This is the second blog I’ve done for moderndrummer.com. The last one was about being on tour in England and going on a day off to pay quiet respects in Rushock Parish to one John Henry Bonham and encountering, of all things, a black dog at his resting place. (Yes, that really happened.) But more importantly…
I recently completed two projects that I’m really excited about. One is a new Fu Manchu song called “Robotic Invasion” from a group of songs for the forthcoming album that we are readying for 2014. It will be our first since 2009. Why so long? Well, in 2009, when we recorded our last album, Signs of Infinite Power, we went on the road and did two tours of America and Europe. That took us up until the end of 2010. Then we did two reissues of our albums In Search Of and The Action Is Go. We toured on of those through America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, playing both albums in their entirety. That ate up most of 2011/2012 and the beginning of 2013. In that time there were also tours for me with Social Distortion and Orianthi, filling in for missing drummers (drummers tend to go missing, you know.) Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about all those students as well!
So in that brief history of time, there were also many riffs floating about that Bob Balch (guitarist of Fu Manchu) would send me over the inter-web, and I would send him drum parts to match the riffs. Or I would start a drum warm-up, get inspired, and send him a few beats to write riffs to. Pretty soon there was a treasure trove of good stuff going. We also had a bunch of different things that we thought might not fit the Fu, so we decided to do something with them.
In January of 2013 we found ourselves in the studio of the other Scott Reeder in Palm Desert, California. This is the man who laid down the thick foundation of bass for the mighty, legendary Kyuss. After meeting each other finally in person (the “stoner rock” universe tilted slightly, I think) we got down to business and I put down drums for ten songs in four hours. Bob and I were well rehearsed, so we blew through them in good order, keeping mostly first takes. What we didn’t expect was for Mr. Reeder to lay down bass guitar for the songs, which he did eventually, being so inspired by what he heard.
The result is the debut album by Sun and Sail Club, Mannequin. Bob did all the vocals on Vocoder to give the record a slightly out-of-this-world feel grounded in riff-heavy rock. It was amazing fun to play and even more fun to listen to once Scott Reeder had put his amazing touch on bass to it.
With Sun and Sail Club and new Fu Manchu on the horizon, as well as a twenty-fifth anniversary of the band looming soon, it’s going to be a busy couple of years of drumming. Couldn’t ask for much more.
On these and the Fu Manchu sessions, I decided to return to my natural-finish Classic Maple kit by Ludwig that I used to record and tour with on the Fu’s We Must Obey album and tour. The drums were a 12×14 tom, 16×16 and 16 x18 floor toms, and a 14×26 kick drum. The snare was a 1971 6.5×14 Supra-Phonic. Two Rototoms, size 12″ and 13″, rounded out the drums. I used primarily Sabian AAX crashes—two 18s and two 20s—an 18″ Ozone crash, and 15″ AA Hi-Hats. The ride was the trusty 22″ Paragon that just blows doors for volume and sheer Keith Moon–like brilliance when you want to crash-ride on it. It takes it and gives it back in spades. Vic Firth 5Bs were of course my wood of choice, and Evans were the heads that I abused. A brand-new set of Classic Maples has already been delivered by the drum Santas at Ludwig (thanks Santa Packard and Santa Wagers!) for touring purposes next year. Can’t wait to share them with you all!
Cheers and keep rocking.
by Waleed Rashidi from Modern Drummer May 2009
Talk about trial by fire: Several years ago, when drummer Scott Reeder landed the gig with the heavy rock quartet Fu Manchu, his first release with the band wasn’t a proper studio album where he could punch in parts and run several takes. Rather, thousands of Fu Manchu fans were left to decide on the drummer’s qualifications while listening to the aptly titled live recording Go For It.
Reeder, who was raised on a diet of Stewart Copeland, Neil Peart, Bill Stevenson, and John Bonham, first came to prominence with the band Smile on their 1994 Atlantic release, Maquee. Though Smile’s more popbased 1998 album, Girt Crushes Boy, found Scott exploring new territories, sliding into Fu Manchu’s heavy groove meant playing smart from the start. “My approach was pretty much about playing just what’s needed,” recalls Reeder, who learned more than fifty Fu Manchu songs in four weeks and then hit the road with the band for seven months.
These days Reeder’s comfortable enough with his gig to throw down solos at shows. “You’ve got to arrange a solo to have a definite beginning, middle, and end,” Scott says. “But don’t make it too long, because there’s definitely a propensity for people to go get a beer during that part of the show!”
See the article at Modern Drummer
Hello to all of you. My name is Scott Reeder and I play drums for a living. And I pinch myself every day. I’ve been drumming for close to twenty-eight years now, the last fifteen professionally. And I’ve been playing, recording, and touring for the past seven years in a band called Fu Manchu. I’ve had many great experiences because of the drums, and I’d like to share one of the strangest ones with you, if you don’t mind.
It was June 2007, and Fu Manchu was playing two nights at the Wolverhampton Little Civic in Wolverhampton, England. We’d been on tour since mid-February and were winding down the first leg of the We Must Obey tour in support of the album of the same name. Playing two nights in the same city afforded us the opportunity to actually get off of the bus and possibly see some sights, smell some smells other than each other, and taste the local cuisine (late night curry). With only seven days left in the tour before a lengthy summer break back home in California, I was lucky to have my wife join me for the last nine days, making the home stretch that much homier. We had planned the second day of our Wolverhampton residency to include a journey to the countryside in search of the resting place of one John Henry Bonham.
I’d spent the day before searching for the tiny church of Rushock Parish on maps, but couldn’t locate it. In fact, no one even seemed to know that it existed. I knew Bonham was from the surrounding area, and I’d read in a magazine recently an account of his last days in Zeppelin. The article mentioned the church where his services were held, and that his resting place was in the churchyard. But I was getting nowhere with the Internet in my search for the correct route, how long it would take to get there by train or bus, or if we could even get a car there.
I visited the bus station opposite our hotel, and one of the men working there stuck up a conversation after he heard my American accent: “Where are you trying to get off to?” When I told him, he replied, “Oh yeah, great one he was. Seen ’em at Knebworth in ’79. Great show, had a couple of programs I should of held on to, worth quite a few quid now I suppose—.” He then told me the easiest way to go would be to take a train to Kidderminster, about forty minutes away, and once there to try to hail a local cab driver who might know the area and be able to take us to the church. He said the area was quite rural, which actually made me happy. Even though I wanted to go, I had no interest in participating en masse in some ritual display of celebrity hero worship that usually involves leaving empty bottles or other trash in your wake as some sort of tribute, like at Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. We simply wanted to pay our respects and remain respectful.
With our sound man Gabe and my wife, Jennifer, in tow, I set off by train from Wolverhampton as the sky threatened us with a good pelting of midlands English rain. It didn’t disappoint. When we had to transfer five stops up the track, we were forced to cower under the thin awnings of the rail station as the water angrily lashed the metal. I had never seen rain like this. We began to wonder if we’d made the right choice in going out into the countryside on a day that had suddenly turned from just grey and windy to downright ominous. Luckily, by the time of our arrival in Kidderminster, we had clear skies. Now we had to see if we could find a driver who new of our remote destination. Sure enough, the first taxi we came upon had a driver who knew exactly where to take us.
Down heavily wooded one-lane country roads we flew, the scenery changing from small village brick lanes to thick hedges, fields of green that stretched on for what seemed mile upon mile, and old tractors parked in front of tiny farm houses. We stopped once to get one last-minute explicit direction from an old woman who was walking her dog, and before we knew it we were parked out in front of a tiny grey stone church, surrounded by weatherworn headstones and crosses. The cab driver told us he would wait for us as long as possible, but with the meter running in English pounds, we knew we shouldn’t take too long. The three of us walked solemnly through a rickety gate into the churchyard, and proceeded to the left of the church and around back.
The gravestones thinned out as we came around the corner to the backside of a dresser-size headstone. As we walked around its front we saw the giant bundle of drumsticks that had been sitting through many a day and night outside against the grave. Someone had left a Red Hot Chili Peppers all-access backstage laminate on the corner of the headstone. Along its perimeter, coins lay in single file, a traditional symbol for the wait for the ferryman who takes you to the other side. Amid the peaceful silence of the surrounding fields I read the inscription that paid tribute to the man who was a father and husband, aged only thirty-two years when he passed. He had been gone twenty-seven years.
Many of us have certain people who’ve greatly inspired us to pursue our craft and our dreams. But it’s easy to overlook that first and foremost they themselves are friends, spouses, and parents. When someone great passes, especially too soon, as is the cliché in rock ’n’ roll, the loss we feel as fans must pale in comparison to that felt by those who are close and in some cases grew up with them on their journey to achieve their dreams. Visiting John Bonham’s grave made me sad and at the same time extremely grateful for being able to do what it is that I love, whether that means touring, recording, teaching, or even going on auditions. The only reason I was standing here in this spot was because of drums. I also had the feeling that I did not want to leave, because this was as close as I would ever get to saying “thank you” in person to a drummer who has for years been such an inspiration and a blueprint for what it is that I do. But there was nothing left to do or say, so with these mixed feelings, the three of us turned to depart.
At that precise moment a large, happy black dog bounded around the corner of the church and trotted over towards us. He came right in front of the gravesite, turned a few circles, and laid down on the ground in front of the headstone. He rolled on his back and all three of us had to laugh. It was as if someone decided to send us a little levity and say, “You’re welcome.”
That night was the second of two sold-out shows, and I definitely was in a reflective mood before our performance. We went on stage, and I sat down behind the drums and again said to myself, “You are very lucky.” Then we proceeded to lay waste to the midlands, and I played like I was out of my body. Every accent, crash, and sweat-drenched fill seemed to just happen, like breathing. I went to bed that night with a big smile on my face, thinking about the day and that Black Dog.
by Don Zulaica from Drum! Magazine Oct/Nov 2004
Sometimes change is good. Just ask Scott Reeder, who in 2001 took a left turn from various band and studio gigs to join SoCal rockers Fu Manchu after the departure of Brant Bork (“Without getting into details, it was an amicable parting.”), who had been with the band since 1997.
Even though Fu Manchu had to scramble to get Reeder situated for the tour supporting their 2002 CD California Crossing, and the record’s label – Mammoth – subsequently folded, the 28-year-old drummer soldiered on with a can-do attitude that would be welcome in any group situation. “I seem to get thrust into those kinds of situations a lot,” he scoffs, “where people would just hand me stuff and go, ‘Can you learn this in 24 hours?’ And I’ll be, ‘Yes! Let’s do it!'”
The successful tour was documented on the album Go For It… Live (released in Europe on Steamhammer/SPV), and the band – Reeder, guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, guitarist Bob Balch, and bassist Brad Davis took a little time off before working “in earnest” on their latest release Start The Machine (DRT) in the summer of 2003. “When we got serious it was: in our rehearsal studio in Costa Mesa four times a week, six or seven hours a day. [Producer] Brian Dobbs would come down from L.A. and sit in a room with us, and we’d methodically go through arrangements.”
The end result is a dozen songs that range from the heavy opener “Written In Stone,” to the eerily mellow “Out To Sea,” which features Reeder using percussion instruments you wouldn’t normally associate with a hard rock band like Fu Manchu.
“I’m playing with [Pro-Mark] Hot Rods, and I’m using an old 20″ ride with rivets in it,” he starts, before chuckling his way through the punch line, “and then I had Sabian get me… they have a 30″ ride. What happened is, we were trying to figure out a way to use it, because it’s so awesomely massive. You want to take it up to the mountains and sled on the damn thing, it’s so huge. Initially I wanted to play it with pipe drum mallets, because it’s basically a gong, but I ended up having to play that thing with my hands, because it just roared so much. The main drum track you hear, I’m playing the kit with Hot Rods, just really laid back, letting the rivet cymbal wash. But if you listen, in the background, you’ll hear the 30″ ride – basically I would warm it up with my hands.”
The rest of the album treads more familiar territory, with lots of solid grooves and slamming fills, including the sixteenth-note monster that leads off “I Can’t Hear You.”
“Hey, if you can get away with it,” he smiles. “I’m a big Bill Stevenson fan, big Descendents fan. When I first heard I Don’t Want To Grow Up and All, I’d heard nothing like that before. And we’re all really big Black Flag fans, and we all know that we can’t play like them, but I’m a fan of those kind of manic drum fills, you know? It’s the same reason I like Mitch Mitchell, just willing to go over the edge. ‘I Can’t Hear You’ was perfect for that. Energy. That’s what that song needed, that machine-gun go-for-it thing.
“There’s a really awesome Queen song from Jazz called ‘Dead On Time,'” he continues, “and there’s a fill in there that Roger Taylor does that’s so completely sloppy, but it’s wonderful. It works so well because the song is chaotic and driving, with this monster Brian May guitar riff. [Roger’s fill] sounds basically like he’s falling down the stairs on his drum set. There’s a fill like that, that’s a little bit more executed as far as being in time, in ‘Make Them Believe.’ It’s the fill that goes into the break before the very last chorus – it comes awkwardly out of the second chorus. Brian [Dobbs] was like, ‘I think we could get that fill to be a little more in time.’ And I’m like, ‘Brian, I don’t want it to be in time.’ The entire song is mid-tempo, everything is where you think it should be. I told him, ‘I want this particular fill to sound like you’re falling down the stairs, but landing on your feet.’ Kind of like when you see a cat falling down a tree and they’re [panicking]. Then they land on their feet and just walk away.”
Growing up, Reeder’s early drumming experiences were inspired by his cousin Kevin Nagel, playing in childhood “broomstick” bands before gravitating towards the drums. “To this day he’s a big influence on me,” Reeder stresses, “as Far as the passion – it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re playing in a huge band, or you’re Mr. Joe Whatever with five children playing in your church – he’s an extremely passionate drummer. He inspires me a lot. I can call him out of the blue and talk drums.
“After that, the first guy that spun my head was Alex Van Halen. He’s the first guy I was just, ‘What is this guy doing?‘ I guess he gets his due, but I don’t think he gets as much because he’s probably overshadowed by his brother. I’ve talked with Todd Trent ii Ludwig for hours about Alex’s sound. He still got that sound live, and his playing, as good as he is, it’s all about the songs. Another thing, that’s interesting is that he doesn’t play off the bass player. The bass player in Van Halen is like your traditional drummer, he keeps the root down.
“Then I heard Bill Stevenson who had all that energy, and Tommy Lee with Motley Crue. And right around that same time I got into Depeche Mode, at the late part of the ’80s.”
Insert a violent car crash sound effect here. Depeche Mode? Isn’t this sacrilegious? Reeder laughs, “I’m probably going to get killed for saying this, but if you take those songs and strip them down to the barest essentials, Martin Gore is a fantastic songwriter.
“Here’s the thing, I am more of a lover of songs. To me, the licks part of drumming is great, but… I heard a story recently about a Thomas Lang clinic. He sat down and for 20 minutes just blew everybody’s minds, all the stuff that he can do. And then the first thing he did when he set his sticks down, he said ‘That’s all great, but if you play like that, you’ll never get a job.'”