The Brain’s Ability to Look Within: A Secret to Well-Being

The Creativity Post
The Brain’s Ability to Look Within: A Secret to Well-Being
By Emma Seppala | Dec 30, 2012

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Synopsis

Tapping into our ability to turn attention inward empowers and heals.

The Two Paths of Attention: Outward & Inward

What’s the difference between noticing the rapid beat of a popular song on the radio and noticing the rapid rate of your heart when you see your crush? Between noticing the smell of fresh baked bread and noticing that you’re out of breath? Both require attention. However, the direction of that attention differs: it is either turned outward, as in the case of noticing a stop sign or a tap on your shoulder, or turned inward, as in the case of feeling full or feeling love.

Scientists have long held that attention – regardless to what – involves mostly the prefrontal cortex, that frontal region of the brain responsible for complex thought and unique to humans and advanced mammals. A study by Norman Farb from the University of Toronto published in Cerebral Cortex, however, suggests a radically new view: there are different ways of paying attention. While the prefrontal cortex may indeed be specialized for attending to external information, older and more buried parts of the brain including the “insula” and “posterior cingulate cortex” appear to be specialized in observing our internal landscape.

Most of us prioritize externally oriented attention. When we think of attention, we often think of focusing on something outside of ourselves. We “pay attention” to work, the TV, our partner, traffic, or anything that engages our senses. However, a whole other world exists that most of us are far less aware of: an internal world, with its varied landscape of emotions, feelings, and sensations. Yet it is often the internal world that determines whether we are having a good day or not, whether we are happy or unhappy. That’s why we can feel angry despite beautiful surroundings or feel perfectly happy despite being stuck in traffics. For this reason perhaps, this newly discovered pathway of attention may hold the key to greater well-being.

Although this internal world of feelings and sensations dominates perception in babies, it becomes increasingly foreign and distant as we learn to prioritize the outside world. Because we don’t pay as much attention to our internal world, it often takes us by surprise. We often only tune into our body when it rings an alarm bell –– that we’re extremely thirsty, hungry, exhausted or in pain. A flush of anger, a choked up feeling of sadness, or the warmth of love in our chest often appear to come out of the blue.

Attention Turned Inward Can Help Soothe Anxiety and Increase Well-Being

In a collaboration with professors Zindel Segal and Adam Anderson at the University of Toronto, the study compared exteroceptive (externally focused) attention to interoceptive (internally focused) attention in the brain. Participants were instructed to either focus on the sensation of their breath (interoceptive attention) or to focus their attention on words on a screen (exteroceptive attention). Contrary to the conventional assumption that all attention relies upon the frontal lobe of the brain, the researchers found that this was true of only exteroceptive attention; interoceptive attention used evolutionarily older parts of the brain more associated with sensation and integration of physical experience.

Exteroceptive attention relies on the frontal lobes of the neocortex (literally, “new” cortex), the evolutionarily newest outer layer of our brains that most distinguishes humans from other species. Interoceptive attention, however, relies upon brain regions that link the cortex to the limbic system, an evolutionarily older brain system that we share in common with many other animals. These limbic connections may support more direct access to emotions and physical sensations while the neocortex is more responsible for a conceptual sense of self. By recruiting “limbic-bridge” areas like the insula and posterior cingulate, a person using interoceptive attention may bypass the pre-frontal neocortex, directly tapping into bodily awareness that is free from social judgment or conceptual self-evaluation.

These findings have important implications for emotional well-being. States of mind such as anxiety, depression, and anger often engage the prefrontal cortex. “I can’t shut my mind off” — a statement most of us can relate to in times of stress. Have you ever tried to talk yourself out of such a state of high stress and failed? Trying to talk ourselves out of being less anxious or angry is often a futile exercise. The mind quite simply has a hard time telling itself what to do.

Dan Wagner of Harvard University describes this as an “ironic process” When we attempt to resist a certain thought or action (e.g. trying not to eat junk food when you’re on a diet, or trying not to think of someone you just broke up with) the effort can easily backfire under stress. In the realm of the mind, what we resist persists. Sadly, some people end up turning to alcohol and drugs as a last resort to quiet their mind.

Farb’s findings, however, suggest that the neural networks of interoceptive attention may provide an inbuilt system separate from the thinking mind to help ourselves find calm. We can’t control our mind with our mind (or our pre-frontal cortex with the pre-frontal cortex), but with interoceptive awareness, we may be able to escape our racing thoughts. The expression “take a deep breath” in a moment of anger or fear is a common saying that directly taps into our ability to use our interoceptive awareness. Many clinicians include some kind of breathing instructions into a therapy setting for anxiety.

Training our Interoceptive Awareness

How can we train our interoceptive awareness? Yoga, breathing and meditation practices are designed to increase our interoceptive awareness. A study by Jocelyn Sze at the University of California Berkeley showed that people who meditate have greater interoceptive awareness than dancers who, though they also have trained awareness of their bodies’ movements, are perhaps less in tune with their emotional states.

For some, turning attention inward can be distressing, because it may tune us into emotions that are not comfortable. However, constantly distracting ourselves through attention turned outwards will not remove those underlying emotions. By learning to engage with them through our dedicated interoceptive awareness, we may experience the first signs of healing. Research I conducted with veterans suffering from trauma is also showing this to be true. Though the veterans are at first wary of being present with the emotions, feelings and memories that can arise during their first yoga, yogic breathing, and meditation practice, they report that over time those distressing inner experiences start to actually wane and heal. Best of all, they feel empowered. No longer reliant on drugs or a therapist, they have learned to use their own breath to regain control of their lives.

Learning to tune into our bodies could have other beneficial consequences as well. We are so used to directing our attention outward that we often don’t even really taste food because we are too busy watching TV or distracting ourselves in other ways. However, research suggests that our greatest moments of happiness are times we spend fully involved and engaged in a situation: be it a physical activity, a sensory experience, or intimacy with another person. If we are distracted, we are depriving ourselves of some of the greatest sources of happiness.

Next time you find your thoughts racing and emotions blaring out of control, instead of trying to talk yourself out of the situation or turning to a glass of wine, have a seat, take some deep breaths and tune into your body, or go to a gentle and awareness-based yoga or meditation class. Farb’s research suggests that we have an inbuilt ability to calm ourselves down. We just need to take a deep breath.

This post originally appeared at Psychology Today.

Characteristics of Highly Creative People

The Creativity Post
Characteristics of Highly Creative People
By Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner | Jan 20, 2013

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Synopsis

Creative people make more use of their mental raw material and practice less intellectual regulation.

There are a surprising number of blog posts about the characteristics of creative people. However, most of these seem to focus either on an idealized vision of an artist or the blog-writer’s idealized self-image! Here is my take on the characteristics of highly creative people. However, what I have done is looked at how creative people think — based on my understanding of the latest research — and applied it to behavior.

It is also worth bearing in mind that creativity is not all positive. There are good and bad creative people. Moreover, there seem to be some characteristics of creative people, such as dishonesty, that are not very nice. More controversially, some research has shown a correlation between creativity and mental illness. (The validity of this is contested, though.)

The characteristics of highly creative people are, I believe, the result of two specific behaviors of such people. Let’s look at those behaviors and how they affect broader behavior.

Behavior One: Make More Use of Their Mental Raw Material

It seems that when highly creative people try to solve a problem or achieve a goal, particularly when the goal is related to their area of creative strength, they use much more of their brains than do ordinary people or, indeed, than even themselves when they are not focused on a creative task. If the average person is asked to draw a picture of a cat, she will most likely think about the physical appearance of a cat and replicate it as best she can with pen and paper. The creative artist, on the other hand, will think in much more depth. She’ll think not only about the cat, but the placement of the cat; what the cat is doing; the lighting; the kind of lines to use and much more. She may decide to humanize the cat and give it emotions. Perhaps she’ll decide to draw a sexy cat with a human body wearing an evening gown. Maybe she’ll simply draw a blur representing a cat in motion.

By using much more of her brain to achieve her goal, the highly creative person, in effect, provides herself with more raw material from which to construct ideas than the average person. The average person thinks only about drawings of cats and the basic characteristics of cats. This limits the level of creativity she can achieve. The highly creative person thinks about much more — all the while retaining some connection to cats. It is not surprising that, with so much raw material, she is able to be more creative in the realization of her ideas.

They Think Before They Act

It takes time to run through all that raw material in the brain. This is why creative people tend to think before they act. They play with the issue in their minds for a time, looking at a range of possibilities before choosing a direction. I see this when I work with creative people. When you give an average person a creative challenge, she tends immediately to try and come up with ideas. But because her mind is too focused on the issues of the challenge, her ideas are limited in scope as well. They are conventional, obvious ideas. The highly creative person, on the other hand, tends to turn the problem around in her head. She asks questions, thinks about it in various scenarios and brings seemingly unrelated information into her problem solving.

For example, if you ask an averagely creative person to come up with ideas for things you could do with a big box (for example, the kind of box a new washing machine might be packaged in), she will immediately think of boxes and their usual uses: storage, children’s toys, perhaps protection against the elements.

A highly creative person would go further. She might think about using a box as a children’s toy (as would most people), but she would also think about the kind of games children might play in a box. She might imagine climbing into the box and then wonder what it would be like. She might think about tearing apart the box and what to do with the pieces – perhaps use them for kindling for a fire or raw material for a sculpture. She might invert the box in her mind and climb on top of it. What would happen if she did that, she might wonder. All of these thoughts enable her to come up with many more ideas than the averagely creative person. But these thoughts all come from her mind. She is simply using more of her mind and its memories, thoughts and notions in order to construct ideas.

Incidentally, the highly creative person does not focus on her left brain or right brain for a simple reason: it’s a myth. Creative people use a lot of their brains, not one hemisphere or the other!

Curiosity Is Creative Play

Highly creative people are often cited as being very curious. This fits with the way their brains work. Rather than simply collect information, their brains play with it. One person might see a horse standing in a field and think it is a magnificent looking animal. Another more curiously creative person might wonder what the horse thinks about all day in the field. She might wonder how the horse can cope for long hours of inactivity without a book to read. Or she might notice that the horse tends to hang out by the fence that borders another field where another horse resides. The creative person might wonder how two animals that do not have spoken or written language might bond and what kinds of friendships horses might have.

Spontaneous Ideas

It is by often asking these questions, wondering and being curious that creative people come up with spontaneous ideas. For instance, it is by asking what use could be made of not-very-sticky glue that some people discovered Post-Its. Pablo Picasso wondered how he could depict three-dimensional reality, as viewed from different perspectives, and came up with surrealism.

Behavior Two: Less Intellectual Regulation

The dorsolateral prefrontal region of the brain is responsible for, among other things, intellectual regulation. It includes the brain’s censorship bureau: the bit of the brain that prevents us from saying or doing inappropriate things. It allows us to control impulses and to choose appropriate courses of behavior according to our circumstances. It seems that in highly creative people, this part of the brain becomes much less active during times of creation. This makes sense. If you can reduce the level of thought regulation when generating creative work (whether ideas, music, or artwork), then fewer ideas will be filtered out as inappropriate and more will be developed and shared.

In averagely creative people, on the other hand, the dorsolateral prefrontal region remains more active all the time. It filters out crazy thoughts; it prevents the person from saying, doing or even thinking too much about outrageous ideas. It ensures that averagely creative people think and behave conventionally. And for many people, this is preferred. Most people desire to fit into society and succeed according to existing rules. It is only creative misfits who want to succeed by doing things their own way—by ignoring convention, by having the audacity to believe they know better than convention.

For many people, this is a good thing. Sharing stupid ideas is embarrassing. People might laugh at the individual who shares seemingly stupid ideas. People might question her competence. Moreover, the averagely creative individual may wonder why she should bother with creative ideas when more conventional solutions work well enough. No one is going to be laughed at or reprimanded for coming up with a conventional idea that is in keeping with the norms of the local culture (whether it is society, a school or a workplace). On the other hand, sharing a radical idea that might be stupid could well result in ridicule. Acting on an idea that could fail miserably could get you in trouble.

In short, it is safer to be conventional and incremental in your creativity than it is to be unconventional and radical in your creativity –for most people. Highly creative people are different. Their brains are programmed to worry less about fitting in with conventions and staying within norms. It is not that highly creative people are not afraid of ridicule or criticism (indeed, many artists are highly sensitive). Rather, it never occurs to them that others might ridicule their ideas.

Creative People Are Not as Rebellious as You Think

This leads to the myth that creative people are rebellious. I do not believe this is entirely true. But whereas most people, thanks to their active dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes, regulate their thinking and behavior to fit with conventional behavior, creative people are not so handicapped. Instead, they follow their own rules or systems for evaluating ideas and deciding whether to move forward with those ideas. These rule systems are often logical, at least to the creative thinker. But, because they are not about conforming to social norms, it makes the creative thinker seem rebellious. An artist, for example, will not make a name for herself by studiously copying current trends. Rather, she will become famous by being unique. So, if she makes decisions based on what is commonplace, ordinary and conforming in the art world, she will never make a name for herself. However, if she purposely veers from what is popular in order to carve out her own, unique style –she may become famous. She may make a name for herself.

Creative People Are Logical

Another common fallacy about creative people is that they are not logical, that they are driven purely by feeling and emotion. I do not believe this is true. Rather, as noted, creative people are not handicapped by a need to conform to social norms. They are not compelled to be a part of popular culture. Rather, they are driven by a logic that suits their needs and is logical to them. That logic may be based in part on emotions and feelings — especially in some artists. But it is a form of logic nevertheless. All people need to make decisions and decisions are based on some kind of logic. The creative artist is no exception. If anything, by not feeling compelled to fit the demands of popular culture, the creative artist needs to be even more logical than the average person who assumes that if everyone wears and buys a particular style jacket, then it is safe to buy and wear such a jacket.

Creative People Tend to Be Less Honest

Another apparent consequence of having a relaxed dorsolateral prefrontal region, combined with a brain that is adept at building ideas, appears to be a reduced need to be honest. Research by Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely confirms that, in general, highly creative people are less honest than averagely creative people. The reason for this seems to be that creative people can use their creativity to justify their actions in ways that less creative people cannot do. A lot of people, highly creative people as well as self-proclaimed creative people, will balk at this and claim that they are very honest. And it is true that they believe that. That is because their creativity is successful in convincing them that their behavior is justified.

Creative People Are Introverts, Extroverts, Collaborators, Independent, Big, Small, Fat, Skinny…

I have seen some bloggers claim that creative people are introverts; others that creative people are extroverts. I have heard that creative work better in groups and that they work better individually. However, I have never seen these assumptions supported in any way. The truth is, creativity seems to have little to do with how well one functions socially, one’s weight (though I would assume that being in good health would help the brain function better) or other personal characteristics. The truth is, creative people come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. What truly distinguishes them from others is that they use more of their brains to generate ideas — which provides them with more raw material for building unique ideas — and less of their brains to regulate the development and sharing of those unusual ideas.

What Do You Think?

What do you think? Is this a fair portrayal of the characteristics of creative people? If not, why not? Have I missed anything? I’d love for you to share your thoughts!

About Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner:
Presently, Jeffrey is focusing on advising and training individuals, teams and organisations on how to improve their creative thinking skills in order to solve problems and enable their companies to innovate more effectively. But more than anything else, Jeffrey would like to work with you! So contact him to chat about how you, your colleagues and he can do great, creative things together. Jeffrey is based in Erps-Kwerps (near Brussels and Leuven) Belgium. He is a single father with two incredible children.

10 Of The Worst Modern Bands

Compiling a list of the worst bands is pretty much a no-win scenario. People are going to laugh, cry and threaten to kill you when you pick their favorite band. But in the modern era, we rely on these bands to distinguish who’s worth illegally downloading.  In our opinion, these are 10 of the worst modern bands.

1. One Direction

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People only like them because they are a bunch of pretty boys even though their music sucks. Nobody cares about the Joe bros anymore, even if they do suck. At least 1D doesn’t have a Disney series, but still a band who are only popular because of their annoying teenage fan base who seem to think being good-looking makes you good at singing.

2. La Oreja de Van Gogh

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If you recorded every time your drama-queen sister cried when rejected by a stud, or had a tantrum after a love-fight or a break-up, and set it to melodramatic movie music, you would have La Oreja de Van Gogh’s almost entire song list. They also wrote “Adelante” the international anthem of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, BBVA, nice uh? Now what if that drama-queen sister of yours was lead singer in a band? Well, this is how the melodramatic lyrics written by La Oreja’s lead singers and mates would sound like.

Back in the ’80s, most of pop in Spanish bands that grew out of their local markets came from Spain. But those days the playing field were flatter than Earth was for 15th-century conquistadors, and La Oreja attempted to take over radio waves in the New World.

Their records, which to virgin ears or someone with a severed ear will sound refreshing and innovative back in the then current reggaeton-overdosed state of Hispanic boring pop music, were pretty much similar to the previous release (i.e. ‘Guapa’ and ‘Lo Que Te Conté Mientras Te Hacías la Dormida’), and the band’s music did not ventured beyond the melodic-guitar pop rock infused with a synthesizer found on most of, if not all of its albums, and seeing as how it tends to err, discover new markets with each release (U.S. peeps in this case), La Oreja played safer than Chris Columbus landing on a Bahamian beach. The band have seen its share of fame and fortune, no doubt, through the possession of the ring of power. The single ‘La niña que llora en tus fiestas’ released in 2011 is a promise that the band is keeping the crying that has made La Oreja a successful, if not a talented band, in Spain and Latin America selling over 8 million records.

3. Limp Bizkit

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Limp Bizkit shot to fame behind guitarist Wes Borlands outlandish performance appearance, and lead singer/rapper Fred Durst somehow fooling audiences into believing that he possessed any level of awesomeness. He possessed none whatsoever. The band altogether, did possess an astronomically high level of bat-shit insanity. Question, how can 5 perfectly sane men agree to name their creation “Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water”? The answer is they can’t. All 5 were as crazy as any notion that they produced any good material.

Thank goodness they broke up because Borland would have murdered Durst in an insane rage, catapulting his douche baggery to the level of influencing lead singers to this day. Imagine a world with every band, sporting an immature tool who thinks he’s a rapper commanding all the attention. They eventually reunited and continue to annoy audiences worldwide

4) Nickelback

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Nickelback successfully completed the soundtrack to the clone invasion soon to come, by taking every rock and roll cliche and using it in the most cliche way possible. Lead singer Chad Kroeger, his two brothers and some dude stole their bands name from some barista chick at Starbucks, and then went on to be named Billboards Adult Pop Artist of the Decade in ’09. Nickelback also boasts the distinguishing honor of being the greatest Canadian contribution to American pop culture next to Degrassi Junior High.

If your mind gets blown by the band who’s playing the band, disguised as another band, then Nickelback is the band for you. The only thing worse than their music is the fact that they still make it. After opening for the 2010 Olympics the band announced plans to release their seventh album in late 2011. OMG!

5) Coldplay

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Now before you insult me in comments to express how important you feel Coldplay is, take a second to contemplate the size of the chunks they blow, while their song that you are playing makes you contemplate suicide. The band are very pretty but very boring. Their songs are half-written and they play them at half-speed so you don’t notice how little there is to their stuff.  Arguably the most talented band on this list, which only makes things worse, Coldplay is a bad mixed cake made of Radiohead and Oasis batter, that tastes and sounds like s*it. It’s amazing how followers can eat it and remain alive to tell tales of the abysmal darkness, buried deep within their albums.  But there’s hope: Chris Martin recently played a beautiful song with REM’s frontman who sang the song.  And Chris was pretty humble introducing his guest artist.

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6) Good Charlotte

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Any band that credits the legendary Social Distortion as a strong musical influence would be expected to make good songs, and Good Charlotte does. That is, if you’re into sappy, slap-happy, MTV friendly ballads written for teenagers, grounded in assumptions of the worlds inability to understand them. Those teenagers are absolutely correct by the way. No one will ever understand how they can tolerate this worse, even less talented version of Blink 182. It is certifiably impossible to discern which of the Madden brothers sucks the most, or which one dated the bigger slag.

Good Charlotte makes two fighting Hyenas sound like a 150 piece classical orchestra, and in their music, anything old is new. The band completed a studio album in early 2010, but quickly scrapped it entirely, utterly confident in their ability to create anything worse. On September 1, 2011, Good Charlotte announced a hiatus via interview with Rolling Stone. In an interview with The Gunz Show, bassist Paul Thomas revealed that Good Charlotte may not begin recording a new album until 2013.

7) Jonas Brothers

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Known for their Brady Bunch-like wholesome image, the Jonas Brothers lifted swooning to new pedestals in the mid 2000’s. Their innocent teenage girl hormone exciting, gender bending, expedited adolescent sound can be summed up in one word, Disney. Well documented are the purity rings and the evangelical tone, but even hardcore fans are surprised to learn that the band hails from the recently infinitely glamorized, Jersey Shore. Sorrentino, Polizzi, JONAS?!

Well versed in the classic, the trio are workaholics, and have amassed in six years, a catalogue more extensive than most bands from the 1960’s and 70’s. While a third of the world would like to see them involved in a fatal car accident, one hopes witnessing their direction (or misdirection) freed from the walls of the house that Walt Disney built. We shall see.

8) Goo Goo Dolls

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One listen to any Goo Goo Dolls record instantly reverts any middle-aged woman onto a dramatic, obsessed pubescent girl. Whenever I hear them and their trademark sound, optimally composed to grocery shop or ride elevators to, I get infuriated due to the fact that the band was days away from breaking up before writing “Iris”, the song that instantly catapulted them to worldwide superstar status. Oh, and lead singer Johnny Rzeznik will totally bone your wife, weather she wants it or not.

Analyzing the Goo Goo Dolls material is right on par with watching a newly painted wall dry, then repeatedly bashing your head into it. The band released their latest album in summer 2010 and have recorded a live mini concert performed at the Apple Store in Manhattan, NY in December, which they released in 2011.

9) Oasis

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Why is Oasis among the worst? Because Liam Gallagher only plays tambourine and possesses the single most nasal voice in pop, and was obnoxious enough to make fun of INXS at an award ceremony when INXS’s front man and singer Michael Hutchenson handed him an award. Because “Wonderwall” is pure nonsense. Because they combine simple composition with over-the-top production and pretentious length. “Champagne Supernova,” anyone? Because they’ve been caught ripping off other artists’ songs, including Stevie Wonder, The New Seekers, and Neil Innes. Because their backstage altercations always boiled down to sibling rivalry. What’s next, hair-pulling and time-outs? But mainly because courting comparisons to the Beatles is always lame, no exceptions. See also: Liam Gallagher On His Brother Noel: “I’d Rather Eat My Own Shit Than Be In A Band With Him Again”

10) Rush

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It’s often said that people either love Rush or hate them, but a more accurate statement is that most people hate Rush, while a scattered few really love them. Rush is perhaps the only ’80s band, along with U2, that can sell out 20,000-seat venues on tour. So “a scattered few really love them” isn’t just a bad argument; it’s a falsehood.

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Today, I figured I’d poke a little fun at some of the most insanely zealous rock fans out there. Man, do Rush fans love their Toronto Trio. NEIL PERT RULES!!!!! The thing is, the rest of the world who isn’t a die hard Rush fan, is unable to tolerate them for much more than a few seconds. There is very little middle ground with these guys.Actually, the title of this post is misleading. I could only come up with 1,742 why our mulletted Canadian friends are crap. But really, there is only one that matters. Two words: Tom Sawyer. That synth / techno / disco opening shakes my bones like a dentist drill. Not a fan.

Modern Drummers: Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers

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Ronald “Ronnie” Vannucci, Jr. (born February 15, 1976) is the drummer of the American rock band The Killers. He is also involved in a side project called Big Talk.

Vannucci was born to an American couple with Italian, French and German ancestry. He began drumming at an early age and continued to perform from age 6 on. He was a part of his junior high school’s jazz ensemble and later attended both Clark and Western High Schools. He would finalize his B. A. with a focus on percussion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on May 14, 2011 while The Killers were on hiatus.

He played in various popular local bands in Las Vegas including Attaboy Skip (which also included Branden Campbell) and Expert on October (which also included Taylor Milne and Ted Sablay). Vannucci was working as a photographer at Chapel of the Flowers, a wedding chapel on the Las Vegas Strip when he joined Dave Keuning and Brandon Flowers who had recently begun performing as The Killers. He had met the pair while playing drums for Romance Fantasy. They would practice at Vannucci’s garage, and then in the UNLV band room after hours in 2002 and 2003.

Vannucci has previously and does currently help write The Killers hit songs (including “When You Were Young”, “Believe Me Natalie”, “Spaceman”, “Bones”, “Miss Atomic Bomb”, “A Dustland Fairytale”, “Human”, “Somebody Told Me”, “On Top”, etc.).

He was featured on the cover of Drummer Magazine in June 2009 and on the cover of Rhythm Magazine in October 2006 (where he was dubbed “pop’s dymanic showman”) and again in November 2008. He has also been featured in Modern Drummer Magazine in March 2009, and in Drumhead Magazine in September and again in October 2008. He will be featured on the cover of Modern Drummer Magazine in February 2013.

Vannucci won in the 2006 and 2007 Modern Drummers Reader Polls.

He was listed at #49 on the NME Cool List of 2011.

Big Talk
It was announced on February 1, 2011 that Ronnie Vannucci Jr. had recorded a solo album during The Killers’ hiatus. Fans were also notified via The Killers’ fansite, The Victims, on February 2, 2011. Rumors formed stating that Vannucci was creating a solo album while The Killers went on hiatus well before that. The album is titled Big Talk aiming with tongue and cheek at the abundance of music being put out by labels before it’s being fully prepared. NME named the album #24 on its Best Albums of 2011 list. The album was mixed by Alan Moulder and recorded in London with Joe Chicarelli as producer. Matt Sharp and long time friend Taylor Milne were enlisted to help record the album. The debut solo album by The Killers’ Ronnie Vannucci – and the name of his band as well as the record – Big Talk was preceded by a single, Getaways, on May 10.

Vannucci currently uses Craviotto Drum Company drums, DW 9000 Series pedals and hardware with Zildjian cymbals and Remo drum heads,

He mainly plays with his kit set up using a jazz technique with a high stool and hitched-up snare stand. He attributes this to his 6’1″ frame, a former teacher who whipped him, and the examples of great drummers including Mitch Mitchell and many jazz performers.

He is known for crashing his hi-hats, skillful sixteenth notes, and a fluid playing style. Drummer Magazine labels them a “few distinctive hallmarks [that] help characterize Ronnie’s style”.

Vannucci and his band mate, bassist Mark Stoermer, have what they consider a rewarding relationship musically. Of Stoermer, Vannucci has said, “He almost intuitively knows what I am going to play and his parts are so rhythmic its a joy to dance around him I really enjoy thinking up parts with him. . . it works very well for us.”

He cites influences such as jazz legend Papa Jo Jones, Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Keith Moon of The Who, and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. He also lists as influences The Cure, U2, Depeche Mode and more modern drummers including Charley Drayton, Steve Jordan, and Ahmir Thompson.

Related posts:
What Makes A Good Drummer
Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin’s Drummer John Bonham (Bonzo)
Ginger Baker: Rock’s first superstar drummer
Gojira: Mario Duplantier Drum Solo @ Babelec Festival