So I’m here with…
From King Tuff. And we’re going to talk about drums. Even though before this, you said that you knew nothing about drums. Why did you say that?
I was exaggerating a little bit but I really don’t…When drummers talk shop or talk gear, I don’t know what I’m talking about at all. Drumming was something I kind of fell into. I’ve never actually learned that much about it. I don’t know my rudiments, I don’t really know how to tune a drum. I like music a lot, and once you get a drum kit, everybody wants you to play drums, because it’s the one thing that’s hard to find in a band. I ended up falling into it just because I started playing.
So how long ago was that, when you fell into it?
I guess I was 16? I was playing guitar, and then the band I had when I was a teenager broke up, and me and my friend were trying to start a new band, and we kept trying to get drummers, and it was hard to meet anyone. We kept trying people on drums and I was like “I could probably do this better.” I knew a guy that lived down the street from me that had a kit that he didn’t play, and I convinced him to sell it to me. Next thing I knew, I was never without a band to play with, because people always need drummers.
You got stuck with it.
I got stuck with it.
With that in mind, there’s not a defining moment where you decided, intentionally, to be a drummer?
I never set out to do it, no. (laughing). Of course I like watching drummers, and I’m a fan of different drummers, and favorite drummers, and I have things that I try to emulate and styles that I love. I’m not much of a jammer unless it is song oriented. I always want to come back to the song. I’ve been in really jammy bands before and it was really boring for me. I have to like a band a lot to want to play drums for them. Most of the time.
Who are some of your favorite drummers?
Keith Moon, Levon Helm, Zigaboo.
Are you successful with [emulating them]?
I have my own version of all that shit. Drumming is funny because no one does it exactly the same. I’d say moreso than any other instrument. I’ve played bass in bands, I’ve played guitar in bands, and drumming is like, a fingerprint. A different drummer is totally going to change your band. The layperson might not pick up on it, but they’ll know it sounds different. It ranges from subtle or drastic.
What do you think your effect on the bands that you play in is, with that in mind?
Hah. I’m real loose. Loose and sloppy…If I’m playing with a band I try to think of what best will serve the song.
Would you say that you are purposefully loose?
Not really. It’s just the way I figured out how to play. I don’t think I’m so loose that I’m off time, but there’s definitely a lot of give, and push and pull. I could never do something that was metronomically precise. Actually, I have had to play in studios to a click. I hate doing it, but if I have to do it I can do it. Sonny and the Sunsets, who are going to play over there in a little bit, I recorded with him, and a lot of times he’ll have everything tracked but the drums, and I’ll have to lay down a beat behind all this other stuff.
Are the other things recorded to a click?
Sometimes, and sometimes not. I’ve done a couple things with him and sometimes it’s really a challenge. Or he’ll ask me to do another track of drums where I’ll just do weird fills that he’ll use. More than playing live, I like playing drums in the studio setting and really working on songs. Live is exhausting. Especially with a band like King Tuff. It doesn’t come naturally for me to play really loud and hard. I had to work up to that.
So you prefer studio work?
I’d say so. It’s more fun, and more rewarding.
That’s interesting. I feel like the assumption would be that the live setting is more fun, and the studio is more tedious.
For drums, for me, that’s not the case. But for other instruments, maybe. If I was playing bass or guitar, it can be more fun to do stuff live. But for drums it’s fun to put stuff on tape and hear it back. It’s like putting a puzzle together.
So are drums your main instrument?
It is definitely what I’ve done in bands the most. I’ve been in a lot of bands, and I mostly play drums. But I’ve done other things in bands too.
Is there another band that I should know you’re in?
The most popular band I’ve probably been in is this band called Girls. That was a pretty successful project. I played with them for two years, I’m their first record, an EP, and a couple singles. That was probably the most well known thing that I’ve done. There’s a band called Howlin Rain that I played with for a little while. I play bass for this band Personal and the Pizzas sometimes. It’s a weird novelty punk band. People don’t seem to want to let it die.
It’s not like Pizza Underground?
No. When Pizza Underground came along, Spin asked Drew, the main guy, “What do you think about Pizza Underground?” and he tried to start…
A WWF style feud. He was like…what did he say? “First we’re gonna to kill’em, then we’re gonna sue ‘em. Don’t fuck with the Pizzas.” But they never responded back so it didn’t escalate. We’re stupid too so it’s not a big deal. You also can’t get mad if your own project is blatantly ripping off a thing. It’s basically just Stooges and Ramones riffs recycled into songs about pizza and beating up pirates. It’s really blatant.
So being in all these bands, lets say one of them comes to you with a song idea, and they tell you that they only want one cymbal texture for the song, and you have to choose the hi hat or the ride, and you have to stick with it the entire song.
It really depends on the song. Hi hat is cool because it can almost be not even a cymbal if you don’t want it to be. It blends in and doesn’t sound intrusive. You can put other percussion over it. It’s less spicy.
Is that what you would go with? Less spicy?
I don’t know. I’d have to hear the song first.
(At this point a dude came up and started talking with us about baseball. Garrett is a Giants fan. I am a Cardinals fan. We talked about how we hated each other’s teams but also about their recent success).
Another weird question: Do you have a limit on the size of crash you would crash?
No. Though I’ve never really had a big crash. I’ve always just kind of taken what’s come my way or been given to me. I don’t have much of a reference point. If you want to talk to me about cymbals or gear, all I can say is when the drumset I am playing at the time sounds good.
I think the set you were playing on earlier was donated from Revival.
Yeah, it was cool. Maybe tuned a bit high, but it sounded good.
Did they donate the cymbals too?
No, those are mine, and my snare.
You mentioned some favorite artists. Do you have a favorite song, or even fill, that you hear and want to play?
Well, I never practice along to anything unless I’m playing with someone. I never play drums by myself. I think that is really boring.
I’ve tried to do those little hi hat things that Zigaboo does on The Meters stuff. Those weird…I’m not good with sixteenth notes in general, those little accents. I try to do different versions of that. Actually you know who was fucking rad that I saw recently? Television. They are still amazing. They are such a guitar band, and no one talks about Billy Ficca, and he’s insane. Getting to watch him right up close, my jaw was on the floor. How do you even follow? His fills were bizarre and awesome. They are so much more loose and expansive when they play live, all over the place, in a really great way.
Yeah, I’m thinking of some of his fills in “Prove It.”
On the record it sounds very contained, but live they just blow it wide open. They’re just so loose and crazy, and really interesting.
Besides yourself, who would you say is your favorite drummer at Pickathon this year?
Yeah. If you forget somebody, they are going to be mad at you.
I know right. I’m totally going to forget everybody. Erik from Meatbodies and he also plays in Pangea from LA. I can’t play on top of the beat, I’m always behind, but he’s always on it, propulsive. This band I just saw, I didn’t even know anything about them, Wolf People. Such a silly name, but they were straight up Liege and Lief era Fairport Convention. The drummer was amazing too. It was very 60’s style. They were really surprising. I’m not sure if I can think of anyone else. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.
That’s ok. Thanks so much for talking with me.