Tony Baptist & His Big Fat Beats

By Wally Schnalle Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's August 2010 Issue

Tony Baptist

Age 23
Equipment PDP drums, Soultone cymbals, Aquarian heads, Regal Tip and Vater sticks, and DW hardware

Like B.B. King’s guitar, Lucille, sometimes drum kits have a talismanic power of their own. That was the experience of Tony Baptist when he sat behind the kit of Max Weinberg when he was in the Conan O’Brien/Springsteen drummer’s basement one afternoon as a kid, and soon won the legendary drummer’s admiration. Inspired by Seven Antonopolous, Tommy Lee, and Shannon Larkin, Baptist nurtures a style that is deceptively straight ahead. On his band Atom Strange’s new release, Cosmic Disturbance, he lays down a pocket deep as a canyon with the kick on the 1 e instead of just the 1 and busts fills that neatly state their business inside the space of, say, three notes. The triplet hi-hat hisses on the chorus of the title straight up make the song. Constant gigging around New York and near his home in New Jersey accounts for the tightness of those chops. Extra points for the Use Your Illusion—era headband.