Kurt Reifler: Talks Comeback and Recording Double EP in On The Beat

Kurt Reifler

Hello MD! I said rock and roll was a young man’s game. It is. I said I’d retire at thirty. I did.

So, why make a comeback? To release my double EP, Year Of/The Bear. It’s a loose tribute to my late friend, “the bear.” He was one of my oldest friends. The drumkit always has been too. Musically, it all started with the drums at six years old, long before I ever strummed a chord, wrote a song, or sang a note.

For the first EP, Year Of, I recorded the drums in Berlin. After being assured by the studio that they had high-quality drum gear, I arrived to find a no name, communist-era “vintage” drumkit. I had a moment of panic. What had I gotten myself into? I longed for my own gear back in the USA—my Ludwig Rockers kit from the eighties, my Zildjian Extra Dry ride, my old China cymbal that sounds like an orchestra of trashcans being pummeled with serving spoons.

As I looked down at this foreign kit, I suddenly remembered the sage words of my first drum mentor: “It’s not the kit that makes the player.” True, indeed. I gripped my red Dave Weckl sticks, the only familiar thing in sight. I adjusted the throne one last time and took a deep breath. Ready? Ready. Advertisement

The kit was delicate and had a small bass drum and floor tom, forcing me to take a very measured approach with my sticking and fills. I allowed the ghost notes on the snare to do the work and I focused more on technique than power. The harder I would hit these drums, the more they would crumble under the pressure. I had to curb my inner Dave Grohl and harness my inner Mitch Mitchell.

I did two takes of each song. No metronome. No tricks. When recording, my philosophy has always been simple: record live takes, and the “mistakes” will be your favorite parts as time goes on. About halfway through the first track, I felt comfortable and accepted that these drums would be a welcome new character on the record, albeit an unexpected one. Keeping the theme of new characters, the EP is capped off with a song called “Ice,” an impromptu drum solo on a friend’s kit.

Year Of/The Bear is a very meaningful project for me and it’s been a pleasure to get back on the drumkit, right where I started. Thanks for reading and watching!

Watch the video for “ Ice,” the latest single off Year Of, here

Watch a band performance of “Aftermath” and “Water,” here


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