A Day Without Drums…
Friday February 26th, 2016
…is a day wasted? Having not had one in a while I could not tell the difference I suppose. Like any other thing that you do day in and day out, some days you feel like you have your “stuff” and other days it’s a phone in, even though you want to inspire and be inspired. One day two weeks ago was one of those days the “stuff’ was in good supply…thankfully!!
I got up and the first thought that hit my head was “wow, all I have to do today is play drums!!” We were starting the first day of writing on the new Fu Manchu record so I was excited to see what the guys had to throw at me. Someone asked recently “so who comes up with what in Fu Manchu?” Well…usually the guitar players come up with the riffs, the bass player comes up with the bass parts and the drummer comes up with the drum parts!! I know, super scientific, right? However, it’s fairly collaborative. If someone has a suggestion for a part we try it and unless it’s a clear vision, we jam the ideas and try and stitch them together into something cohesive. Brad has a great ear for beat placement so he’s a great foil to have as a drummer if I’m not sure about a part or he hears it going against what he’s playing. Brad is also mean guitar player as well so he usually has some great stuff hidden away that comes out after the riff factory of Hill and Balch has spilled out everything they have. I’m usually good for a riff or bridge or two with maybe a few lyric lines thrown in. The words we mostly leave to Hill though, as his imagination is always coming up with something cool relating to whatever he’s into at the time.
On this day we started with two new pieces that Scott had and they were fairly intense. So much so that the first go around with the first one knocked the power out of Bob’s guitar head. Pretty soon he fixed it and we were off and running. Some great time shifts and tempo stuff going on, a great place for me to try and create (and keep up) on the spot. I usually try and start from a relatively simple place to establish a solid groove with whatever is being played…until someone, usually Hill says “ can you make it more gnarly?”….one serving of gnarly coming up!!
As we got further along during the rehearsal we started to talk about a possible direction that we want the album to go. Some pretty cool ideas that are different for us that I think people will be stoked on. Soon it was time to pack up the drums and get going on phase two of the day. One quick afternoon drum lesson to be taught, and then onto the evening’s entertainment, Sun and Sail Club at The Federal Bar in Long Beach CA
The Thursday afternoon freeway maps suggested about an hour and a half hell commute, so the only option was to take Pacific Coast Highway all the way from Newport Beach to Long Beach. Such torture, looking out at that ocean and that island that lays lazily off our coast. I put on a little “ Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” to listen and get inspired by the drumming of Mr Steve Gorman and soon I was cruising into downtown Long Beach, just up the street from the fabled Long Beach Arena. Yes, THAT Long Beach Arena. Too many rock shows to recount at that venue. Metallica opening for (and mopping the floor with) Ozzy on the “Master Of Puppets” tour with Cliff Burton in full flight.Iron Maiden. Slayer. Foo Fighters. AC/DC. Dio. Even The Eagles last show, the infamous “ Long Night in Wrong Beach” mentioned in their Showtime documentary where they were threatening to kill each other onstage between songs…I was a wee lad then, dragged by 2 parents from the 1970s. By the way, did you know that The Eagles ruined 1976 for Tony Adolescent? Its a great story…ask him if you happen to see him..
Our venue this evening would be a little less historical in the rock-n-roll sense, but still one that was steeped in the history of early southern California. Set inside the basement a beautiful old Security Pacific National Bank building, our dressing room was literally in the vault of the old bank. A tight stage out front crammed the dual stacks of Mr Reeder’s bass amps and Bob’s dual stacks of Marshalls and Blackstar cabinets around my Ludwig’s leaving Tony room to howl up front. The sound onstage was some the best I have experienced in any club recently. We barreled through all of “The Great White Dope” and a tune from “Mannequin” with focused intensity. This music remains some of the most challenging I have ever recorded or played live, so it was almost a perfect crescendo to a great day of drumming. We wont be playing live for a bit as all of our “other” bands are starting up on the previously mentioned projects. So instead we have already started trading riffs via modern technology for new Sun And Sail stuff in our spare time…because there’s oh so much of that. The beast never sleeps.