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.

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