Hey guys, this is Matt Covey of Shai Hulud, the Suicide Dolls, and the Flaming Tsunamis. And the Hempsteadys. And the Franklin Brothers…and Young Pandas (aaand I’m out of breath). I’m having a hard time believing that I’m writing a blog post for MD right now. But since it’s partially their fault that I’m constantly involved in so many projects, they totally had this coming. I have loved and read this magazine for as long as I can remember playing the drums. This is definitely a special moment and more than a little bit surreal. Now…let’s close our eyes, take a couple deep breaths, and pray that I say smart things that you might care about. Done? Okay. Here goes nothing.
About three and a half years ago, I was shocked to find myself on the road playing drums for a truly pioneering band, and since then I’ve been lucky enough to play with them all over the world. Shai Hulud broke so much new musical ground with their combination of bombastic hardcore, searing metal guitars, ever-changing tempos, and vocals raging with sincerity. Many people have told me that Shai Hulud’s music has shaped their mental and musical world. And the drummers of Shai Hulud are a miniature who’s who of the hardcore and punk sphere. Steve Kleisath (also of Further Seems Forever and Strongarm), Andrew Gormley (also of Rorschach, Kiss it Goodbye, and Playing Enemy), and Tony Tintari have all lent their considerable talents to Shai Hulud’s full-length albums.
Take note, MD readers: These dudes have quietly shaped the drumming vocabulary of a whole generation of punk kids and metal heads alike. A catalog that includes three studio albums and four EPs of seminal drumming is a large and challenging repertoire to absorb. My goal has been to strike that delicate balance between being myself and reproducing the recordings. I see people air drumming their favorite parts at every show. I’ve been that person countless times myself. So I’m totally prepared to accept my place standing in the closet, facing the wall, if I’m not able to produce that effect when the newest album comes out with MY name on it later this year.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m definitely some kind of strange weirdo. Though my background doesn’t really suggest a career primarily rooted in punk, metal, and hardcore, it does help to explain my multiple musical personalities. Ultimately my greatest strengths are in the shaping of sound and the structuring of music, not in “drumming” per se. For me, it’s always been about the craft. My early teachers all stressed the importance of versatility and understanding the big picture. I ended up studying classical percussion at Western Connecticut State University with the incomparable David Smith (New Haven Symphony Orchestra). While there, I also spent a lot of time studying jazz with a number of incredible teachers like Dan Goble, Andrew Beals, Pete Tomlinson, and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel (and not once did I judge any of them on their wardrobe. Never.) I have to say that my WCSU peers were as responsible for my development as anyone (but none of them ever wrote a jingle called “Inappropriate Matt Covey” for their junior recital, and I certainly did not play the vibraphone part).
Several of my classmates are artists that many of you have been or will be hearing about—people like Tim Walsh (Stepkids), Trevor Somerville (Javier Colon), Gary Velush and Jason Sirrianni (Fake Babies), plus so many other incredible talents who were unfortunate victims of the edit pen this time around. It seems to me that the world of music is expanding nearly as fast as the universe itself. So of course my favorite drummers are all over the map: Keith Carlock, Chris Dave, Kenneth Schalk, Dafnis Prieto, Questlove, John Stanier, Adam Deitch, Bonzo, Bill Stevenson, Art Blakey, Steve Gadd, Zigaboo, Thomas Pridgen, Antonio Sanchez, Dave Grohl, Carlton Barrett, Vinnie Paul, Billy Martin, Elvin, Clyde and Jabo, Scott Abels, John Karel, Aaron Johnston, Chris Vatalaro, Benny Greb, Gil Sharone, Tony Allen, Billy Cobham, Tony Williams…and since I keep thinking of more and more, I’m gonna make myself hit Enter and start a new paragraph.
New London, Connecticut, is where I call home. Its incredible art and music scene is diverse and tight-knit and made a big impact on who I am as a musician. I saw and played my first shows at NLs legendary El ’N Gee Club. Artists like the Reducers, Quiet Life, and Flowers & Kain have come from New London, as well as tons more indie, hardcore, ska, Americana, punk, and dance bands.
While I have been busier with Shai Hulud than anything else in recent years, I’m crazy about all my projects. (Clearly I’ve regained my breath since earlier.) Take a few minutes to check them out and I’m sure you’ll notice the ADD-like quality with which I flit around the Musiverse.
So, MD world, let’s see where this magical word-carpet ride takes us, shall we? Hopefully it will be to a place where the compound word “word-carpet” still doesn’t exist, and interesting conversations about music and drums abound. See you all there!