Hello there, fellow polyester and wood attack artists! This is Kevin Ratterman of the Louisville, Kentucky—based band Wax Fang. Like many of you, I’m completely in love with music and humbled and honored to be able to be behind the drumset, keeping the vibrations I love so kicking, churning, swaying, and moving along. I’m of the opinion that the drums are definitely the most fun instrument to play in a live setting. Using my whole body and energy and being many times the center of the gel of everything wondrously happening around me is about the most exhilarating experience of my life.
I’m incredibly lucky that my older brother of eight years is a great drummer and helped coach me along after he caught me sneakily banging on his beloved drums while he was at work. It was tough love, sometimes with a basketball to the head if I was playing while he was sleeping or rushing down to the basement with a “No, no, no—you’re doing it all wrong” while I unsuccessfully tried to keep up with John Bonham or Tommy Lee blaring over the practice PA his band used. I started with guitar at about twelve, which was a giant mistake with my lack of concentration and hyper-activeness as a youngster. I quickly realized that banging on things as hard as I could and making the most possible racket was much more up my alley. And I could literally set my instrument on fire with lighter fluid on my cymbals and not destroy it! I’ve never regretted the switch.
Throughout high school I played in tons of bands, mostly because drummers are always the hardest to find, so I found myself playing in two to four bands at a time. I started out early playing covers of Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Doors, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and some Ozzy and Mötley Crüe for good measure in grade school, and moved to originals in early high school with punk and hardcore, which was an incredibly vibrant scene in the early ’90s in Louisville. (Kinghorse R.I.P.). Then I slowly moved up to my preferred approach these days of picking one band and putting everything into it, at first playing with a Smashing Pumpkins—influenced band called Raze, whose other members went on to form the psychedelic dance-pop band VHS Or Beta. I then joined the band Elliott, with whom I toured, recorded, and released records for eight years. This really taught me everything, cutting my teeth traveling all around the world and building my own recording studio so we could cut our own demos and later cut our own albums, which is what I now do for a living outside of performing.
After I felt I’d run my course with Elliott, I concentrated on producing and recording other bands in my studio above the funeral home my family owned and operated in downtown Louisville. I was then lucky enough to meet two of the most inspiring people in my life, Scott Carney and Jake Heustis of Wax Fang. Scott, being the ringleader and songwriter, had approached me about helping him mix his solo album, which he had written and recorded himself. I immediately fell in love with the avant-garde, explosive, folky, rock, and experimental nature of his music, and I eagerly asked to play drums. Jake was a mutual friend of ours, and since the first moment we played together I’ve never been more honored and excited to play with two people I respect and enjoy.
We just released our first joint effort, La La Land, on our own Don’t Panic! Records, and we couldn’t be more excited. We recorded, produced, and mixed the album ourselves, and we’re now playing out as much as we possibly can in support of it.
I’m also the very proud player of C&C Custom Drums from Kansas City! Met up with them in my Elliott days, and now I have two amazing-sounding kits from them. They are the best in the biz, and sound guys are always complimenting their big beautiful sounds. Check them out!
Thanks for reading!
For more on Kevin Ratterman and Wax Fang, go to www.myspace.com/waxfang.