Charly “C.P.” Roth of the Liza Colby Sound
Talking About New Album, Gear, and Lefty Setup
Hello MD! This is Charly “C.P.” Roth, drummer of the Liza Colby Sound (rock and roll out of New York City), writing to you from the front seat of a Sprinter somewhere in France as my band makes its way through Europe doing what we do best: melting faces! Currently we’re getting ready to release our first full-length album in July, Object To Impossible Destination, after releasing three EPs.
I’m a multi-instrumentalist (drums, bass, and keys), producer, arranger, and music director from New York’s Lower East Side. Even though I’ve always considered myself a drummer first, I made most of my bones in the business as a keyboard player. I got into the record biz/session scene as a synth programmer in the late ’70s. This led to countless sessions with some of the biggest names in NYC, as well as stints with Ozzy Osbourne, Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter, Suzanne Vega’s debut album, a long run as original member/co-producer of ’90s act Blessid Union of Souls, and most recently as Garland Jeffreys’ keys man. Of course it didn’t hurt that I had some amazing drummers to learn from—the late great Randy Castillo with Ozzy, Kevin Hupp with Rick and Edgar, Eddie Hedges with Blessid, and Tom Curiano with Garland.
I’ve also been musical director for comedian/actor Denis Leary. Denis moved me back from keys to drums in 2005 because he said no matter what he’s doing on stage, he always knows where he is in the song with my backbeat. Advertisement
One great thing about being able to occupy different “chairs” is to really dig into the relationships between the rhythm sections from different perspectives. So I always approach what I do as a drummer from an arrangers’ view.
In 2009, my brother Adam met Liza Colby and formed the Liza Colby Sound with ex-Raging Slab bassist Alec Morton filling out the band. Alec makes everything I play sound better than it actually is. Drummers, find a bassist you can trust and never let them go! Adam tragically passed from cancer in 2015 and we took such a terrible hit from that but vowed to keep going. Now with guitarist Jay Shepard, the band has evolved sonically with heavier riffs and catchier hooks and we’ve been touring internationally in anticipation of the new record.
My own kit is a four-piece 1999 Pearl Export kit: 22″, 16″, 12″ power tom, and brass snare. Pearl is my number one go-to kit when backlining. Being a ’70s drummer, I just love the warmth of them, and I’ll happily play Ludwig, Gretsch, or Taye tubs any time for the same reason. I always use Remo Clear Pinstripes on the toms. I like to hear them go “DOOOMMmmm!” For cymbals, I’m a Zildjian guy all the way. I mix them up between A’s and K’s but my 20″ K Hybrid ride is always there! Advertisement
Being a lefty drummer, especially in the NYC club scene, presents its challenges, the biggest being the small space and the tiny time window given to turn the kit around between sets. I’m not a fan of long or complex setups/changeovers/load outs. In my setup, I only use two stands to hold four cymbals and both the rack and floor toms. I have things locked in place so even where a backline kit is offered, I bring the stands to help move things along. Nobody wants to hear the sound person tell you “one more song” when you have three to go!
Keep an eye out for our new record Object To Impossible Destination and follow us online and on stage!
Watch “Oh Baby” from Jimmy Jazz in Spain here:
Photo: Johann Vipper