We recently had the chance to speak with Chris Hornbrook, a professional drummer whose credits include Poison the Well, Senses Fail, Big Black Delta, and many more. We chatted at length about his career and incredibly busy summer schedule. We were also fortunate enough to score some awesome exclusive videos of Hornbrook doing what he does best… here is how the conversation went.
I understand that after an extended hiatus you have booked two shows this summer with Poison The Well. How did that come about? Are there plans for more PTW shows or maybe a release?
Hornbrook: Yes! We’re pretty excited to get back out there and be playing a few shows, it’s been a moment. The reunion came about from an offer that we got from Skate and Surf, which prompted a phone conversation between myself, Jeffrey and Ryan. I think it’s been hanging out in the back of our heads for a while now. I’ve been interested in playing with those guys again. In terms of a record, nothing is planned. We just want to do these two shows and take it from there.
You have made quite a name for yourself playing with many well known acts like Senses Fail, Poison The Well and Big Black Delta. How do you keep up with it all?
Hornbrook: Thank you! Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of careful scheduling and have been lucky enough to be able to fit everything in. Senses Fail has been taking up a bulk of my time this year, as the band has a record coming out soon. Poison the Well has these two shows, so that wasn’t real hard. Big Black Delta is finishing up a record and I’m not sure what the story is with hitting the road. I’m sure I’ll get an email not too far in the future in regards to that. So far it’s been good. Though, I’m sure there will be some sort of overlap in the future that I will have to figure out.
Every one of the bands you play with is stylistically different and I was wondering if you find it difficult transitioning from one act to the other in such short periods of time?
Hornbrook: It hasn’t been too hard so far, as I have been fortunate enough to be able to interject a lot of myself into my playing when I’m working for a band or artist. It’s a nice luxury. Some bands can be very “play exactly how it was recorded” and you have to comply if you want to keep the gig. A good rule of thumb I’ve found is to just keep it musical and have good feel for the songs. That makes things real easy.
In addition to all of the bands you play with I understand you are currently working on a solo project with Beau Burchell of Saosin. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What can fans expect and perhaps when it will be released?
Hornbrook: Yes, Beau and I have been messing around with some songs. It’s very leisurely and we work on it when both of our schedules are open. There really is no release date and is pretty open ended. I think we’re trying to have the material done by the end of the year, but I can see that not happening. It’s one of those, it will happen when it happens, kind of thing.
Photo credit: Eric Von Ehlers
I noticed that you will be playing the Warped Tour this summer and was wondering how you prepare for touring schedule as hectic as this one usually is, especially in the heat of the summer. As a drummer do you find it difficult pounding away for 45 minutes in 100 degree heat?
Hornbrook: You just kind of adjust to the conditions as you go along. You can’t really prepare for that in a practice studio. I think that the first few days will be rough and my body will be pissed at me, but if I have a fan blowing air on me and I drink lots of water, I’ll be good. My body adjusts to conditions pretty quickly when I hit the road. We’re lucky to start off in Pomona, California which is hot, but not as bad as Florida or Phoenix.
You have been playing drums for more than 20 years. Did you ever imagine you would be this busy and be able to make a living at it? Was there a plan B or were you all in from the beginning?
Hornbrook: There was never a plan B, only A. Even when I would try to think about other things to do, I kept coming back to drumming and music. I don’t feel the same love and passion I do for drumming in anything else and I think I would be cheating myself if I tried to do something else. That’s not to say I shouldn’t try to do something in conjunction with drumming. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to do this and knew it would be a long and hard road traveled. But, you know what they say… nothing worth doing is going to be easy.
Do you play any other instruments?
Hornbrook: Yes, I started playing guitar when I was seven. I also can play bass pretty decent, as my father is a bass player.