Hail, Modern Drummer readers, it’s an honor to be writing for you! My name is Brian Gilmanov, and I’m a twenty-five-year-old professional multi-instrumentalist based in Chicago, currently playing drums and composing for the instrumental progressive rock band The Hue.
Growing up with musician parents, I was fortunate to be exposed to a wide variety of music, from classic rock and metal to jazz-fusion, quite early in my life. At age twelve I began watching videos of my favorite bands and teaching myself the drums and guitar, trying to emulate what I heard on my favorite albums. By the age of sixteen I began gigging professionally as a drummer, and my sound truly began to come together under the heavy influence of fusion greats such as Tony Williams and Billy Cobham as well as killer metal drummers Pete “Commando” Sandoval (Morbid Angel), Martin Lopez (Opeth), and Thomas Haake (Meshuggah). My thirst to do music full-time brought me to Boston, where I attended and got my degree from Berklee College of Music. It was while attending Berklee that I would not only fully develop my playing and compositional skills, but eventually meet my future bandmates from The Hue.
When I moved back to Chicago and was teaching private lessons on drums and guitar while playing gigs and sessions, I was extremely grateful that I could make music my life. But at the same time I felt that I was lacking a creative outlet for my songwriting and longed for the camaraderie of the bands I grew up listening to. A series of phone calls and rehearsals over a two-week period later, and some of the best young musicians in the Chicago scene came together to form The Hue in the spring of 2007. We were all gigging musicians, but we’d grown tired of much of the formulaic music we had to play for cash. So we decided to come together to form a band where we felt we could be completely unrestrained from any musical boundaries and express any and everything we imagined. Thus our unique brand of instrumental-progressive-rock was born.
What makes The Hue so special is our disregard for the conventions of what a rock band is “supposed to be.” Sure, there are drums, bass, and two shredding guitar players, but there is one major thing supposedly missing from the formula—a pelvic-thrusting lead singer. Our mission is to prove that a band can write fully realized, structured songs with all of the emotion and sense of melody of vocal rock while retaining the musicality and improvisational spirit of jazz-fusion. Those of you who grew up with Nintendo know that a good melody doesn’t need to be sung to get stuck in your head forever. What truly sets us apart from other instrumental groups is our focus on writing actual songs as opposed to vehicles simply made for showing off our playing abilities. As a drummer, it’s an extremely satisfying and exciting band to be involved with, because the music is not only challenging, it leaves a lot of room for taking liberties and improvising. Our live shows often find us experimenting and jamming out on various sections of the songs, and no song sounds exactly the same two shows in a row.
In support of our debut full-length, Beyond Words (available on iTunes and at amazon.com and our Web site), we hit the road for a summer/fall tour of the Midwest and were lucky to play major festivals like 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota and share the stage with many great artists.
The most special show for me was in Chicago for our album release show in late August, where I was fortunate enough to share the stage with Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Dethklok) and Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Dethklok) for a special trio set of some of their original fusion tunes. I was beyond honored to play with guys I grew up listening to.