JEFF CRONYN – RED LETTER
Red Letter are a fairly new metalcore act on the Buffalo heavy music scene, pulling modern metal sounds from Periphery, Architects, and others of the like! Jeff Cronyn, in my opinion, has been another unsung drum hero in our community. He has a very distinct personality behind the kit that not many metalcore drummers in our midst share. His approach is methodical, always doing what is best for the song. You could also say that Jeff recently went “mini viral” via the band’s video for “BURN IT DOWN” – available on all popular platforms. Here’s what Jeff had to say for himself during our interview:
1. How did you first come to join Red Letter and how long have you been with the band?
I am one of the founding members of Red Letter. In fact, we all are. We have been a band for a little over two years now. I’ve been in consecutive back to back bands with Andy and Kyle(both guitarists of Red Letter) for well over 10 years though so the chemistry is fantastic.
2. How did you get your start playing drums and what made you gravitate toward drums over other instruments?
I would always go see my friends bands practice either in their garages or basements and was always blown away by the sound of the drums and how fast they would move and just how powerful their presence made me feel while in the room. I wanted in on that shit. So once in a while while they took their breaks, they’d let me slap the skins for a bit. Mind you, I was fucking terrible, but I could at least keep a beat going. I eventually begged my parents to let me play the drums and sure as shit, on my 15th birthday, my dad took me to Guitar Factory and I came home with my very first drum set.
3. What was the first drum kit, hardware, and cymbal setup you had?
I couldn’t even tell you the name of the brand, all I know is it was a $300 5-piece kit and sounded like absolute dog shit. Came with hi-hats and a crash cymbals which both after a month looked like a garbage can lid that got ran over by a Mack truck.
4. Talk about the gear you love, specific brands, makes, models, etc.
I love whatever sounds good to me. Big fan of the Sabian AAX Explosion series. I rock an 18″, 19″, and 20″ crash on my setup. Same with my hi-hats. Zildjian A Customs for my 10″ splash and 18″ China. My DW 9000 pedals were a solid investment for sure. Fucking best pedals I’ve ever used. The biggest piece of gear I love the most in my kit itself. It’s a 1980 Premier Resonator, all maple, shell within a shell. I’ve had a few younger kids check it out asking where all the hardware was inside the drum and had to explain there’s legit 2 shells on each drum. The sound is unlike any kit I’ve played. It has extreme sentimental value as well. Back when I was in a cover band, my kit was at the singers house so it was tough to get there and learn all the songs. Knowing this, my dad told me to hop in the jeep and we showed up as his cousins where this kit was set up. Ended up leaving with it. Unfortunately he passed away when I was 19 so he didn’t get to watch me play it very much but I know he’d be proud of all I’ve accomplished so far as a drummer.
5. Discuss the ways your drum setups have evolved over the years.
Well, started with that cheap ass 5-piece set up. Slowly gained a few more cymbals. Stuck with that setup for a while to be honest. Then as I got better over the years, I started finding out what tickled my fancy the most and ended up rocking just a 4-piece with hats, 3 crashes, a splash, 2 chinas, and a ride. Been with this setup for the past probably 8 years give or take.
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.
Oh shit, ok. First band ever was called Quietus. Then I joined the band Dyingbreed. After that rocked out in a 90s/00s hard rock cover band called Inside Fate. Back to originals after that when I joined a band called One’s Own Blood which eventually over time turned into The Donner Party. Once that shit the bed, started a band called Makhai while also jamming in a pop punk group known as The Andrew Hambridge Band. After all that was said and done, Red Letter began.
7. Discuss the most memorable local shows of your career. When thinking back, which local gigs stick out the most and why?
Shit. We totally got to open up for Pop Evil at Rapids Theatre not long ago and that show was pretty fucking awesome. Been there. Just never played there before. The sound was incredible. But the most memorable local show for me would be back in The Donner Party. We got to open up Town Ballroom for August Burns Red. Matt Greiner is literally the reason I play the way I play. And the band in general has had a massive impact on my life not only musically but on a personal level as well.
8. Discuss your most memorable out-of-town experiences performing with Red Letter, or any other band you’ve been a part of. What made these road experiences so unique, or noteworthy?
Red Letter hasn’t had the chance to play out of town yet, but we’re working on that. The one that always sticks out to me isn’t even the show itself but the ride back. Played Pittsburgh when I was in One’s Own Blood. My daily driver was a 97 Acura Integra but we stuffed all my shit into my buddy Vince Mayers 3rd row GMC Envoy. Not sure if it’s just me but if I drive something bigger than my normal car, I feel like I’m going a lot slower than I really am. Got nailed doing 89 in a 65… kinda stupid but it’s something I’ll never forget. Good times.
9. List off, or promote any and all upcoming shows you have in the works that you’re allowed to talk about.
So our next show is September 9th at The Rec Room in Buffalo. Little mixed genre local show but it’s our first headliner and we got a couple new jams for y’all so it’s not one you wanna miss! Hit anyone in the band up for tickets.
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.
The first bassist I played with was my brother when I first started drums. We were fucking terrible. The bassists that really stick out to me would be Vince Mayer, who is also a drummer. He pushed me to really test my boundaries and go beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. Huge influence and still is to this day. Next would be David Hamilton when I was in The Donner Party. This dude was just such a talented bassist, that his writing alone made me test my abilities and made me a better, more precise drummer in the end. Lastly would be my current bassist in Red Letter. Tony Cich. This man takes huge pride in his tone and ability to play as tight as possible along with whatever kick patterns or riffs we got going on. We barely even have to communicate, it just happens, and it’s pretty dope.
11. Vince (Mayer) mentioned the extra attention you’ve been receiving for the “Burn it Down” video. I’d love to hear more about that. How is Red Letter being received by audiences so far this year, and where do you see things going? Discuss anything you’re optimistic about that you’re allowed to discuss.
I don’t even know how to respond to this one. It’s just pretty fucking cool to see a video you’re a part of be played 20 thousand times… People doing reaction videos talking about how intense the drummer is. It’s fucking wild. Went to show my wife and had goosebumps all over the damn place. I mean, people seem to be digging our songs so far so that’s good! As for where we’re going? Wherever we can I guess! We’re just gonna keep on truckin’ and putting out songs we hope people will enjoy as much as we do.
Thanks for reading! To purchase a physical copy of this interview in our September ’22 ALL-RHYTHM edition, click here.