The F.A.B. 5 features (from left in photo) Willie Parker (Joe), Leonard “Pudge” Tribbett (Tye Tribbett), Larone McMillian (the Last Goodnight), Mike Clemons (Israel Houghton and New Breed), and Brent Easton (J. Moss). With over sixty combined years of professional drumming experience among them, the group has come together to inspire a new generation of musicians and non-musicians alike to believe that any dream is attainable with dedication, hard-work, and time.
April 30 and May 1, 2010 the group gave a stellar debut performance at the Bunnell Auditorium in Stratford, Connecticut. Featuring the five players performing on brand-new Crush drumsets, in both ensemble and solo settings, the weekend-long event was filled with killer drumming and practical information, and is being viewed as merely the first of many such performances to be held across the country. All five players took some time to relay their personal feelings about the event and the group’s future.
Leonard “Pudge” Tribbett
The entire weekend was crazy! The energy was built up so high as we got closer to the event that by the time Friday came, it was on. This was our first time doing a show like this as a group, and we’re glad it was so well received. We had tons of support from our friends in the area, and not only were there drummers in attendance, but bass players, business people—all kinds of different folks. It was cool because all of the feedback we got was positive. We had people coming up to us saying, “I haven’t played my instrument in years, but I’m going home and picking it up.” To have young drummers walk up and say they want to be like us is amazing. That was probably one of the biggest highlights for me—just knowing that people were inspired.
One of the things that stuck out to me was how different everybody sounded in their solo performances. All of us are known for playing with certain artists: Mike is known for playing with Usher and Israel, I’m known for playing with Tye, and so on. But when we all got up there to do our solo pieces, we each sounded different than when we play with our artists. Mike got up and did some stuff from Youthful Praise, and even though I’ve known Mike and have been seeing him play for years, I’d never heard him play like that before. Will did some tunes from Jaheim, but the way he played them was crazy. He played more and expressed himself without overplaying or stepping all over the music. All of the guys really were amazing, and it was great to see. Will and Larone were both able to talk about things that I’ve never had to deal with. Someone asked about auditioning, and Will and Larone gave great information about that. It was good to share our knowledge with people.
To this day, I’m still getting people hitting me saying that the show was dope. We did our best to make sure everything was perfect—every drum spec, every track, everything. That doesn’t mean there weren’t problems. For example, on one of my tracks, the click ended up being way off from the music. But I was on stage, so I had to tell myself, “I’m a professional, I gotta find a way to make it work,” and that’s what I did.
The concept of the show was different. We wanted to make sure it didn’t end up being five drummers on the stage shedding over a track, trading licks. We started different tracks with maybe one guy playing toms, while another guy played rudimental snare drum stuff. Another guy might have played some gong drum, and so on. For example, Brent’s double pedal work is amazing. Pudge was doing different syncopated rhythms. Of course we wanted to demonstrate chops and everything, but it was really about showing how five drummers can play at one time and still be musical.
This was a brand-new experience for me; I had never played at an event like this. And the first time all five of us played the intro together as a group was on stage Friday night in front of the audience! But it came together perfectly. Before the show started, there were a lot of different frustrating things that happened. But I think everyone would agree that once the show started, it was cool. It was like everything that went wrong, we all just forgot about it.
It was a blessing to be able to share some knowledge with people. I was able to give some examples of how to play for different types of artists. Some cats don’t really the basics of how to play a song. That’s okay because we all have to learn at some point. I was just glad to be able to share some of that knowledge—simple things like how going to the ride at the right point in the song can open the song up, or when to pull back on the fills and just lay the groove. Usually when you’re playing for an artist, it’s never really about you as the drummer and what you can do. People pay to see the artist. Of course there might be a few people there to see the cats in the backing band, but our names aren’t on the marquee. So I was focused on helping cats learn how to be a working sideman. It’s really about knowing your role as the timekeeper, how to set up different sections of the tunes and accents. I demonstrated a lot of things like that.
We learned a lot about what it takes to do your own performance. Normally, we all play with other artists that have managers, tech people, promoters, etc., so it’s easier because you get a call telling you when to be at the airport and the rest is on someone else. But in this situation, we did most of our own promoting, ticket sales, marketing—everything. So from a learning standpoint, it was good to be able to do all that and get a better feel for what it takes to put on a show of that scale.
In addition to this being the debut for F.A.B. 5 as a group, it was also the debut for all of us playing Crush drums. We all came over from another drum company. The drums sound really good, and the audience really dug them and enjoyed the performance and information we shared. The whole weekend was a great success, and we’re looking forward to doing more shows and getting out on the road with this. It’s a new movement in drumming and music, and we’re planning to take it all the way.