Hey, it’s Edgar from Jucifer. I’m writing from the frozen tundra of Nebraska, in between tour stops in Denver and Lincoln. Touring through the Rockies in early spring is always an adventure, but so far we’ve been able to dodge the worst storms. Whew. Snow in the mountains is only beautiful as long as you can keep rolling.
Our new album, Throned In Blood, is out on our own new label, Nomadic Fortress. We just signed a distribution deal with Relapse for NF, which is cool since they put out our last couple of records and we know they do it right!
We have release party shows coming up across the Great Lakes region, and then we head to Europe for a month of headlining shows and festivals. After that, Canada and the parts of the U.S. we haven’t yet hit this year. So 2010 is gonna stay busy and challenging, which is how we like it.
As a drummer I think playing all the time is crucial. And not just rehearsing, but playing for an audience. It’s like the difference between a soldier practicing using his weapon with targets and then being thrown into battle, where anything can happen. On tour you find reserves you didn’t know you had, and you learn to improvise. For example, there was a time that I could only play with a certain size stick. And a time when my drums and cymbals had to be perfectly placed. But in tour world, where sometimes the only sticks you can grab are mismatched or the wrong size…and where stage floors are uneven or too small…and cymbals fall over, you learn to deal with it. And that gives you so much more potential. You learn to take risks, and that’s how you grow.
Playing drums in a band is about so much more than showcasing your own skills. To me the most important job of a drummer is not to prove to everyone what a good drummer they are, but to show everyone how good the song they’re playing is. I pay attention to the riffs and vocal lines and create my parts around, not over, them. I read the lyrics so I know what the song is about. I use a fill or crash to accent words I think are important. Sometimes there’s a part where the guitar or vocal is so great it needs to stand alone, and I won’t play at all on that part. Playing any instrument, but especially drums, requires restraint. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Phrasing and dynamic space are integral to making a song work.
Another thing I believe in firmly is hitting hard. Drums and cymbals are made to be hit. They don’t resonate properly when you just tap.
Of course, one can go overboard too. When I was eight I was really into Kiss. My parents got me these little toy bongos. I’d seen Peter Criss hit the drums with hammers, so that’s what I did. Of course, I broke the heads. It was a very sad day—and my introduction to the reality that drumheads (and cymbals, sticks, and hardware) break regularly under hard hitting. Regardless of that, you gotta do it right.
For more on Edgar Livengood and Jucifer, go to www.myspace.com/jucifer. Photo by Shannon Corr.