Veronica Bellino is the drummer in Life Of Agony. She has also played with DMC from RunDMC in a hip-hop/rock band since 2011, soon to be relaunched as DMC And The Hellraisers. Bellino has also played with Richie Sambora, Orianthi, Jeff Beck, Mindi Abair, Carmine Appice’s SLAMM, and Street Drum Corp.
Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos. Want to be featured yourself? Send an email to email@example.com telling us more about you.
What is your city, country, and age?
Originally from Long Island, New York, currently living in Los Angeles. Age 35.
What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?
Yamaha drums, 22” bass drum, 14” brass snare, 12” mounted tom, 14” and 16” floor toms. Soultone Cymbals: two crashes, hi-hat, crash/ride, China, and a custom raw series bell splash.
Do you have endorsements?
Yes: Yamaha drums, Soultone Cymbals, Evans drumheads, Vic Firth sticks, Cympad, and KickPort.
What bands/groups do you perform with, if any?
I just joined the band Life Of Agony in January 2018. We have been touring the US and Europe this year while working on a new album to be released in 2019. Also I have been playing with DMC from RunDMC in a hip-hop/rock band since 2011. Originally it was just called DMC, but has recently evolved and will be launched as DMC And The Hellraisers. Past artists I have played with include Richie Sambora, Orianthi, Jeff Beck, Mindi Abair, Carmine Appice’s SLAMM, and Street Drum Corp.
What led you to your instrument?
The love of music and wanting to play! I started playing guitar when I was 11, but not long after I was introduced to a drum set and then I was done!
Who is your favorite drummer and why?
Tough to say since I appreciate so many different drummers. But I’ve always admired Dave Weckl. He has such killer grooves and unbelievable chops. I also love the smoothness of Benny Greb’s playing. Great drum tones and feel.
How do you practice? Do you have a routine?
Not a strict routine but I do try to practice every day. If I have music to learn or something specific, like a drum video, preparing for a tour, etc., then I will pretty much lock myself in my studio and work for hours a day.
Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?
I think its good to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and try something you wouldn’t normally play, like a different musical style all together. Also try putting on a click track and play a beat with no fills for ten minutes straight. Sometimes it’s harder to NOT play fills! It really nails the groove into your brain.
What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?
Well, maybe some people will think this is crazy, maybe they will agree, which I hope they would — that music is a universal language. It does not discriminate, it has no gender, it has no race. It is a projection of emotion, which everybody in the world experiences. I listen to any kind of music, from pop to hip-hop to metal, whatever resonates with me. Genre doesn’t matter. Everything has a beat, everything has a pulse, just like human beings. I would put a Post Malone song and a Sepultura song on the same playlist. Who cares!
As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?
To me, success is measured by happiness and love. I don’t see dollar signs in that word. I think it means different things to different people. But if I can wake up everyday and do what makes me happy with people I love, that is the ultimate success to me. As artists, I think we ways strive for greatness and to put out the best art we can to the most people. It’s always a challenge and there are so many ups and downs, but it is also so fulfilling. No matter how packed the shows are, or how many records you sell or how much money you make, it’s just the fact that you are doing it. That is everything.
Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?
No matter what happens, it is very important to “adapt and overcome.” Sometimes things happen that are out of our control or don’t go as planned. Instead of beating yourself up over it, accept, adapt, and overcome. It’s the only way to keep things moving without going crazy.
When you sit down to make music and are starting with a blank canvas, what’s your process like?
A lot of ideas come to me while driving, actually. Since I play other instruments and sing as well as compose music, I sometimes hum a vocal melody or guitar riff into my phone so I get the idea down. I actually wrote a whole song that way driving from LA to Vegas once. I was doing a bunch of composing for TV and film, as well as writing with artists, so all those ideas come in handy later on. Of course there are the times where you just start with a blank slate and see what comes out, which doesn’t really have a process. It’s about where the vibe goes. If it feels right, it is right.
How important is failure in making music/performing?
You can ask the biggest names in music how many “no’s” they have gotten before a “yes.” It is astounding. I heard someone say that each no is a step closer to a yes, which is so true because we learn and grow from each one. Failure is a lesson that prepares you for that “yes.” It keeps us grounded and allows us to appreciate the “yes” even more. I think when we experience failure, that short term feeling of discouragement keeps us from seeing the big picture. Things fall into place in strange ways. Every connection you make or person you meet can unfold into something else later on. Without the journey there would be no destination.
Women are underrepresented in drumming. Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?
If you told me women were underrepresented in 1995 I think I would agree, but not in 2018! You have some major female names now who are killing it, such as Anika Nilles, Hayley Kramer (the drummer for Pop Evil), Skillet has Jen Ledger on drums, Jason Mraz has a female percussionist named Mona Tavakoli. These are major touring acts! I can give you a bunch more names. So my advice would be not to buy into the idea that there aren’t enough of us out there. We are there! You just have to look! Sure this is a male-dominated industry, but so what? There is no woman’s division in music. We are all on the same stage. Just practice hard and go for it.
Where else to find Veronica