Matt Halpern chats to SA Drummer

Matt Halpern is one of the most recognized drummers in the world. He tours the planet with his band Periphery, all while educating fans and students via drumming masterclasses and workshops. At this point, most of his gear has his signature on it. He’s been on the cover of most of his favorite publications. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded a music software company called GetGood Drums and a creative education brand called The Punk Rock MBA. Matt endorses Mapex Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, and Promark Drum Sticks exclusively.

Photo by Randy Edwards

If I am correct, you started playing drums at around the age of 4 years old? Did you grow up in a musical family that influenced this at all?

That is correct! I started very young and always enamored by the drums. My immediate family is not very musical, but my Mother and Father always listened to music, and they were very open to letting me naturally gravitate toward music and the drums.

Are you self-taught, or have you had any forms of drum lessons? 

I’d say both! I’ve studied with some amazing teachers over the years, starting when I was first beginning my journey as a drummer. Then over time, I’ve developed my ways of learning and teaching myself the things of which I need to improve upon, so yeah, I’d say both!

At what point did you realize that drumming was something you wanted to build a career out of?

I knew I wanted to be a professional drummer since the very beginning. I had a very clear vision, and I was hyper-focused.

You have been playing with Periphery since 2009. How did you land the gig? And if I am correct, you played for Animals as Leaders before this?

That is correct! It’s always crazy how things happen, and my story with Periphery is no exception. During my first semester at University back in 2001, I met my friend, Alex Bois, who would eventually become the guitarist of Periphery. Fast-forward about seven years, and Alex came to see me perform with a pop band I was gigging with and happened to bring Misha from Periphery along. After the gig, Misha approached me and recommended that I audition for a new project he was producing at the time called “Animals as Leaders.” Reluctantly (haha), I learned the music and auditioned, and then got the gig as Animals as Leaders’ drummer. A few months later, AAL decided to go on hiatus, and at that time, Travis Orbin (Periphery’s former drummer) had just decided to leave Periphery. It was at that point when Misha reached out to me again and invited me to join Periphery, and I’ve been in the band ever since!

To be honest, before Periphery, I hardly played any types of metal, but I definitely enjoy it now!

– Matt Halpern

The musical parts in Periphery have a lot of syncopation and accents? Is this something specific you had to work on, or did it come very naturally? 

Both! Learning how to play in Periphery was no easy task, and even now as we continue to write music it’s still a challenge, but I had always been excited about playing styles of music like fusion and funk which have a lot of dynamics and syncopation, so I like to think I had a good foundation for what got required in Periphery.

Is this style of music something that you have always played, and what other styles do you enjoy playing?

To be honest, before Periphery, I hardly played any types of metal, but I definitely enjoy it now! I’ve always been a fan of playing all types of styles. Everything from pop and rock to reggae and fusion!

What would you say are your highlights so far while being a part of Periphery?

There are so many! Everything from getting to write music with some of my best friends, learning to communicate in a band setting (which also has translated over to my personal life and other businesses). Performing shows all over the world and meeting amazing fans from many countries in the process. I also enjoy teaching quite a bit, so getting the chance to get to know my fans and students through educating has been a gigantic highlight.

Photo by Ben Gunzburg

You are the co-founder of The Punk Rock MBA and GetGood Drums. Can you tell us more about these projects?

Yes! GetGood Drums is a music software company that focuses mainly on offering our customers the highest quality drum sample software out there. The company started of necessity when Nolly (former Periphery bassist) and I were looking to record a library out of favorite drum tones, and then developed pretty organically from there. We’ve now sold thousands of drum sample libraries and are working diligently on many new products that we hope can help producers all over the world. 

The Punk Rock MBA is an education brand that aims to help creative people and Creators better market their work and their services. We are currently producing two extensive online courses for Creators entitled “Sell It Without Selling Out,” where we teach designers, photographers, videographers, artists, etc. how to market and sell both their products and their services. 

I’m very excited about both endeavors, and truly hope to help as many people as possible through our work!

You have a course out at the moment where you help musicians with marketing needs. Can you share more insight into this?

Yes! That is exactly what I referenced in the last question. The course has not been officially released yet, but in the meantime, The Punk Rock MBA is releasing a ton of free educational content as well as offering free live webinars for anyone who would like to attend. Our course is available for pre-order via our website: www.sellitwithoutsellingout.com

Having won the Modern Drummer Magazine readers’ poll in the Educator/Clinician and Metal Drummer categories as well as countless other awards, how do you feel this elevated your career, and what did this mean to you personally?

It is always quite an honor to win awards like this, especially when my fans and supporters are the ones who are voting for me to win. Personally, it absolutely means the world to me, and it is not something I will ever take for granted. These awards push me to work harder and maintain the level of “expertise” as a player and teacher my fans believe in. I’m not so sure I’m as good as they all think I am, but it certainly motivates and inspires me to keep working hard!

 Being a drum instructor and having a huge passion for education and sharing your knowledge, can you tell us more about your drum lessons?

Sure! I truly enjoy helping drummers and artists as much as I can, so I offer in-person lessons and classes in almost every city in which I travel, as well as providing online lessons and coaching sessions. I teach everything from the beginning basics to more advanced topics, but for me, I really enjoy breaking down barriers with my students and pushing them to discover their talents, so they can separate themselves from the pack and offer their passions to the world. 

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