Words with Andrea Shettler of Berlin’s GYM Tonic

Name: Andrea Shettler
Age: 32
Hometown: Winnipeg, Canada
Current: Berlin
Nickname(s): Shetsy
Current band: GYM Tonic
Favourite place for takeout: Whichever sushi joint is around (and is hopefully half decent)


Tom Tom Magazine covered Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada last summer. This is the third of several featured drummers from that festival.

 

Tom Tom : In your own words; write a brief description of your band Gym Tonic

Andrea: We are an international four-piece playing hyped-up synth punk.

When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

It was kind of by default. I actually wanted to learn how to play guitar, but my older brother who got me into punk, was a great guitarist and I was already sick of being compared to him, so no guitar.  At the time if there was a girl in a band, she was on the bass, so that wasn’t really an option either. Since my brother’s band practiced at my parent’s house I had access to a drum kit— so that was it.

Have you ever taken lessons?

Yes, although my first professional drum teacher was a complete asshole who brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It’s a wonder I didn’t quit back then.

I’ve had more positive experiences later in life.

What was the first song you learned to play on drums?

We Will Rock You

Describe your gear

It would be nice to gush over some wicked kit but I really just play whatever transient kit happens to be at my disposal.  For cymbals I’ve ended up going back to the Canadian classic — Sabian, all from the HHX series.

Can you write music/ lyrics ?

I think I could write lyrics, but I don’t. As for the rest, I stick to percussion.

Do you play other instruments or sing?

Does the flute in high school count?  I am a terrible singer.

Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer

Ha. I met up with my first band during GT’s last tour and asked them if they remembered it, cause I sure couldn’t.  The furthest we got was that I spelled our band name wrong on the show poster and it was an all ages event at a community center.

Gym Tonic at Sled Island Festival , Calgary Alberta Canada 2019

What is in your own musical collection?

I have a glorious mix-tape collection of 60’s jungle exotica, country, and rock n roll that is my number one go to.  Everything else I collect on vinyl and it’s a pretty mixed bag. Lately I’ve been listening to the Sound, Lassie (Leipzig), and Heart.

Do you have musical idols?

Not really.  There are a couple drummers in Berlin who I love to watch play and who inspire me. Jan Hellmich who’s played in Puff for a brief stint, Modern Pets, Life Fucker and the list goes on. I also love Iffy’s drumming in Diät and Uri from Häxxan.

You mention you’re an international four piece. Where is everyone in the band from? What are the logistics in having everyone so far apart??

Two of us are from Winnipeg and the other two are from France but we’ve all been in Berlin for years. I live on the north side of the city in Wedding and the rest of the gang are in the hipster south end, Kreuzberg and Neukölln but our practice room is in middle so the logistics are pretty easy!  Except for when it comes to getting Olivier’s 50 pound Moog around.

On a side note, Karen (the bassist) and I had never really met in Winnipeg. It was through a mutual friend that we later met in Vancouver and I reached out to her when I moved to Berlin, where I didn’t really know anyone. She really helped me get a footing in Berlin; the first day we met in Berlin she got me a job and I joined her then band, The Anna Thompsons.

 

Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?

Ausmuteants, Devo, Uranium Club, Diät, the Spits

What have you taken away from playing live?

Good question.  Confidence, adrenaline, and there’s really no feeling that quite compares to playing something you love and seeing an audience respond with the same excitement.

What does pre show preparation involve?

I would like to say paradiddles but it actually involves a quick stretch, making sure I have peed, changed, and have a drink for the stage.

Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming ? (do you hit  hard ? )

When I played tennis with our bass player for the first time she said, surprised, ‘it’s a good thing you don’t play tennis like you do the drums, or we’d be chasing balls for days’. So yes?

Are you exhausted after a show?

Exhilarated.

What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?

What comes to mind is not a particular event but a particular show.  Last week we played on a punk boat, in swimsuits and swimming caps, with the sun setting behind us.  The crowd went wild, sang along, and thankfully no equipment went overboard!  It was incredible.

Where do you practice / how often?

We practice at youth center, oddly enough.  It’s actually great, and we haven’t had any success finding something else in Berlin so we’ll stick with it.  Since we are very DIY (we do all our own booking, grant writing, videos..) how often we practice really depends on what else we’re up to.

How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?

Very supportive, active, DIY.

What are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?

If you’ve ever seen us on stage you will know that we do always not wear the most practical clothing. My preference definitely lies with a pair of chucks, shorts, and a shirt like our scout one, something that breathes and I can get away without wearing anything underneath.

What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?

I am fortunate enough to have always been surrounded by amazing (female) musicians; I’ve never felt like there was something I couldn’t do based on my gender.  However, having a connection to other musicians who encourage me that I can do more, both in words and actions, is so valuable.  I think a magazine like Tom Tom can be exactly that for women.

What are your goals as a musician?

I have to come up with new ones since I’ve reached all of the others!  I wanted to have an album out on vinyl and to tour Canada. Now that that’s done sights are set on a new EP, some shows in Israel, touring Japan and maybe Brazil?! I would also like to finally start practicing to a click track, try out an Epad, and get involved with a Girls Rock Camp. 

What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?

I really can’t say. I’ve always been involved in the music scene, whether as a musician or a photographer, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without this community.

What are your interests away from drumming?

I’m a photographer and I also teach English and German which I love, along with plenty of other things like renovating, adorable dogs, bougie wine, thrifting, fishing, and vintage glassware.

 

Andrea Shettler of GYM Tonic

What’s on your walls in your room?

Mostly art that I have collected from friends, then there’s that life-size image of GYM Tonic in my living room… I rasterized an image of us in our scout costumes for our B12 Injection music video and it’s still hanging there.  I kind of forget about it until people come to visit.

What’s in the future for you musically?

Writing new material with my current band, hopefully some fun tours – the rest I don’t know! Maybe for once working as a hired gun and getting paid?!

At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?

It’s just a part of my life.

Any last thoughts?

Thank you to everyone that has been putting us up on tour and coming out to support us!

 

Visit Andreas photography page here.

 

Story/ Photographs : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

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