Thursday, June 17, 2010

My 5 favorite underrated Rock N' Roll drummers

#1. Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls, Heartbreakers, London Cowboys)

My most memorable hangover was back in my college days.  I woke up with a particularly nasty headache, immeasurable nausea, and a shitty disposition.  To make matters worse, I'd woken up far too early, and couldn't get back to sleep.  The TV was on, so I laid in a fetal position watching VH1....and for some reason, the New York Dolls came on, - I believe it was the video for "Lookin' For a Kiss".  I'd been a fan already, but I'd never seen any of their live clips.  I noticed the drummer, Jerry Nolan, in the back, pounding the holy FUCK out of his hot pink drum kit!  Wow!  It was almost as if Dave Grohl had gone glam and beamed himself back to the early 70's!

What I really love and relate to about Jerry's style is....the power and fury with which he played.  He pushed the beat in a way that really gave those songs a swift kick in the ASS (which might have something to do with the fact that he was a Gene Krupa freak)!  The raw adrenalin that he brought to his bands was really special, and really made him stand out.  That was probably why, when the Dolls were auditioning drummers to replace the tragically departed original Dolls drummer, Billy Murcia, Jerry beat such other New York drummers as Peter Criss (who went on to great success with Kiss, and whom Jerry taught how to play) and Marc Bell (who later became Marky Ramone). 

I listen to Jerry's drumming and watch a lot of his moves.  To put it simply, the guy's style had a lot of fire, class, and more than a little bit of fucking DANGER.  He was and always will be THE composite New York Rock N' Roll drummer, as far as I'm concerned.  He had a big effect on me.  Thanks Jerry!


Here's an article Jerry wrote for the Village Voice, not too long before his death.  It's a great read:

#2. Nick Turner (Lords of the New Church, Barracudas)

I happened upon the Lords of the New Church when I was growing up by accident.  I ran into their 3rd album, Methods To Our Madness, in some cut-out bin in some "Mom and Pop" record store back home, before I'd even started listening to the bands their members had first made their names for themselves in (the Dead Boys, the Damned, Sham 69, and the Barracudas).  I took a look at the back cover, thought that they looked cool, and figured it was worth the 3 bucks to take the LP home and give it a spin.  I'm sure fucking glad I did.

Nick was another drummer, like Jerry Nolan, who really pushed that beat, loved to play hard & fast, and bring the music to a fever pitch.  This might have something to do with his background with the criminally-overlooked surf band, the Barracudas.  Another thing that impressed me about Turner was his use of the toms, giving a sort of tribal edge to certain parts of certain songs.  It's a dynamic that comes off as being very fucking intense and from left field, so to speak.  I do it quite a bit myself, and, I'm sure it's not coincidence.  Thanks, Nick!

I don't think Turner did any drumming after he left the Lords.  That's too bad, especially for me.  His style is instantly recognizable to my ears, and I'm sure I could identify his drumming, no matter who he was playing with.  There are few drummers I can say that about.

#3. Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche)

I'm by no means a fan of "Progressive Metal" music at all.  I think it usually consists of technocratic dweebs attending a wank fest.....displaying chops and meaningless drivel of the like.  That's not what Rock N' Roll is about, and I suspect the dudes who play this type of music get laid very rarely.

Queensryche were different, in that they executed their music with taste, spirit, and ingenuity.  And their driving force was sitting in the back, and his last name is ROCKENFIELD.

What I love about Scott's style is that he plays much more sparingly than most of his counterparts.  You see, SPACE is also a percussion instrument, and one that he uses extremely well.  He plays with power and authority, and makes a HUGE noise, but he doesn't overplay, especially with  the double kick, which I don't usually like anyway.  The result is really cool, creative drum parts, executed in such a way that makes the songs move and groove.

I spent years playing along the Rage for Order and Operation Mindcrime, and surely know every drum fill on both.  Obviously, he had a huge effect on how I play, even though he plays a completely different kind of music.  I see a lot of that.

#4. Mac McNeilly (The Jesus Lizard)

There was a time when I was OBSESSED with the Jesus Lizard.  I found their music to be extremely intense, powerful, and interesting.  They didn't have songs with "hooks", per se, and they simply weren't a "hits" kind of band.  What they did was something dark and imaginative and, at times, profane.  And I loved it, and still do. 

And pummeling it all into shape within an inch of dear life, was MAC!  The first song I ever heard of the Lizard's was "Boilermaker", the first song on the LIAR album.  He wasn't playing a straight-forward back beat on the 2's and 4's, with the rest of the band playing over it (although he does this on some songs, of course).  No.  He was doing a creative, almost poly rhythmic drum part that was centered around the guitar line....and, I might add, it was fucking BRUTAL!  I'd never heard anything like it.  It opened my mind up a lot of possibilities and creative approaches to different rhythmic qualities of songs that I hadn't considered before.  It helped me a lot, and still does....again, even though the music I'm helping make is way different from these guys.


#5. Boris Williams (The Cure)

Boris played with the Cure during, for my ears, their most fruitful years (from The Head on the Door through Wish), musically speaking, and anchored their best line-up.  And his presence is felt on all of those albums.  I think the guy is the most creative drummer of the entire genre (English Goth/Alternative). 

He is another drummer who often had an unorthodox approach to the regular, often creatively-stifling 4/4 time signature, often, again, playing around with different beats, often around the guitar lines, and often incorporating his toms and different odd percussion instruments into the beats. It really helped set the Cure apart from their contemporaries, and he deserves credit for his unique contributions to that, as far as I'm concerned.  He certainly inspired me to come up with some different ideas, and to figure out how to play his!

Another really cool thing about Boris's style was,  he would come up with this creative beat, and repeat it over and over, playing few drum fills, etc.  This sort of "cadence" approach to Rock N' Roll drumming isn't easy, because it required focus and discipline.  Trust me.

Here's a great interview with him back in his heyday:

I could come up with many more.....and maybe I will.

Thanks for reading!

Marty E.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Clips from the Dirty Pearls taping for Little Steven's new earlier this year.

This past March, The Dirty Pearls did a taping for Little Steven Van Zandt's new website,, out at Soundwaves Studios in Union, NJ (whose staff are all great guys, and we appreciate their support).  Our good friend, Rich Russo from 101.9 RXP was there hanging out as well.

The clips just became available, and I thought I would share them.

We had a blast, as you can see from the clips.  But the much to our surprise, Little Steven actually took the time to come check us out.  After we played, he hung out with us, pose for pictures, and just shoot the shit for a little while.  He proved to be a very cool and gracious host, one that truly cares about great Rock N' Roll.  It was truly an honor.

There was plenty of beer to be consumed as well, and, as you know, we all love that!

I'm not going to ramble, but check out the clips!

Marty E.

PS. For best results, drag your mouse over the clip, once is starts, and turn the HD off.

THE DIRTY PEARLS "Caffeine and Gasoline" from Fuzztopia on Vimeo.

THE DIRTY PEARLS "Love Sick Love" from Fuzztopia on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feeling the Rain of or Taking a Shine to my personal favorite Summertime songs

It's been a long time since I've written on this blog of mine, and suddenly, it's Summertime!  Things are good, there's a lot going on, and....well, I guess I'm going to talk about the music going through my head while it the hell do you like that?

For me, Summer isn't really that different than any other season, save for the fact that I should probably get a goddamn air conditioner, and it's going to be too damn hot for most of my scarves, leather jackets, dark clothes, and boots (but, fuck it, I'm wearing the damn boots, and you'll NEVER see me wearing shorts unless you see me at the beach.....and most of you who are reading this will not.....ok?)

That being said, Summer is a great time, not only for fun in the sun and relaxing on the beach (which I do occasionally)....but for cool, killer nights on the town.....drinking beers on rooftops....taking the long way home on foot....Hefeweizen beers on the sidewalk (with lemons, not oranges, ok?)...gin & tonics....Central Park....barbecues....all that's fun.....

Anyway, these are my favorite songs that sort of.....convey the spirit of Summer, as I feel it, in my heart and mind.  It isn't all fun and games,'s real,'s all GOOD!  Don't worry about the order....that could change in a matter of minutes.......

#1. Urge Overkill-"Sister Havana"

GOD I still LOVE Urge Overkill.  These guys were the first band of the so-called "Alternative Era" to....sort of exemplify and attitude of that, to me, said, (to their contamporaries), "Look, guys....I  understand that you're all PC and intelligent and all of that cool shit, but.....we can still PARTY OUR ASSES OFF, can't we?!!"   I thought so!

To me, UO were sort Kiss/Cheap Trick meets Neil Diamond (and of course, their biggest hit was a cover of a Neil Diamond song, go figure).  It was definitely incongruous to a lot of the dismal, depressing output of a lot of 90's bands (not that I'm a real big fan of overly happy music, but you know what I mean).  They wore their UO-embossed medallions and their egos on their sleeves, and I thought it was great.  In a time when such things weren't fashionable, they made no bones about the fact that they wanted to be stars....and in my mind, they were.  I just wish the rest of the country had sort of caught on.....but my tastes and the tastes of the American Public have not always seen eye-to-eye.

No matter, this song was probably their most well-crafted and artfully-produced track.  It is packed with hooks (even in the fucking BRIDGE), has a huge chorus....I can't believe they didn't pack arenas with this! It epitomized the UO M.O. to a T (how do you like that?)'s fucking FUN!  The video mirrors that perfectly, don't you think?

There you makes sense now, doesn't it?

#2. The Barracudas-"Summer Fun"

I love surf music.  It's fun and laid back, but the rhythm of it is, at times, fucking relentless!  Which is the reason why I got into the Barracudas: their drummer, Nicky Turner, went on to play in one of my favorite post-punk/goth bands, the Lords of the New Church....and whose drumming I've always loved (more on that in a future entry on here!)

I don't need to do a lot of explaining here....just watch the damn video!

#3. Van Halen-"Panama"

There is, perhaps, no American Rock N' Roll band that, for my ears, represents an American Summer fucking Vacation than Van Halen with David Lee Roth.  Hell, I could have put this song at #1 on my chart here....and made the whole chart consist solely of Van Halen songs....but that would have been too damn predictable....and besides that....I'm doing this as I go along.....Summertime is about spontaneity, alright?

I remember being a little kid watching this video, with all the cars and motorcycles and women and beers and on-the-road hijinks, and I remember thinking to myself that THIS was the way to live.  Hell, I still DO think that, for that matter.  This video sort of.....represents my every hope and dream as much as any.  I haven't obtained them all yet, but....getting there is indeed half of the get to getting there, shall we? Plus, who doesn't love women and cars? It's as American as apple pie....and, yup, there's a joke in there somewhere!!!

#4. The Thrills-"Deckchairs and Cigarettes"

This song is my favorite...."Fuck and forget about everything in the world and relax and if the world ends now, it's as good a time as any," kind of song.  This video clip is the best I could find.....but you should buy the album.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of their songs would make the Beach Boys blush!

"....just don't change a thing...."


#5. AC/DC-"Let There Be Rock"

Every time I hear this song, I think back to when I still lived in Minneapolis.....and I'd wake up hungover and alone on a Sunday afternoon in my little studio apartment downtown, next to I-94.....the fan blowing in my face....and I'd say to myself, "Screw THIS....I gotta get OUT of here!"  And I'd go out to my pick-up truck and start driving....with both windows down, and my shades pulled down tightly, to hide from the Sun that I was trying to catch up with....and more often than not, I'd put in AC/DC's If You Want Blood....You've Got It (Live) into the stereo.....and I'd drive all over the Twin Cities metro area, with no destination in mind....and I wouldn't come back until well after dark.

That is, until I didn't come back at all, but that's another story!

How BADASS is that opening riff?

That's what I thought too.

#6. The Cure-"Icing Sugar"

This song is a different animal altogether.  This is the sort of song I like to put on when I'm getting ready to go out, right before midnight.....and it's been so HOT, that it's practically raining inside your apartment, but.....there's a breeze easing in through the window.  It's telling you that something crazy and awesome is in the air and that it is about to become one hell of a night.....and to prepare......and take heed....don't wait up....

#7. The Beach Boys-"Surfer Girl"

....because I'd be a total asshole if I didn't have a fucking Beach Boys song on here, ok?!

And this song is awesome....

#8. The Cult-"Love Removal Machine"

This is another "beer-drinking in the bed of the pick-up truck in the woods" kinds of songs. Rick Rubin, as a producer, really helped these guys hit the nail on the head with this entire album. I mean, he basically took a post-punk/goth gang of brits and turned them into a down and dirty classic-Americana Rock N' Roll band (despite having them rip off fellow Brits the Rolling Stones and AC/DC, from down under, get my point....hell, those bands took American Rock N' Roll and made it their own & threw it back at us, no?)

Anyway, the Cult delivered with power and grace on here, and I'll never stop loving this song....but this song never sounds better than it does when the heat is taking you over. You know exactly what I mean.

#9. Neil Young-"Thrasher"

This song holds a special place in my heart, for different reasons, most likely, than any other songs I'm mentioning here.

Back when I was in the Midwest, and knew I had to get out in order to....well, become what I am, and what I have yet to become....I did a lot of soul-searching and explored a lot of possibilities. For a minute, I thought I might go down to Phoenix and play with an awesome, tragic, glam/pop/rock band down there. It didn't work out. Then, there was an opportunity for me to play with a gritty, no-frills Punk N' Roll band in LA and hit the road with them immediately....and I was close to doing so. I was going to pack up my truck and make the drive out, living, what I refer to as the "Neil Young Dream"....which is sort of what his lyric (from this song), "I was just getting up, hit the road before it's light, tryin' to catch an hour on the sun". How great is that? Well, I sort of chickened out on that though, and....well, it was for the best (long story, but it wouldn't have been a good move for me at the time).

But I knew at that time that I had to act, to DO something. All of my friends were starting to get real jobs and real lives; they started getting married and having families. And God bless them, for that's what people DO, right? Hell, I'm sure glad MY parents did.

But, I had to do something else, and finally I did, and 10 years later, here I am.

But this song, to me, is sort of about....discovering that you're something different, than, perhaps, the world expects you to be. It's about realizing what your aspirations are, and the hard choices you have to make and the risks you have to take to get on the right track to fulfilling them. And the metaphors with which Neil illustrates this are really beautiful and picturesque....almost pastoral, in a matter of speaking. He spoke of his peers (supposedly, he was referring to Crosby, Stills, and Nash) "Hiding behind hay bales", "Lost in rock formations", "Or became park bench mutations"....while he "burned my credit card for feul" "Through the timeless gorge of changes, where sleeplessness awaits". Daunting stuff to be sure....and I sort of feel like, in my own way, I experienced that as well, in my own way. And the funny thing is, I was listening to this album and this song in particular when all that was going on. It's kind of crazy to listen to it today, and sort of feel the history of my relationship with a song like this. But I guess that could be said for a lot of them couldn't it?

Do you know what I mean?

#10. The Rolling Stones-"Little T&A"

I could have probably put just about any Stones album on here.

But....well, you know when your walking down the street, and you see a total babe with a no-nonsense walk, long legs, and a face full of attitude that has no time for you....and a killer body wrapped in just enough cotton to carry it?

Well, when I see that, this song starts reverberating through my mind....and what better song could be, really?

#11. Bananarama-"Cruel Summer"

I don't care what anyone says, I love this song.

It may be cheesy 80's pop, carries the mood of the "Dog Days of Summer" and communicates it so well...yet, it still manages to make it kind of fun! It's undeniable, and very infectious.

Admit, like it too!

The video has great images of a New York City I never got to experience.

#12. Billy Idol-"Hot in the City"

This song makes me smile every single time I hear it. I guess it's the lyric, "When a long-legged lovely walks by, you can see the look in her eye, then you know that it's HOT IN THE CITY TONIGHT!"

I know, deep stuff, right?

It doesn't hurt that this song is so TOTALLY about New York, either.

It's my favorite song to put on right after midnight when I dj at one of my Rock N' Roll haunts in NYC. It makes everyone dance and sing along, and hell, sometimes I do too.

Even though this song is 25-years-old, there's always a timeless sense of "Right Fucking Now" when that happens, me, that's a big part of what Rock N' Roll is all about.

How about you?

#13. Janes Addiction-"Summertime Rolls"

This is another "forget it all" song....and I don't know how anyone could help but love it.

I mean, despite the sordid nature of Janes Addictions image, the lyrics of this song are a innocent as any I've ever heard. "Children...screaming TAG", "She says stop! I'm a girl", "Her nose is painted pepper Sunlight", her song says, "If you want a friend, feed any animal". I mean, you'd have to have icy slush going through your veins for those images not to evoke something within you, as far as I'm concerned.

There was no band like Janes Addiction.

#14. Guns N' Roses-"Reckless Life"

Just because.

#15. Ramones-"Rockaway Beach"

Because there's no other REAL New York City beach song.

No, Lou Reed's "Coney Island Baby" doesn't count! (I love that song, but it's not about the beach, ok?)

Thanks for reading!

Marty E.