John's profile grew in 1994, the year he
joined industrial metal juggernauts White Zombie. The release of 1995's
Astro-Creep 2000 made White Zombie a household name, largely due to the
dance club hit "More Human Than Human" and its accompanying video. "John
was the best," says former White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult. "White
Zombie toured quite a bit with Pantera, and besides Vinnie Paul, there
were no drummers that could compare to him. He's like a machine, but
brutal. You rarely hear such a hard hitter with such speed, detail and
finesse." Rob Zombie liked John's playing so much that after White
Zombie split up in 1997, he kept him on as drummer for his solo band.
Playing with Rob Zombie also gave John the freedom to drum on albums
like Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi's self-titled solo record, as
well as Black Label Society's Hangover Music Vol. VI.
When Rob Zombie put his band on hiatus in
2003, John wasted no time landing his next gig. But he never imagined
he'd become a core member in the new version of Helmet, one of the '90s'
most influential metal bands. The way he tells the story, it was all
about timing. "I was kicking around the idea of playing with other
people when I was introduced to [Helmet guitarist/ singer/songwriter]
Page Hamilton," John explains. "Page was in LA looking to put a new band
together. I had been a longtime fan of Helmet as well. After talking on
the phone, we met at a bar for a couple beers, and he brought me a demo
CD of his songs."
Once Page and John jammed together, they
discovered an undeniable musical chemistry. With the participation of
producer Jay Baumgardner (Papa Roach, Drowning Pool) and bassist Rob
Nicholson the two recorded demos that attracted the interest of
Interscope Records, and Helmet was reborn. John then recorded all drum
tracks for Helmet's first album of new material in seven years, Size
Matters (released in the fall of 2004). "Page is an amazing musician,"
John offers. "In the long run, playing with him and learning so much
from him about the development of music really made me a better player."
John toured the States and Europe extensively with Helmet for nearly
three years, at which time he reached a professional crossroads where he
was presented with an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
"A friend of mine who is a booking agent
for The Cult told me that they were auditioning drummers," John
remembers. "At that time I was lined up to record another album with
Helmet, and I was also scheduled to go to Dubai to play with Testament.
It was one of those things where everything happened in a week. After
securing the audition, I learned all of the Cult material that I'd need
to play and I felt really confident about the audition, because I'd
always been a fan of The Cult. It just clicked, basically." After a
couple of auditions, John landed the gig in February of 2006 and has
been touring the states, Europe, the UK and South America with The Cult
"As a drummer," John confesses, "being in
the Cult is great for me because I get to play really heavy, but I can
play soft as well because there are so many dynamics in this music. It's
definitely a change for me from just full out thrashing with Testament
or playing all of the loops with Zombie. It's a nice progression and I
really enjoy the music. I'm really happy to be with these guys because
they've been one of my favorite bands and a big influence on me for many
years. The funny thing is I had planned to audition for The Cult in
1993," he recalls. "But then I ended up touring with Testament, and
after that I got the White Zombie gig, so timing, again, really is
John is also proud to announce the
availability of his new signature snare drum, The John Tempesta Stealth
Snare by TAMA. "I've been working on this drum with TAMA for a while and
had the prototypes on a couple of tours with Helmet," John Explains. "I
toured with it for a year until we perfected the design, so I put a lot
of work into the drum and I'm really proud of it." The Stealth Snare
measures 7"x14" with black nickel plate finish over a 2 mm brass shell,
and was designed with heavy hitters in mind. "Not only does it have my
name on it, but it's also a snare drum that I will always play," he
continues. "It's been available since the summer and so far the
reactions have been great. People are definitely digging it."
Beyond his work designing his signature
snare, in the studio and on tour, John Tempesta is also an in-demand
drum clinician. John's drum clinics have taken him as far away as Moscow
- where he performed at Zildjian's Day Out - and Australia. "To play in
front of different people around the world - because everyone
appreciates music - is really gratifying," John confesses.
"Participating these clinics has also given me a chance to play with
some great drummers like Dave Weckl, Virgil Donati, John Blackwell, Chad
Wackerman, Dom Famularo and many other incredible musicians."
As John Tempesta looks forward to
recording the next Cult album in early 2007, followed by a full-scale
world tour, he looks back on a career that's been richly rewarding both
professionally and personally. "I've been able to do a lot of really
cool stuff," says the drummer. "I've been able to record and tour with
so many people I've always admired. I'm very fortunate, and there are so
many great players out there, so I've been very lucky and blessed. If
you believe in what you do, anything can happen. I always tell kids that
come to clinics that you could be the most talented person but it's
really about being at the right place at the right time and just being
involved, going out and meeting people and going to shows. When your
name gets around, that's when things happen."
- Gail Worley, October 2006