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Jean-Paul Gaster: "Songs With Drummers I Like." A playlist by Clutch on Spotify

Posted: 05/13/2016

JP added some comments to each track.

John Coltrane’s Equinox - I’d been playing drums for only a year when my first drum teacher Don Schmitt encouraged me to go see Elvin Jones play Blues Alley in Washington DC. Elvin’s playing that night was intensely beautiful. It was also fiercely abstract and even terrifying at times. I left the venue moved and confused at the same time. Elvin’s way of keeping time and interacting with the other musicians was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard before. I thought drumming of such intensity was reserved for hard rock and heavy metal. I soon realized that without Elvin many of the drummers on this playlist would not be here. Thank you Elvin!

Funkadelic’s Funkadelic - The Funkadelic record was on constant rotation while we criss crossed the country in our 1983 Honey Bee motor home during the summer and fall of 1994. I remember hearing the opening beat to I’ll Bet You and thinking, “Wait,…you can play the backbeat on the floor tom? Whoa! ” Tiki Fulwood's dedication to “the part” made a big impression on those long drives. His funky and hard hitting groove style influenced my playing on our self titled recording and everything since.

Black Sabbath’s Rat Salad - I pretty much learned to play drums by listening and playing along to this album. The thing that knocked me out about Bill Ward’s playing was how dynamically he played inside such bruising heavy music. He played in ways that reminded me of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich who I’d seen on public television as a youngster. It was thru Bill Ward that I began to connect the dots between what we call rock and roll drumming and what we call jazz drumming.

ZZ Top’s Heard it on the X - I was a fan of Frank Beard’s even before I started playing drums. As a young music fan his drumming sounded driving and raw. It wasn’t until I picked up the sticks that I realized all those ghost notes and subtleties are what make his groove so strong.

Masters of Reality’s Ants in the Kitchen - After I got my drivers license, one of the first places I drove to was a Ginger Baker show in Baltimore. I called the club ahead of time to ask the owner if I could get into the gig since I was only 16. He said yes but to meet him at the front door. When I got to the club the owner put two big black Xs on my hands. He told me to stand close to the stage and to not go anywhere near the bar. I did as I was told and got the drum lesson of a lifetime.

Robert Walter’s El Cuervo - I saw a trailer for Johnny Vidacovich’s New Orleans and Second Line drumming video on a Joe Morello instructional VHS tape. Johnny was demonstrating his “street beats” style. These “street beats” reminded me of the go-go music I’d heard since middle school only faster. I was blown away by this revelation and couldn’t wait to get this tape too! Johnny has been a source of inspiration to me since then. He can play the entire history of the drum set inside of one song. Johnny is easily the most musical drummer I’ve ever seen or heard. He is also a very nice guy and has good jokes and incredible stories. Every drummer should see Johnny Vidacovich play at least once.

Mountain’s Never in my Life - Corky Laing’s playing has a rough and fearless quality that makes Mountain’s music groove so hard. I hear a lot of Ginger Baker influence in his playing as well. Bassist Felix Papalardi adds a lot to the intensity of this music and Leslie West is both an incredibly grooving guitarist as well as an amazing singer. Mountain was a super group.

Black Sabbath’s Hand of Doom - Bill Ward is my first “favorite” drummer so I’ve included him again.

The Meter’s Keep on Marching - Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste took all the 2nd line, rock and roll and funk beats that makes New Orleans music feel so good and mashed them into something extraordinary. The Meters are perhaps the most influential bands to ever record music as well as being one of my favorite bands of all time. Zigaboo’s contributions to the drums are the stuff of legends. Every drummer should take time to soak up some of Zigaboo’s tasty grooves and incredible sound.

Cactus’s Parchment Farm - My first drum book was Carmine Appice’s Realistic Rock. The book is a classic and from it I learned to read drum music. It was a few years later while listening to Vanilla Fudge and the very hard rocking Cactus when I discovered what a badass Carmine is. The finesse in his playing coupled with his drum sound set him apart from many of his contemporaries. I do not play double bass but if I did I’d try to emulate Carmine’s double bass shuffle on Parchment Farm.

Corrosion of Conformity’s Long Whip Big America - I’ve been listening to Corrosion of Conformity’s music for a very long time. Each of their albums represents another step in the progression towards being one of the most important rock bands playing today. The first time I saw Corrosion of Conformity was at the 9:30 Club in 1989. The sound knocked me out. Reed Mullin made me think about what it might sound like if Bill Ward was playing in a southern rock thrash band. Reed’s style is as unique as it is ferocious. He can also play the bell of a ride cymbal like no one else.

Clutch’s Quick Death in Texas - This was the last tune we made during the Psychic Warfare recording session. The drum parts I recorded on this song demonstrate the influence all these drummers have had on me. Drumming is about making decisions. Everything from tempo, to sound, dynamic, and voicing is considered and then reconsidered as we play. The drummers on this list provide perspective and inspiration as I drum and make these choices.

Jimi Hendrix’s Born under a Bad Sign - It was 11th grade when a guitarist friend loaned me his Jimi Hendrix mix tape with songs like Gloria and Wait until Tomorrow on it. Side 2 opened with a song called Machine gun that I had never heard before. I was a fan of Mitch Mitchell’s drumming but the drummer on this song sounded completely different. He played hard straight 8th notes on the hi hats, the backbeat cracked and the bass drum sounded as if the beater would bust through the head at any moment. Buddy Miles sounded like a concrete truck playing funk. Years later as we recorded our self titled album I tried to emulate some of Buddy’s feel on Big News 1.

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