Sid Falck, formerly of Overkill
Interview by Andrew Daly
If you were a thrash metal fan in the mid to late-80s, while you might not know it, you probably feasted your ears on the thunderous fills of one Sid Falck. Falck was a member of former Iron Maiden alum Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone, undertaking notable U.K. and U.S. tours before hopping off the merry-go-round to reassess his options.
Before long, Falck was called in to replace the departed Overkill drummer Rat Skates, which he happily obliged. The result was a tenure that, to many, proved to be Overkill’s most fruitful. To that end, Some would say that Overkill’s run of albums, Under the Influence (1989), The Years of Decay (1989), and Horrorscope (1991), represent some of the era’s finest. And to be sure, Falck played a significant role in those records.
But as is the case in many rock ‘n’ roll sagas, Falck fell out with his bandmates, leading to a sudden and somewhat messy departure in 1992. And while one would assume that Falck would have been in demand amongst metal circles, a turbulent ’90s made it so that the veteran drummer was forced to shift gears.
For the remainder of the decade, Falck served as a front-of-house manager before making a career change to long-haul trucking. But these days, with a renewed perspective bred through numerous health scares, Falck is at it again, creating his own zany brand of metal music.
For ClassicRockHistory.com, I recently dialed in Sid Falck to peel back on the onion on his long odyssey in and out of heavy metal music.
What first inspired you to pick up the drums? Can you remember your first kit?
I originally started out learning to play the piano, then bass/guitar. My older brother was a drummer, and by the time I was probably 12 or 13, he had started to set up his drums in the utility room in our house. Obviously threatening me with the plague and sudden death if I as much as thought about touching them.
So, being the obedient younger brother, I would go pound his drums every time he left the house. For some reason, I found it pretty easy to figure out how to learn to do more than just making random noise and topped with the fact that I loved that I could easily manipulate the sound simply but changing how I hit the drums, I just fell in love with the drums. The fact that they were quite loud was also a big plus [laughs].
Can you remember your first kit?
My very first kit was a black ASBA 5-piece kit that soon blew up to a 15-piece or something ridiculous [laughs].
What was the first beat and solo you learned?
I’m sure that, like most, “4 on the floor” was the fundamental beat any drummer has to learn. But as far as trying to learn a recorded beat, I, for some reason, want to say, it was the intro to Thin Lizzy’s “Johnny The Fox.” I originally started out playing progressive rock, probably because that’s what I heard my brother play.
Which drummer would you say was your biggest influence?
But when I was about 15, I was spending the night at a classmate’s house, and we were both members of The Record of the Month Club. And for some reason, I had been sent the Grease soundtrack and never returned it. He had the same experience but had been sent Rainbow’s On Stage, which he didn’t like. I’m ashamed to admit that at that point, I was not at all familiar with the band Rainbow… besides obviously knowing of Ritchie Blackmore from his Deep Purple days. But I was a big fan of Slade at the time.
So he puts on side one of the album, and out of the speakers comes the “Over The Rainbow” intro. Then, out of nowhere, a snare/kick flam, and the whole band kicked in, and my life changed at that moment. The power, the melody, the aggression… I was absolutely hooked! So it’s probably not surprising that Cozy Powell became my hero and biggest influence. I tried to emulate him to ridiculous lengths. He truly, in my opinion, was the master of everything related to drumming. Oh, and needless to say, my friend and I swapped albums [laughs].
What were some of your early gigs? What did you take away from those?
Well, I was in a few bands in Denmark while learning my craft. As I/we improved, I learned that I could be very bossy and definitely very stubborn [laughs]. More importantly, though, I realized how powerful music can be to the listener and the musician. I think music can be so easy to translate your emotions.
When did Battlezone come into play?
After moving to England in ’84, I almost immediately hooked up with the guys, and we would eventually become Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone. In ’86, we recorded the Fighting Back album and eventually toured the United States. At the conclusion of that tour, in January or February ’87, I, for many reasons, decided to stay in the States and not return to London with the band.
Where did you go from there?
For the rest of ’87, I did some session work as well as trying to get a band off the ground with Andrew “Duck” McDonald in Upstate New York. To backtrack just a bit, it’s important to mention that the U.S. tour manager on the Battlezone’s U.S. tour, Rick, was also the tour manager for Overkill.
Is that how you joined Overkill?
Yes. So, when Overkill was looking for a permanent replacement for Rat, he suggested that they bring me down to the city to check me out. Long story short, I joined Overkill the first week of January ’88.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you first joined Overkill?
Well, the biggest challenge I faced was that I wasn’t at all familiar with that type of music. By the time I joined, probably 70% of what would become Under the Influence was already written. So I had to lean on the guys quite a bit to steer me in the right direction with what they envisioned the drums to do.
Honestly, the arrangements, the counts, and the way to interpret the music were quite foreign to me, as I was a very old-school, very disciplined hard rock drummer (i.e., the Cozy Powell influence). Somehow, I started to make sense of what I was supposed to play, and somehow the guys stuck with me [laughs].
How did your style differ from Rat’s?
Rat was a very, very spur-of-the-moment drummer. He was very punk and had a very anything-goes approach to the different song parts. I, as mentioned, was a very … I guess you could say a square
drummer, in as much as I, at that point, strongly adhered to more traditional hard rock drumming.
Dig into that a little more for me. What does “square” mean to you?
So, when it became time to start learning the back catalog of songs and preparing to tour, I was told, “What’s recorded is written in stone.” So, I had to learn all the quirks in Rat’s way of playing, including what I was later told were off-the-cuff fills, etc., that Rat recorded but could never completely replicate because they were whatever he came up with at the particular moment he was recording that part. That was very different than my inherent approach.
Do you feel you changed the sound of Overkill?
I don’t think I did, really. I think my style of playing probably helped make the songs more easily accessible to people just starting to discover Overkill in those days. These would have been people who might not have been totally familiar with power/thrash metal. But the way the sound changed, I think, was more because the band was growing their confidence as well as improving leaps and bounds as musicians and songwriters. At best, I can only hope that I had at least a little bit to do with that.
Under the Influence remains iconic and turns 35 this year. What are your retrospective musings and memories of that record?
That’s crazy, isn’t it? Where did the time go? I think that album was a very important album for Overkill. It shows a huge leap in songwriting. It’s more than just “Let’s play as fast as we can.” It was the album that Overkill had to make at that point in their career, I think, in order to not just be taken seriously but also to continue to grow as a band.
But it was probably a little bit of a risky move to record an album that was not just heavier in parts but also more melodic and dynamic than anything the band had released prior. The songs on that album are very, very well thought out and quite brilliant in some ways. It’s just the drumming; I have a problem
What about the drumming bothers you?
First, I want to say that the songs on Under the Influence are great songs, no doubt about it. However, I have a love/hate relationship with that album. For the longest time, I couldn’t listen to that album, purely because I could hear so much hesitation and insecurity in my playing. To me, it’s extremely obvious that I had only eight weeks from when I joined to when we started recording the drum tracks.
That’s eight weeks to not only learn the songs that would be on the album but learn a completely foreign style of music to me (at the time). So, no, not my favorite album [laughs]. I admit that. But I have, over the years, come to accept that I did the absolute best I could under the circumstances. And as such, I’ve softened the self-criticism a bit.
What led to your departure after Horrorscope? Did a shifting scene prompt the decision?
Well, first of all, I didn’t leave because of money. And I didn’t leave because I hated anyone in the band. I know those are popular rumors [laughs]. Further, the shifting scene had nothing to do with it either. I left because of personal disappointment over things that didn’t come to be.
What sorts of things were you disappointed in?
I probably felt a little unappreciated, bruised ego, I’m sure…. I think that’s the best way to leave it. I’ll admit that I didn’t leave on the best of terms, and I definitely could have handled the leaving part in a much more professional way. That’s something I can’t change now, but I wish I could. But It is what it is, as they say.
Are you on good terms with the guys in Overkill now?
I have nothing but love for the guys in the band, past and present. I consider us great friends, and I speak to/text with them very frequently, Blitz being the one having to deal with my strange sense of humor more than anyone else [laughs]. I also feel very lucky to be able to reach out to any of them if I have questions about music I might be working on or just want their opinion, and I feel privileged by all the
support and encouragement I receive from them
What direction did you take your career after Overkill?
When I left Overkill, I spent until ’97 touring and working as a tour manager and front-of-house sound engineer. By ’97, there was pretty much no touring with individual bands, everything became package tours with three to five bands, which meant smaller unified crews were needed, and it became very hard to get work.
So I had the brilliant idea of getting a CDL and driving 18-wheelers. I did that for 15 years, and I can tell you that being driven around the country in a tour bus by a bus driver while hanging out, drinking beer, and watching movies beat the hell out of piloting yourself around the country in a semi [laughs].
You recently said you didn’t intend on returning to metal. Why now?
Well, I never liked the business side of being in a recording and touring band. However, it is a business. Because of that, for the longest time, I just didn’t want to deal with that. However, back at the end of ’12, I was diagnosed with some heart issues, leading to surgeries, etc. At the time, I was told that “anything can happen at any time.”
Obviously, that gives you a bit of a different perspective. So, I started to think about all the times I’d been asked, “Are you ever going to play again?” and realized that if I was going to play again, “Now” would
probably be the appropriate time. So, I got back into playing again, and that’s when I attempted to create Infectus 13.
How has your style evolved, and how is that best represented in your new music?
Having been away from playing for so many years gave me a completely different perspective on drumming. I started by forgetting all my past hang-ups regarding “You can’t do this,” “You can’t go there,” “You’re supposed to do this, not that to this part,” and “You can’t play that fast” stuff. It was incredibly liberating. I became much faster, I also think, and much more easily relaxed about parts and such. Basically, if it helps the song, nothing is tabu. Overall, I think I probably became a more well-rounded drummer.
Are you working on any more new music?
Yeah… somewhere around’ 19-’20, I found myself intrigued by electronic music and the concept of virtual instruments. So, I invested in some gear and virtual instrument programs and had fun coming up with the weirdest mix of styles [laughs]. I never put anything out there officially, but it was done under the moniker of SlappSack. I put it on a YouTube channel and would let a few friends know when I’d put something new up.
In late ’21 and early ’22, I started to write regular material again but decided to only write stuff that I, myself, want to listen to and have zero concerns about what anyone else thinks. That also meant that I started playing and doing everything myself. A one-man thing I call Falck. I started because I needed a distraction from all the different issues that were going on with my health, including not being very mobile anymore.
And how is that going?
So, I put myself on a six-week revolving time limit schedule: Conceive an idea, develop it; learn to play the different parts on the different instruments; come up with lyrics and vocals; record, mix, and master; and finally make it available to those who are interested. All in six weeks.
I think so far, I’ve released seven or eight songs. I asked friends if they felt like adding their considerable talent, and luckily, Dave Linsk said yes on “Rage,” Rob Cannavino said yes on “Legacy of Blood,” and Dano Hibbs and Jerry Woolverton said yes on the newest, “A Modern Tale.”
I have one more song already finished and ready, so I have bought myself a little break to, amongst other things, take care of possibly relocating back to Denmark. But as long as I feel it’s fun, I’ll continue with Falck.
What gear are you using as far as drums?
When it comes to drums, I like to use my big Remo kit from Horrorscope. Simply because I know its tone inside out, however, it takes up a lot of space, so it’s actually torn down and rested in its cases. So, when I need new drum tracks, my good friend Kelly makes his newer Mapex kit available to me anytime I want.
How about gear outside of drums?
When new drum tracks are needed, I have a fairly old 56-channel analog console that the drums go through. From there, they are sent through an AD/DA converter, then into Logic Pro X. While there are so many excellent preamps available today, you still can’t beat the sound of real analog. However, I am also into repurposing old unreleased drum tracks I have sitting around on various hard drives.
I probably have 1TB+ of drum tracks that were recorded between 2012 and 2016/17 that were never used. When I did Infectus 13, everything was multi-track recorded. Warm up, writing, everything. What I do with Falck, stylistically, is very close to what I did with Infectus 13, so I pretty much always have stuff I already played and recorded that will fit with what I’m currently doing in the moment.
Where do you record?
Besides drums. I record everything else at my house. I have a couple of Ibanez guitars, a 5-string Ibanez bass, and a 4-string Dean bass. I send bass/guitars through an Avid Eleven Rack. From there, it goes through a Focusrite 18i20 Scarlet preamp, then into Logic Pro X. I use Behringer X-Touch + extension surface controllers, Kali and Adam speakers, and a 10″ sub.
What are you most looking forward to in the immediate future?
Oh boy. Trying to still be alive at the end of December [laughs]. Well, I’m not particularly looking forward to having to relocate across the pond if it does come to that. I’d say that I’m looking forward to possibly getting to do another song with Cannavino if I can talk him into it. I have threatened John Gallagher of Raven that I’ll drag him into lending his vocals and possibly more to some tuneage.
I also want to do something more with Jerry and Dano of Breeding Thorns. Jerry was supposed to sing on “A Modern Tale” all along, but Dano was a last-minute save for me. And as great as what he recorded is, it’s totally not his style and really doesn’t give you a full appreciation for his talent.
Well, I actually think it shows exactly how talented he is… if you can jump in overnight and play the leads he did out of his normal comfort zone… you’ve got mad skills [laughs]. But he doesn’t think so. So, I’d like to ask him back for something heavier where he can really showcase his skills while making me look clever for asking him to appear on my stuff [laughs].
Sid Falck, Formerly of Overkill: The ClassicRockHistory.Com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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