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Drum Roll: The Tyronne Silva Story

August 14, 2010

Article published on The Sunday Leader, Aug 1, 2010

Tyronne Silva, Image © Natalie Soysa, 2010

Tyronne Silva sits behind a drum kit, people tend to take notice and it isn’t because the kit seems to come alive. There is the joy on his face, euphoria born out of creation and creating. There is the almost tangible love for his art that is infectious and, as audience members, you cannot but help giving into the controlled madness of his polyrhythmic dance.

Tyronne is a drummer through and through, a guy whose dedication to his instrument is absolute — so much so that Pearl Drums have sponsored a custom made drum kit of his choice. He is down from Germany where he works as a drummer for death metal pioneers Orth, is a session drummer for dark wave band Lola Angst, and a private drum tutor.

Born in Naththandiya, Tyronne’s interest in drums began as an eight year old when he started listening to his uncle’s music collection. This sparked an addiction to the drums that culminated in the young Tyronne building his own kit. Made out of empty tin cans, wooden sticks, buckets and tennis balls, the kit, Tyronne insists, worked just fine. As he finished school, Tyronne worked in the hospitality industry for a brief while. Every shift involved conversations with the hotel band’s drummer – on equipment, technique, any strand of information which would help him realise his burgeoning dream of becoming a professional drummer. But as enthusiastic as he was, Tyronne knew that the only way he’d go to the top was to learn from the very best.

That opportunity came in 1992 when he migrated to Germany.   ‘As soon as I got there, the only thought in my head was finding a teacher.’ For his luck, he found one who was prepared to teach him, rough around the edges as he was with his drumming. What kind of style did Tyronne want to play?  ‘At the time, I had no idea of what I wanted to play, just that I wanted to play drums. My tutor was patient enough to get me to listen to a lot of music so that I could identify what kind of style would appeal to me. One of the bands that I heard then was Slayer.’ Powered by Dave Lombardo’s brilliant work behind the drums, Slayer is the archetypal thrash metal band. ‘That,’ Tyronne had pointed to his tutor, ‘is what I want to play.’

More than a decade of practising his craft – Tyronne used to put in close to 12 hours of practise a day – led to call ups from bands in the very competitive German heavy metal industry. One such call up was from Orth, death metal pioneers from Berlin. ‘I was a fan of Orth way before I even joined them. I remember seeing them for the first time in 1995 and challenging myself to play for a band like that.’

Tyronne now finds himself among the A list of drummers worldwide. Skim through the pages of Pearl Drums latest catalogue and you will find Tyronne’s profile next to drumming royalty such as Dennis Chambers and Flo Mounier, and perhaps then it may dawn on us the sheer breadth of his achievement: to go from his home made drums to his current sponsored Peal Prestige custom made kit is a testament to his self-belief and determination.

Tyronne and his monster of a drum kit are down in Sri Lanka. In between shows for schools, the military and fellow drummers, Tyronne is here to share his knowledge with anyone who is interested. ‘My philosophy has always been on the need to share knowledge. If you keep everything to yourself then when you die you take that knowledge with you – you deprive not only others like you, but ultimately you deprive your art.’

Those interested can watch a Tyronne Silva performance at the first Colombo Deathfest along with local acts Paranoid Earthling, Funeral in Heaven, Fallen Grace and Old Castle’s Massacre on August 1, 2010 at Clancy’s from 3 pm onwards.

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