Kristine Drake: Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out

Insanely Talented Female Metal Drummer Kristine Audra Drake Tom Tom Magazine

From death metal to doom, Kristine Drake brings the fury through the power of her voice and kit.  She makes the swing happen for all the stoner-doom that you can sprain your neck to while going for broke with speed.  Kristine brought both fury and swing to her former bands, The Antiprism  and Tormentula.  With her latest project, tentatively called, “Sardonyx,” she and her crew are ready to unleash more metal upon the Midwest and beyond.


Full Name: Kristine Audra Drake (Maiden Name: Rozite)

Encyclopaedia Metallum: Alice Bludgeon

Currently Lives In: Madison, WI

Current Band: Sardonyx (Current Operating Name)

Past Projects: (Heavy Metal) – The Antiprism, Tormentula. (Non-Metal) – Pentapus, Snakes Betsy, Ultimo Dragon, Mangled Beast, QWADD.

Favorite Food: Salted, sliced cucumbers in rice wine vinegar or sour cream.

Gear:  Pearl Export Series. DW5000 double bass pedal.  My favorite crash cymbals are the Zildjian A Series and my favorite drumsticks are the ProMark Rush “Neil Peart” Series.  Both of these are the slowest to break!

Other Pursuits/Projects/Professions: I have a 16-year old daughter; she’s been a pretty serious project for 17 years! I also manage a landscaping nursery in McFarland, WI.


Tom Tom Magazine: How did you discover music, and when did you first start playing drums?

Kristine Drake: I grew up playing violin, and learned to read classical music. I started drums in 1994. We had a drum set at the house where I lived. There’s nothing more fun than learning how to play drums! I consider my brother, Robert, my first teacher from 30 years ago; he practiced drums along with records, and I would listen to him play.  I think it helped me. In my late teens, I taught myself how to play accordion. Later, in my first band, Pantapus, a weirdo-psychedelic thing- I played violin and accordion through effects. That was the band where I met Alex, my husband and visionary bandmate.

You have such a wide range of influences and tastes that totally come through in the music you make. Share and tell, please:  

Vocally, I really enjoy Nina Hagen and Wendy O. Williams. Drumwise, I love the choices Dave Lombardo makes on earlier Slayer albums. Also, Neal Smith from Alice Cooper Band rules because he makes bold and arty choices. Sometimes when I am drumming, I envision myself riding a horse around the base of a castle. So for me, horseback riding is a mental influence.  I also really like Deep Purple and The Scorpions.  Classical music, especially Bach and Lizst. 70s new age, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream. In the past year, I’ve begun to enjoy jazz, so that’s been interesting to explore. I never thought that would happen! So far, John Coltrane is my favorite.  Lately, I’ve also been enjoying the new “Thee Oh Sees” album.

You did vocals while playing drums for Antiprism.  What about Sardonyx?  What are the physical requirements of singing/vocalizing while drumming?

I did vocals on a handful of Antiprism songs, and did most of the vocals in Tormentula. I’m not doing any vocals so far in the new band, just to mix it up and focus more on drumming. Singing and drumming has some major challenges. Physically, it’s much more demanding to sing and play. I would be a ball of sweat with a red face every time! I enjoyed it though. The vocals would be powered by the energy of playing drums. Something about sitting down helps squeeze the air out differently.

Do you have a conditioning routine to help you stay fit for the drumming that you do? How did you work on your speed and power?

I go to the YMCA, where I do strength training and cardio on the elliptical several times a week. Exercise helps my mental health the most. I feel like most of drumming is confidence.  My speed and power come from working like a farmer. Manual labor helps stamina and toughness. Lifting heavy things, shoveling, using wheelbarrows.

In the videos I have found, I can’t tell if you are/were sporting a hood/cape or not.  If so, can you address some of the challenges of playing in costume?  

In The Antiprism, we wore capes and shades, while in Tormentula, we wore corpse paint and ridiculous clothing. I love playing in costume. It’s quite liberating, but also leaves room for wardrobe malfunctions. In The Antiprism, my nose would get sweaty and the shades would slip down. Also, the cape’s hood would start sliding down and eventually cover my face. That’s all right, though, because my eyes are always closed anyway.

Also, I read that you were in a Motorhead-y quintet, QWADD, with another drummer besides you.  How did that work?  

In QWADD, my friend Sara Quigle, (formerly Winkelman) and I played drums. Our styles are vastly different, so it was interesting to hear the choices she made. She played standing up with a lot of percussion and was also more syncopated than me. It was an inspirational learning experience. I highly recommend playing with another drummer, although it is quite noisy and difficult to transport two kits.

What advice would you give to a woman interested in playing heavy metal drums?

Don’t be afraid to stand out. There are many approaches to playing heavy metal drums. Sometimes, you can play a show where all of the drummers are athletes, trying to prove who is fastest and loudest, who has the bigger drum set. You never have to participate in that if you don’t want to. It’s important to stay true to your expression, and not feel pressured to follow trends of heavy metal because they will always circle around.

Does your daughter also play drums?

My daughter doesn’t play drums… yet! She has gone a different route, and plays piano and cello, which are awesome foundations for playing drums in the future!


By Caryn Havlik fo Tom Tom Magazine

Photo by Kristina Hill

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