Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 51: Kris Gustofson

Kris Gustofson is the drummer for Bay Area thrash metal band Trauma. Trauma’s first era took place during the early 1980s when they released the splendid debut album “Scratch and Scream”. The band, which briefly featured future Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, reunited in 2013. Its current bassist is the former Testament member Greg Christian. Since the reunion, Trauma has released two albums, “Rapture and Wrath” and “As the World Dies”. Original singer Donny Hillier died in 2020 and the band is now regrouping and working on a new album. Kris Gustofson was also the drummer for St. Elmo’s Fire and is the son of jazz drummer Gus Gustofson. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Kris to find out about the five albums that changed his life.

Montrose “Montrose” (1973)

“I love this album. The way it was recorded and sounds. I would practice playing my drums to this record, songs like ‘Rock Candy’, ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, ‘Space Station #5’. The musicianship to this day is stellar! Sammy Hagar vocals, Ronnie Montrose guitars, Bill Church bass, Denny Carmassi drums. Ted Templeman produced this. I sat listening to this album over and over again. I believe I played it so much, I wore the LP out and went and got another. Songwriting is great. I really liked the drum intro to ‘Rock Candy’. I would try and get my drums to sound as close as possible to the record, which i couldn’t do, I was a kid and had no dollars. I also didn’t have the 26″ bass drum, 15″ rack tom and two big ol’ fatty floor toms to get that sound. That intro on ‘Rock Candy’ has become an iconic drum intro. Very simple, but the groove, sound and feel Denny did on that was brilliant. First time I heard this album I was floored. To hear another four-piece band that had a huge fat sound similar to Zeppelin was stunning. I still listen to this album once in a while even today. It reminds me of a different time when a band could go in and sound so raw and just nail it.”

Led Zeppelin “The Song Remains the Same” (1976)

“Talk about being kicked in the teeth! Went to the midnight movies with about 15 friends for two movies. The first movie was The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which I really love. The Zeppelin movie played next. What an eye-opening experience that was. I went and bought the double live album the next day. I’m not going to go into detail here. Anybody who has seen this movie and listened to what this band was capable of doing live knows. This band was incredible. I was hooked. Huge influence on me. Actually, all of their albums are a huge influence on me. I loved the way Bonham played, from the heart. I saved every dollar I could to get a set of big drums, 26″ kick drum, etc. I still have them to this day. I still listen to Zeppelin when taking road trips. I still get influenced by their music. Seems that i always find something new within the structure of the compositions that I hadn’t heard before. Each album a timeless masterpiece!”

Black Sabbath “Paranoid” (1970)

“OMG… For me, this was the gateway for what I wanted to do. From the first listen to ‘War Pigs’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Hand of Doom’, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. Simply blown away… The riffs, the time signature changes, tempo changes, everything. It was an ear bender. I can remember my mother asking me ‘What the hell are you listening to?’ since she listened to big band music – Count Basie, Sinatra – which I really got into as well since my father was a big band drummer. Sabbath was lethal, especially when played at a nice loud volume! All of Sabbath’s albums are great! Heavily inspired, influenced by this band. The Dio years were awesome as well. I loved ‘Heaven and Hell’, the sound of these records and ‘Paranoid’ were recorded masterfully. The riffage between Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler and then the thundering of Bill Ward or Vinnie Appice, could blow the roof off! Sheer raw power.”

Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” (1970)

“I started listening to Billy Cobham, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones and many other jazz/fusion players. A very interesting album indeed. All improvised by some of the best of the best players. Knocked me out listening to this album and influenced me to think in different musical ways in my approach to music. I love this album! I recommend this album to anyone who wants to be a serious player. There is so much to learn here it is incredible. The album was done in three separate sessions which is really cool. I listen to this album still to get inspired when in a slump. The musicianship will never be duplicated. Outstanding body of work here!”

Jeff Beck “Blow by Blow” (1975)

“I remember when a friend spun this album for me for the first time and put on ‘Freeway Jam’. I thought, ‘This is so bad ass!’ I went and bought a copy the next day and began a full study of what this was about. Jeff Beck is one of the best. All songs on this album had a heavy influence on me as a player. I thought to myself that If I could play any of these songs with the groove and feel that this record had, I felt I was doing something right. Drummer Richard Bailey is simply brilliant on this album, his stick work and brush work on ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’ is superb. I am heavily influenced by this album as many other musicians were over the years were. This album made me really think about exploring different types of music. I highly recommend giving this one a listen. One of the all-time best! The musicians on this album are stellar! This one was a game changer for me as a musician.”