Cutting Steak: Tyler Coburn (Yautja, Thou, Gnarhwal)

Photo courtesy of Tyler Coburn

I have been familiar with Yautja for a couple years but it wasn’t until I interviewed Tommy Cantwell that I revisited their release, Songs of Descent, then plunged myself into a YouTube rabbit hole of watching videos of Tyler play. Tyler is articulate, solid and a very creative drummer. And he sings! I have a theory that if the drummer of a band you watching have a nice moustache, then they are probably very proficient at playing. Do yourself a favor and see him play live when Yautja comes through your city. 

Who are you and where is your homebase?

Tyler R Coburn. sometimes pronounced "Tyler tylertyler." I have lived in Nashville, TN my whole life.

Who are you currently playing with?

Most actively Yautja and Thou. Less actively I play in Gnarwhal and then occasionally with a band called Spodee Boy.

What is your favorite fruit?

Kiwifruit is my #1. Then probably Mandarin/Clementine/orange. But I like just about every fruit.

When did you first show an interest in drumming, and what sparked that interest?

I grew up around music and my parents always had music playing in the house. I knew I wanted to play something and ended up trying piano and guitar but neither really stuck. I think when I really started listening to “classic rock” and discovered bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, the drums started to get my attention. I was 11 or 12 when I got my first kit.

Did you ever take lessons?

I took lessons for the first two or three years from an amazing drummer at the local drum shop, Forks Drum Closet. Still my favorite drum shop I’ve ever been to. I also played in all the school bands from 5th Grade until I graduated. Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pop Ensemble... whatever I could do to play drums at school.

Who were some of your earliest influences?

Probably John Bonham and Bill Ward, then Stewart Copeland, then Dave Grohl and Tim Alexander from Primus.

Photo: Basement Online

When traveling with Thou, what do you listen to the most in the van?

Well, what’s actually playing on the van speakers is mostly pop country or these endless playlists that jump between decent songs and songs that I think are completely unlistenable. Everyone in Thou has pretty twisted and vastly different music tastes, but I usually wear headphones no matter who’s driving to maintain a level of sanity. I end up listening to lots of new records that are recommended to me that I don’t get around to when I’m home, or lots of ambient, classical or instrumental stuff that I can use to drown out whatever is going on around me so I can read.

Who are some of your favorite drummers to watch live?

I have too many.

  • TJ Childers (Inter Arma) is the most under appreciated drummer in the world to me. Always full of surprises, improvising and playing insane fills that sometimes feel like jokes. Especially if you happen to be one of a small handful of people in the audience on a rough night. That’s when you’ll catch him at his weirdest.
  • Nick Yacyshyn (Sumac/Baptists) is also infinitely inspiring to me. I saw him play for the first time when I was 18 and the way he ripped so hard with a single kick pedal on a super minimal kit really pushed me to keep trying to do the same.
  • Adam Berkowitz (Ex-Breathers) is also a criminally underrated and lesser known drummer that had blown me away since the first time I saw him. So creative and tasteful and always in the pocket.
  • Greg Fox (Liturgy, Guardian Alien, solo, etc.) is one of the most seemingly inhuman musicians I’ve ever seen. So loose and free even when playing the fastest loudest blast beats in twisted time signatures.
  • Lev Weinstein (Krallice, Geryon, and every other band in NYC) is also a freak of nature who I’ve learned a lot from and always love to watch. Check out his instructional YouTube videos if you want to laugh your ass off while learning to improve your stamina.
  • Jono Giralt (C.H.E.W.) is my favorite punk/hardcore drummer playing in my favorite punk band to watch live. He just rips so hard. Constantly. Hitting. Extremely. Wet.
  • Also: Phil Petrocelli (Great Falls), Casey Hansen (Cult Leader), and Kris Kuss (Pile).

The single foot/floor tom technique for double bass patterns: did anything in particular inspire you to start doing that? Did you ever play with a full-on double bass pedal?

I’d say a huge part of it was not getting a double kick pedal until after I’d started trying to figure out John Bonham’s triplet kick thing ("Good Times, Bad Times," "Out on the Tiles," etc.) and after I’d discovered Hella. Discovering Zach Hill really changed things for me and opened my eyes to how far you can go with one foot and a minimal setup. But I was also listening to all sorts of records with sick double kick at the time.

So, I think it came down to me being stubborn and wanting to challenge myself to be more creative but also really sucking at double kick when I finally tried it. I’ve played double kick in a few bands in the past few years and I’ve definitely improved some, but I’m still not super confident with it.

Tell me about your current drum kit and set up.

I’m still playing the same Sonor drum kit I got when I was 11 or 12. I think it’s a Force 2001? it’s a 22” kick and I use the 14” tom that came as the floor tom as my rack tom. I bought a random Pearl floor tom off craigslist and that has been my floor tom for the past 6 years or so. My snare is a Ludwig hand hammered Black Beauty (14x6”). Just about every recording I’ve ever played on was recorded with this kit.

At the moment, my cymbals are all Zildjian: 14” K hats, 20” K Custom Dark Crash, and 23” K Sweet Ride. I have this old vintage 22” ride i play with Thou sometimes. I use an old Trick Pro 1-V single kick pedal and I always use a rug with a big block of wood on it to hold the kick in place.

Do you have a particular drum head brand you always use, or do you just buy whatever?

I have gone back and forth a lot in the last few years but more recently I’ve been more into Remos. Evans is my second choice.

Do you have a favorite drumstick brand?

I kinda think all drumsticks seem like garbage these days. They’re all unbalanced and inconsistent and break too easily, even when they say “each stick balanced by hand.” For the last while I have been quite partial to Vater.

If you didn’t have to worry about money, what kind of drum set and cymbals would you use?

I’d really love to get an older Sonor kit that you have to have the annoying special drum key to tune. I also really love Ludwig and Rogers. I’d love to find a really unique older kit in just the right sizes. As for cymbals, I’m pretty much already playing exactly what I want, though I spend just about all of my money on them. it sure would be nice if the money part wasn’t an issue.


A post shared by Tyler Tylertyler (@sadwetskin) on

If you could get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?

Hmm, this is a hard one because I have had a decent time in just about every state I’ve been to at some point or another. Except maybe West Virginia. I don’t think I’d notice if it disappeared.

Recommend some albums to me that you think have incredible drumming on them.

Yukon by Yukon. This album sticks out to me as one of the most criminally unheard albums. Nick Podgurski’s drumming on every Yukon release is absolutely mindblowing and perfect to me, but I think this one sticks out to me because he is also doing all the singing on the record and I’ll never forget seeing them play the first song “Cut the Lines” live when i was a teenager. 

Hold Your Horse is by Hella definitely changed my life. Essential listening.

Zona Mexicana by Zona Mexicana. Pretty sure both releases are self-titled: a 3 song CD and a 4 song 10”. I think both are perfect. Cameron Wisch’s drum parts are so musical and crucial to the compositions while also sounding physically impossible to play. His drumming in Voice Coils is also incredible in a very different way.  

Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins by Baring Teeth. I absolutely love Jason Roe’s incomprehensible drumming and should have probably included him on “favorite drummers to watch live list.” Also really really love the way the drums sound on this record. Amazing tones for a “tech death-ish” record.

Millennials by Coilguns. I absolutely love the grooves on this record. The new album Watchwinders is also full of amazing drum beats but I haven’t spent as much time with it yet. I feel lucky to watch them play every night.

Lula Divinia by Shiner. The beats and fills on this record are perfect and still get me every time.

What do you have coming up in the near future?

I’m currently on tour in Europe with Yautja opening for Coilguns from Switzerland. We have about two weeks of shows left. After that we have recording time booked for mid-January to finally record a bunch of songs we’ve been working on for the past couple years. The winter will be dedicated to writing and recording with different projects. At some point in the spring I think the Emma Ruth Rundle/Thou collaboration record that we recorded back in August will probably come out. OK, I should shut up now.

Photo: Kayhan Vaziri


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Gnarhwal on social media: Bandcamp

Tagged: cutting steak, thou, yautja