Dave Brandt of The Echo Falls : Modern DrummerHello, fellow MD fans! The Echo Falls is a modern indie-folk-rock trio from Oakland, California. Our first CD is coming out next month and reception has been great already. Recent shows at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and Cafe Du Nord here is S.F. have been lots of fun! Good press has been encouraging, and we’ve up with some nice bands along the way.

Writing for drummers of course makes me want to talk shop. My gear is totally vintage–1950s and ’60s Gretsch round-badge kits, 1970s Gon Bops congas and bongos, 1920s—60s K and A Zildjians, Deagan #145 vibes (with electravibe pickups) and #64 marimba, a giant ghuzeng zither made by Lou Harrison, a collection of Chinese gongs, djembe, talking drum, kalimba, daf, and a few workhorse 1980s Zildjians I’ve had for ages have always been part of my sound. I love the sweet sounds the old instruments have.

I’ve absorbed lots of interesting music studies since about age nine, from classical and jazz at New England Conservatory and Berklee during high school, to college-era studies with jazz master Alan Dawson, free-jazz/Afro-Cuban guru Milford Graves, and long-time Oberlin Conservatory percussion professor Mike Rosen. All along I’ve played drumset, mallets, and hand percussion in rock, funk, jazz, classical, modern, and freely improvised settings. Highlights of my career include playing with Oghene Kologbo, who played those hypnotic contrapuntal tenor guitar lines throughout Fela’s Afrika 70 period, a period in NYC playing avant-garde jazz, and work with the Oakland-based space-rock collective Mushroom. I’m always following my own voice and shirking stifling conservatism. There is so much music blending together in my mind as one in search of the deeper expression.

My biggest percussion influences have been Stewart Copeland, Paul Motian, Tony Allen, Bonzo, Cal Tjader, Ringo, Elvin Jones, Kenny Clarke, Walt Dickerson, Zigaboo Modeliste, Clyde Stubblefield, and Mitch Mitchell. I always appreciate a loose, fluid drummer with a subtle touch, a sense of melody, and a distinct feel.

I bring all these experiences and influences into the Echo Falls. I love playing with these guys. Alex Mandel is the singer/songwriter/guitarist. We met in nursery school and used to play and listen to a lot of music when we were kids. I love the beautiful harmonies, melodies, and lyrics in Alex’s songs. He’s a great guitar player and finger picker. David Arend is an incredibly talented, skilled, and sensitive upright bass player. He plays in a lot of major classical ensembles and is an amazing improviser and composer. We all hooked up in college and are great friends. Together it’s like chamber jazz meets folk rock with contemporary lyrics and a catchy pop twist. The chemistry is great and the sound palate is natural and rich.

I love the way great trios play together, from the Bill Evans Trio, to classical chamber music, to the Police, to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It’s a rewarding challenge. Each player has to take on multiple roles to make a full sound. Take a listen to the preview tracks at www.theechofalls.com; I hope you can hear in those songs the inspiration I got from the drive of Stewart Copeland in “Every Second Thought,” the shuffling funk of James Brown in “Love Over Time,” the liquid colors of Mitch and Elvin in “Watchtower,” a little Afro-Brazilian flare in “Hummingbird,” Ringo’s melodic fills in “Road To Parnassus,” and the harmonies of Debussy in the vibes part of “Fire Down Below.”

More releases are in the works with my improv trio All Ones trio, and together with Scott Johnson on drums/percussion and the amazing Ralph Carney on winds. (You can hear Ralph on most of the classic Tom Waits releases.)

Big shout and thanks to Modern Drummer. Such an inspiration over the years, and an honor to be part of. Thanks!

The Echo Falls CD comes out this November 17. Shows coming up in San Francisco and L.A.

Cheers, ya’ll!

Dave Brandt