On The Sticks
Drummer Ronan "Moudi" Neilson on being a drummer ready to break out
“When we start playing, it’s a feeling that is indescribable,” Moudi explained. “It’s like a natural high. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love playing shows and I don’t think I’ll ever give it up.”
The 22 year old Pueblo native, Ronan “Moudi” Neilson, might seem timid, but a whole other person comes out when he takes the stage. He let’s down his long curly hair, throws his shirt off to the side of the stage and plays the drums like no other. His understanding of speedy drum grooves is fascinating and his consistency is astonishing to say the least. Fast, slow, or moderate, he never fails to entertain a crowd.
Now, four years out of high school and just completing an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Applied Sciences, the busy Moudi is in high demand when it comes to anything Metal. From jamming in his basement to being apart of three different bands, he now has to juggle his time for practicing, school and work.
From a very young age, Moudi has had an interest in music and specifically with the drums. His father, Ben Neilson, who also had an interest for the drums, happened to be the single reason why an interest was sparked inside of Moudi.
“My first influence was my dad,” Moudi expressed. “He had a drum kit and I wanted to learn how to play, too. If it wasn‘t for that, who knows if I ever would have wanted to play the drums.”
That’s really where his story begins. When he graduated to middle school, that’s when he got his real taste of playing in a band. He joined the school band and he fell in love with the drums. Since then, he has kept a similar practice regimen, which is practicing on his drums when ever he gets a free moment.
“I’ve played in like a million different groups, but I’ve been able to play steady shows with three different groups,” he said.
After being burnt out from playing with Force the Trigger and the unofficial disbandment of the group, he has settled down with three different bands, which are three different subgenres of Metal.
In between school and playing, he has to fit his job into his schedule, too. He’s been working at Drive-In Autosound for a while now, but he’s holding this job so that he can have money while he’s making some moves with his groups. Though he doesn’t play for the money, it would be nice to make money to do the thing he loves the most.
He belongs to Div_ider, Bleed to Death and Rat Racer.
With Bleed to Death, he describes it as “Thrashy, Slayery and in your face.” This is one of the most recent groups he has played with and this is the one band that he plays shows with now. Div_ider and Rat Racer are projects that are still in a transition, but he plans on playing shows with those two groups as well, once those groups are complete.
“Div_ider is in a transition with its name and style,” he explained. “We are trying some new Djent stuff and it sounds very cool.”
The love for playing is alive in Moudi and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. When asked about the biggest gigs he has played, his eyes lit up and he quickly had an answer ready.
“The All Shall Perish gig at The Blacksheep motivated me a lot and Impending Doom was another big one,” Moudi explained.
So, outside of his passion for the drums, there’s an interesting background story to his nickname, Moudi. Before changing his name to Ronan, his nickname was formed. Moudi was something his dad called him, so it was an easier name to say. It was the only Lebanese Arabic name that has stuck with him since the name change. The first part of his name was Mohammed, which translated to “the praised one,” but he didn’t want the name of a prophet.
“My father gave me a story-long name that meant savior of the world, and I was like I don’t want to hold that title,“ Moudi explained. “People would also make fun of me for my name. I just got so much sh** for it, so I changed it.”
With the name change being a distant memory, Moudi is now able to focus on his ability to play the drums, instead of explaining how to pronounce his name.
The fundamentals of playing the drums might not be the hardest thing to learn, but the ability to play them at a certain speed and with a certain style is a feat that not many drummers have achieved. With passion and skill, Moudi is on hot pursuit to play with agility similar to Alex Rudinger, who is a multi-band/studio drummer. They both have that in common, they’re good at what they do and have branched out to different styles as drummers.
Moving forward from here, Moudi will continue to get better and will hopefully create some more opportunities in the future. He will continue to play gigs with his bands and go to school to become a sound engineer. Even if he couldn’t turn his love of drums into a career, he’ll still play on the side while he records other bands.