporting Sabian cymbals.

The finish is graduation rasberry which really looks like a black to plum fade...sweeeet...

TAMA : Do you have a warm up you do prior to live shows? Can you break that down for us?

Jason : Yes I do, the main thing for me before a show is to get the blood flowing into the muscles, so I don't do the exact same thing all the time but similar.
I start by playing slowly on the pad, some basic wrist snap movements and once I feel the blood flowing I will usually run through rudiments all connected by a double stroke roll, part of a Sonny Igoe ex. really. Sometimes I will do the "stone killers" from the Master Studies book too. The whole time I am doing this I am doing 16ths or 16th trips with my legs, again to get it flowing. Sometimes I also do some calistenic type warm-ups, swinging arms around gently and that sort of thing.

TAMA : Do you have any advice for other drummers?

Jason : My advice is to be aware of your mental attitude during your drumming quest. Being positive and envisioning what you want for yourself are huge parts of success. Surround yourself with people you admire and are doing the things you want to do. Stay focused and practice, practice, practice!!

TAMA : What is up next for you & your band?

Jason : Well we are currently enjoying a little time off the road and we'll be heading out soon again to hit some festivals. Montreal June 21st,
and Europe from June 26th until July 5th. We'll start work on the new cd after that and then be in Latin America in October. I am also scheduling a few clinics over the summer, dates will be on the Symphony X site as they are confirmed.