Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Hey..look at these crazy kids! The fellow behind me hugging Phil Swisher is Robert Demko. We met in 1984 and we have been freinds pretty much ever since. A year ago this self serving drumming related chat was done. So let's read more about myself, okay?
Much is known about Brian Walsby the "Artist" but less is known about Brian Walsby the "Drummer". Brian has been drumming for as long as he has been drawing( 20+ yrs) he is a talented & skillful drummer with quite a musical history. So I decided to interview Brian about his drumming legacy. Who am I? Who cares! The real question you should be asking is: Who is Brian Walsby the drummer?
( Rob Demko: RD / Brian Walsby: BW)
RD: So how long have you been drumming?
BW: I think it has been since..let me see here. Since I guess..1982 or 1983. But I was just figuring things out. My first real experience in playing drums, at least in public, was at the end of 1984 when I joined the band Scared Straight. My first show was in Oxnard, California.
RD; Why the drums & not a guitar/bass or flute?
BW: I just really liked the drums, but that is not to say that I didnt also equally enjoy guitar, or bass, or the singing. I think it was because I picked it up rather quickly. If I sucked at it then maybe things would have turned out another way. I never have really played guitar. I can bullshit on it, though.
RD: At what age did you decide, I want to play drums?
BW:I dont know if I ever said that to myself. Again, when I sat behind a kit and was able to alternate my foot with my hands I thought that I should keep doing this.
RD: Have you always felt you had a primal need to beat something with your hands?
BW: Probably years later when I realized that I was a smoldering volcano beneath my easy going façade, and that hitting things with sticks seemed to make me feel a little bit more grounded. In fact, I usually get kind of antsy if I havent played for awhile. Sometimes I havent played drums for like six months. It just happened again, I took a break but it was a good time to do so. Everytime I swear I am going to stop playing drums something always brings me back to it. It is kind of like a blessing and a curse.
RD; Who were your first influences?
BW: Pretty much everybody, really. Very early on since Kiss was the first rock band I knew of, I would say Peter Criss, but I was blameless in any of this. Yeah, he sort of stunk. Then next year after hearing more real rock music it would have been people like Bun E. Carlos, Joey Kramer, Phil Rudd and all of the other usual suspects like John Bonham and Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts. Later on when I was seeing all of the punk rock drummers that I knew about, that had a much more profound effect on me, because I was actually able to see these guys, and see them up close. So all of those early eighties guys, the drummers in those hardcore and punk bands, a lot of them Really, most of them were great drummers. Ask anyone.
RD: When did you get your first drum kit? And what kind of kit did you start on?
BW: My first kit was one of these cheapo primitive White Remo PTS pre tuned series kits, where the heads lock in to the shells! I didnt think about getting a full set of cymbals so I hit on a pipe for a little while. Whne I finally got smart I added the cymbals. And in Scared Straight I used Scott Radinskys kit and he even helped me cover them in hardcore stickers. We did this a lot for some reason.
RD: You are self taught, never had a lesson, right?
BW: Yeah, I have never had a lesson in my entire life.
RD: When did you realize "Hey, I can do this & I might be good at it?"
BW: IT was pretty much the first time I sat down behind the kit, really. But I had always hit things with sticks before all of that
RD: Is anyone else in your family artistic, musical?
BW: Not musically at all and barely artistic. My grandfather played drums and percussion. He gave me an old drum set when I was in seventh grade and then took it back before I had a chance to do anything with them. My family likes to think I got it from my Grandfather because of the drummer thing but..no way! He took them back!!
RD: So who are some of your drumming influences/heroes, past & present?
BW: Jesus lets do a partial list that is meant to show you how cool and long reaching my drumming heroes are: Levon Helm is good. I like Away from Voi Vod. I like Dale Crover and most of the drummers Black Flag have had. early Reed Mullin was a great drummer. George Hurley is great. I like the guy Kelli from the late L.A. band Failure. His drumming on Fantastic Planet is awesome and he has the best drum sound on earth. They are like if Nirvana had talent. He is a current influence, but there are a million more. I like most drummers.
RD: How many bands/projects have you played in over the last 20 yrs? Yes, I want you to list them all, LOL!
BW: Alright, you asked for it:Positive Action, Scared Straight, The Born Agains, Delusions of Grandeur, Rob Stewarts Stupid, Wwax, the Cornholes, Willard, Snake Nation, Shiny Beast, Bedside Pig, the Patty Duke Syndrome,Refigerator Heaven, The Shames, Love Limited Orchestra, Space Slut, Polvo, Daddy, Black Taj, Siberian, Double Negative..that is at least eighteen bands and projects. The scary thing is I think that there are more then this.Most of these are bands. It is ridiculous.
RD: How many records have you played on & with who?
BW: Scared Straight nine song seven inch (1985) and a cover of Born To Be Wild on a compilation record called Covers, both released on everyones favorite eighties label, Mystic Records.Wwax we did two singles in the bands lifetime and a double seven inch after the band broke up. This was a band I was in with Wayne Taylor and Mac Macaughn, and they were both pretty big on documenting all of this stuff so we were lucky to have that much stuff out considering the band was only together for a year. Willard had a seven-inch after we broke up, two songs on the Matt label out of Chapel Hill, I think. Shiny Beast had a single and a mini cd out on San Fansiscos Boner Records, we then had some assorted compilation tracks and finally, the Faith/Void inspired split lp with us and Regraped. No one really got to be Void on here, though. We were both sort of like a math rock Faith or something. It was released on Raleigh's short lived Blast O Platter records, a label put together by Birds Of Avalon's Paul Siler and Cheetie Kumar, back when they thought having a record label was going to be a great thing, ha ha. Oh yeah..they also put out a split single by their old band called Glamour Puss on one side, and the Patty Duke Syndrome on the other. Its pretty sought after these days because of the Ryan Adams thing. It is pretty funny. I was on the Polvo record called Shapes that was the last one. I was on the Snake Nation record too Daddy ended up having a couple of tracks off of a couple compilations.
RD: What bands/projects did you enjoy the most & with whom do you think you did your best work?
BW: Probably the tour with Polvo, which was great. The record pretty much blows, except for two songs. I dont know what happened. It just wasnt really any good..but playing with them live, hearing all of those tapes, it was a great experience. The Patty Duke Syndrome was really great, despite all of that baggage that comes with it. I still like our unreleased album, some of my best playing ever. The Shiny Beast stuff, mainly the first recording, was really good. I have liked pretty much everything I have been a part of. There are a couple things that kind of suck but that is the way it goes. Usually I will decide that something was good after it was all over. That is just the way it goes with me, for whatever reason. Daddy was a really cool band for awhile but I seemed to appreciate it so much more when it was over.
RD: Any people/bands you regret playing with or wish you could do over?
BW: I dont think there is anything I have done in music or who I played with that I have regretted. Most of it was great. Its not always fun as everyone already knows. One thing that is really too bad is that some of the best and most special things I was a part of, like Polvo and Patty Duke, there is a lot of material that could be released and the demand has certainly been there but its just not going to happen for a variety of reasons. I will live of course, but all of that has been kind of disappointing. Trying to find those special moments these days is usually in the creating stages.
RD: Any people from the past you would like to reconnect with and play?
BW: I already have a lot of the times! It is a small world here in Raleigh.
RD: How many times have you been on tour & with what bands?
BW: Lets see..not really that much, I am afraid..I hope it is the quality and not the quantity. Scared Straight did two tours in 1985. Shiny Beast did two tours. I was in Erectus Monotone for awhile and we did some really draining and horrible tour that was still fun, oddly enough. And then with Polvo, we were able to do a solid month of touring, a whole lot of shows. That was the pinnacle, really. My short-lived peak as a touring machine.
RD: If you could form your all star jam band whom would it consist of?
BW:I would play the drums. Pen Rollings of Honor Role would play guitar. Mike Dean of COC would play bass, but it would be with a pick..no fingers! Plus I would give him he mindframe he had for playing his instrument in..1984. And I would have John Brannon be the singer. I mean, I dont know if it could get better then that. Mike and Pen would write the riffs, we'd all arrange it and then John Brannon would just shriek over everything. No overt metal leanings. We'd be my favorite band. Its going to happen one day.
RD: What type of kit do you play on now? How many pieces?
BW: I just bought a five piece black Premier kit from Ethan Smiths little brother with a combination of Sabian and Zildjian cymbals. And I still have my trusty ice bell, of course. It seems pretty cool. I am not hard to please..
RD: You have always played on a real basic kit, why, any particular reasons?
BW:I was duped into thinking that you had to have a lot of drums as a kid. Then I saw most of these drummers play with these monster kits, and they never seemed to use even half of what they had. What was the point? When I was first playing, I knew right away that I couldnt afford to have a Neil Peart set and I somehow just knew that you could do whatever Neil Peart did on a four piece if you were creative enough to not get bogged down with not having ten million drums. You dont need a lot of stuff to get the job done. Even having an extra tom, one that makes it a five piece, is kind of had to get used to. It makes everything sound different.
RD: What has always amazed me is how you are able to get more beats out of a basic kit than some one with a monster kit. Your a pretty humble guy, do you even realize how good you are?
BW: No, not really. I dont sit around and think that I am great by any means. I am usually humbled by how little I know about drumming itself; the mechanics and basics of I, even down to just changing drum heads. I just have never paid a lot of attention to that. People have told me that they think that I carved out my own style. I think that is sort of true but that doesnt mean I think I am any good. I think that I am adaptable. And in some way, I always want to try to do something different ten what I have done before.
RD: Have you ever been told that you have a recognizable drumming style?
BW: Some people around here, sure. Some other people elsewhere have said nice stuff about me in that regard, I guess.
RD: You have this unique way of mixing straightforward chops with these odd off beats that momentarily hang in the air. Where does that come from?
BW: My style is probably a combination of Bill Stevenson and George Hurley. Both of them had a huge influence on me as a kid. They both had amazing chops. Like on the first Descendents record, the drumming is just insane, and he is like sixteen years old, or seventeen! That is amazing. What influenced me the most about both of them was the fact that they both supported the song but never just kept the beat. They would compose their drum parts like separate parts of the song and that are pretty much what I have always done.
RD: I have seen drummers before mouthing all these counts & beats. When your drumming do you think much about what youre doing, like counting or figuring out what to add?
BW: The less thinking that I do, the better things are. I just try and enjoy myself. I rarely ever have to count.
RD: If some lame ass band you normally wouldn't listen to like The Offspring or Kid Rock asked you to play for them on a tour would you do it?
BW: I think the two things you mentioned really do suck, but I would do something like that in a second. I mean, why the fuck not? It might be repulsive but if nothing else it would be entertaining and at least profitable. Id sell out in a heartbeat if I had the fucking chance! Who wouldnt at this point?
RD: Ha, what happened to your punk rock ethics bro? Isn't it all about the music?
BW: punk rock ethics and integrity are the consolation price of not being able to make a living off of your art. Wow, you got integrity, man! But having said that, I think you sort of have to have some degree of integrity if you want to keep playing no matter what happens or who pays attention. I mean, if it were all about money I would have quit years ago.
RD: So what are you doing now musically, what type of music are you playing. How is that going? Will you be releasing anything soon?
BW: Since the dawn of this year, I have joined forces with Justin Gray, Scott Williams and Kevin Collins, ex singer fro Subculture, Days Of.. and Erectus Monotone. Him joining was a nice surprise. Those other guys tipped us off on to all of these younger kids who have punk rock house parties, and we went to a few of them and it was cool to see more newer kids getting into all of the stuff that had meant (and still does) so much to us when we were kids. So we were inspired and we started DOUBLE NEGATIVE, which is pretty fast and punk rock in a early eighties hardcore sort of way. Its not brain surgery, but its a lot of fun. So we are just trying to have fun and excite ourselves. Were kind of pandering in the nicest way possible. It is a marathon that is for sure. I still got it, though. I can thrash! I think we are going to try and do as much stuff possible with as little effort as possible. We can do it, I think. Plus the more we go on, the weirder it gets. People seem like they think that this might be a fun thing to see or listen to, so that is nice.
RD: If you could be anyone for 72 hours who would it be?
BW: Wow, I had no idea we'd end it with this. Bill Cosby?
Posted by brian walsby at 3:51 PM