Dave Witte of Municipal Waste

Age: 38
Hometown: Hazlet, NJ
Previous Bands: Burnt by the Sun (currently), Human Remains, Melt-Banana, Discordance Axis, Black Army Jacket
Drums: Trick Drums
Cymbals: Paiste
Hardware/Pedals: Trick Pro-1V
Sticks: Vic Firth

Born in the sewers of Richmond, Virginia during 2000, with the aim of spreading the shred, Municipal Waste played their first gig at a Richmond New Year’s Eve Keg party in 2000/’01, and never looked back. Fast, furious and funny, each of Municipal Waste’s super-short songs is a memorable anthem and a workout for former Burnt By The Sun drummer Dave Witte, who joined the band after they signed with Earache Records. His timing was perfect — just in time to record 2003’s Waste Em All, which put the band on the fast track for worldwide recognition. Municipal Waste’s latest CD, Massive Aggressive, was released in 2009, and has kept the band touring nonstop ever since.

How would you describe the feel of the new album?
The new album — called Massive Aggressive — has our best playing and songwriting as a band up to this point. We were able to achieve this by not having any deadlines from the label, being more comfortable with each other and growing as players and writers. For me, I really played for the songs on this one and only embellished on certain fills and transitions where it would strengthen and carry the song to have more of an impact.

How prepared were you before going into the studio?
Very prepared, probably the most I have been going into recording. I rehearsed every day, every song for well over a month. Just the songs on the record though so they became like second nature. I also demoed a lot with microphones and headphones so when I did go to the studio it felt like every other day and natural without the studio stress. Burning incense also allowed me to remain relaxed.

How long did it take to track your drum parts?
I did all 15 songs in one and a half days with a few being the first take. When you’re comfortable and not thinking about being in the studio, it all just comes out of you. I was able to bang them out quickly and be satisfied.

Did you record to a click track? How well did that work?
This was the first time I have ever tried recording to a click. I do not like them at all. I love the natural speeding up and down of parts and the dynamics of playing without a click, I think that’s where the real heartbeat is. Anyway, Ryan [Waste, guitar] came down with food poisoning the first day and rather than having it be a total wash, I decided to try a few with a click. I recorded and kept two songs with a click that day, so I guess it worked pretty well.

What do you like most about touring?
Being able to see the world’s cultures while doing what I love to do. I tour the world playing drums, the thing I love to do most and people come out to support — it’s an amazing thing and I consider myself lucky and love every day of it. I love eating, and as soon as I get my tour schedule I immediately start matching up places to eat and regional foods that I can get while I’m in any certain areas. That goes for beer too.

Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I’ve been known to have a little fun with a tune from time to time, for sure. Challenging yourself and learning new things by accident can lead to some really great things. At the same time, I keep the song structure the same. I’ll only improvise with fills during the song. It also depends on what kind of energy you have and what equipment you’ve been given to use — sometimes you’re not going to have what you need as a drummer and that’s where adaptation and improvisation come into play. Being able to adjust to any situation for the song is super important, not only for the song, but for your mental state, as it’s very easy to get down on yourself and have a bad time or set if you let it get to you.

How do you stay healthy while you’re on the road?
I try to eat as healthy as possible and that is very difficult at times, due to scheduling and availability. Sometimes you’re out in the middle of nowhere and there’s only gas station food or fast food. I fall victim to fast food every so often and I am a firm believer that if you don’t eat too much fast food in one sitting you’re going to come out on top. I always order less than I think I can eat. Other than that, I try to drink as much water as possible, especially during plane flights — dehydration is the main reason for fatigue and energy loss. For a while I was doing plyometrics and short bursts exercises to keep the blood flowing, sit ups, push ups, etcetera. I need to get back on that actually.

Do you warm up before going on stage?
Yes I do. I do lots of single strokes, simply to get the blood flowing and stretch my arms out. I also do a lot of stretching and I eat dark chocolate for my mind. It’s important to warm up your mind as well as your limbs. Going into a gig positively makes a world of difference.

Do you do your own tuning?
Yes, and I’m not very good at it at all. I just don’t have the patience to sit there and do it. I try and try and always say I’m going to work on it and I always wind up getting distracted.

Do you use matched or traditional grip?
I use matched grip. For me I get the most power this way and frankly I’m just no good at traditional grip — it’s very awkward for me. I’m self-taught, so it was matched grip right out of the gate, so to speak.