The Kickback’s Ryan Farnham on Teaching and Touring

The Kickback’s Drummer Ryan Farnham on Teaching and Touring

Hello, Modern Drummer readers. My name is Ryan, but at the moment I am going by Mr. F because I am sitting in front of thirty fifteen-year-olds in a Chicago high school math class. Substitute teaching has been a great way to earn money between tours and recording sessions because it allows me to be out on the road or in the studio for any length of time without angering my bosses.

My next trip out is in a week to drum for the Chicago-based rock band the Kickback. We are going on a month-long tour that will hit both US coasts (including performing at one of my favorite music conferences, CMJ in NYC) and we will be playing new songs from our soon to be released first full-length, Sorry All Over The Place (produced by the ever-so-tasteful drummer of Spoon, Jim Eno).

Despite our blue van having a lot of windows, I will be bringing my babies (my blue Ayotte kit) for the tour. I love these drums’ big, fat, warm tones and I just added a new Ayotte 16″ floor tom to my already existing Custom series, 1999 four piece (10″, 14″, 14″, 22″). I was nervous that the new owners wouldn’t be able to replicate the same quality that Ray Ayotte was able to produce but my new floor tom sounds, feels, and looks like a perfect fit with my older four drums. (I had to ship my 10″ tom to Canada to color match the new 16″ tom). Advertisement

When I am not performing, recording, or taking attendance I also spend time teaching minimal, melodic, feel-good drumming to the next generation at the School of Rock in Chicago. I stress to students that every hit counts and that they should serve the song and not their own potential desires to play busy (unless the song or section calls for it, of course). I emphasize that drums are a melodic instrument and I try to help them create melody using space and repeating rhythms. There is no doubt that there will be a whole crop of very successful bands in the next ten years that will have started at a School of Rock somewhere.


For more on Ryan Farnam and the Kickback, visit