Hello. I’m Sam Scranton. I play drums in the band volcano! I’m here to tell you about our upcoming album, Piñata (to be released on June 12 via the Leaf Label), and to discuss a tension central to percussion performance practice in the rock ’n’ roll idiom.
Here’s the tension: Drummers want nice stuff to play, but drummers have to play hard, and as such, drummers break their nice stuff. For Christmas I received a 24″ Zildjian K Constantinople ride. It is both beautiful to behold and to hear. However, I now play my drums in constant fear that the best thing I own, my cymbal, will crack and turn into a piece of garbage. My solution to this problem has been to play with the theatricality of loud drumming, but with less of the bashing. But what can one do after a couple of whiskeys?!? It’s hard not to play with all that one’s got! For example, the other day my enthusiasm got the best of my bass drum head. I looked down in the middle of a song to discover a cavernous wound. That’s fine, but now my drumset is like Agatha Christie—who’s gonna get killed next?
On volcano!’s upcoming release, Piñata, you will be able to hear my garbage-y busted gear. Don’t worry, it all sounds great because we worked with highly skilled engineers and musician-professionals to polish my garbage up to a super high-gloss. But listen closely, my early-’90s Zildjian ride that I use as a crash has cracks in it. You can hear them. I use guitarist/singer Aaron With’s mom’s old carry-on luggage as a hardware bag because my stuff is all torn. That is inaudible and you won’t be able to tell unless you see me at a show. But again, it just goes to illustrate my point that things are always broken.
To conclude: volcano!’s album, Piñata, comes out June 4 on the Leaf Label. It features eponymous single, “Piñata.” I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my formulation of the double bind in which all modern drummers find themselves. On a positive note, this double-bind doesn’t have to hold us forever. Rather, I believe it suggests the way forward for the whole of rock music. I predict that by 2020 all rock music will be about 20 db quieter. Let us use this double bind to set the music free.
Photo by Stephanie Bassos. For more on Sam Scranton and volcano! go to volcanoisaband.com.