"It doesn't get any more coked-out than that. Just singing about coke spoons. Like they're not even trying to cleverly disguise it." - Tom on Humble Pie's monthlong descent into the pit of the Marriott
"Guy had everyone on the run. I can only imagine what it must have been like in that van, going cross-country with that lunatic." -- Tom on the volatile dynamic within the real Pavement ft. Gary Young
"People are very intimidated by the drums. When I show up to a gig they immediately, as soon as they hear me play, they walk away because they're afraid, they're afraid of the truth of rhythm." -- Jens Hannemann, instilling fear in his potential audience
"A lot of my students always quit after one lesson 'cause I think they have a lot to think about." -- Jens Hannemann, overwhelming his potential pupils
"There are many thrones and chairs in music. We can all create them or we can all sit in them." -- Sonny Rollins, imparting his wisdom on the correlation between sound and furniture
"They're not good at all. They're the worst group of them all. Too slow. Too slow. A really bad group." -- Jens Hannemann on Charlatan & Garfunkel
"Planet Earth is the ultimate drum circle, and I want to be the conductor of it." -- Jens, looking to lead a worldwide rototom symphony
"It's going to sound disgusting, but, you know, music is always for me like when you're with your partner physically. Your body does the same things. Lot of sweating, a lot of sweating." -- Jens on the similarity between the intensity of his drumming and his love-making sessions
"I played it for my 4-year-old nephew, who was crying so much from happiness." -- Jens on the strong audience reaction inspired by his 40-minute drum compostion about the troubles in Pakistan
"Spend all your money and buy the most expensive equipment you could ever find." -- Jens, giving some crucial advice to the novice drummer
"I don't have many friends, but I consider you now a friend, and, in a way, my best friend." -- Jens, forming a peculiarly strong bond with Tom during their first conversational jam session
"Music is like my daughter -- she always wants more ... food." -- Jens on the insatiability of his craft
[More to come.]
Boris with Merzbow - "Pink" (live)
( Click here to pre-order Rock Dream)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Ghetto Mom"
( Click here to buy Juke Box Explosion (Rockin' Mid-90's Punkers!))
Trenchmouth - "Here Come the Automata"
( Click here to buy Trenchmouth Vs. The Light Of The Sun)
The Bongos - "Three Wise Men"
( Click here to buy the Drums Along The Hudson SE)
Hawkwind - "Days of the Underground"
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The Ugly Beats - "Get In Line"
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The Mountain Goats - "The Young Thousands"
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The Forms - "Bones"
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Now is the time for us to gather together and celebrate those things that we like and think are fun:
Look out, losers! The Kid is back! The program begins with some weirdness in Tom's ears, so he asks his cans to do right by him for the next three hours. He also convinces Michael the Associate Producer to improve the acoustics in the room by closing the studio door, although he's not sure if the adjustment violates a term in his contract (APG Strike and stompin's afoot?) or somehow conflicts with his mayubernatorial run. Speaking of which, Rev. Ken Miller was supposed to conduct the first straw poll at last Wednesday's Pancake Disco, but Bryce Prefontaine smoked all of it. Tom back-announces a particularly exciting and eclectic opening music set, starting with Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole," a frank rumination on narcotics, including potent South African crippler, Black Lebanese hashish, and the use of silver cocaine spoons. Unlike more cleverly disguised odes (e.g., Black Sabbath's "Snowblind", Window Pain's 2004 charity single "White Christmas", Buckcherry's subtle "Lit Up"), Humble Pie reveled in their drug haze.
The reliable and beautiful ABBA box presented "When I Kissed the Teacher" from 1976's Arrival LP. Tom is certainly a fan of the song, but he questions its place as an album opener. He points out that since Arrival boasts white-hott tracks like the dramatic "Money, Money, Money," the Partridge-approved "Knowing Me, Knowing You," and the glissandorific "Dancing Queen," it was a weird sequencing decision to kick things off with this tale of a youthful crush. Rumor has it that the band had intense debates about the track listing, and it was ultimately resolved via an epic arm-wrestling match between Anni-Freeze and Benny. A-F pinned him with a Top Roll! Doron filled in last week, and Tom considers allowing the ABBA box to host an upcoming installment in his absence. He was busy with all kinds of fun Consolidated Cardboard stuff, and he especially enjoyed standing on 49th Street breathing in bus fumes for five straight hours. Tom thanks the guy who started a drum circle to help pass the time and keep things on topic. He briefly considered crossing the line after observing these uncomplicated techniques. Tom shant go into further details because he's sick of the CC labor disputes.
Tom preceded ABBA with the Pavement classic "Debris Slide", from their 1991 10-inch-diameter EP, Perfect Sound Forever. He believes this lineup of the band marked an era when Pavement were actually Pavement because they employed the topless tub-thumber Gary Young, a scary, volatile man who had his bandmates constantly on edge. Young's stint was short-lived due to his penchant for the vagaries of rock 'n roll -- drugs, drink, the flashing of firearms -- while frontman Stephen Malkmus preferred to spend his downtime reading Howard Zinn, sipping herbal teas, and attending to his two pet squirrels, Gunther and Rebecca. The latter creature eventually did some fact-checking work in the "Stereo" video and now holds a similar position with Magnet. Tom thinks Young's replacement, Steve West, is a nice guy who ably held down the beat, but he was not sufficiently crazed. He recalls seeing holy-moly-level Pavement shows where Young had everybody on the run. Plantman did handstands on stage. Tom can't imagine what transpired in the Pavement tour van as they traversed the country with that lunatic on board.
Tom dedicates all 9:41 of his opener, THE Pink Floyd's monaural recording of "Instellar Overdrive", to his friend Gilly, a former stereo enthusiast who came to discover the glory of the single-channel experience after conducting some sonic experiments over the past two weeks. He went to Rock School and promptly earned his degree. Tom gives Gilly credit for owning up to his error.
Before getting into a couple of pre-topic calls, Tom thanks the fine people from the Macy's department store for bombarding Myspace with awesome ads claiming that a $500 shopping spree is just a click away. Tom's been clicking on them, and he's now amassed $80,000 worth of gift cards. Speaking of shopping and gifts, if anyone is looking for a stocking stuffer for Mike, the search is OVA:
(These are tempting, but I'm holding out for a Pantera/Pasolini or Megadeth/Moodysson design.)
- James in South Orange 07079 calls to give a shoutout to everyone who is participating in the 2007 Writer's Guild of America strike. He's a labor union member, so he wants to give his support to all the writers in the listening audience. Tom's assessment of this solidarity: BORING. He informs James that everyone knows that people support the writers instead of studio moguls. Tom GOMPs James for calling to plug a radical strike. He's wet, dizzy, and discombobulated from carrying a drum set up the stairs and getting swarmed with IMs from some mystery goon and a frazzled Hollywood comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who is teasing and torturing him. Tom reminds PFT that he is a fragile man. He's already exhausted a mere 40 minutes into the program.
- Chaki from San Francisco calls to complain about the dudes who have been calling up to advertise their podcasts. He recalls some chatter about Jimmy Pardo's Never Funny podcast, which he thinks is terrible. Chaki has no interest in hearing about Pardo's baby. He begs Tom to ban the snakes and leeches because he's the Top Banana/Top Chef. Tom appreciates the culinary accolades and agrees that there is no reason to give airtime to people who broadcast from their kitchen table. He throws to a "Two for Tuesday" from ESG's A South Bronx Story 2 so he can recombobulate and begin the show proper.
- Tom welcomes special guest Jens Hannemann to the studio to promote his new DVD called Complicated Drum Techniques. Jens is concerned that Tom flubbed the title because he feels that it's really important to correctly pronounce the title of a dee-vadee. He says it's called Complicated Drumming Technique, which encompasses his idea that complication in rhythm is probably the greatest thing to happen to music. He makes Tom repeat the title a few times to make sure he's got it down. Jens also takes issue with Tom saying that the DVD features demonstrations of the titular technique. He believes that drumming is for everyone, and everyone is a drummer. It's unclear how Tom's description is at odds with that belief. Jens thinks his label, Drag City, was very lucky to have him on their roster to make education. He doesn't like when people listen to music without knowing the timing. For example, people may claim they like The Rolling Stones, but they really have no idea what time signatures the band is using. Jens believes time configuration is ABBAsolutely the most important thing in music. He says that people who listen to radio shows are similarly ignorant, so tonight they will go to Drum School to learn about timing. Tom wonders where things like melody and songwriting fit into the picture, and Jens provides a rundown of his rankings.
1. Time Signature
4. Number of drums in kit (see Nick Andopolis)
6. Resonance of the drums (see Buddy Rich)
9. Lyrics (added later)
Jens uses a monstrous, 83-piece kit, and he's immediately walked out of gigs if the venue didn't have the requisite equipment. Jens believes that every piece is important, and his complete kit includes ice bells, chimes, rototoms, carbediant toms, rookutoms, callakassan toms, Krokogies, which are African drums with no heads or shells, and glass lakina cymbals. Jens also likes to use marble-filled snares, Kanikis (Japanese drums that are meant to be played with four sticks at once), kookookos, rikanins, lexons, and frauchen drums. (No bongos?!) Tom seems to think the scope of components is a bit excessive, and he asks Jens if he really feels that he can't convey the full range of his talent without this gigantic set-up. Jens says that he knows for a fact that audiences no longer want to hear simple rock 'n roll, punk, disco, trip-hop, and hip-hop -- they want complicated time signatures and a lot of drums, even if they can be intimidating.
When Jens shows up to a gig, people leave as soon as he starts playing because they are afraid of the "truth of rhythm." Those who don't bail can watch Jens bang away with his band of rotating musicians, including his new electric violin player. He plans to add some "vibes people" and some more bass players. The changing lineup helps mix it up and keep it fresh for Jens and the audience. Tom asks Jens if there is such a thing as overplaying, but he ignores the question. I feel confident in saying that his stance on this one is likely in line with the Angry Mr. Bungle fan's undying respect for progressive stylings and displays of virtuosity that eschew any attempts at songcraft.
Tom was watching the DVD last night and noticed the Jens has a lot of fun interacting with his bandmates. Jens says it's spiritually important to laugh all the time when you're playing. He's seen bands play without laughing, and he doesn't consider that music. He has a more laid-back approach to life, preferring to hang out and say things like "Yeah, man, yeah, let's sit down and relax and look at the sun." Jens advises his students to always laugh it up when playing. His lone pupil is an 18-year-old Californian. Jens says most of his student quit after the first lesson because he gives them too much to think about it. His current student is sticking with it, and he's also a relative. Tom wonders if Jens is grooming the teen to take over the Hannemann empire, but Jens says the throne he has created for himself will never be filled. While it may sound like Jens is being conceited, he assures Tom that he receives letters and e-mails from people confirming that nobody will ever unseat him. He does foresee a musical landscape that may contain new constructions of thrones and various chairs that other musicians will assume. He quotes legendary jazz tenor saxophonist and Hammerhead nemesis Sonny Rollins to bolster his point: "There are many thrones and chairs in music. We can all create them or we can all sit in them." After contemplating that concept Tom can see how most students would drop out after one lesson.
Jens considers Tom a student because the world is his student. He is also learning from the melodious (and modulated?) sounds of Tom's voice, picking up quarter-note triplet da-da-da-da, B-flat da-da-da, E-E-E da-da-da-da, prango-prang-takomba, and even prango snare drum rack-tom-fill. Tom compares the impromptu composing to finding musical notes in the ersatz orchestra of birds prancing atop a telephone wire prior to taking flight. Jens sees a greater musical kinship in his recent trip to Target. He entered the store and asked an employee where he could find plastic bags for his toilet. She directed him to Aisle 2, but Jens stood his ground and turned the information into music. She didn't like it and wanted to get back to work, but Jens told her to wait and continue to enjoy the show. She told him that he seemed like a lunatic running wild in their store, and he identified himself as a composer of Trinidad-Caribbean reggae. Jens noticed that the woman had darker skin, so he told her that she had better rhythm than the other races working at the store. She thought the comment was ignorant and racist, but Jens told her it was actually an informed opinion. Tom says he might side with the Target employee in this debate. Jens is fine with that stance because he's in the midst of a lively jam session of conversation. Tom says he will agree to disagree, and Jens reinterprets that phrase as music. Jens says his ability to turn simple words into music is a curse and a gift, and it drives everyone crazy. He also mentions that he's still a boy who likes ice cream.
Tom's cell phone rings, and Jens begins to work with the melody of the ringtone. Tom informs him that it's a Simon & Garfunkle tune, and Jens declares the duo the worst group of them all. He thinks S&G are a really bad group because they are way too slow and woefully lacking in rhythm. Tom asks Jens if he was more appreciative of Paul Simon's attempts to branch out with world music rhythms and tribal drumming on solo efforts like Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints. Jens thinks Simon is a charlatan who just rode the rhythm of hired guns like jazz drummer Steve Gaad. He says he often gets in trouble for espousing these bold opinions, but this is what makes him a controversial figure.
Tom asks Jens if he ever crosses paths with other musicians. He tries to meet his peers, but they tend to walk away very quickly after comparing his obstinacy to a brick wall. Jens tells them that it's not nice to say that, and they counter by reminding him that he doesn't listen, he's not a good musician/session player, and he doesn't jam fairly. Jens tells them that at least he's made a name for himself by stockpiling undesirable traits. Sheryl Crow once ordered him to leave her studio because he crashed a recording session. Jens felt she said it in a way that made him think she was being serious, so it was hard to handle the rejection. At first, Jens thought she was joking because she wanted to jam, but Crow said she was performing an acoustic song for an AIDS charity that required no drumming. Jens asked to perform his drum solo as the song's intro, and Crow asked him who invited him. Jens said he invited himself. Tom asks Jens what allows him to invite himself to a session like that. Jens tells "Phil" that most people will admit that we are all in a jam session, and Earth is the ultimate drum circle. Jens wants to be the conductor of this planetary symphony.
Tom still doesn't get why that gives him the right to intrude on other musicians. Jens thinks Tom's confusion is a result of being stuck in a flag-waving conservative mindset formed when he used to march all around in support of Ronald Reagan. (If you have access to microfiche, check out page A7 of the 9/20/84 edition of the Newbridge Herald-Times Herald for a great pic of Tom and Troy Dershman hoisting "Morning in America" signs and leading chants on Old Muffler Row.) Jens, however, comes from the beach, the sea, and the trees. He suspects that Tom's parents confined him to a house and made him wear a (literal) tie. Tom says his parents never issued this sartorial edict. Jens thinks this is the difference between a musician and a DJ. Tom agrees to disagree, and Jens makes a comment about being in the ultimate studio session because everyone is in the studio with microphones! Jens says he's not angry at Tom because this interview will make them brothers and fellow musicians. Jens thinks Tom's best instrument would be an electric banjo tuned down to a B. He can see the instrument someone should be playing, but it's never accurate. Jens often approaches strangers and tell them the instrument they should focus on. He recently informed a bus driver who was dropping him off at the airport that he was a bassoon. Tom thinks these erroneous predictions probably make for some unique travel stories, if nothing else.
Jens knows that he can come off as difficult, but he thinks Tom is probably difficult as well. Jens says he coined the phrase, "Money makes the world go round." Tom's familiar with that phrase, and Jens thanks him for recognizing his work. Tom doesn't get the sense that money drives his craft, but Jens refutes that by taking out some pocket change and converting it into 16th notes. Tom says he was thinking more in terms of Jens getting paid for live performances. Jens says that he often leaves the stage after a gig with zero attendance and argues that he had a guaranteed fee in his contract. The promoters tell him that there was no contract in place for a daytime outdoor show. Jens says he'd like to be paid something anyway, but it usually doesn't happen. He thinks the DVD will be part of a change in his financial fortunes, as will the new album, Synchronology. Jens describes the sound as jazz / funk / rock / salsa / samba / Irish / Greek / Rockabilly with a dash of trip- and hip-hop, rap music, and new wave. Jens wonders what it's like for Tom to sit with him. Tom says he's learning, and Jens is having fun learning from Tom as well. He warns Tom that he's going to make a disgusting-sounding comparison between his drumming and being with his partner physically. Jens says the body reacts the same way during both intense acts: a lot of sweating.
Tom asks Jens what it takes for him to master a genre and incorporate it into his expansive repertoire. Jens says he looks at album covers and posters to get a sense of what the music sounds like. For new wave, he studied the cover of The Cars . He was too busy to actually listen to the music. Jens is ready for live performance of a composition he wrote about the situation in Pakistan. He wants Tom and the listeners to focus on the half-tones, tambre, and "drum voices." Jens says it will go on for 40 minutes unless he gets cut off. His 4-year-old nephew apparently "cried from happiness" when he heard it. During the abridged version (about three minutes), Jens plays one of the drums with his lips and tongue and draws attention to his cymbal work, his favorite part of the piece. Tom's impressed by his playing, and he's especially intrigued by the section where Jens was full-on playing without making any contact with his drums. Jens says he blacked out can't recall why he air-drummed. He also puts the sticks down and starts touching the drums and anything else he can find. Jens considers any object to be a viable drum surface. Tom was moved, and Jens requests a CD of the performance for the return trip. The technique was, of course, very strong, but to these ears it was too derivative of Jens's superior "Polynesian Nightmare Breakdown", a potent paean to primordial parents Rangi and Papa.
Tom wants to know the first thing a beginning drummer should learn. Jens says novices must start by spending all their money to get the most expensive equipment they can find. Tom wants Jens to imagine that he has the best drum set imaginable and move on to the first lesson. Jens says you should properly tune your drums by introducing yourself and engaging them in pleasant conversation. After establishing this relationship, you are ready to start practicing rhythm and timing. Jens delivers a confusing explanation of 1/1 vs. 4/4 (Charlie Watts is mentioned), and Tom takes his word for it. Jens says he's been playing drums since before he was born. He took private lessons and did some reading as a fetus, a phase of his education that he refers to as "rudiments in the womb." He recommends that birthed children improve dexterity by doing paradidaloodladdles, a succession of four-note patterns where the first note alternates between the left and right. Tom can now see why it's called Complicated Drumming Technique. Jens thinks it's also oh so fun. Tom asks Jens what genre most speaks to him, and he says it's fusion stuff like Spyro Gyra, Weather Report (RIP JEZ), and Fronk Zappa. Jens also likes regular rock music like The Commitments, although he doesn't have their CD yet, and early The Blues Brothers recordings. Jens says he didn't think he liked rock 'n roll, but then he had his epiphany when he heard The Committments.
Tom recalls hearing a James Brown/Motown groove on the DVD, and Jens says that black people channel their hardships through their drums. He believes that everyone in the ghetto plays drums based on what he's seen in American ghetto and drums films. Tom is unfamiliar with this genre of domestic cinema. Jens thinks everyone should express themselves via drums. Tom gives Jens the opportunity to offer some parting wisdom, and he uses the time to make a political statement. Jens tells all the warmongering leaders to go buy a Lenny Kravitz record because he's the most political guy around. He found the lyric "Are you going to go my way" to be a powerful and revelatory query. Jens commends Tom for paying attention and realizing that lyrics were no higher than #9 on his list of musical importance.
Jens is clearly enamored with Tom and invites him to his home in Pasaden to drink milkshakes. He doesn't have many friends, but he now considers Tom his best friend. Tom thought Jens would have named music as his best friend. Jens says that he's usually closed-off, but now he feels close enough to Tom to reveal his secrets. He hopes to meet Tom's family today and continue a friendship that involves sharing a good handburger and a glass of apple cider, and relaxing with conversation about girls in bikinis. Tom mentions that some people compare music to women, but Jens prefers to think of it as aunts and uncles -- they visit, they leave a little bit later than they're supposed to, and they always bring an unexpected gift. Jens says he came up with the analogy two years ago, and he still likes it. Jens has another saying: "Music is like visiting a laundromat. You come in, and usually there's an attendant, and if not, there's an automatic machine that can do it for you." Finally, Jens compares music to his daughter - they both always want more ... food. Jens dismisses his class by stressing the importance of sheet music, which is included with his DVD. Jens doesn't think you should ever play music without sheet music in front of you. He once walked out of a show by The Strokes because the band was performing sans sheets.
Tom announces his intentions to play something from Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol 3-4: Beat Konducta in India, and Jens is acutely aware that this signals the end of the interview. He takes his headphones off and starts to walks away because he doesn't think there's any reason to remain in front of Tom if he's going to do something else. He thinks there are rules with friends, and you have to be polite and smart enough to walk when the session is finished. Jens doesn't appreciate the mention of another music group, and he thinks Tom is unnecessarily prolonging the interview by continuing to talk to him. He suspects that Tom is being rude and making fun of him. Tom denies it, and Jens throws "agree to disagree" right back at him. I was hoping Jens would dish some dirt about Herman Rarebell. Oh vell.
[More to come.]
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: Jerry Seinfeld makes some very insightful and humorous observations about The Hate Pit, Steven Van Zandt discusses his new rock 'n roll curriculum (sign me up for "Masterpiece Seminar, Part I: A Dissection of Mondo Bizarro"!), and Dave from Knoxville performs an acoustic version of Vessel's regional hit single, "Don Ho is an Ash Ole" (1984, Pythagoras Records, "Sweet Tea" vinyl)
RALLY ROUND THA SCRIBBLERS! WITH A POCKET FULL OF SHELLS? Ammo is probably not needed, although The Office's Rainnnn Wilson has been prowling the backlots with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, steakchuks, and A. Knife. He accidentally sedated Ugly Betty showrunner Silvio Horta with a tranquilizer dart last Thursday while waiting for Eva Longoria to emerge from a Desperate Housewives shoot. If you do encounter any hordes of WGA picketers, I'd recommend distributing hut dogs, pizza (Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are big-time 'Zabras), or liberally-dusted funnel cakes (Matt Albie will be especially appreciative).
The real Pavement rocking out in Belgium!