This past August 25, the singer-songwriter Sam Beam—better known by the moniker Iron & Wine—released his eighth full-length album, Beast Epic. For the current tour in support of the effort, Beam recruited drummer and backup vocalist Elizabeth Goodfellow to supply the earthy, delicate drum tones that Joe Adamik originally laid down underneath the record’s indie-folk vibes. To re-create those parts on stage, Goodfellow made a few adjustments to her normal setup.
“In order to get that same subtle, hollow, and gentle sound live, I’m using a soft beater on the kick, placing handkerchiefs on certain drums to deaden the attack, and playing the toms with timpani mallets,” Goodfellow explains. “I’m playing very little hi-hat and instead playing the hi-hat patterns on a set of bongos. I’m also tying some bells to each of my legs, a technique I picked up from watching my friend Jay Bellerose, since I thought that sound would work well for the enchanting nature of many of Sam’s songs. There’s a trap table where my second rack tom would otherwise be, populated with a hubcap, a cello bow, a children’s ratchet toy, several shakers, a vintage tambourine, and anything else I find on the road that I think will be fun to throw into the mix. We improvise quite a bit.”
While Goodfellow sticks to the parts Adamik played on Beast Epic, she revisited Iron & Wine’s back catalog to give the songs new life on the road. “For older songs—and there are many—Sam Beam likes to reimagine them,” Goodfellow says. “This requires that I abandon the recorded version and present new options for the patterns and sonic palette. So I have quite a lot of opportunity to bring in my own ideas, which is extremely rewarding. The songs have great ‘bones’ and can be performed in multiple treatments. This keeps things fresh for Sam, the band, and the audience. You never know how you might hear one of your Iron & Wine favorites performed.”
Since starting her professional career at the age of seventeen in the U.S. Air Force Band of the West Coast, Goodfellow has played with the Emily Anne Band and jazz trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg. She’s also a member of the rock group We Are the West. As she gets set to release a debut solo record this February 23, MD asks what advice she’d offer up-and-coming drummers considering her blooming career.
“One thing I’ve learned is that it’s the people who stick with their passion who eventually realize their goals,” Goodfellow says. “Nothing happens overnight, and you have to really love music to make a living doing it. And don’t be afraid of failure. If you’re doing things right, you’ll fail much more than you’ll succeed. When you do succeed it’ll be because of everything you learned along the way. Everyone has her own unique path in this industry, and sometimes finding the right direction takes trial and error. Nobody can tell you which way to go but you.”
Elizabeth Goodfellow plays C&C drums, Regal Tip drumsticks, and vintage Zildjian cymbals. She also plays a vintage Ludwig snare in a black oyster pearl wrap and a Ludwig Speed King pedal.
Also on the Road
Matt Best with Tonight Alive /// Zac Burrell with Night Argent /// Bobby Jarzombek with Fates Warning /// Jeff Fabb with Black Label Society /// Aaron Hill with Eyehategod /// Reed Mullin with Corrosion of Conformity