by Joshua Miller
October 2009

Drummer, the band

Drummer, the band

In this unsettled world, it’s important to treasure all your feel good moments.

That’s the mentality members of Akron, Ohio, band DRUMMER apply to their music and lives. As the frigid winter kept their state tightly in its grasp this past February, the five musicians of Drummer - including Patrick Carney, drummer for critically acclaimed band the Black Keys - set out in the settings of Carney’s basement to renew old friendships and have a good time making music.

Things went so well with that in just two months it quickly turned into album recording sessions. Recently that album, “Feel Good Together,” came out for Carney’s own label, Audio Eagle.

As the band’s name suggests, everyone in the band has drumming backgrounds in the Ohio music scene. But this band gives them a chance to put their multi-instrument skills to work.

For Drummer, Carney switches over to bass while Jamie Stillman (Teeth of the Hydra and formerly of Party of Helicopters) handles guitar, Jon Finley (Beaten Awake, also formerly of Party of Helicopters) provides lead vocal, Stephen Clements (of Houseguest and Six Parts Seven) provides keyboards and Greg Boyd (of Ghostman and Sandman) fills the drummer spot.

With eleven classic, catchy, and feel good tracks, Drummer is looking to show off their talent on the road. They make a Wisconsin stop on their tour Oct. 21 when they play the High Noon Saloon with the Royal Bangs supporting. Maximum Ink got the opportunity to talk with Carney in advance of that show about his newly minted, feel good rock and roll band.

Maximum Ink: How would you describe the sound of Drummer?
Patrick Carney: Jamie thinks it’s shoegaze and I just think it’s indie rock.  And I think Jon, our singer, thinks we sound like the Bee Gees.  But I don’t think any of us are really accurate so I don’t really know.

It seemed to me that the more we played the more our sound was changing and developing. Like the first two tracks on the album are the last two songs we wrote and they’re my favorite. 

MI: Could you tell me how you got the idea to form the band?
PC: I really wanted to play with those guys for a long time and the opportunity arose somewhat unexpectedly. Dan and I had just finished touring for Attack and Release in December and his solo album came out in February so I realized I’d have a six or seven month window to focus on something and non-Black Keys related as we started working again this summer. So I took advantage and started a band with my best friends who were all musicians. 

MI: How did it become a band of all drummers?
PC: It was an accident really. Once we all practiced we kind of all realized we were all drummers. In Akron most people play multiple instruments around town.  But everyone’s first instrument was the drums. So we decided to name our band the worst possible name for a band.

MI: What’s the writing process like for the band?
PC: For the most part every song started out the same way. Somebody would have a part whether it was Jamie, Jon, Steve or I - and then we’d just jam and then come up with another part and then a bridge. We tend to write one song per every practice. So like the first twelve or thirteen practices we were writing songs. We do everything together except for the lyrics which Jon wrote. 

MI: Do you think everyone’s background in drumming gave you guys an advantage?
PC: Maybe, though I doubt it.  I mean playing drums gives you a different perspective in songs. You start to really pay attention to the real basic aspects of the music and really raw feeling. Theoretically I would think that a band with all drummers should overall have more dynamics than we do. But part of that has to do with that half of us are deaf, it’s just loud enough usually. Pretty much everybody in the band is a much better drummer than I am.  At the same time Jamie is probably the best guitar player other than Dan that I’ve ever met. 

MI: What influences do you think really propelled Drummer to sound like they do?
PC: Everybody in the band listens to slightly different music…I think we all wanted to make an album that’s relatively simplistic and basically a rock and roll album. But I think it’s heavily rooted in all the bands we grew up listening to. The parts I was writing I was trying to write parts that sounded like Guided by Voices or something but I don’t think they turned out quite like that.

MI: The album’s obvious theme as taken from the title is feeling good together.  Could you tell me about why you guys thought it was important?
PC: We made the record for the most part in winter in Akron, Ohio which is one of the hardest places and times of the year to stay in a good headspace. It’s really easy to make music that’s gloomy or depressing. I think it was important to make something that was happier and more optimistic. 

MI: Its sounds like you guys had a pretty good time. Any stories or highlights from being in the band really sticks out for you so far?
PC: I could spend 30 thousand hours hanging out with those guys. They’re a huge part of my life. I can’t think of anything on the top of my head because it’s like being asked to tell a story about your brother. I must have a million but I can’t really think of one right now.

MI: Just by listening to the album it sound like the songs would translate pretty well to the live setting and have a lot of energy.
PC:  I think so. We’ve only played five shows so far. But yeah, I’m not used to standing up on stage or wearing glasses on stage so it’s hard and takes some getting used to. I do know that we all know how to play our instruments, that’s for sure. 

MI: What’s the biggest thing you’ve come away from playing in the band so far?
PC: When I started playing music I was playing guitar. And it’s about ten years since I was in a band that I played guitar. So it was a well-needed break for me to go apply what I’ve learned over the last couple of years. I guess one of the biggest things is that music conscious and space on the drums especially leaving room and making rhythms that won’t interfere with vocals. I think in a way it’s harder to do that with the bass. So I’ve definitely learned a lot about leaving space.

MI: Do you have any future plans for this band?
PC: Well we’ll be touring and at the end of this year the Black Keys kind of will start back up and doing a lot of work.  Next year will be pretty busy for me. So if I can’t play shows with Drummer I have a best friend that’s a good buddy to everyone else in the band that is going to fill in for me. Then I won’t feel like an asshole that I’m holding them back because I have to go play with my other band.

MI: What should people really know about how you fit in the band?
PC: I think the most important thing about the history of the band is that Jamie and Jon were in a band when I was 18 or 17 called Party of Helicopters and they were from Kent.  Right when I really started going to shows they were the band to go see in Kent.

Watching those guys play music was one of the reasons that made me want to become a musician. So they’re kind of my childhood idols. For people in Akron they were a huge inspiration. They were also one of those bands that were incredibly good and incredibly underrated and probably sold like 4 thousand records. Now ten years later we’re in a band together and hopefully we’ll sell 45 hundred records.

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Drummer Online:

CD: Feel Good Together Record Label: Audio Eagle Records
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Download Feel Good Together on Amazon