Thursday, January 24, 2013

Exorcism Number Four: Mike Yannich

Well, here we are again. You certainly are gluttonous in the punishment department! (How is reading these mild-mannered interviews considered punishment you may ask? I don't know! I thought that was a funny sentence. End of story.)

This interview is with Mike Yannich whose drumming, singing, and songwriting are all awesome. I met Mike back in 2004. He played drums and sang in a band called the Ergs, and I played drums and sang in a band called Hunchback. Shortly after meeting, our two bands made an unspoken (yet oddly indestructible) agreement to play together in basements almost nonstop for the next 2 years approximately. 

In the time that I've known him, Mike has been relentless in his enthusiasm and dedication to making and playing music. He is someone who actually has a pinpoint-able "style" in so much as, when I do something that reminds me of either his singing or drumming I say: "Oh that was so Mike Ergian!"




At what age did you start playing the drums? Did you have lessons or were you self taught?

I've been playing in some form for honestly as long as I can remember. My mom definitely went through a lot of broken wooden spoons and nicked up dressers and stuff. My father owned a recording studio and there was always a kit set up there so whenever I had the opportunity I would go there and bang on the drums all day. There's video somewhere of me at 6 years old "jamming" with one of the members of my dad's band on a Beatles song and I was pretty passable even then I think. I also played drums in a school concert when I was in fourth grade. That was the first time I played in front of a group of people and it was honestly the most nerve wracking thing I've ever done. So yeah, I'm self taught. Pretty much just played every opportunity I could until it sounded halfway decent.

Who are some of your favorite drummers and how have they influenced your style of playing? How has your playing evolved over the years?

My first influence was Ringo Starr. My favorite band of all time has to be The Beatles. Mom says my first words were "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" and I've definitely been listening to them pretty much from the day I was born. I think because of him I never really had the urge to be super flashy. Just tasteful with a concentration on time keeping. It always impressed me that Beatles songs were edited together from 3 or 4 different takes from over an 8 hour session. If thats not solid timing I don't know what is. As I got older I got more into heavy rock and metal and Bonham became my idol. I also really loved a lot of what I heard Lars Ulrich do. I'm very into when a drummer has a unique style that lets you know they're self taught. Of course,  when Nevermind came around I worshipped Dave Grohl. I convinced my dad to get me a TAMA kit and immediately did away with the extraneous rack tom, got a couple Zildjian crash rides 'cause that's what I'd seen him play on MTV and just tried to hit as hard as humanly possible. Later once I started getting into punk/indie rock I took from various different people, George Hurley from the Minutemen, Bill Stevenson obviously, Terry Chambers from XTC, Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello & The Attractions. All those dudes are pretty mind blowing in their own way. 

When did you start singing and playing drums simultaneously? Talk about learning how to do that successfully!

Hmm...It's hard to say when I started. I've kinda just always done it here and there. Before the Ergs were The Ergs we played under the name The Flatliners and I played guitar and sang. At one of our last shows the drummer didnt show so I just ended up playing that show on drums which eventually lead to The Ergs. It was out of necessity 'cause any time we tried to find a drummer so I could get up front and sing it never worked out. I've never found it all that difficult though. Probably cause, at least in the case of The Ergs, I usually found myself playing along to my own vocal melody which added a certain something to the part and made it easier to do as a whole. Plus no matter who I'm playing with I'm usually singing along while playing anyway so I guess it just comes naturally.

How do you feel about the process of recording drums? Any particular records have favorite drum sounds for you? 

Recording is pretty rough sometimes. Especially when you're going to tape. Like I HAVE to get a perfect take or else the whole thing is fucked, you know? I like to try to get the keeper performance on the first or second try though because the longer you go at it  the less feeling the take has. Usually even if there's a slight fuck up I'll keep an earlier take just cause the feeling is there. As for favorite drum sounds, Albini is probably king. When I first put In Utero in the cd player the day it came out I was absolutely floored by the drum sound. I also love the drums on Weezer's Pinkerton. The opening of Tired Of Sex might be the greatest moment in recorded sound. Zeppelins drum sounds were always great. I LOVE the sound of Bill Bruford's drums to the point where I find Yes's stuff after he left completely unlistenable.

As much as I may detest "gear" talk, do you have any revelations you might wanna share as far as what works (gear-wise) and what doesn't? Heads, cymbals, tuning etc? Do you have a "dream" drum kit? 

I pretty much swear by Remo Powerstroke 3 Heads for Kick and Snare. I also really love Zildjan Projection rides and crashes. My two favorite things I own though are my Pork Pie Acrylic 7x13" snare and my Paiste Giant Beat 24" ride. That ride is loud as hell and nice and splashy. I actually used it as a crash in the final few months of The Ergs. It's since cracked sadly so I need to work on getting a new one. I love the kit I have now, an old Ludwig that dates from the 70's (excluding the floor tom which is from the 60's), but my dream kit would be a Ludwig Vistalite with ridiculous dimensions (26" kick, 14" rack, 16", and 18" floor!). 

When did you start picking up other instruments and was it mainly to aide in songwriting? Did you want to play guitar/bass in a band also? 

I started playing guitar when I was around 12 or so I think. I'd started lessons when I was like 8 but I hated it and gave up really quickly. One night I was lonely and bored and decided to teach myself every song in the Beatles song book I had. I stayed up all night learning the chords and playing these Beatles songs. I'm pretty sure I'd already learned what the notes of the frets were so then all I had to do was practice getting from one power chord to another and I could play punk. haha. I listened to an Elvis Costello interview where he said that he only cared to know enough guitar to accompany himself so I figured that was good enough for me too. At that point I really had no intention of writing songs...just 'cause I kinda didn't think I could. I think the first songs I wrote were a good 3 or 4 years later.

What songwriters have influenced you the most over the years? Any songs that, when you heard them, changed how you thought about the writing process-either lyrically or musically?

Well definitely Elvis Costello and John Lennon Lyrically. Andy Partridge too. I absolutely LOVE their use of clever word play in lyrics. I also grew up on Tamla/Motown and 50's and 60's soul so I think that's where I developed my love for the love song. I think it was when I heard Pinkerton though that I really decided how I wanted to write. I had really never heard songs like that before. All of the love songs I'd heard previously sounded, like, so matter of fact. like "yeah yeah, sure I love you, yeah) but Rivers was just fucking POURING his heart out and I was like "THAT'S what I need to do.". 

When you're writing a song, how consciously do you try and balance catchiness and originality? (Meaning like, it has to sound like nothing else, but it also cant be so far out there that no one will listen to it.) How much of the catchiness/originality ratio has to do with lyrics? 

It's tough. The kind of songs I write aren't terribly original to begin with. Everybody can write a love song. I just try to come up with a different perspective on it. A new way to describe something we can all relate to. Catchiness is definitely key. There's so much out there so you have to try and make the songs memorable. I find that my catchiest/most popular songs are the ones that I've written essentially in one sitting. Basically in the time it took to play the thing it was written. Miles Davis, Everything Falls Apart, Pray for Rain...they were all pretty much written that way. So I kinda just make sure if something comes out of me like that to get it down asap before I forget it. 

Going into as much detail with which you are comfortable, what was your childhood like and what kind of influence, if any, did your parents have on you musically? Did they support your musical interest then and how do they feel about it now?

My childhood was pretty great in musical terms. Early on my parents and grandparents would pretty much buy me whatever albums I wanted. I was definitely requesting records at 3 or 4 years old. I was also taken to see Michael Jackson/The Jacksons on Victory/Thriller tour in 1984. My dad gave me most of his records and He showed me so much music when I was a kid and I'm very grateful for that. He opened me up to Jazz, funk and soul at a very young age. He also got me my first drums and guitars so I was very lucky in that way. I think it was pretty evident early on that I had absolutely no interest in anything else but music. Now I think they're pretty happy for me that music has enabled me to travel all over the world. I know that my mom is pretty jealous of the trips to Europe and Australia. haha. 
Besides being a source of income, what motivates you to keep playing, performing, and recording?

It's just in my blood. Part of the reason I play with so many people is I kind of just want to be doing it all the time. I've met pretty much every single one of my friends through music. I get to travel, I've gotten to meet many of my heroes. There'd really nothing else I'd rather do. Also I don't know how to do anything else! 

Ghost stories. Spill em. (If you got 'em.)

I got none!

Thanks Mike! 

Here are links:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Exorcism Number Three: Dragana Drobnjak

 Hey. I'm still doing this. Astounded? SO AM I.

This week we have the unfathomably lovely and the amazingly knowledgeable, Dragana Drobnjak. I met Dragana in 2004 when she was playing in a band called "The Four of Us Are Dying." Since then I have only ever known her to be positive and productive. She currently plays keys in "The Grains" and is the keyboardist AND lead singer of "The Susan Atkins Diet." In 2010, She founded Lovecraft House- a DIY publishing press and record label- which very recently became an official non-profit!

Additionally, Dragana has been ceaselessly supportive of the music scene in NJ. She always played in bands, she has always booked shows, and she has always advertised for others and tried to keep things moving forward. She is a true ENTHUSIAST with real KNOWLEDGE on a variety of subjects, and is a real inspiration to me and many others. Here is just the tiniest bit of her rad story. Enjoy <3

What was your musical role in the band "The four of us are dying" and then later "Come wander with me?"

I played bells (xylophone) and keys in both bands.

Though they were basically the same band, were there any lineup changes?

"The Four of Us are Dying” was a seven-piece band that due to its size struggled to organize practice after graduation from high school. “Come Wander With Me” became the bare bones version of the previous band, with four members instead of seven.

Where do those band names originate?

We were all huge fans of The Twilight Zone, and both of the bands’ names were titles of the series’ episodes.

Was keyboard your first instrument?

I didn’t play any music at all prior to playing in “The Four of Us are Dying”, I didn’t know any theory and couldn’t play by ear. Practicing and playing shows made me extremely anxious, but somehow I carried through. I was exposed to music from an early age though; my cousin would often make up songs for me on his guitar, so this enthrallment with music was ever-present.

How did you learn to play?

The learning process was very slow and still continues today. Initially I just learned how to play a few chords, which is basically all you need to start. Well that and an attitude that doesn’t allow for self-defeatism. I think the majority of songs that the Ramones wrote were under five chords, but they inspired many kids to pick up instruments and start making noise.

Did you ever take lessons?
Not really, although I did try taking guitar lessons once… The experience bummed me out so much that I didn’t pick up the guitar for a few years. He should have showed me how to play powerchords instead of dulling the moments by going through a dreary beginner guitar instruction booklet.

Who are some musicians you look up to now and some bands that influenced how and why you play music?

Even though I have a few favorite bands that have made a name for themselves in the punk scene, some of my most influential musicians and bands have stemmed from the local New Jersey scene. One of the bands that I was most impressed with during my early show-going years was “Hunchback”, a band that you, Miranda, played drums in. Through the community that the band surrounded itself with I was able to connect with some truly amazing individuals that have inspired me to keep pursuing music and art. Most of those individuals recognized the importance of developing underground and DIY philosophies unhindered by motivations for profit – this is why the New Brunswick basement scene always felt like home to me. The underground scene continues to thrive, and I’m happy to say that many of my current favorite bands (like brick mower, 3Jane and Black Wine) are a part of it.

What were some of your first favorite bands? 

My first favorite bands included former-Yugoslavian acts like “Tajči” (she was the Yugoslavian equivalent of Madonna), folk sensation “Lepa Brena”, yu-rockers “Bajaga i Instruktori” and punk bands like “Električni Orgazam” and “Babe”. I spent many summers in a swing at my grandma Zora’s farmhouse belting out Yugoslavian radio hits.

Talk about playing keyboards in "The Grains" and how your playing has evolved over the years.

Hanging out with the other members of The Grains (Mike Regrets, Blake Larsen, Andrew Edelhauser and Scott Kenny) made me truly appreciate the roots of American rock’n’roll and punk music. I fell in love with Detroit Blues, John Lee Hooker, MC5 and Hank Williams (‘Ramblin' Man’ is one of my favorite songs), among others. My playing evolved through practice and learning things like the 12-bar blues, which Mike Regrets kindly taught me.

Talk about "The Susan Atkins Diet" and about being a lead singer. What made you want to start this band?

The conversation about starting The Susan Atkins Diet was initiated during a fundraiser show for New Brunswick’s Clit Fest at which Tacocat played. I was at the show with my friend Becky where we ran into Dan whom we knew from “The Jurks”, a band he used to play guitar for. We got to talking and decided to start a riot girl band, since that was something we all always wanted to do. Soon thereafter Rachel Chernoff joined us on drums. Initially I didn’t plan on singing in the band considering I have never sung for one before, but I wanted to do something else besides just playing the keys. I think that it takes a lot of guts to be able to sing in front of people, so the experience was an exercise in confidence for me.

Were there specific themes you wanted address as a singer?

Dan and I both really wanted to address some issues that we thought were important. The band collectively considers itself as an anarchist surf/riot girl band.  Most of our songs are about sexism (or stereotypes associated with gender), racism, classism, political as well as law-enforcement abuse and corruption. We think it’s important to engage in dialogue about these issues, and one way of expressing ideas is through lyrics.


What draws you to horror and supernatural themes in media?

Horror and supernatural themes often, but not always, draw from real fears, issues and anxieties. They are often reflections of an individual’s understandings of themselves, the society and its expectations, the culture and various establishments found therein. Some of the best analysis of issues like sexism and consumerism has been portrayed in horror films. We fear the unknown because we have a hard time fathoming that more exists beyond the visible and known. To quote H. P. Lovecraft, "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

Who are some of your favorite authors and directors etc?

Some of my favorite authors include Edgar Allan Poe, Aaron Cometbus, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and current authors like Peter Bagge (who is a comic book guy) and Michael Chabon. Wostok, a great Serbian cartoonist, recently alerted me to poetry of Vasko Popa and certain Russian avant-garde poets like Nikolay Zabolotsky. I also really love reading anything that Mike Regrets, Craig Fu Yong (The Degenerics, Plastic Cross), Mike Hunchback (Freedom School Records), and Hannah Neurotica (Ax Wound zine) write.

My favorite directors include George Romero, Lisa Hammer, Dušan Makavejev, Sam Raimi, Samuel Fuller, Roger Corman, Frank Henenlotter, Wong Kar-Wai, Alex Cox, Penelope Spheeris, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, the Farrelly brothers, and so on... These lists are by no means exhaustive.

I also want to mention that I’m a big fan of art depicting aloneness, or artists whose work portrays “lonely voyeurism.” Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and Georgia O’Keeffe are some that are able to capture these reflective moments.

 Do they have an influence on your music/writing/art?

Of course! Their interpretations help expand my own understanding of the world that we live in. I think that I would be less understanding and more biased if I solely drew conclusions based on my experience alone.

Talk about "Lovecraft House" and your fanzine "Night of the Fandom."

DIY publishing is essential considering the world that we live in. Major publishing houses’ publications are driven by motives for profit and profit is usually made by appeals to a more mainstream public. This is something that underground art, music and culture aren’t often a part of. In my opinion it is regressive to attempt to appeal to any one’s taste in particular, and that is why small scale publishing is vital.

The other important thing to consider is documentation. Small scale publishing insures that voices not often heard are recorded. Night of the Fandom is an attempt to encapsulate the work of certain artists and writers that have dedicated their lives to the craft. Lovecraft House itself is named after the pursuit of this passion.

How did they originate and how are they evolving?

Night of the Fandom was formed as an attempt for reflection of culture and community that I was a fan of. Through the zine I was able to make contact with artists and authors from different parts of the world, and I began to understand that the driving philosophies for DIY and underground based work were incredibly similar.

Lovecraft House is currently in the process of collecting material for a book anthology of weird/underground/horror/sci-fi art and comics. This book will be published in late spring 2013 with funds raised over Kickstarter (so please keep an eye out for that!). I am also translating a Serbian comic whose issues will initially be released as zines, and later published as a book. There is also a public access TV show in the works, so please stay tuned!

Where were you born and where have you lived? How old were you when you moved to the states?

I was born in former Yugoslavia, and I lived in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. I was thirteen when I moved to America and I lived in different states before calling New Jersey home.

What was your childhood like and how has that affected you today?

I was incredibly independent in my early childhood due to pre-war culture and ease of life in former Yugoslavia. I would spend summers away from parents and living with my grandmas, one of which lived in a city, the other in the country. Both of them lived alone, grew huge gardens that fed many households, tended to orchards, knitted clothes, and lived what we consider complete DIY lifestyles. They were also born in hardship following World War I, survived nightmares of World War II and then again of the Yugoslav Wars in 1990s. I believe that my grandmas greatly affected the way that I work and think about life.

You honor the idea of cultivating a community above most other things it seems. Why is community important to you and what steps were taken to achieve your goals?

During the Yugoslav Wars, my family was split and we all eventually became refugees. My family lost its home and due to unwarranted hatred we were not able to settle in any of the newly formed Yugoslav states. I spent years trying to recreate a sense of belonging and community, as well as a place to call home. I came to an understand that a community can be formed due to a mutual desire for expression, like the scene that you and I both belong to. I think that most of the work that I do is out of appreciation of this community’s passion and labor. However as I recently came to understand, communities do not necessarily have to exist in physical places.

What are your parents like?

My parents are extremely hardworking. It is only under very rare occasions that my father does not have a project. He is truly a jack of all trades and I am constantly impressed with the things he creates. Their lives have also been extremely hard - my mom was 29 years old when the war started and she already had my brother and I. They moved to this country when we were about to hit puberty, with no knowledge of the American culture beyond the one witnessed on TV and things shown there can be more frightening than most horror films, so you can imagine how they felt. But they went from living in a refugee camp and digging potato fields to being their own bosses.

Do you have any ghost stories?

I have seen ghosts on a number of occasions, but I have never felt compelled to talk about them. So I’m glad you ask this question. I have mostly seen ghost cats, but they scurry out of line of sight before I have a chance to confirm that was what I saw. I have also seen a few human ghosts dressed in late 18th century clothing, walking alongside or crossing the road. However, these apparitions haven’t stayed visible for long and they have never interacted with me. Another time I was awakened by sound of the piano playing in my living room, inside of which I later found a pink silk handkerchief. That piano was also made in late 18th century and use to belong to a piano teacher.

Thanks so much Dragana. Heres links:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Exorcism Number Two: Brian Gorsegner

Hello again. Here's another interview I conducted with my friend Brian Gorsegner, the current vocalist for the all-boy band Night Birds. Previously Mr. Gorsegner played in such bands as: Survivors, FORWARD TO DEATH, Snakebite, Psyched to Die, Splitting Headache, For Science, and Full of Fancy.  

A few other tidbits about Brian: I thought his name was Andrew for about the first year I knew him. He is multi-talented in the areas of MUSIC and MUSIC BUSINESS. And finally, he has an ACTUAL HEART of 24 CARAT GOLD despite what his constant fun-poking (and several ultrasounds) might insinuate.

 Here he is, ladies! (and some gentlemen.)

In what order did you learn the instruments that you play? Which is the most comfortable for you to play? Which is your favorite to play?

I learned how to play guitar first, when I was about 13 years old. One of my best friends at the time, his dad was a guitar teacher. I wanted to learn how to play Nirvana songs. He taught me the basics, then I would listen to songs and try and learn them by ear. After that was drums when I was 19. I was hanging out with friends in a basement full of equipment and we started a band on the spot called FORWARD TO DEATH which I would be the drummer of. I loved it. Sucked at first, but got a little better over time. I am more comfortable, and prefer playing the drums.

Talk briefly about the Survivors and your role in that band. How far did the band progress? How old were you when the Survivors broke up? How did being in that band influence how you approach music and touring today?

Survivors began in 1997. It was me and my 3 best friends at that time. We were pretty bad, but it was a lot of fun. We were just getting into punk and didn't care if it was sloppy or not. We all went to Middle School together and were in the 8th grade. After school we would walk to our drummer, Chris's, house to practice in his basement. We were a street punk band. I played guitar and sang in the very beginning, which came to an end after playing our very first show which was a disaster, and the moment I learned that I could NOT sing and play at the same time. I would play, then when it came time to sing I'd stop playing and just sing, which sounded terrible seeing as how I was the only guitar player. Why I didn't come to this realization at a practice, I really can't recall. It was 15 years ago, cut me some slack. Eventually I just sang. We went on a bunch of tours and around 2001 I went on my first US tour with the band. We had been through many lineup and genre changes at that point, and it had sort of morphed into this thing I didn't like anymore, but really didn't know how much I disliked it. It was my first band, I guess I didn't know any better. Around this time is when I started playing drums in FORWARD TO DEATH as I had mentioned above, that sort of made me realize I was having no fun in Survivors and it had turned into something I didn't like. Other guys pulled the trigger on ending the band, and we broke up in 2002. I have a lot of great memories from doing that band, and it was a great learning experience, if just seeing how NOT to do things in the future. I'm also glad I had the opportunity to do a band before the internet was a major factor. Everything was more hands on. Talking to more promoters on the telephone, making and handing out paper flyers, getting lost WAY more going to shows, etc. Helped to create a good band work ethic which I still have.

Besides being proficient at their instrument, what in your opinion makes a good musician? 

Being creative and finding a way to do it a little differently. I can watch a video of someone doing a Beatles cover note for note and it can be boring as shit if they don't have style. Then I can watch a sloppy guitar player who has their own style and it can be the coolest thing I've ever seen. That's punk rock, ya know?

What was your favorite tour you ever went on? How has touring changed as you've gotten older?

Hm, favorite tour. I always had fun on FORWARD TO DEATH tours because those guys are 3 of my favorite people in the world. We would fight like brothers sometimes, and that would get old, but we had a lot of fun together. Night Birds first tour in Europe was a real trip. Lots of culture shock stuff, blah blah blah. Every tour has it's great moments and also the moments where I say, "what the hell am I doing here?"

Talk about how Night Birds started and how its changed over the past few years? What are the goals of the band? How is being a lead singer now different than when you were a teenager?  Is it weird to go back to that, many bands later?

Like every band I ever do, it starts out as "just for fun" not going to be touring or playing a lot... Then I remember I can't do that, and need to do it full on or not at all. Half of the lineup is different now then when we started, mostly because we are now way more full time then when we started... By full time I mean an average of 60 shows a year, one or 2 practices a week, and writing recording as much as possible. A lot of real full time bands would laugh at considering that "full time", but that in addition to all of us having jobs can really add up. We have already met every goal we initially set out for, so everything from here on out is a bonus. We wanted to release an LP and go to Europe. In 2013 we will release our 2nd LP and go to Europe again. As weird as it is, or maybe my memory is just shit, I really don't remember what it was like to sing in Survivors, so it was essentially a brand new experience for me. I actually wasn't even sure I could do it. After we wrote the first few songs I talked to Joe and told him I didn't think I could do it... I was convinced to sing on the demo, and that was also the first time I ever felt comfortable singing. Maybe because I was able to hear myself where I wasn't before? I don't know why, but I have been comfortable with it since then. It was the same thing with playing live... after we did it once I was never nervous again.

Who do you look up to musically? What bands made you want to start playing music? 

Nirvana made me want to play guitar. After I started going to shows and learning that anyone could start their own band I was influenced by all the shitty local bands I loved so much. Till that point I thought you had to be some gifted, lucky person to be in a band. Then I learned you just need to be a loser with some loser friends.
How important is the business side of music and how do you, personally, balance that with the fun artistic side?

I think it's fairly important if you want to be in an active touring band. There are many levels to the "business" side, but in doing that stuff correctly it makes the fun part of being in a band much more fun. When you can travel to places you've never seen on your band's dime, and even make some money when it's over, I think that makes it more fun. When you plan things so you go on tour right when your album is out to promote it, and advertise the tour, and send out tour posters, and book through people who know what they are doing, and overall make your tour as good as it can be, I think it makes it more fun. I, personally, thrive at the business side, I leave the artsy creative junk to my band mates, haha. Naw, I mean, I write a lot of our songs and stuff, but you need a well managed band, that is ALSO good and interesting. 

Where did you grow up? Where else have you lived?

I grew up in a town called Belford. Pretty close to the shore. My family moved about 15 minutes away to Atlantic Highlands, NJ after that... I moved out to my bud Frumps house to Tinton Falls, got engaged to my wife and moved to Sayreville, NJ with her in a dumpy apartment. We just bought a house in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Always NJ.
What are your parents like? 

They are cool. My mom was way stricter when I was young. She likes baseball and the Boss. My Dad is a very loveable goofball. Maybe a bit brain damaged, but I love him all the same.

Do you feel like your childhood had anything to do with your interest in music beyond just liking bands like any kid does? Do you remember what made you wan to play music and not just be a spectator?

My Dad was never a big music fan, but my mom gave me her records and a record player when I was little. I remember playing her Monkees album all the time. Being a fat nerd who sucked at sports is what really got me interested in music though. Like I said, any loser can start a band, and I did. It all was sort of natural once I started listening to the radio and getting my own musical tastes. Then shortly after I discovered punk and it was all downhill from there.

Do you have any real life ghost stories? (as in like, paranormal shit that happened to you personally)

I don't believe in ghosts, but I just moved into a new house that's over 100 years old, and I've been watching season 1 of American Horror Story on FX and it's been scaring the shit out of me.

Thanks Andrew. Here's some links.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Exorcism Number One: Darick Sater

First of all...Hello. This is a blog that will consist solely of interviews. I thought about how lucky I am to know such talented people and then I realized I would like to know  them even better. (This is mostly because I am very nosy.) 

This first one is with Darick Sater. He is one of the founders of Wallride Records and plays in Deep Sleep, Whiff, The Jons, Paper Dragons, and Active Sac. Darick's drumming is a source of both inspiration and intense anxiety for me. He makes it seem both effortless and energetic at the same time. Easy, but never lazy. And incredibly precise. And loud. And really good.  Plus he is super positive and always stoked.  

Anyway I asked him about drumming and growing up. HERE...

When did you start playing drums and what was the process like? Did you teach yourself or have lessons or both? Do you play any other instruments?

I started playing drums when I was 18. I was in a few bands when I was younger, and sang, and played guitar. I was really pushing for a new band in my later teens, and it was next to impossible to find a drummer. I figured I would give it a shot. Learning was almost as hard as asking my parents to split the cost of my first Percussion Plus kit. I'm sure they didn't want the racket. 

I listened to a lot of Ramones, Descendents, and Black Flag to track down the sound and style I wanted to rip off, just to have fun. I didn't think I would stick with it. 
Aside from drums, I play guitar, bass, piano (terribly), and Alto Sax. I guess if they can count, maracas can be thrown into the mix. Side note: I'm sure I blow at the Sax now too. Get it? ....tough crowd.

What drew you to music in general and who are some of your drum heroes? What bands inspired you as a kid? What bands inspire you now?
Music was always so cool when I was really young. Watching my cat claw the shit out of my Mom's record collection got me pretty curious. What's this cat see in these things? So that started my music Mom's records and just the chance to block out stuff that sucked. I could listen to a song, and be so happy. My first big smiles came from the radio, riding in cars with my parents. Beatles, Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Animals, Rolling Stones etc. My sister dated a guy, who got her, which later got me into Dead Milkmen, Ministry, Fugazi, Flaming Lips, and so much more. Me and my buddy Joe used to dub Music videos on MTV and VH1 and would stay up super late hoping they would play the "rare shit" in the middle of the night. So this is where we snagged Descendents "When I get Old" and Rocket from the Crypts "On a Rope" videos. Those are my favorites to this day. Inspiration will always be Bill Stevenson. That beast keeps going fuckin' STRONG!
What is your dream drum kit?
I never really had a dream kit, but it would be really cool to have everything be way bigger than the kit now. Just a giant, dumb bass drum I can eat behind.
What was the first band you were ever in?
I guess the official first would be the Redcoats. I don't remember what grade, but I was the drummer, but didn't have a drum set.  Never played one. Never really wanted to. My buddy told me I was the drummer. So we never practiced, but we had meetings, hang out sessions, and a cool sticker, so there, hahaha. My first band that played and wrote songs etc, would be Pigeonhole. I was 15. I sang. 
What was your favorite tour you ever went on?
They were all so much fun. Super hard to pick, but Deep Sleep's trip to Europe was pretty killer. Any old Active Sac road trips were always super fun. We would drive to Colorado, Toronto, Miami for one show....I don't know what we were on. 

A weekend where I filled in with Night Birds stays in my mind...I don't think we stopped laughing for the whole weekend. Really fun, and really cool cats. 
What motivates you to keep playing?
I don't know how to not do it. I have other hobbies, and I have considered slowing down or stopping so many times. I don't really know. It's impossible to go a week without sitting behind the kit. Rad friends that are in rad bands for sure.

Where did you grow up? where else have you lived?
I was born in Baltimore, raised in Hampstead, Maryland. I have lived in York, Pennsylvania, Santa Cruz, CA, and Westminster, MD. I am back in Hampstead, at the good ol' Wallride Records estate. 
What are/were your parents like?
My parents rule. They could, and can be tough but that's what parents are for. Really hard working, creative, and driven. I think their work ethic pretty much molded me, and inspires me, even though they annoy the shit out of me.
Do you feel like your childhood had any effect on whether or not you play music? Do you remember any instances as a kid/teenager where you knew you wanted to be in bands and not just be a spectator?
Watching the music videos, I used to dub off TV, most of the videos would be live show footage and that always looked to fun. I remember thinking "that show must have ruled". I began to wanna be in the band, way more than in the crowd. It became a mission to play an instrument, write music, and put out a record....I feel accomplished, but always craving more projects and good times. 

Do you have any real-life ghost stories? (As in, paranormal shit that happened to you, personally.)
Not so much really. I have been known to fart in my sleep, which I'm sure is pretty scary for everyone else. Especially when I blame it on the ghosts in my room. Or my dog. 

Thanks so much Darick. 

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