That’s 15 or so taps. Per second. Do that 60 times in a row and you’ve got a shot at being next year’s Valley’s Fastest Drummer, the annual event at Uptown Music.
This year’s event was Saturday, Nov. 20, at the store in Keizer. Drummers qualified during store hours by stopping by and posting a time. On Saturday, the five fastest finalists in each category took the stage.
Zachary Mendoza took Fastest Feet with 914 strokes in just one minute, in what the store’s Shane Hall called the fastest time ever registered in a final for Valley’s Fastest Drummer. For Fastest Hands, Frank Smith took gold with 891.
Of note was Mike Alexander, who placed second in both categories, registering 834 strokes with his feet and a blistering 867 on the hands.
“This is the fastest time we’ve had,” Hall said of Mendoza’s 914 time in the Fastest Feet competition.
Hall, a drummer himself, said the secret is in the grip and how the hand moves – “a fluid motion of how you’re able to get the stick to rebound so you’re already working on the downstroke of the next stick movement as it’s rebounding.”
In musical terms, Hall said reaching the times these two put down is like playing 16th notes, constantly, at a pace of more than 200 beats per minute.
The world record in fastest feet belongs to Mike Mallais, who put down 1,034 strokes in just 60 seconds with his feet. The world record for fastest hands is held by Mike Mangini, with an astonishing 1,247.
“These guys could be contenders,” Hall said. “Zach was very much impressive with a time of 914. That’s 100 beats off the record, but that’s not a whole lot of difference.”
Smith looked like he had designs on Fastest Feet too, and was visibly frustrated as he racked up a time of 800 strokes with his feet.
“I just sat down and played, didn’t really warm up,” Smith said. “Usually when I warm up faster tempos seem slower to me. If I start out quick, they seem quick.”
Hall said the drummers who excel at extremely fast strokes are often either involved in marching corps or are into speed metal.
Mendoza, 18, of Turner, and Smith, 19, of Lebanon, both cited metal drummers as their primary influences at the moment. Mendoza likes Matt Greiner of August Burns Red, while Smith fancies the style of Divine Heresy’s Tim Yeung.
“(Greiner) dominates the genre (of) metalcore,” Mendoza said. “In my opinion, he’s the best right now.”
Both are pretty quick studies; they’ve only been drumming about two years each. Shoot, Smith doesn’t even own a drumset.
“I’ll probably sell it,” Smith said of a Pearl snare drum he won as this year’s Fastest Hands champion.
Mendoza said it was “exciting” to win the competition, which he entered after pressure from friends.
“I just came in one day, they said there was a competition and my friends just made me do it,” he said.
But he got into it, too.
“I came in every day making sure I was first,” he said.
He qualified with an even-faster 928. The Cascade High School student admitted the ankles “start to burn” a little bit as the time wears on.