Tomorrow, Thursday, April 12, KEXP will host a special evening with The Trap Set, a podcast produced out of Los Angeles that focuses on the lives of drummers. They release a new episode every Wednesday that you can get for free, either by subscribing or listening to episodes on their website. (In fact, if you can't make tomorrow's event, just wait 'til next Wednesday when they release the talk as an episode!)
This FREE, All Ages event will start at 7:00 PM, and will feature an excellent panel of Seattle drummers: Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Ruby Dunphy of Thunderpussy, Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces and Chimurenga Renaissance, and Jason McGerr of Death Cab For Cutie.
• Talk about high demand: Matt Cameron is so good, he drums for two of Seattle's top rock acts, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. In a 1996 interview with UK magazine Kerrang!, his bandmate Chris Cornell said, "When I first met Matt [in 1986], he was already the best drummer in town." His Pearl Jam bandmate Eddie Vedder takes it a step further in the liner notes for their 2003 Lost Dogs compilation: "Matt Cameron writes songs and we run to find step stools in order to reach his level...what comes naturally to him leaves us with our heads cocked like the confused dogs that we are...eventually getting it. Did we mention he's the greatest drummer on the planet?" Cameron returned the compliment in an interview with The Pulse Of Radio, describing his style of drumming with each band: "I definitely feel like I support the vocal in both groups. The music around the vocal is a little bit different. But that's the way I've always considered my drumming, is vocal-influenced. I've been lucky enough to play with two of the best singers in modern day history, so I think that's always sort of been my strength as a drummer."
Late last year, Cameron released his debut solo album, Cavedweller, via Pearl Jam's indie label imprint Monkeywrench Records. The release features Cameron as producer, writer, singer, and guitarist, but not as drummer. He recruited drummer Mark Giuliana and bassist Tim Lefebvre for his rhythm section; both appeared on David Bowie's final album ★ (Blackstar).
• Ruby Dunphy of Thunderpussy always knew she would grow up to become a drummer. In an interview with Tom Tom Magazine, she explains, "I knew I was going to play in a band forever.” Dunphy studied classical and jazz percussion for four years at Chicago High School for the Arts before relocating here to Seattle to study jazz instrumentalist drumming at Cornish College of the Art.
She describes her particular style to Tom Tom Mag as: "In it’s rawest and sincerest state, my playing is a fast, heavily subdivided, double stroke driven formulation of every thought in my head that I didn’t know existed. In all genres, I fall into a consistent search for how my playing (which is always influenced by the other performers present) can embellish, shape, and at times manipulate the time or pulse that the music is implying."
• Tendai Maraire was born into music. His father was musician and ethnomusicologist Dumisani Maraire, master performer of the mbira, a "thumb piano" that's formed with attached staggered metal tines on a wooden board. It's a traditional instrument of the Shona ethnic group of Zimbabwe, where Dumisani was born and raised. In an interview with Paste Magazine, Tendai reflects, "As the story goes, I was 18-months old and my parents were teaching a class, and I got up and started playing the drums and that was it. It immediately threw me into the fire... Because our family is generations of musicians and teachers. I just picked it up and was around it." He followed in his father's footsteps, playing the mbira with Auto-Tune, creating a unique, other-worldly sound that caught the attention of his Shabazz Palaces bandmate Ishmael Butler.
Maraire uses an assortment of African instruments in his work with Shabazz Palaces, as well as his side project Chimurenga Renaissance. Beats created with traditional folk percussions like ngoma, the hosho (a seed-filled gourd), and the aforementioned mbira are combined with electronics, creating his inimitable, postmodern Afro-futuristic hip-hop sound.
• Jason McGerr was not the first drummer for Death Cab for Cutie, but he will most likely be their last. In a 2006 interview with Discorder, frontman/founding member Ben Gibbard declared that he "definitely believe[s] this will be the last drummer we'll ever have. It's kind of come full circle. It makes more sense having him than it has anyone else that's ever played with us." McGerr had previously played with Gibbard and DCFC bassist Nick Harmer in the Bellingham band Eureka Farm, and came aboard on the band's 2003 album Transatlanticism.
Starting with a snare drum at age 10, and then a full kit at age 14, McGerr started taking classes at the Seattle Drum School in 1992, studying with owner Steve Smith. In an interview with Drummer World, he says, "Steve taught me a great deal about his many systems of independence. He also taught me how to teach myself….. And now I teach at his school because I believe in his curriculum." McGerr became a full-time Private Instructor for 10 years there, growing so quickly in reputation that he was soon teaching six days a week to upwards of 60 students, ranging in age from 4 to 60-years-old. He even gave lessons to fellow panelist Matt Cameron! He occasionally continues to teach there when he's not busy with the band.
The Trap Set LIVE at KEXP starts at 7:00 PM in the KEXP Gathering Space, FREE and open to all. Space and seating is first come, first served.