Drummer Michael BlandMost MD readers know Michael Bland as that funky R&B drummer who played with Prince for seven years during the ’90s. And in fact, you can hear him on the title track of Prince’s latest recording, 3121. But even though the Minneapolis-born drummer is known for his solid R&B grooves, Bland actually grew up playing rock music. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the fall of ’04 he joined the Grammy-winning alternative band Soul Asylum, who recently released their first studio record in eight years, The Silver Lining. “I spent most of my formative years learning how to play drums while listening to FM album rock,” Michael explains. “That’s really where I come from.”

Not only is Michael on the new recording, he will be touring with the band as a full-time member. “When I joined Soul Asylum they were without a drummer, and they had hired me to play on this new record,” Bland says. “And somewhere during the second week of rehearsal, between songs, [singer] Dave Pirner just stopped and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you join the band.’ I went, ‘Okay,’ and that was sort of the informal way it happened. It didn’t really get inked or serious until recently.”

It sounds like Michael made the right choice. “No one has given me this type of consideration in my entire career,” he enthuses. “I’m very happy with the way it’s worked out.”

Billy Amendola