Hey, six days until the Chicago Martyrs’ gig on Saturday, June 9th, for which tickets are now on sale at (800) 594-TIXX! Who’s ready?
Thanks so much for all of the ideas for the blog. In an effort to keep things positive, I’m going to write about P.H. coming into the band. A person so vital to our success deserves a blog all to himself.
In June of 1996, the band, deep into talks with Mercury Records, was without a drummer and a practice room. (By the way, places to rehearse are vastly underrated as reasons for/impediments to a band’s progress.) For a month or two, we'd been bouncing from rehearsal room to rehearsal room, drummer to drummer. Gibson’s on Mill let us crash their stage for the occasional practice. We played a few gigs with a pick-up drummer. The Blossom let us into their practice room, and for fun we jammed with Phillip Rhodes, a favorite drummer of ours. We knew our future as a band rested on getting the right person, and we weren’t likely to settle until we found him. As the bass player, I was more than a little concerned.
P.H. was the obvious match. We’d been trying to get him in for a try-out ever since we’d heard his previous band, Rain Convention, a staple of the Tempe music scene, had disbanded. Eventually, he gave in to our cajoling and showed up at Gibson’s one afternoon ready to play.
There was only one problem: P.H.’s drum kit had no ride cymbal.
I pointed it out to him while he set up. “Hey,” I said. “Where’s your ride?”
“Don’t use one,” he said.
I was flummoxed. To me, a ride cymbal was as essential to rock music as a snare drum. How on earth did this guy think he could pull this off without a ride cymbal?
I ignored my incredulity, and we got going. At P.H.’s suggestion, we started with “European Swallow.” Roger kicked in the intro, and the band came in.
Believe it or not, before that practice we'd been concerned how P.H. would take to the material. Rain Convention was a fantastic band, but it was a jam pop band, in the tradition of the Samples, and in my limited experience of hearing P.H. play I’d never heard him go all-out on a rock groove.
Let’s just say it wasn’t a problem.
P.H. attacked “Swallow” with his kick and snare, grooving along with us, taking the song by the throat and leaving the rest of us to catch up. During the chorus, where we were used to the ride cymbal clamoring away, P.H. cleverly went to the bell of his crash cymbal, replicating the sound of a ride. I barely noticed the difference. After 30 seconds of “Swallow,” we knew we had our guy. He could’ve been playing trashcan lids and we would’ve asked him aboard.
P.H. became the one to turn to for an easy, direct, and—after he said it—obvious answer. Whenever the rest of us were freaking out, P.H. could silence the anxiety with a word or two, get us back to where we belonged, make us ready to rock. There would be many opportunities for freaking out in the coming months and years. We needed him.
And, yes, he eventually got a ride cymbal.
For those of you coming to the show, don’t forget to get there early—8:30—for my acoustic set. We’re all geared up to lay down the law. I hope you’ll be there.