Brazilian drummer Riccardo Linassi releases “Virtual Blues”

Brazilian drummer Riccardo Linassi releases “Virtual Blues”

Born in Maraú city, Brazil in August 1979, self-taught, he began playing the drums at the age of 11. In 1998 he had a brief passage in Musisinos – school of music, where he learned music theory, and since then he studied on his own account. Two years later, he became a drum teacher using the method he created himself. In 2002 he moved to Belo Horizonte city, where he lives today. He worked at the Sonar Studio until 2009. Graduated with a Music Degree at the University of the State of Minas Gerais – ESMU/UEMG, he is also member of the Musical Darezzo Institute, online music school, developing the play-along and the drum parts in lots of projects. A versatile and eclectic musician, he works from the soft-genre music to heavy metal and all the variations in-between – all these music styles formed him as a professional musician.

On October 15th, the talented Brazilian drummer Riccardo Linassi released his single “Virtual Blues” through DyMM P&M, the song precedes his first CD released worldwide with this label. Riccardo also has the participation of Luiz Caldas, a genius of Brazilian music that is known for being the father of the rhythm of “Axé baiano” This single prepared listeners for the arrival of the ‘Virtual Revolution CD which has been online from November 16, 2021 and you can get it in a physical or digital version at Bandcamp.

Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?

Riccardo Linassi: Hello friends! Thanks for having me for this interview. I’m from a small town in the south of Brazil called Marau. I started playing drums when I was 11y.o. on my own, with not teachers at all. Years later I took some classes and studied more about the drums, different techniques and also graduated in Music at the UEMG University in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. And of course I keep studying and practicing to improve my drumming!

What inspired you and made you want to learn drums in the first place?

Riccardo Linassi: At the time, back in late 80’s, early 90’s we didn’t have internet. So I used to listen to those pop/rock bands on the radios and sometimes they played Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, which I never heard about before. But I was mesmerized by that sound. I didn’t know what was that, but it was heavy and dense and little by little my influences were taking place. I didn’t have a particular drummer to inspire me, so I use to say I was influenced by their bands.

Are you self-taught or did you have any formal training?

Riccardo Linassi: As I mentioned before, I started on my own, only copying what I was listening to, and by looking some local drummers. Only after I have wrists problems that I decided it was the time to look for a teacher and study techniques in order to improve my skills and also don’t hurt me anymore.

You have a long list of favorite drummers. If you were forced to pick only one at the top of your list, who would that be, and why?

Riccardo Linassi: Wow, that’s a tough one! Probably Neil Peart would be on the top of the list, due to his unique style of playing, musicality and creativity. But I always admired guys like Nicko McBrain, Mike Portnoy, etc…. as you said, the list is long.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?

Riccardo Linassi:  Well, I think that due the fact that I always listened to many different styles of music (from pop to metal, from classical to traditional) helped me developing my style. I once asked some friends who they think I look like playing. They said “nobody”. I was very glad with their answer, because is always tricky trying not to sound like anyone else. Of course some phrases are like this or that famous musicians, but when we put everything together, it becomes our own identity.

Tell us something about the idea and the recording behind your single release, “Virtual Blues”, out via the DyMM P&M label?

Riccardo Linassi: When the pandemic took place, a lot of friends started making videos like those “collab sessions”, each one playing at their home, and then joining everyone in a single video. But this was mainly cover songs. So I decided to make something new. I invited some friends, asking them if they had any song that they hadn’t recorded yet. They sent me their songs and I started working on the drum parts. After I recorded the drums, I sent them the tracks and then they finished their tracks. The whole process took one year, from july 2020 until july 2021. Then, instead of making collab videos, I made a whole album out of it.

Do you play with a fixed group of musicians or are constantly collaborating with different artists from time to time?

Riccardo Linassi: I play in many bands as a fixed drummer. Music is my business and my passion. So I’m always recording for different artists, or even playing live. Mainly metal bands, but I’m not closed to one particular style.

Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? As a drummer, do you also come up with the melodies?

Riccardo Linassi:  Depends on the style of the music. Sometimes the composer send the something written with drum ideas. But they allow me to change anything I want, and put my own style into their songs. I also play a little bit of other instruments, what helps me to write my own songs and also help developing my friends’ songs. You can check a little bit of my own songs in the albums “Wonderlostland” (power metal) and “Drowning Lies” (hard rock). Another orchestral album is being recorded and I plan to release it in 2022. The name is “Still Here” and is totally out of rock/metal. It’s influenced by names like Ludovico Einaudi, Yanni, Yann Tiersen.

What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Riccardo Linassi:  I think the most difficult was the RSL on my wrists issue. It was so severe that I wasn’t able even to brush my teeth. This took me away from the drums for about two months. I thought I wouldn’t be able to play anymore. Then I made the treatment and took drum lessons, and since then I take care of my health.

On the contrary what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

Riccardo Linassi:  The highlight point was with the band Age of Artemis, when we played at the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro. It was a dream of mine since I was a kid. And became true. It was awesome!

If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?

Riccardo Linassi: Sensitive, energetic, honest, hard, heavy.

How do you stay motivated and inspired?

Riccardo Linassi: Music is my drive. I love to play. When I’m composing, writing, recording, and even playing live, this is my motivation.

Have you picked up any tools or tips over the years that have really helped you perform better?

Riccardo Linassi:  For sure. I’m always exchanging information with other musicians. Everyone helps me somehow. Since the sound engineer until other drummers. My students also help me daily with their questions; thus I keep learning to teach them, what makes me a little better each day.

You’re already active in various projects, but if you had a choice to go on tour with any acclaimed international artist or band in the near future, who would you choose, and why?

Riccardo Linassi:  Another tough question. Can I answer more than one? (laughs!). Iron Maiden and Helloween are my first choices because I listen to them since I was 11y.o. Annihilator is also on my top ten, I love the way Jeff writes his songs. And Evergrey, because I met them on tour once, and I enjoyed a lot the way they work, and they are also a big influence to me.

What do you feel are the strongest points of your drumming style?

Riccardo Linassi: Passion! I know I’m not the “virtuoso” drummer. But playing drums is my life, and when I’m connected with the music, it becomes a catarsis!

Apart from rock and metal, do you ever step outside of your comfort zone and play within other genres?

Riccardo Linassi: For sure. I listen to classical and traditional music, a little bit of fusion as well. Pop music from the 80’s are always a good choice. There are some brazilian rhythms (maracatu, baião, samba) that are good for inspiring new drum beats.

Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?

Riccardo Linassi:  The pandemic forced every artist to perform at their own home or studio. And I love doing it. But I miss playing live. When we are performing and there are a bunch of headbangers in the front line banging and moshing, it’s a magical energy!!!

What kind of drum set-up do you currently have? And is there any piece you’re looking to upgrade to in the near future?

Riccardo Linassi: My kit for recording is: 2 bass drums (22”), 4 rack toms (8, 10, 12, 13), 2 floor toms (16, 18), 1 snare (14”), 4 crashes (17, 18, 18, 19), 2 chinas (18), 2 hi-hats (14), 1 cup chime (6), 1 splash (10), 1 mini china (14). I want to add 2 octobans, 1 snare (12) 1 floor tom (14), 1 splash (10). Depends on the gig or the recording this can be changed of course.

What kind of practice routine have you followed to get to your level?

Riccardo Linassi:  I always preferred to play along with songs instead of practicing techniques. But nowadays I split my routine in two: practice endurance and technique for a while, and then play along with the repertoire of the bands I play with. From Monday to Friday. Weekends are my day-off, and of course, to play live here and there.

What’s your favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by

 Riccardo Linassi: Live your own truth. Be inspired by many, but don’t copy any. Well, the advice is keep doing what you love. Never give up! Thanks a lot for this interview and thanks to all of you who support my work through the years! Keep rocking! (Headline image by Fabio and Mariana Casarin)

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Virtual Revolution by Riccardo Linassi