Hello World.

IMG_7649what up?

It’s been a some time, i’m terribly sorry that I’ve been away.

Although I’ve been away from here, I haven’t been away from drumming.

I moved over to instagram @drumnmike to post daily drum videos starting in July of 2016.  They’ve been educational, some silly, and the Unity Temple stuff is insanely serious (kinda).

I’m hoping to make my way back over here to start doing some catalogs of the drum videos and the drawings that I’ve been doing.  If you’re interested in drum projects or illustration commissions hit me up and we’ll get something going.  If not, buy something from me!  🙂

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Drumnmike Podcast #2 (11-20)

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Listen here.

Podcast #2 starts with a little jazz.

The first song is an adventure, spanning close to 22 minutes. The next is a classic Mingus tune but with a different take on the melodies & rhythm. Next there’s a track from Goblin, known mostly for their soundtrack work in the 70’s & recently finding a new younger audience, one that forced (I use that lightly) them to go on a tour, something they haven’t done in ages, if ever.

Yesterday’s New Quintet is Madlibs jazz sample project, followed by Tortoise, a local Chicago jazz inspired group.

Samiyam is a hip hop/electronic/beats inspired project, followed by some classical music from Ives. I’m a huge fan of jazz with a classical chaser, does anyone else agree? They’re both mentally stimulating yet they’re both sides of the spectrum. This track is more avant garde classical than the straightforward classical music. Chambers follows which continues in the eerie, horror classical style.

To round it out one of my favorite metal/punk? Tracks by Mutoid Man from their first short form release. Then one of the tracks I played with a 1 time cover band I filled in on for a friend.

What do you think?

Track list
Pow wow! – tenderfoot chant
Charles Mingus – fables of fabus
Rush
Yesterday’s new quintet – uno esta
Tortoise – night air
Samiyam – return
Seattle symphony orchestra – instances
Spektral quartet – chambers: movement 2
Mutoid man- gnarcissist
Lake Street dive – you go down smooth

Drumnmike podcast # 1 (1-10)

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Drumnmike Podcast #1

Listen here

This will be a continuously updated list, starting today with 10 songs every time I post. Ideally I’d like it to start a discussion on what music people like our don’t like, & any similar suggestions.

Sometimes the list will have a coherence but mostly they were songs that came up on my shuffle list of bands I once heard about. Let me know what you think.

This week is spacey & heavy, starting with pink Floyd & winding through softer spaced out material from typically heavier bands.

Track listing
Pink Floyd – any color you like (live)
In Flames (black & white)
Fugazi – recap modotti
Dysrhythmia – let you fall
The Drums – money
Kylesa – between the silence & sound II
Goblin – fortuna
Truckfighters – gargarismo
Kvelertek – offernatt
Lazer/wolf – sacralicious

GWAR, Concord theater (151103)

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151103 - GWAR at Concord Theater: photo by drumnmike

God, what an awesome show.

I’m saddened it’s taken me this long to see them, & I’m also slightly embarrassed that I play in a metal band after what these guys have done.

Last time Oderus was alive they played at Reggie’s & for one reason or another I missed the show. That was a mistake on my part.

To enjoy this band is to enjoy metal in its extreme. All bands attempt to be heavy & loud & shit, tuning their guitar or bass down to the lowest levels available then playing heavy chords while their amps are as loud as they go. I’m down with that, but at the same point it’s impossible to continue to out heavy/out volume your contemporaries forever. The fact that 30 years ago gwar put a stake in the ground & decided to be as extreme as they are they raised the level of metal, without anyone coming close to what they do. (I’m open to suggestions of material I don’t know about)

The level of depth around the band & how they really create a theater show with their music makes it that much more fun. I’ve seen my fair share of heavy groups & while I enjoy them, sometimes it feels like I’m being yelled at at a show with 20 other people. Being recently married & having a kid on the way i have a hard time associating with such anger, but I like the technicality &  sounds of metal, just not all the time.

Gwar at least has the decency to not take themselves seriously & have fun playing while also playing some decent music. It’s not the best metal I’ve heard, but it’s damn good considering how many other things are into play with them. There is a high level of shock value so if the image of fake weiners offend you, don’t go. However if you can get past that you’ll have a blast…

I’m also starting to think Mike Judge
Judge should make beavis & butthead when they’re older.

showish review: Mark Guiliana drum clinic

7-2-15 mark guiliana at Constellation - Drum Clinic
7-2-15 mark guiliana at Constellation – Drum Clinic

buy Mark Guiliana music here | Listen here.

Don’t say Instagram doesn’t help bring people to the physical world.

I saw a post by Mark Guiliana stating he just landed in Chicago and was drinking Intelligentsia coffee and put 2 and 2 together.  Much to my surprise he was playing with one of his groups High Risk the 1st and 2nd of July at Constellation. He was also giving a free drum clinic on the 2nd before the show! Holy crap.  I set my sights on attending and I’m glad I did.

After a short drum solo because, as he stated ‘these beautiful drums are just in front of me’ Mark discussed how he goes about improvisation and how he practices. He tries to use improvisation to tell a story and fit in with the song, whether it be taking the last lick of a trumpet or bass melody and then trying to build that in to something.  His main goal is to tell a story and serve the song, instead of just banging around like crazy with as many licks as he can think of to throw in the space.

He then ‘simplified 4 years of practice into 20 seconds’ by taking a basic 5 count 16th note roll and playing them as quarter notes, eighth notes and triplets to show the same type of theme, but dissecting it and giving it a slightly different feel.  Mark then used an extremely simple acronym to discuss how to play the theme differently, but of course I forgot it.  The clinic started at 5 and I didn’t leave til 9:30, with a lot of downtime.  You get the idea.  I need to start writing things down as they happen.

Anyway the general idea were dynamic and spacing of the notes, with 16(?) different ways to play the 16th note version, and so on down for 8th and triplets.  Pausing for a 16th note and playing 3 hits, but switching between the rest on the 1, the e, the & and the a.  He then did this variation playing 2 hit and 1 hit combinations as well. After the 16th notes he moved onto the 8th notes and triplets, with the same general idea of different hit combinations and rest placement.

As can be seen with his playing his practice technique’s were very intelligent and very deliberate. For a brief time in college he tried to play only his style and if he felt he sounded too much like someone else he’d stop playing and would start over.  This type of dedication proves why he’s such an in demand and well respected drummer.

One of the main things I found interesting with his practicing was that he rarely spent 8 hours at a time practicing by himself.  He would be behind the drums for 8 hours but maybe only an hour was practicing by himself, and the rest of the time he was practicing with other musicians.  He was able to develop his chops in the group setting, learning to play with other musicians and how to serve the song instead of how to just do rudiments.  As I’m teaching my drum students rudiments from books they’re helpful to learn your chops, but it’s also extremely important to play as a musician, so that what you’re doing will complement what the song needs, instead of just wail.  I’m definitely guilty of being a gratuitous with my playing, but why else would you play metal than to just shred?

He took some questions from the audience then finished with a short drum solo.  He then ‘chilled’ in the main lobby for a half hour taking pictures and signing stuff for fans before he had to get ready for the performance.

And yes I had to get a picture.  Pardon the bad lighting but the one with good lighting I have a crazed stand still don’t move look in my face.

7-2-15 mark G & drumnmike - constellation:
7-2-15 mark G & Drumnmike – constellation:

show review:Snarky Puppy – Pritzker Pavilion (Chicago – June 25th, 2015)

150626 - snarky puppy pritzker, dude in front
150626 – snarky puppy pritzker, dude in front: photo credit Drumnmike

No good conversation in Chicago starts without the weather, so I’ll address that first.

It’s been raining heavily lately, with tornado’s touching down earlier in the week just outside of the city.  Some solar storms headed our way and thus the weather has been nuts.  There was a major thunderstorm the previous night and the outlook for the the day of the show was not good, with the weather channel calling for rain just before the show started.  We arrived around 6:05 (I’m estimating) and found a seat about 20 feet back from the front of the lawn. We brought peanuts and red wine.  Obviously.  My love for peanuts will soon become apparent.

Shortly after we arrived it started to drizzle. The drizzle continued for 10 minutes, then it was done.  I was relieved to not be sitting in a lawn soaked to the bone, with wet peanuts.  The rain stayed away for the remainder of the night but as you can see down the post a nice fog moved in, engulfing the buildings in front of us.

At 6:30 they started the show and Third Coast Percussion played what must have been a Steve Reich song, as they played a monotonous, lovely mostly percussive piece for at least 45 minutes.  (in time I’ll get on my game with this review thing, I’m sharing my experiences) Members of Snarky Puppy joined them on stage, but as you can see by the above picture, I had a difficult time making anyone out, as this dude started the standing, then slowly throughout the song everyone from different walks of life chose to stand there.  Why get the front most spot if you’re going to stand?  But anyways.

Snarky Puppy came on and tore it up.  I first heard of them through a Drumeo video with their drummer, Larnell Lewis.  Shortly after watching this video during a conversation with a good friend he mentioned he’s been listening to them a lot lately.  Shortly after that one of my drum students mentioned he’d been listening to them, since they’re playing Millennium Park.  I tell ya, you need the young kids around always to help keep you in the loop.

After the first conversation I gave everything they have on spotify a listen.  It’s a jazz funk hip hop type of thing, with great musicians whom all have played and continue to play with some bigger names in the music BIZ.  Not that you can necessarily hear those influences straight up, but they’re sought after in their own accord. Thus combining them to form a type of supergroup, if you will, they really know what they’re doing.  Hearing them on recording is one thing, but to truly experience them in the live setting is a whole new experience.  Not just because it’s cool to realize that 20-somethings really enjoy this type of music, but experiencing it live gives a whole new type of movement to the music, which could otherwise be lost in a purely audio setting.  Don’t get me wrong, the music still swings on their releases, but experiencing it helps gives another appreciation for it.

150626 - snarky puppy pritzker, the fog engulfs the skyline: photo credit Drumnmike
150626 – snarky puppy pritzker, the fog engulfs the skyline: photo credit Drumnmike

They played around an hour and a half, coming back on for an encore (I think it was Lingus?) with 2 of the members wearing Blackhawks jersey’s.  The sets continued to be lively, with each member receiving their own time to solo.  Being a drummer watching Larnell and their percussionist tear it up on a few occasions were a site to behold.  I would’ve loved to see them the previous 2 nights at City Winery, and I could only imagine what type of energy would be happening in such a tight environment, but given the giant space and beauty that is the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, they did an excellent job transforming their energy to the crowd.

150626 - Foggy Chicago Sky line photo credit Drumnmike
150626 – Foggy Chicago Sky line photo credit Drumnmike

album review: Chon – Grow

listen here.
my buddy Nate, a musician and former band mate, current chef and good dude, turned me onto this band when he saw them open for Circa Survive a few months back.

I’m somewhat conflicted by this band.  I’m a big fan of progressive style music where almost all the playing is one giant solo, but the tones they use are different than what you’d expect.  These guys to me sound like a smooth jazz version of Save us From the Archon, a band who’s album will be reviewed soon.  The majority of the songs are instrumental and the 2 vocal songs almost sound out of place.  They work, but the band calms down on these tracks and makes the songs a little easier to digest for most folks. The album was promoted via Red Bull so I’ll assume they wanted something more easily digestible.  Or I’m cynical.

It’s an enjoyable release through it’s entirety. It could pass as an album on a chilled playlist, but could also pass on a more upbeat playlist.  The 2nd vocal song, Echo, sounds fairly similar to a R&B song.  You can probably put this on your girlfriend/wife’s playlist as a song that she may like to try and get her into other music. I can’t quite place what song it sounds like so if anyone knows please post a spotify or youtube clip.

One of my favorite things about bands like this is actually watching them perform the music, and the tightness that’s required to fully bring it. I’ve never seen them live so if anyone has any insight I’d be curious to hear about it.

**After doing additional reading about these fellas it looks like a couple of these songs are re-recorded from their EP’s and 2 tracks feature Matt Garstka from Animals as Leaders. I’m not offended when bands re-record songs that they put on an EP because typically those release don’t get as much attention.  If they felt they could rework them better I’m happy to see them take a stab at them.  Also Matt rules.

This was their first official full length, although they’ve released a few EP’s since 2008.  As with Between the Buried & Me, I’m excited to hear their progression through the years.  Follow them on their FB page for updates.

album review:Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

"The Parallax II Future Sequence - Between the Buried and Me" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Parallax_II_Future_Sequence_-_Between_the_Buried_and_Me.jpg#/media/File:The_Parallax_II_Future_Sequence_-_Between_the_Buried_and_Me.jpg listen here.
Typically any ‘metal’ band that has a name longer than 1 or 2 words isn’t typically just a metal band.  Progressive Metal is probably the best description, although the music veers to technical death metal, progressive rock, and acoustic with pretty vocals. This album also has them incorporating non-typical instrumentation, such as strings .  The heavy parts bring it to spazz style death metal with extremely aggressive guttural yells, quickly switching to slower more melodic breakdowns showing off the singing prowess of Tommy Giles Rogers.

The album can only be called epic, with this being a strong example for bands to see that the more releases you put out the tighter you’ll all become and the stronger your vision as a band becomes.  Sometimes bands are able to achieve that within their first few albums, but there’s nothing wrong with continuing to hone your vision until you produce your masterpiece.

As to be expected of a band switching so smoothly between different genres some of the parts can come off as strange and sometimes too out there.  Every time I listen to Bloom I can’t help but be recalled of the Flight of Bumblebee, whether intentional or not.  Maybe I’m even missing out on a joke. It then jumps to a 60’s doo wop style before jumping to a Mr Bungle style breakdown.

Five of the twelve songs on the album are nearing if not over 10 minutes long, producing creating a 74 minute epic.  The longer songs do a great job creating different movements and producing “mini-symphonies”, as stated by about.com.

All of the musicians are very talented at what they do.  Being a drummer I have to give a special shout out to Blake Richardson and the insanity he creates behind the kit. He’s great at capturing how to play metal, but also adds textures to the non-metal riffs, effectively using ghost notes, cymbals as sounds instead of bashing the heck out of them and all together cohesiveness.

They’ll be releasing a new album July 7th called Coma Ecliptic. With the growth they’ve shown through the years it’ll be interesting to hear what boundaries they’ll push with the new release.

album review: This is Cinema – Cycle

This is Cinema  listen here.
“The group took shape when songwriter Ben Babbitt invited engineer Theo Karon to move his recording studio into the basement of Hotel Earth, a Chicago coach house shared by a number of musicians and artists. The musician/engineer relationship quickly turned into a full-on collaborative songwriting and recording effort, frequently joined by an ever-evolving circle of contributors.” from the Whistler website.

Similar to the boy on the cover his at peace, yet unnerving look on his face sets the tone for this release.  The album takes a straight forward, yet creepy feel getting it’s point across, focusing on monotonous yet driving drum rhythms with a constant build and layering of instruments and sounds.  Let’s not forget reverb. The vocals in this album are used like an instrument instead of creating an ‘obvious’ melody or hook.  They’re ambient and elongated with background vocals added to provide extra depth. One of my favorite tracks, Hands Can Grow, turns into an almost industrial-african electronic percussive drum loop, climaxing the album.

The last song is a great resolution, ending with strings and delayed ambiance for an unnerving settling to the album.  It’s a shame there was only one release as it would have been interesting to hear the growth of the collaboration. Even as a one off it’s a solid effort if you’re looking for something to be challenged with and still chill to. LP’s can be purchased via.

album review: Ulver – Messe I.X -VI.X

listen here.

The cover of this album perfectly sums up the music: an eerily, ambient, black metal classical album.

Ulver is a Norwegian band as the main project of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg.  Ulver is typically known for their black metal style, but have a knack through the years exploring different genres (industrial, gothic metal, sythn rock, psychedelic rockacoustic, ambient).  Messe I.X – VI.X was released in collaboration with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra.   It’s an epic ambient electronic masterpiece that sounds like a black metal band took the themes they’ve been perfecting and recorded the album with strings and electronics.  The music could easily be used in a horror movie soundtrack.

Messe has a natural arch, climaxing at Son of Man with vocals taking center stage to lead the song.  The rest of album resolves into a mellow resolution, bringing back the ambiance in a type of closure to the work.

Admittedly my first exposure to them was Messe I.X – VI.X and so coming in with a clean slate I enjoy what they accomplished.  If I were a long time fan I could see the changing of genres as a typically frustrating experience, unaware of which band would show up on the next album.  However  the only constant is change, and for an artist to put out 21 albums it could be monotonous to release the same piece over and over again. Props to the dude for continually challenging himself.