Abe attended the Dick Grove School of Music, studying with Peter Donald, during his junior year in high school. He also attended the Hamilton High School Academy of Music his senior year. In 1989, he was honored by the National Foundation For The Advancement Of The Arts and Down Beat magazine. He then enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, where he graduated in 1993.
"In High School, around the age of 16, I went to a school in L.A., the Dick Grove College of Music. I would go there at night; 3 nights a week and I’d study with Peter Donald. I also studied ear training and harmony. For my last 2 years of High School, I went to a great music High School that opened up in L.A. called Hamilton Academy of Music. I was exposed to electronic music and programming as well as playing in the marching band and jazz band. I also had a jazz trio with a pianist named Vernell Brown and a bassist named Mike Elizondo. Mike has gone on to become an incredibly talented bass player and producer. As a result of playing in that trio I received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston."
Growing up with such great teachers Abe gets asked how his playing does not display more of the jazz and latin influences he garnered through his teachers:
"My favourite bands growing up were the Beatles, the Police, Big Country and Journey. I also listened to Chick Corea with the electric band and a lot of straight ahead like Miles, Coltrane and Monk. I was a big fan of Elvin and Dejohnette. However, I discovered that I was passionate about listening to and playing music with singers. I prefer it to instrumental, self-gratification stuff. I enjoy melody and lyrics. That’s what I identify with musically."
When asked what it was like, ultimately to have such a great musician as Abe Laboriel Sr. for a father and how it affected his playing and discipline:
My dad would come in and he’d say "play for me", he’d just want to listen. I’d play; 10 minutes would go by and he’d tap me on the shoulder and say "that was a good bar" and I’d be surprised, so I’d go back to playing and trying to figure it out and then he’d tap me again and say "yeah, that was good, that was one good bar". So after a while it’d become 2 good bars and then I started to realize that there was a difference. As an example he’d play me records with one of our favourite drummers, Jeff Porcaro. Where he’d play the back beat and the consistency from beat 1 all the way through to the end of beat 4 was undeniable. That heartbeat, that feel, there’s nobody like that, so I started to realize what he was talking about. Steve Gadd has a similar approach. A lot of drummers get one, two, three, four and then they get back to one a bit too soon. They forget they have to carry through until the next one and that was something my dad really impressed upon me.
Laboriel's first break as a drummer was a tour with guitarist Steve Vai. He then toured with Seal, where many record producers around Los Angeles, California saw him perform, leading to many recording sessions.
Laboriel next toured with k.d. lang for a while, where Sting saw him play with her, leading Laboriel to join Sting's touring band. The k.d. lang connection also led Laboriel to working with Paul McCartney, including McCartney's appearance during the halftime of Super Bowl XXXIX. He also toured and recorded on studio with former Menudo member, Robi Draco Rosa on his album Vagabundo.
In addition to the artists listed above, Laboriel has also recorded and performed with artists like Crystal Lewis, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Les Paul, Ashlee Simpson, LeAnn Rimes, Vanaz, Mylène Farmer, Letters to Cleo, Kelly Clarkson, Lady GaGa and others. Lewis and Laboriel were also both a part of the Nickelodeon Television Series, Roundhouse in the 1990s.
On the side, Laboriel was part of a power trio by the name of The Raging Honkies. He is part of the collective that is Chocolate Genius, Inc.
In 2006, in the show "Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy" (in English, "Before the shadow... at Bercy"), Laboriel sang "Les Mots" (in English, "the words") in duet with Mylène Farmer (French female singer).
Abe toured with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood on their 14-date American Tour in 2009 and is currently touring with Paul McCartney (Summer '09 Tour and 2010) and has been the drummer for the majority of McCartney's tours and recordings this decade.
Abe leaves this behind as advice for anyone approaching the art of drumming:
"Keep track of the simplicity. A lot of drummers get ahead of themselves. They want to try and learn some superfast fill before they learn how to just play time. One of the things I think is lost is, knowing how to play just kick, snare, and hi-hat first. To really make as much music out of that as you can. I learned that from a great teacher at Berklee. Phil Wilson, a great trombone player and the conductor of one of the best big bands at Berklee. He really took me under his wing. He asked me to jam with him during his lunch hour, in his office, once a week. So I excitedly showed up the first day and I had my entire drum kit with me, and he says "oh man what are you doing? It’s a little office…" To which I replied "well you want to jam" and he said "yeah but just set up your snare." So we’d sit there and we’d jam and all I had was my snare after a while I started to realise how much tonality I could get out of it, brush in one hand, stick in the other, hitting on the side, hitting on the stand, hitting on the music stand, suddenly I was making more music with less and then little by little he’d make a little more room so I could bring a kick drum and a hi-hat but we would jam with the smallest kit possible. It’s very easy for drummers to get overwhelmed with having too much choice. I think sometimes when you’re making music you have to break it down to the basics and really get to the core of it and that’s when things start to feel good and then feel clear. So that would be my first thing, to try and get someone to almost ignore half the drum kit and then concentrate on feel and groove and listening to who your playing with and making sure your motor is right."
Abe Laboriel Jr. is a Mexican American session drummer and as of 2010 still the drummer for rock artist Paul McCartney. He is the son of Mexican bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr. and brother of producer, songwriter, and film composer Mateo Laboriel.
Laboriel was mentored by well known percussionists and drummers, including Jeff Porcaro, Chester Thompson, Bill Maxwell and Alex Acuña, who had formed the band Koinonia with his father in the 1980s
"My father is a huge influence. When I was born my dad was going to Berklee College of Music in Boston, so I was surrounded by all of his pals from college. Then we moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when I was about 3 and I can remember going to rehearsals with him and guys like Joe Lovano and Jamie Haddad. They would rehearse songs and I would sit there singing the melodies back before they learned them and they’d look at me like I was kind of crazy. When I was 4, Jamie Haddad, a great percussionist with Paul Simon, gave me my first drum kit. He converted a floor tom into a kick drum and added a little snare and hi-hats. My dad would show me stuff to play and he’d jam with me. My mother’s a classically trained singer, and she sang folk music and played guitar."