Interview With Session Drummer Christian Nativo

Christian Nativo is one of Australia's most in-demand session drummers. He is an incredibly versatile musician, playing pop gigs to Metal. His band was the opening act for Iron Maiden and he toured Japan with Lucy's Crown.

By Magesh MageshContributing Author

Article photo - Interview With Session Drummer Christian Nativo

Magesh, Musicngear: You are an incredibly versatile drummer. You have played jazz to death metal. How do you recommend musicians learn different styles authentically?

This is something that I encourage all of my students to do. The first thing that I suggest musicians should do is actively engage in some lessons and/or research of that particular style of music and what that looks like on their instrument. This could involve sourcing a teacher or even researching different YouTube videos. This will provide the foundations to cover the particular genre that the muso is wanting to learn/play.

Once the musician has a general grasp of the genre and they've put in the practice time, the next step is to engage in active listening. This means sourcing a playlist on their streaming program of choice - and listening to an entire playlist within the genre they're wanting to learn just to have a general comprehension of the genre.

The next step 'which is the active listening part'; is to only listen to what their instrument is doing within the piece of the music on said playlist. When they hear something that really resonates with them, stop the song and replicate it on their instrument as best as they can until it sounds like the record (this can obviously take time and is a commitment that needs to be made).

Then the task is to implement and utilize that concept or lick/riff/approach/technique etc within a musical context until it sounds and feels authentic. This should definitely be a 'long-term goal' of any musician wanting to be as versatile as possible. Unfortunately, it won't always sound or look pretty in the beginning, but it's definitely a worthwhile investment that a musician can make in themselves.

Your band Vanishing Point opened for Iron Maiden. Can you talk about what it was like touring at this level?

This was an incredible opportunity, and I was very lucky to play these gigs. I found out that we got the Perth and Melbourne support on my 21st birthday and it was an eye-opening experience. At that level, everything runs very efficiently and professionally. We were treated super well by their crew and Nicko's drumtech invited me to sit directly behind his riser and I watched him play 'The Trooper' with quite possibly the best seat in the house.

80% of your success will come from your talent - 10% from luck and the last 10% is about looking good and conducting yourself professionally

Do you have a method for playing to a click track in the studio?

Yes - a few. First of all, I always recommend either generic or molded in ear monitors with a good isolating foam tip for any musicians who are playing loud instruments in the studio (if their budget allows). The ability to filter out the noise of their acoustic instrument is important and sometimes the typical closed back studio headphones can't do a good enough job of isolating appropriately (this is subjective and there are very good isolating headphones out in the market).

Second, for drummers in particular, I've noticed that a lot of them have their clicks super loud in their ears. This can come from an insecurity to fall out of time or just habit. For me personally, this makes me play super stiff. I always suggest having the click a little lower than where you'd usually have it - and make it become part of your performance - almost like playing along to a percussionist. 

Sometimes for other musos and also drummers, having an actual percussive loop or sequence that fits the style of the song can be better than actually playing to a click (the percussive loop or sequence would still be in time with the click so it's all the same). This approach gives the musos the feeling that they're playing along to a percussionist or a drummer vs a click.

The third suggestion is for any songs that have a super slow tempo, try playing along to a double time 8th note click (This could mean just doubling the click tempo or leaving the tempo and putting in a different click sound on every 'and') This helps fill the gaps and your subdivisions will be more in time and consistent.

Invest the time in yourself to practice and perfect your playing. If you want to be a session player, invest the time in being as versatile as possible

Does your drumming change on a live show as opposed to the studio?

Yes and kind of. In the studio - I am more measured and I'm definitely thinking more about how my parts are contributing to the energy of the song and making sure that my parts are supporting the song and the songwriter's message at all times - At the same time though when I'm in the studio - I'm still trying to capture the energy of a performance - and not have it so rigid. I definitely prefer doing 3-5 full takes in the studio - and then the client has the option to comp different parts together to get the perfect drum take. Sometimes punch-ins are necessary too and that's ok.

Live for me is less about perfection and more about going with a certain vibe and capturing the energy and connecting with and supporting my fellow musos on stage - If you were to line up my live performance to a grid (if it were played to a click) There would definitely be imperfections and I'm totally fine with that. As long as the energy, dynamics, and vibe are there while always serving the song - then I'm ok with that.

Say YES to every single gig and learn from each experience

Are you currently endorsing any equipment?

Pearl Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Remo Drumheads, Porter and Davies thumpers and Roland Electronics.

Do you have any advice for young musicians trying to make music a career?

Ok - first of all, definitely invest the time in yourself to practice and perfect your playing. If you want to be a session player, then as I mentioned earlier, invest the time in being as versatile as possible. It's also okay to only focus on getting good at one style or a few styles that best represent you as an artist.

Once your playing is at a level where you sound and look pro (and have pro gear) next is making friends with other musicians and making genuine (keyword) connections and friendships. Make the time to head out and support other musicians and introduce yourself to them (this can be more difficult for more introvert people but it's necessary).

While doing all of this - you would have a strong online social media presence and brand - and constantly be posting content that best represents your playing. The next thing is to say YES to every single gig and learn from each experience. Record yourself on your phone or camera as much as possible to listen back and scrutinize your playing in a constructive way so you can constantly improve.

Be over-prepared for every single gig - know your part and everyone else's parts. Invest time to start learning how clicks, backing tracks, playback rigs, and in-ear monitors work.  Lastly, 80% of your success will come from your talent - 10% from luck and the last 10% is about looking good and conducting yourself professionally (be courteous at all times and be professional - arrive early to everything and have pro-sounding gear) - and lastly - lots of YouTube - there is so much info on YouTube from pro content creators that can really help shed lots of light on making it in the industry.

Christian Nativo
Drummer / Percussionist / Educator
FacebookInstagram / Website

About Magesh Magesh

Magesh is a musician and producer who has worked with Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Ricky Martin, Chris Brown, The Pussy Cat Dolls, Nelly Furtado, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He released an instructional drumming DVD called "Unique Beats" where he mixed the drum kit with electronics and Indian hand percussion. He recently moved from Australia to the UK to explore new musical opportunities.

Contact Magesh Magesh at

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