After years of roadying for The Flaming Lips and playing with them live, Kliph Scurlock became the band’s official drummer with the release of Embryonic in late 2009, catapulting the 36-year-old to one of the most enviable drum chairs in rock music.
That didn’t stop the affable Scurlock from waxing nostalgic over his first setup, a vintage beauty he nabbed for only $250 after working at Burger King during the summer when he was 16. “It was a 1964 or 1965 silver sparkle Ludwig model kit. The cymbals — a hi-hat and 16" crash — were some no-name pieces of crap.”
Although Scurlock had played snare drum in school band from fourth grade on, he knew from the age of six or seven that he had wanted a full kit, so he was thrilled just to finally own one regardless of year, make, or model. “And, being a Beatles nut, it was an extra added bonus that it was a Ringo Starr model, though I just bought the first drum set advertised in the newspaper that I could afford.”
Alas, what started out auspiciously did not end well. Slackjaw, the band he formed in high school, played their first-ever show at a strip club where, in a moment of misplaced showmanship, Scurlock set the kit on fire and up it went in a blaze of glory. “I was thinking it would be really punk rock,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking these drums are 30 years old and the wood’s probably really dry. They went up and they were out of control in seconds, and as soon as I started trying to put the fire out they were so burnt that they just crumbled.”
Like many drummers before him, hindsight proves to be 20/20 when it comes to Scurlock’s first drum set. “I wish I did still have it. It was a great-sounding kit, and I think [Lips producer] Dave Fridmann could get it to sound amazing in the studio."