An Editor’s Overview
Hi, everyone. It feels as though I was just wishing you a happy New Year and we were all freezing in the cold—especially here in the northeast—and now I’m saying, “Happy summer!”
Toasting its twentieth anniversary this year, Umphrey’s McGee is at the height of its powers, delighting fans with new music, raging shows, and an innovative approach to online outreach. That goes double for its ever-evolving drummer, who brings big beats and cool ideas whenever he sits down at the kit.
During the 2000s, multi-instrumentalist Susie Ibarra could be heard throughout New York City performing her very specific, very musical, and very original drum style within the creative music groups of bassist William Parker, trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Matthew Shipp, and saxophonists John Zorn and David S. Ware, as well as leading her own unique ensembles, like Mephista.
At the time of this interview, Marian Li-Pino of L.A.-based-via-Seattle psych-surf band La Luz had just returned from finishing their new album, Floating Features, at Dan Auerbach’s Nashville-based Easy Eye Studio. Li-Pino was riding high and excited about the creative experience and the amazing studio. Auerbach was also suitably impressed. “Marian is one of the best drummers I’ve ever recorded. She has a very even touch on the drums—perfectly suited towards recording. She comes up with great parts, and she always listens to the rest of the band. She’s basically a producer’s dream.”
While most aspiring players spend hours working on hand technique, studying the music of favorite drummers from recordings and videos, and poring over Modern Drummer, all in the hopes of one day landing a spot with an artist of choice, other drummers take a less formulaic approach to achieve positive end results. Fort Worth, Texas, native Mike Mitchell has held the drumming chair with jazz bass wizard Stanley Clarke’s band since 2013. His career path, like the music he makes under the name Blaque Dynamite, follows no formula.
On April 27 the Detroit-based hardcore/experimental band the Armed released Only Love, the group’s second full-length since its inception in 2009. For the new effort, the Armed recruited metal-drumming vet Ben Koller [Converge, Mutoid Man, Killer be Killed, All Pigs Must Die] to handle the album’s ruthless parts. After Only Love’s split-second synth intro, Koller and the band launch into a distorted barrage that endures throughout the record’s eleven tracks. On the effort, the group coaxes a chainsaw-like cacophony through time shifts, melodic breaks, and well-tempted resolutions—all with a clever grace.
Watching and listening to Jeff Friedl play drums is like studying a veteran chess grandmaster. All the moves are deliberate, nothing is about speed or rushing to execute ideas, and there’s a thought-out intelligence to every decision.