The “overflowing bucket of art supplies” that is JP Bouvet’s new band, Childish Japes, is indeed as adventurous and diverse as his own description would suggest. According to Bouvet, the band is committed to fearless musical exploration and a blurring of genre lines that “screams 2017,” with each track designed to introduce a new groove that is inviting yet subtly complex. Today the group releases its debut single, “After You’re Born,” to online stores and streaming services.
Bouvet, who recently returned from Steve Vai’s Generation Axe tour and headed straight into Childish Japes mode, breaks down the song by sections for us here. He begins, “In the verse, which is perhaps the most subtle groove of the song, I’m using all four limbs as melodic equals, using hi-hat stomps and displaced triplet ghost notes that appear and disappear spontaneously. This reflects the contents of the lyrics, which muse on how simple life was as a baby.”
The pre-chorus prompts a sudden shift in intensity and a smooth but syncopated groove on the drums. Listeners will note the quick triple kick pattern that repeats every measure. “But don’t let your ear shift the beat,” warns JP. “The whole song is in 4/4. The repeating groove contains an accent on the second triplet after 1, but be careful not to hear that as the new downbeat.”
Though Bouvet describes his drumming as being less about “the big moment” than about subtle complexity, the song’s outro does feature a dramatic drum fill halfway through that’s sure to grab attention. But just as compelling is JP’s approach to the groove section of the outro, where he plays constant 16th-note triplets on the ride cymbal with one hand (using the push-pull technique, the drummer tells us) while simultaneously playing a melodic rhythm on the snare drum in the form of ghost notes, still making time to catch the halftime backbeats.
Bouvet says that the Childish Japes’ debut album was designed to sit comfortably between the musical worlds of improvisation and composition. Look for a full interview with him, discussing this and many other topics, in an upcoming issue of Modern Drummer.