Captain’s Log, 9 February, 2013:
I jammed again today with my brother, Mike, and Jason. I’ve been sick so I was kinda in slow motion, but it was still fun. “Fun” is something I am still trying to find because I lost that part of playing the drums a long, long time ago. Playing stopped being fun about four years before I stopped playing. Then I totally stopped for 15 years, sans one gig I did with Falcon Eddy at the Pasadena Armory in 2007 that nearly killed me. I was exhausted after playing two sets of five songs (punk rock songs), I was so embarrassed. Then I figured I wouldn’t be able to find anyone who just wanted to play for fun. “Fun” had been replaced by “goals” for me, and I just didn’t want that anymore. So I’m finding that I’m getting little pieces of fun back, a fragment at a time.
The next two songs on our agenda are Back in Black by AC/DC and Led Zeppelin’s What Is And What Should Never Be.
What came before…
So…I’ve been “jamming” with my brother and our friend from childhood, Jason Mendiuk, in my bro’s garage in Burbank, and it’s been fun so far. I haven’t played in many, many years, so it’s been quite a trip – to say the least. I’m not even playing on my own set, which is something I have always been very picky about, but Mike, my brother, has a pretty damn good Tama set with a good sounding snare – and much to my surprise, his seat goes low enough. Most drum thrones do not go low enough for me. I practically sit on the floor, along with having the snare drum in my lap. I’ve been extremely picky, but It all worked out! Just a few adjustments and viola!
Now we have been doing homework of learning a few songs so we don’t sound as awful as we sounded the first time. Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” – and you’d think I’d know that one. It was the first song I ever learned on the drums, Steely Dan’s “Peg” and “Josie” and for some stupid reason, “Ziggy Stardust.” This was Jason’s idea. Not only do I not like the song, I don’t think it is possible for me to play, especially as an old geezer.
My brother and Jason are both three years older than I am. I think we have known Jason since 1977 because that was the year we came back to North Hollywood after a year or so in Pennsylvania. We lived in an apartment complex called The Cedars and Jason lived across the way from us. They both already played guitar, so they were instant friends. He was always around, so he’s really a lot like family.
That’s his Tele on the right, Mike’s boutique amp on the left, with all his fancy pedals. :)
Had I brought my own set, it would had looked a little something like this. It’s a custom Pork Pie set made by Bill Detemore and one assistant (Byron McMackin – the drummer for Pennywise) in his garage amongst his first 100 sets and before he was a bigger company. It’s hand numbered on the inside of the bass drum and it states that it was custom made for “Carol Es.” I also have a Zildjian ride from the 1970s (a 22 inch) that I acquired in a way that is a story in itself. You’d have to read my book to get that part of the story. It was back when I didn’t do the most legal things. The rest of my cymbals are Paiste, back when I had an endorsement with them. Those hi-hats are the black Terry Bozzio ones, but I still have my 1970s hi-hats I got when I got my ride, and I still play with an old Camco bass drum pedal. It’s really no different than those old DW pedals. They are hard to work and that’s why I like em.
I was buying snare drums from Bill Detemore for a couple of years before he had the idea to make my set, and I loved his idea. I was originally playing on a Gretsch, five-piece set. Very standard. 22, 14, 12, 14, 16. It was the kit I had saved up for and had wanted for years after being obsessed with this jazz drummer (whose name escapes me) that seemed to be playing almost every gig at the Baked Potato on Cahuenga Blvd. in Universal City. He was playing with great musicians like Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, Steve Vai, Michael Laundau, or anyone who happen to show up and sit in with whoever was playing that night. Major guys would regularly come into that club and just jam, and this frequently happened at another club around the block called Dante’s. So, I wanted a drumset like that guy’s.
Then Bill approached me after a show of mine when I was in the Extinct. We were playing at the Roxy and it was a particularly good show. Packed house, and I knew Bill was there and I really wanted some kind of endorsement from him, even if it was 20% off. By the time I got off the stage, he was so excited. He knew the sizes and the colors, and I loved it! An 18″ kick. Piccolo snare. One 8″ tom, and a 14″ floor. All would be different colors: green, blue, orange, and the rims of the bass drum would tie the different colors together. The finish would still show the grain of the maple wood underneath. I LOVED this idea. The smaller drums would cut through the sound better, I would look like the right size behind the drums, and I would simplify, because I was a pocket drummer. I wasn’t all about fancy fills and such. So I love my Pork Pie drums. I will never sell them. It was so perfect for me and I got a great endorsement!
But I sold those beautiful Gretsch drums to Chris Frazier who, at the time, was playing for Steve Vai. And no, I was not anorexic in the above photo, I was just too skinny and couldn’t afford a hamburger.