INTERVIEW: LARRY STEELE (ARMCANNON/WEAPONEX)

Larry has been an unsung hero in the Buffalo scene the past several years. Showgoers will praise the intricate guitar work of WEAPONEX, or the nostalgic video game soundtrack based arrangements of ARMCANNON, all for good reason, but the man behind the kit has ALWAYS eluded me…UNTIL NOW. Larry was more than happy to sit down and answer my questions about his history as a prog metal drummer and so much more.

1. What have you been up to musically lately? With the pandemic and everything else happening in life, it seemed as though the 2020s were somewhat in flux for your musically.

Oh man, the start of the 2020s has been a little up and down for me, musically. Armcannon played our last big show at a VG convention in early January, right as all the Covid shit was popping off. Absolutely killer show, but would also be the beginning of a little bit of a break for us. But I will say, it came at some what of a good time as Armcannon has decided to start playing strictly original music. So we’ve been hard at work on new original music, and should hopefully have at least a couple tracks out there some time soon.

2. How did you get your start playing drums and what made you gravitate toward drums over other instruments?

Wow, its a little hard to remember that far back (laughs). Well, it was definitely 3rd grade when I started playing, I know that for sure. All I remember is seeing a drumset for the first time, and just falling in love with the concept of being a drummer. Shortly after, bands like Bush, goo goo dolls, and RATM caught my attention and it was all over with from there. I didn’t take any formal lessons for quite a while, but I taught myself how to play by learning the entire “16 stone” album from bush.

3. What was the first drum kit, hardware, and cymbal setup you had?

My very first kit was 4-piece Kent, and it was definitely used (laughs). It came with one shitty cymbal, one shitty set of hats, and the shittiest bass drum pedal of all time. It was just enough to keep me satisfied until I saved up enough money to get a better kit.

4. Talk about the gear you love, specific brands, makes, models, etc.

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5. Discuss the ways your drum setups have evolved over the years.

These days I’m rocking the Ludwig centennial special edition maple 8 piece, and I love these drums so much. I started playing Meinl cymbals about 15 years ago, and have loved them ever since. They literally changed the game in cymbals, and have the biggest, most badass selection. Still rocking the DW 9002’s and pretty much all Gibraltar hardware these days. The kits have definitely expanded of the years. Honestly I’m always on Sweetwater, looking to add on something else to the moster rig I’m currently playing. I have considerably downsized my live kit though. I think I finally reached “that age” where it’s just too much to lug around all the time.

6. List off every active band (has played at least one live show at an established venue) you’ve ever been a part of in chronological order.

Wow, I had to think back on this one! Truthfully, besides Weaponex and Armcannon, there aren’t to many “active” projects I’ve been a part of. My first true band was a death metal band out of Niagara Falls called Putrefaction but I believe they are long gone now. I was 15-16 years old, and we played Palmeri’s a few times, but to be honest, death metal was really never my favorite subgenre. So a few years goes by and I met Mike Willard, Dan Carr, and Brad Macchioni, and we formed Surreality a melodic speed metal band, and we had a great time in that band. Again, unfortunately we had to call it quits after a few years, but that’s what lead me into being in Weaponex and eventually Armcannon. And I’ve been with those dudes ever since!

7. Discuss the most memorable local shows of your career. When thinking back, which local gigs stick out the most and why?

We’ve definitely had a memorable show or two over the years. I’d have to say for me personally, my most memorable would be weaponex opening up for Virgil Donati at Mohawk. That guy has been a huge inspiration for me ever since I was young, and to be able to open for him was definitely at the top of my memorable shows list. Not to long before that we also got to open for Tony McAlpine, and that show was equally badass. These dudes are both two MONSTER players, and to be on the same stage as them is something I will never forget.

8. Discuss your most memorable out-of-town experiences performing with Weaponex, or any other band you’ve been a part of. What made these road experiences so unique, or noteworthy?

Now the out of town shows are when the real fun happens! Armcannon has played tons of VG conventions over the years, and those are always an absolute blast. I would have to say though, the last convention we played, MAGfest in DC, was probably the coolest show we’ve done as a band. We put in tons of work for that one, and it really paid off. From the crowd, to the stage production, to the partying, everything was a total trip, and I really hope we get a chance to do it again (eventually). Nothing beats being on the road with the boys.

9. List off, or promote any and all upcoming shows you have in the works that you’re allowed to talk about.

Unfortunately, as of right now, we don’t have any shows booked for the foreseeable future. Not that we won’t play any if the right offers come along, but now that we’re writing an all original album, Armcannon will be busy doing that for a while. But stay tuned it will be worth it.

10. Looking back at your career, talk about the bassists you’ve jammed with going back to your very beginnings as a musician. Discuss the bass players that you feel pushed you to enhance your playing, or who just had a great dynamic with you in a band setting.

Hhm I’ve definitely had the pleasure of jamming with some great bassist over the years. Although most of them are just prog guitar players who switched to bass for the sake of the project. I will say, Ian, our bass player for Armcannon is a fantastic bass player. Being in a prog band, it’s essential that the drummer and bass player are a unit. Ian and I lock in great together, and he’s a super tight player. He definitely fits the band very, very well.

Thanks for reading! To purchase a physical copy of this interview in our September ’22 ALL-RHYTHM edition, click here.

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