Pat Sarabia: El Toro El Matador
At the Ciudad album launch, I talked to Pat Sarabia, the percussionist of Wilderness and sessionist drummer of Twin Lobster about how she got into drumming, her recent tour with Wilderness and Twin Lobster in Indonesia and her gear, among other things. By the way, El Toro El Matador is one of the songs of Wilderness’ Pyesta EP, which you should definitely check out.
My current setup. I like to change or add parts to keep me creative. I have a bunch of toms lying around in case I feel like using them. - Pat
Limguhit: Tell us about why you love playing the drums.
Pat: I love playing the drums because masarap siya. It’s very innate, unlike piano or guitar, where you have to really sit down and study them. I know people think that drumming is complicated because you use so many limbs at the same time, but when it comes down to it, it’s natural. Anyone can relate to a beat. When babies learn to walk, they follow a rhythm. Your own heartbeat’s a rhythm. Drumming is an extension of that, but it’s still very human.
Limguhit: How did you start playing the drums?
Pat: Dream ko talaga mag-gitara, pero andaming kailangan i-memorize. Hassle! Before, when I’d listen to music on NU, yung drums ang pinakamalakas sa tenga ko. When I was eleven, I ended up air-drumming a lot to songs like Don’t Leave Me by blink-182 and Generator by Foo Fighters. I started drumming for real when I was thirteen. I took classes at Yamaha for around three years with Roy Secillano, who is Miguel Escueta’s drummer now. Actually, I wasn’t really consistent with practicing during high school. I never really had a drumkit until last year, so I’d just use a practice pad or borrow gear from my friends. Listening, visualizing, and air-drumming helped a lot, too.
In high school, I’d play at parties here and there where we’d cover songs and stuff. Yun lang. I was also in this band called Wagyu for around two years in college. It was a rock band, I guess. (Click here for Wagyu’s page on Reverb Nation.) I quit because I didn’t really like that kind of sound anymore.
I only got my first kit last year. I bought it from Ryan Peralta, the new drummer of Rivermaya. I took lessons from him for two years when I got into college, actually. I think he’s one of my biggest influences in terms of my philosophy behind drumming. He isn’t that “geeky” but he approaches drums as a language instead of a way to show off.
I found this weird UFO-like cymbal while I was in Texas. It was on sale, and I just had to buy it. I’m not a gearhead but I like things that people wouldn’t normally use. I also buy gear based on if I think it’s interesting or not. This one sounds like hitting a trash can. As for this stack, these are all cymbals my friends let me. There’s a big crash cymbal, then a broken hi-hat, then an 8” splash. I really like the sound of this stack I put together. Trashy, yet controlled. It sounds like a big dark trashy ride cymbal. - Pat
Limguhit: Other musicians in the independent music scene lament that a lot of technically skilled drummers go off to play genres where complicated rhythms and unusual time signatures are more common. As a result, drummers get asked to play for a lot of bands.
Pat: I’ve been asked to play for a lot of bands all in a short span of time before, but I don’t find it overwhelming. If people recognize your versatility and ask you to play for them, then why not? It’s always a chance for me to learn, and it’s always worth giving things a shot. It’s a constant learning process. That’s another thing that keeps me going when it comes to drumming.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Being skilled in a technical way is a plus, but when it comes to independent music, you aren’t pressured by a major label to sound a certain way. After all, major labels have a certain sound in mind for bands, don’t they? When you’re independent, you’re allowed to express yourself more creatively. As a result, instead of a battle of chops, it’s a battle of ideas. Because of that, a lot of talent gets to flourish.
I got this cheap 10” snare at Lyric. I used to use it as an auxiliary snare, but I really like its sound. I added the jingle wedge because I found it really interesting. - Pat
Limguhit: In Wilderness, instead of playing the drums, you play a lot of varied percussion instruments. How did that come about?
Pat: Wilderness started as a three-piece between my friends. One day in 2010, Mau (the guitarist), played a demo on his phone. I thought, “hey, this is really fucking cool” and I really wanted them to be heard. I asked some other people I know to join, and it all grew from there. I’m more of a drummer than a percussionist, but Wilderness became a family.
Limguhit: I’ve seen you play with this weird tube thing once. What is it?
Pat: Oh, the Thundertube? We just saw that at JB. You can make one out of a Pringles can. Just look it up online, it’s really easy man!
Fuck snare bags, bayongs are the way to go! - Pat
Limguhit: Wilderness is incredibly energetic when they perform live, too! Wasn’t there this one blogger who called your performance demonic recently?
Pat: Yeah, when I saw that post, I was all “…uh, okay.” I don’t go into a gig with the intention of being wild or anything. During live performances, there’s this incredible surge of energy. It’s hard to explain. I mean, when we rehearse, we know how things go, but when we’re performing in front of a crowd, we approach things in a new way all of a sudden. I only realize how things have gone after. It just happens, I guess.
Limguhit: You got to tour Indonesia with Twin Lobster too, right? How was it over there?
Pat: Wasak! The people there are really into hard rock and grunge. Pearl Jam stuff. Wilderness isn’t exactly like that, but we’re similar enough to click. It’s really nice in Bandung, too. The art community’s tight and everyone’s really supportive. You could live there as an artist lang. They even made Wilderness and Twin Lobster shirts when we got there.
Limguhit: Ultimately, how can drumming be a language for you?
Pat: Drumming really is just an expression of one’s self, like interpretive dance, maybe? Sometimes I find myself at this level of comfort where I can just release what I feel. Comfort in terms of skill, I mean. I don’t care about being the best. I don’t care about chops. Of course creativity and chops are 50/50 in a way, since I have to practice and keep on learning, but I play drums not with the intention of being the best. I find that I can express myself with drums better than I can with words, honestly.
Pictures provided by Pat Sarabia
What’s in store for Limguhit?
Limguhit’s not dead. I’ve just been busy with responsibilities and other life things, but I have another batch of interviews lined up.
Just a fun fact: The notebook on the left is what I take notes on when I interview people. I also made a bunch of flyers which I’m going to hand out at gigs. And on the left are the limited-edition postcards that came along with a copy of Follow the Leader from Ciudad’s album launch last night. Route 196 was so packed, the airconditioners felt nonexistent, so the doors were left open. Congrats, Ciudad!