By Andy Doerschuk Published July 26, 2009
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Other Current Bands: Koufax, The Cinema, Drag The River, Vicious Whiskey
Other Bands (I have been hired by): The Rocket Summer, Fairweather, Guff, Prevent Falls, The Story Changes
Drums: C & C Custom Drums
Columbus, Ohio-based classic-rock-meets-roots-punk outfit Two Cow Garage released its fourth full-length, Speaking In Cursive, last year on Suburban Home Records. Since then, the band has toured furiously, playing more than 200 shows a year, acing good reviews every step of the way, including this gem from MSNBC: "John-Cougar-Mellencamp-fronting-Nirvana."
How would you describe the feel of the new album?
Overall I think Speaking In Cursive is a very traditional rock and roll record. It's moody, it's fun, it's hopeful. Every song is telling a great story. I feel there is absolutely no fluff on this record. Ultimately, I think it has a very honest and pure feel. My approach to the drumming was to just play what the songs needed. I didn't write really flashy or busy parts. Everything is pretty stripped down. I wanted the drums to sound fun, something people could groove along with. I tried to hit the drums really hard and solid and have a good feel and a good groove.
What was it like working with Matt Pence, your engineer on Speaking In Cursive, who is also a professional drummer?
Matt gets absolutely amazing drum sounds. He knew exactly what to do to get the best sounds out of the drums. We had a room full of room mikes at different angles and placement. I think it just took a few hours to track my drum parts, but it actually took much more time getting sounds and getting the right mike placement. The final mix of the record probably does not have anything but drums through room mikes.
What is your favorite drum part on the new album?
My favorite drum part would have to be the intro to "Brass Ring." It's a very simple snare drum fill, but it resembles the sound of a machinegun firing. It was Micah's [Schnabel, bandleader] idea -- he's a drummer. He knew it would be a nice kick in the ass, right off the bat.
Were you prepared before going into the studio?
We were playing these songs every night on our European tour just before we entered the studio. We had a good month or so to get these songs tight and with great feel for recording.
Did you record your tracks with the band or solo?
We tracked it all together, live. I may have been the only one with the click in my headset. I normally use the click setting without the accent on the 1. I prefer the straight 4. It feels much better for me, as a guide. I counted the songs off and the guys locked in with me. I wasn't sure how well it would work but it ended up working perfectly.
What's your favorite part of touring.
I really enjoy traveling and performing live. I'm not much of a ham or one for attention, but it's a great feeling being on stage and expressing yourself musically. I enjoy making people happy through the music I perform. I'm especially happy when people talk to me after the show and tell me how much they enjoyed themselves. I'm always overjoyed when fans tell me they could tell I was having a great time. I'm always smiling and making crazy faces while I play.
How do you stay healthy while you're on the road?
[Laughs] It's a struggle. You never know if you're going to get home a few pounds light or heavy. Obviously I'm getting a great workout every night, which is good. I try to get as much protein as I can [by eating] peanuts and or burgers, only by defaulting to fast food. I try to take my vitamins and supplements and antioxidants.
What's the worst injury you've sustained from drumming?
Other than gnarly blisters and such, I'd say throwing my back out on my hardware bag. I had bad form, picked it up wrong and my back has not been the same since. Needless to say, I'm very good about form and properly carrying gear now.
Do you learn a lot by listening to or watching other drummers?
Essentially, that's how I learned to play, looking and listening. Everything I know about drums, technique, or otherwise I got from other drummers. Some of my favorite drummers are: Bill Stevenson, Dave Grohl, Josh Freese, Alan Myers, Heath Metzger, Jean-Paul Gaster, Chuck Biscuits, Dean Clean.
Do you practice when you're off the road?
I normally just get behind the kit and vent on it. Not really just bashing away on it, but just playing beats, grooves, and fills I really enjoy. Sometimes you just stumble upon new beats you dig. I just let the creative juices flow and try to come up with stuff. Most times it's just for fun and for the sake of keeping my chops up.
Tell me about the worst gig you've ever had.
I grew up playing in punk rock bands. I've had shows where there were no shows. We would be on tour, all the way across the country, somewhere. We would show up to the gig just to find there is no show. A bad show is better than a canceled show. I've had tours in the early years of touring where you'd get all the way to the west coast with no money in our pockets. You have to just pack it up and drive home because you can't afford to get to the next show.