Sean Sellers: Feet Don't Lie
By Eric Kamm
Published March 14, 2011
It was 1997 or 1998 that I first heard the Good Riddance track "Fertile Fields." At the time, I was aware of the fact that according to "Punk Code" no drummer was to use a double bass pedal [Note: on rare occasions it was permitted to use a double pedal on very impressive drum fill, but this had to be one mind-bending fill. The drummer was required to return to single-pedal time keeping immediately after the fill was completed]. The thing was, the song was just too fast, and I thought that perhaps drummer Sean Sellers was using a double bass pedal on this particular song.
I knew that Sellers had only used a single pedal on their prior record, the punk rock masterpiece A Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion. Take, for instance, the song "Steps," in which Sellers creative footwork pushes the mid-tempo tune perfectly--you can hear both opened and closed hi-hat work on the track, so it was was a pretty safe assumption that he was only using a single pedal. But "Fertile Fields" was just too damn fast, and you could hear him hit an open hi-hat at points in the tune--perhaps an indication that his left foot was placed on a double bass pedal instead of closing the cymbals...
As I entered UC Santa Cruz in 1998, a school located in the hometown of Good Riddance, I engaged in a conversation with a fellow student about Seller's great drumming. Shortly thereafter we began to argue over whether Sellers was using a double pedal on the aforementioned track. Mr. Contrary Interlocutor assured me Sellers was, in fact, only using a single pedal.A few months later Good Riddance played a local venue called Palookaville (which has since gone out of business). The box office was sold out of tickets, so we bribed the back door bouncer to let us into the show. Sure enough, as Good Riddance set up their equipment, there was no double pedal in sight. The only left foot modification was an additional slightly opened hi-hat located near Seller's ride cymbal, strategically placed so the drummer could play hi-hat open handed without having to cross his arms (this also explained the open hi-hat you hear him use throughout the tune). Sellers drove the band spot on that night. When they played "Fertile Fields" his bass drum was all right foot.
If you haven't heard Seller's drumming on A Comprehensive Guide Modern Rebellion or Ballads From The Revolution, you're in for a treat--they're great records with some very impressive drumming. Sellers drives every tune he plays on, always adding impressive rhythmic coloring and texture at break neck speeds.