Dirk Verbeuren is a musician most known as the drummer for the Swedish metal powerhouse Soilwork. He joined the band in 2004, just in time for their groundbreaking Stabbing The Drama album. Beyond his flagship band, he has made many contributions both live and in-studio to bands such as Satyricon, Aborted, The Devin Townsend Project, Jeff Loomis, Warrel Dane, The Project Hate MCMXCIX and many others. He also hosts his own instructional drumming program over the internet for paid subscribers called Dirk Blasts!.
Needless to say, he has kept busy as a musician, especially with the upcoming release of Soilwork’s tenth studio album The Ride Majestic. Nevertheless, Dirk took some time to answer some questions on the band he has spent over a decade in, as well as questions about his drumming style.
I saw the documentary on this new album that featured Björn. Obviously the events leading up to making the album were a ‘majestic ride’ for him. What does the album title mean to you personally? Have you experienced a ‘majestic ride’ of your own while in this band?
Yes. I’ve been so fortunate to spend a decade in Soilwork, and for the most part it’s been a fantastic time. I’ve certainly experienced my share of bumps in the ride, both within the band and on a personal level. What I take away from that is a new understanding about how best to navigate through life and become a better person in the process. Every moment is important and it’s really up to us to make the best of whatever situation life hands us. It’s a majestic ride if we choose to make it so.
For this new album the band has teamed up with the management company Breaking Bands, [founded by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy and The Zazulas]. How did this all transpire?
We found ourselves in a tricky place after releasing The Living Infinite. Our relationship with our then-manager was steadily deteriorating to the point where it became almost impossible to function as a band. We decided to stop touring, let the contract run out and move on. Chuck has been a Soilwork fan and a friend of Björn’s for many years. When we found out that Breaking Bands was interested in working with us, it was pretty much a no-brainer for us. Chuck, Jonny and Marsha Zazula, and Maria Ferrero have already taken things to a whole new level for us. With their help, we’re more ready than ever to conquer the world!
Looking back, what was your favorite moment of recording The Ride Majestic ?
I was in the studio only when recording my parts. As much as I enjoy being around to see an album come together, my schedule rarely allows for that to happen. But I know my bandmates always deliver incredible music and performances, as they all did on The Ride Majestic. My favorite thing was that I got to practice the songs and arrange the structures with Björn and David beforehand. Thanks to that, I got to record full takes of almost every song. I’m not a big fan of the trend of “perfect” productions; the organic and spontaneous aspect of my playing is what matters most to me, and our producer David Castillo was 100% in tune with that. We did absolutely minimal editing on the drum parts. I like to hear the little imperfections and the vibe of the moment captured in the songs.
What made Soilwork decide to record their recent live album in Helsinki?
Finnish music enthusiasts embraced Soilwork early on. I can’t remember a single show in Finland where the crowd was anything less than amazing. With that in mind, we felt that we owed it to them to shoot our DVD there. And it turned out to be an incredibly epic night indeed!
I noticed on Live In The Heart Of Helsinki a lot of material from before Stabbing The Drama. What is your take on the older material? Or do you not like to change up the drum tracks so much?
We respect all of our fans, including the ones who think the first two albums are the best. Live In The Heart Of Helsinki contains songs from every one of our albums. Our music has evolved along with us over the years but we’ll always be immensely proud of our legacy. Also, one of the beautiful things about Soilwork is that every musician is allowed ample room to be himself, to express his own personality. I play the old songs my own way but I do my best to incorporate the key elements of the performances of my predecessors Henry Ranta and Jimmy Persson.
You have an instructional program for purchase on the internet called Dirk Blasts! which updates regularly. Have you ever considered an extensive instructional DVD for worldwide distribution?
I considered it. Making a DVD is quite a project though. As much as I love my vinyl collection, physical formats are inevitably dying off. Streaming platforms and interactivity are becoming the norm. I wanted my drum lessons to be in tune with the way people obtain their information. My wife Hannah came up with the idea of creating instructional videos and interacting directly with my students through the Dirk Blasts Facebook group. And of course she was right: it worked out really well! My fellow drum fanatics are sharing their knowledge and questions, and I’m learning as much from the whole experience as they are. We’re all students. I’m really proud and happy to be a part of this growing community! Anyone who’s interested to join Dirk Blasts can sign up at www.dirkverbeuren.com/product/dirkblasts
What’s your favorite Soilwork song to drum along to?
I love them all, but I never seem to get tired of “Nerve”. It was a pretty tough song to master at first. Now I have it down to where it has a solid flow. I can bang my head when I play it and I keep messing around and improvising the details, which keeps it fun and also challenging. That song never fails to get audiences going.
Finally, what is your desert island album?
Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects Sol Niger Within. I’ve played it hundreds of times and it still gives me goosebumps. One of the most unique, heartfelt and inspiring pieces of music ever created.