All great bands have phenomenal drummers; John Bonham from “Led Zeppelin” and Matt Cameron from “Soundgarden” (and now “Pearl Jam”) first come to mind. But what all great drummers have in common is their ability to capture that big sound to make a band’s music come alive. Meet Evgeny Prokopenko, a talented percussionist and drummer who not only gives us that big sound we want from great drummers but who also has a fantastic story.
Evgeny’s Future Was Clear From the Beginning
Evgeny was born in Russia in 1983, and from an early age, he knew what he would be doing for the rest of his life. This prodigy began playing drums at only 11 years old. He went to a well-known music school (Belgorod State University of Arts and Culture) to develop his natural talent and majored in drums and percussion instruments.
In 2000, at the age of 17, he formed his first band “Chucky Ed,” which became an immediate local sensation. However, it was his next band, “Libido”— taking inspiration from the 90s Grunge rock scene— that got him a record deal from a major national record label, RDM. “Libido” enjoyed immense popularity across Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and the band picked up awards and gained plenty of airplay during its time.
Evgeny’s formal musical training and raw natural talent made him a highly in-demand musician by a multitude of bands. But it was in 2007 when he joined “Magnetic Anomaly” (Magnitnaya Anomaliya) when he finally found his calling. Here is a glimpse of Evgeny playing on the drums. Magnetic Anomaly’s impact on Russian music culture secured them an entry in a prominent Russian Rock publication.
In 2013, Evgeny’s creative side merged with his entrepreneurial spirit, and he created “Drum Cast” –a unique form of entertainment that focuses mainly on percussions and amazing beats. Featuring three drummers, Drum Cast’s success attracted famous pop stars like Svetlana Loboda, Mitya Fomin, “Mayakovsky,” and Roma Zhloud.
Fueled by his success back home, Evgeny had his eye on the entertainment capital of the world. And in 2016, he took the next step by moving to Los Angeles to seek out the very best musicians to work with. After working with “The Gitas” as a session drummer, Evgeny finally found his permanent home as the drummer for the LA alternative rock band, “Sick Mystic.”
Sick Mystic is firmly establishing their name and sound in the Southern California rock scene with an ever-growing audience and a loyal fan base. Along with being interviewed on the award-winning Granted Radio Podcast, Sick Mystic also joined other local SoCal bands at a Granted Radio Night event and plays on stages all over the state. Sick Mystic is a fantastic band with a solid future, and Evgeny’s talent gives them that indescribable “big” all-encompassing sound that makes them larger than life.
So, we sat down with Zhenya (Evgeny) to ask him some questions:
1.) Who are your favorite musicians/bands? Who inspired you?
I have always been inspired by music with powerful sound and vibes. So when I was young, I really liked hard rock and heavy metal bands. I was fond of “Metallica,” “Pantera,” “Megadeth,” “Mötley Crüe,” “Sepultura.” These bands from the 90s were my idols and let me fall for playing and writing music.
Then I started listening to various electronic music projects, “Prodigy” and “Infected Mushroom” were my favorites. Also, Rob Zombie, “Nine Inch Nails,” “Kasabian,” and Kid Rock also became the musicians that had a strong influence on me.
2.) Who is your current favorite artists/bands?
These days I try not to listen to any new music because I feel like it is time to get back to the roots. By roots, I mean classic hard rock bands that gave us the basics, the standard of the sound. Now when I work a lot in the studio on “Sick Mystic” upcoming EP, I have to be very focused on what I record, what I put into the track, what kind of energy, and which feeling.
Most new artists tend to use electronic sample drums, and for me as a professional drummer who grew up on live hard music, it sounds artificial and lifeless.
But speaking of new bands, my recent discovery was the British duo “Slaves” that were supporting “Kasabian” on their tour. I was surprised that just two musicians were able to create such a powerful, raw and robust sound and gave a great live show.
3.) You are a tremendous talent with so much motivation, what keeps you going?
I suppose what really keeps me going is the fact that I just like playing music— I love doing it, and I really enjoy this process. I love this feeling of being in a moment, in the process of creating the sound, and in a dance of playing the drums.
The process of creating music brings so much energy, satisfaction, joy, and meaning to my life; I feel really inspired and uplifted when I perform and record, especially when I create something and see the results. This path is not easy, but it’s worth every effort.
4.) Someone as talented as you belongs in Los Angeles. Was it always your goal to move here? What do you love about LA?
Of course, I always wanted to be in a place where the music industry is. Even when I was 17 years old, I realized that back in Russia we don’t have this hard music I wanted to play and any decent industry behind it. So I was dreaming about living in the city where it would be possible and where the market for this genre exists. And Los Angeles is undoubtedly the right place.
I love the people here who are more open and free; they know how to work and enjoy life as well; they are ready to create, look for something new and share the experience. This city gave me a chance to compose and play the music that I like and meet great musicians to do it with. I also love Los Angeles because I met some of my favorite artists and managed to learn from them by having private sessions. And let’s be honest; the climate and nature here are just fantastic, especially after cold and grey Moscow. The energy of the city is very light and chill, I certainly can breathe here and work on my music as I please.
5.) Now that you have been here for a few years and are positively contributing to the LA music scene, what’s next for you?
Well, currently “Sick Mystic” is the main project that I am focused on, because I believe we have excellent potential. We did establish ourselves here in Los Angeles, so we’re looking forward to releasing our new EP soon and start touring nation-wide. I’m very proud of the tracks we recorded, and I hope people will love them as I do. Also, I must say that we worked a lot on our live performances so that we are able to fire up any venue.
What’s next for me is what I always planned on: be part of a band, create great music, perform and put my soul into it. That is my I plan.
6.) Congratulations on your newborn baby. Would you like to see her gravitate towards drumming as you did? What advice would you have for her or anyone interested in the music industry?
Thank you so much! I would love her to do whatever she likes. I am sure my daughter will be interested in playing drums at a certain point (actually she already is), and I’m willing to teach her and share what I know. But I’m not going to push her; everyone should find their own path. And I will support and help her with it. Because being a musician is hard work – it takes years of training, thousands of concerts, endless hours in the studio, so it’s not just about being famous and glamorous.
I would advise to continually work on improving your sound, practice daily at least for a bit, be patient and focused on your goal, always move forward and never look back, then lots of doors open even if you move to another country as I did.
Evgeny is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he contribute positively to the community that he is in, but he also makes sure that he makes a big impact. The world needs more creative people like him as an inspiration to show what hard work and perseverance can accomplish. He has traveled the world, met and worked with the best, and has already made his mark on the rock scene. We can only imagine what Evgeny has in store for us next!