In the video below, MEGADETH drummer Dirk Verbeuren talks about Gar Samuelson and Nick Menza‘s influences on him and his favorite MEGADETH song to play.
Said Dirk: “I discovered [MEGADETH] when Gar Samuelson was still the drummer. And he had a very unique style of playing that really stood out for me. It was unlike any of the other bands in the genre, and so I really liked that. And, obviously, later on, with Nick Menza, the band did some of the, I would say their most iconic records, but he had a very different approach to his drumming, which also really spoke to me. I kind of find some of the way that I play in Nick‘s playing kind of naturally, so I’m sure that he influenced me over the years. I mean, I was really young. When I first started listening to MEGADETH, I was probably about 16; it was around the same time that I started playing drums.
“But, yeah, there’s many songs that are really fun to play,” he continued. “‘Wake Up Dead’ is always one of my favorites to play. There’s songs like ‘Holy Wars’ and ‘Rattlehead’, which all have really fun parts, and kind of challenging things in there too, which I always like.
“It’s fun with MEGADETH to have all these different influences in there over the years,” Dirk added. “Their lineup has seen drummers come in there that really brought their own kind of vibe to the music, I would say. So, for me to be able to kind of take all that, especially on the road, which is the ultimate test, it’s really helped me grow as a drummer and also appreciate what every drummer brought to the band.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite [MEGADETH song to play], but I’d probably say ‘Wake Up Dead’, if I had to pick one.”
In 2017, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine was asked by the RQP 104.3 FM radio how the band goes about the process of choosing a new drummer. He responded: “It’s very difficult. The drumming is the hardest part in the band, because you need to be really physically fit every night — every night, no matter what. You can’t be sick. And I think that drumming is a thankless position. A lot of times, the drummers go without being recognized for how hard their job is. Consequently, you get drummers that have bad attitudes after a while. It’s hard to be around them, because a lot of drummers don’t get the recognition they deserve, and they get bitter. For us, we’ve been really lucky with the last two drummers we had — with Chris [Adler] and with Dirk. And even the guy before Chris, Shawn [Drover], was an easy-going kind of guy. But it’s not always like that. And Chris helped us find Dirk. Dirk is a lot like [late MEGADETH drummer] Gar Samuelson, which is really refreshing, because that’s how this whole thing started. I was playing jazz-metal-type riffs, because I didn’t wanna sound like my last band [METALLICA]. I wrote that shit, I can write whatever I want, so I knew what not to do, so I did something different, and that’s how MEGADETH was born. I wanted to do something a little bit different, and I needed a different kind of drummer to do that.”
The 44-year-old Belgian-born-and-now-Los-Angeles-based Verbeuren had been playing with SOILWORK for more than a decade before being recommended for the MEGADETH gig by Adler, who called Dirk “probably [one of the] top three drummers in the world.”
Verbeuren told All About The Rock about learning MEGADETH‘s material for a live performance: “The current live set is based on ‘Dystopia’ and the early albums, from Gar Samuelson to Nick Menza. These guys really had their own style. Nick was actually one of my influences as a young drummer.
“I had ten days to study eighteen songs,” he explained. “I tried to capture the intention behind the drum parts in order to respect the band’s vision. Gar and Nick have a more old-school swing whereas Chris Adler‘s approach is more contemporary. I stay true to the originals while injecting some of my own groove and flair. Chris was very helpful in guiding me as to what the band would expect from me, which is super cool of him. It made the rehearsal and first shows a lot easier.”
In interview with the KATT Rock 100.5 FM radio station, Mustaine described Dirk as “is one of the most pleasant, easy-to-get-along-with guys I’ve ever met in my life. I’ll walk up to him and he’ll smile and lean forward and pat me on the back. He goes [adopts thin accent], ‘How’s it going, buddy?’ I could say, ‘Oh, man…’… anything. ‘Oh, okay, buddy.’ [He] smiles and pats me, ’cause he’s just a happy guy. I’ve never, ever, ever seen him not smile.”