Born: May 10, 1961
Origin: Lawrence, Kansas
Drum Sticks: Vic Firth
Carole King, Chancellor, Pigmy
Love Circus, and more...
In this article, I will take you through the life of Danny Carey, not only a great drummer, but also a great personality.
Danny Carey spent his childhood in a middle-class American house in Paola, Kansas. They were a normal middle class family. His father, a manager of an insurance company, and his mother a schoolteacher. He has an older brother and a younger brother. His earliest musical exposure were his visits to the music library at the University of Kansas with his father.
It was at the tender age of thirteen that he first played the snare drum in the school band. He received his first drum set at thirteen. He had many offers to play basketball, but declined knowing that he was not too good at it. Even through high school and college which he attended at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, he began investigating into the principles of geometry, science, and metaphysics, which would help in future in the field of percussion. He had now decided that he would live and die as an artist, and to make it big as a drummer. Billy Cobham and Buddy Rich were his favorites. In college, he received a lot of classical training and hence landed up doing recitals for three and a half years. His eagerness to play drums was far greater than that of earning a college degree. This made him leave school and hit the road with a band.
This intense need to be recognized brought him to the city of Los Angeles where he performed as a studio drummer also was a part of the Pygmy Love Circus.
He never became a Mason or had any connections with other religious factions, but retained his interest in occult studies. His experimentation in this psychic realm has some occurrences, like the time Danny achieved insight into the unknown of a unicursal hexagram by taking a cosmic journey through the art of meditation and DMT. Danny also experimented by setting up his drums at proportionate distances from each other by using the circle and square of the New Jerusalem and voicing a short prayer in relation to principles concerning the ace of swords from the book of Thoth. He indulged in occult stuff for sometime, and encouraged others.
He is popular among drummers and non-drummers because of his diverse ways of playing, his amazing technical knowledge and ability. He very often uses polyrhythms and polymeters. He has mentioned in past interviews that he uses his feet as he would use his hands. He also likes to attempt snare drum solos with his feet in order to improvise upon his double bass drumming and make his foot independent and more useful. He loves experimenting with new techniques and hence studied tabla with Aloke Dutta. Danny has also recorded the tabla parts himself in the studio. He loved to feel the pulse of a given time by trying to drum to the feel of the song. When he became a part of the group ‘Tool’, he used a lot of the tabla music, and sometimes performed live.
He and other friends created a group called Toolshed, which later became Tool. Tool became successful in the music world as it tried to master the art of lachrymology, which is the ‘art of crying’, which directs you as to how to convert your negative energy and make it positive. Tool endeavoured to stimulate the thought processes of the public rather that sound like a bunch of complaining youth. Danny was a part of a group that drew a lot of positive inspiration from authors, philosophers, likewise from their personal life experiences too.
For Danny, personally this was a turning point as he could now perform to his full potential. He was also the only one in Tool to have played music full- time before the band was formed. Even after joining Tool, Carey continued to play with another band on the side, called Zaum. When he joined Tool, they really zoomed ahead in terms of popularity and music. Their discs and videos became a roaring hit. Carey wanted to make it very clear to people who were materialistically inclined that energy was of primary importance and the illusion of matter was a secondary aspect.
Danny still is very much into drumming and has a passion for playing jazz as and when he gets the chance. He is also working on his side project called ZAUM. Danny has also been closely associated in other projects, including a TV program called "Sibs."