Home Forums Musicians & D.I.Y. Artists Guitar Room Cymbals and "the lost Modern Drummer interview"

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  • #43273

    RuBrick
    Participant

    J is best known as a guitarist. But he often explains that he would rather be known as a DRUMMER.

    While I am equally interested in the drums that j is playing today, I am especially interested in his cymbals. Everyone is always talking about J’s vintage guitar collection. I bet he also has some fine cymbals. I suspect that he is not so particular about drums, but maybe he is.

    I actually knew J in high school. I got to jam with him and Charlie Nakajima a couple of times before they formed Dinosaur. Rather then cart my drums over to J’s basement I just played his drums. It was basically his Deep Wound kit. Just a four piece set. But he had some nice cymbals. He also had a NASTY Zildjian Earth Ride (you might as well use a piece of 1/4 inch steel instead of one of those.)

    He had a BIG 24" ride cymbal that was basically a giant crash cymbal. He kept it polished to a glistening finish.

    I always thought it notable that J plays a ride cymbal right at the edge. You keep thinking he is going to miss!

    He had a crash cymbal that was not memorable as good or bad.

    He had 15" hi-hat cymbals (14" are the norm.) He said that he mostly played on the bottom cymbal. I could not grasp that at the time but if you listen to some of the songs on Greenmind you can hear exactly what he was talking about.

    While Greenmind is my least favorite Dinosaur Jr. record, it is the best record J has made as far as cymbals are concerned. He really puts the cymbals out front in some of the songs.

    Anyway I know something about the cymbals J used eighteen years ago but what’s he got now?

    Maybe someone who knows about drums and drumming (and cymbals!) should interview J. You could make a fake "Modern Drummer" magazine interview.

    I am basically interested because I am going to be buying some cymbals soon. I basically like Zildjians but there are all these new brands out there. And Zildjian has all these different kinds of cymbals now!

    I remember when I first saw Dinosaur play Pat had just some cheap CB 700 cymbals and they sounded fine.

    I really like the new Zildjian "K" cymbals. But I am told that they don’t sound like much if you use them with a rock band. They are totally different from the old Kavides Zildjians made in Constantinople.

    Then there are a kind of Paiste cymbal called "RUDE." They don’t make them anymore but you can get them used. THEY ARE REALLY LOUD and bright. Sort of an extreme to compare to a "K." People tell me I should get all the same brand and type cymbals, but I think it would be cool to have a small RUDE, a medium size regular Zildjian ride/crash and a real big (EXPENSIVE) K Zildjan. But it is hard to get an idea of what is good just trying cymbals out in a store.

    Anyway does anyone know what cymbals J is using these days? Or at least since 1983….

    Or just any drum type J Mascis trivia!

    (PS. If there is a better subject to put this post in I apologize for not seeing it.)

    #55687

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Uhh….

    Nobody seems to be interested in this topic!

    Well…. I have some things to add to this. I suppose I am just one of those longwinded types…

    I have seen J play drums a number of times. I never went to any of the Deep Wound gigs or the GobbleHoof gigs. But J was in the jazz band in high school. I remember they played a couple of times in the cafeteria at lunch time. J seemed to go out of his way to look especially strange. Some people would sit there saying "What a freak!" Others thought he was totally cool.

    He really did not seem to be into jazz too much but he did the silly ding ding da ding jazz rhythm pretty good. But then he would get to his drum solo. This is J with his head nearly shaved. He sort of held his breath or something and made the veins pop out on his forehead. He had a set of four large roto-toms in front of him. He somehow made it sound like he was doing a one stroke roll on all four drums at the same time. And roto-toms are these whimpy tunable drums so they looked like they were all about to fall all over the place and break. So there he was with he head beet red, with an intense grimace on his face, drum sticks flailing away in a blur… I don’t think words do him justice.

    Then he would go back to normal and let someone do a mellow saxophone solo or something….

    Everyone I knew was really impressed with J’s drumming anyway.

    I also saw J play drums at a Dino Jr. concert in the late 80s. They basically switched instruments and did a hard-core song at the end of the gig. I think it was an "All White Jury" song. Pat sang (yelled really.) Lou switched to guitar and J played drums. This switching of instruments was something that Deep Wound was known for. I don’t think J has done anything like that since Lou got kicked out of Dino Jr. Maybe someone can tell us other wise.

    Any way I remember J sitting there with this silly look he would get on his face sometimes. He did not play anything spectacular but he sort of looked strangely fascinated. He just sat there hitting the very edge of the ride cymbal as he played, with a look on his face like he was thinking "THIS IS COOL!" He looks like he gets totally lost in his playing when he plays guitar. But when drumming J looks like he is sitting there drinking a soda or something, thinking about what he is going to do tomorrow.

    Or maybe he was just enjoying hitting the cymbal…

    #55688

    AGAP
    Participant

    Hey Rubrick,

    Great post, am also interested in what kind of kit/cymbals J is now playing….any help out there? Couple of my drummer friends use the Big Ride as a Crash…would have it no other way!!!

    Would love to see a picture of J in that jazz band, sounds amazing and very cool.

    Allison
    If only I could remember where I saw a recent picure of J behind his kit…in a purple outfit of course…god my memory has been zombified [img]images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]

    #55689

    RuBrick
    Participant

    The picture you are thinking of was here
    http://www.cityslang.com/bandseiten/mascis/mascis_frame.html

    at Js section of city slang record’s site in the "Downloads" section.

    I don’t know why they took it off their site. I think I saved a copy but I don’t have any web space to keep it on. And it’s not really my picture anyway.

    For some reason I don’t think that was J’s kit. I think those photos were taken in Englend so unless he was travelling with his own kit, it must have been a set of drums in some studio over there. It was not George Berz’s kit as he has a Ludwig clear plastic "Vistalite" kit (I think…)

    Hey anyone know about George Berz and his drums??

    Thanks for posting a response Allison.

    #55690

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Or maybe the lost George Berz interview…

    Or the lost Pat Murphy interview!!

    Heck! Pat deseves a real Modern Drummer interview! He’s almost a ALT ROck institution.

    He is a very different drummer then J. Sounds like he is also a different kind of drummer from George. He is all out front and spontanious ( at least in the way he keeps time as J has said the drum parts are all figured out.) J is reserved. I have not heard George play but I bet he is also more reserved.

    Does anyone know if Pat has played on anything besides the Lemonheads and Dinousaur Jr. (All White Jury does not really count…)

    #55691

    umascow
    Participant

    interesting post. i am student of j’s drumming and of murphs drumming. i rip off dinosaur drum fills all the time. murph drumed for a band called "Swish" it was i believe a chick band, at least fronted by a chick. i dont know the record label, but if you really want to know the label i can get it for you. to me george is a very boring drummer. all his drum fills seem the same. murph played with so much more energy. he added another hero to dinosaur jr. now it’s just j who is fun to watch. to be honest with you george actually ruins songs. for example "severed lips" is a very weak song when george is hitin the skins. "little fury things" sucks with george. thumb loses the double-bass fills without murph. i could go on and on. we need murph back.
    any idea as to why he doesn’t play with j anymore. i have only read that j said murph just lost interest. i dont know?

    WE NEED MURPH!!!!!!!!!

    ALSO would you mind elaborating on how j hits the bottom cymbal of the hi-hats. what?
    i do not understand that.

    i use sabian aax. i have a 18" stage crash and a 21" stage ride. they are very loud and suit me well. also very affordable if you shop around.

    have you seen murph on "The Year Punk Broke." check out hill rolls on "freakscene" right before the solo and at the end. also on the"wagon" he’s amazing

    #55692

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Hi UMASCOW

    1.) Thanks for responding to my post! I was a student of Js’ also. He taught me how to twirl sticks and how to do triplets (Tom1, tom2, bass, tom1, tom2, bass, ect.)

    2.) I will have to check out Swish.

    3.) Hey you know J chose George and not you! I know we all want to be entertained. But maybe J has something different in mind by having George play with him. We are talking about human beings here, right? Not that you don’t have the right to your opinion.

    You maybe right in the sense that some of these songs rely heavily on the drummer for their feel and may come across very different with a different drummer. In other words not to your liking. But take it easy!

    4.) You are right that Pat can have a lot of energy, but did you ever see Lou play with Dinosaur?

    I remember Pat as being kind of a mellow guy. J was the only one who called him Murph. Pats’ friends called him "The Smerf" (when he wasn’t around) because he kind of looked and acted like a giant version of one of those blue cartoon characters. Sort of cool but ready to jump. I guess I can’t get used to everybody calling Pat "Murph."

    4.) "Thumb" has double bass fills? I think that is just 16th notes on a single bass drum. Pat was pretty good at that.

    5.) My personal opinion about Pat and J is that J got tired of writing songs with Pats’ drumming in mind. I think J wanted to write songs where he could move the song the way only he could. That is just my opinion. Maybe there was a personality thing goin’ on…. Who knows!

    6.) The Bottom hi hat cymbal: That is just what he told me and I thought it was significant. There is a funny (sloppy?) hi hat sound on a couple of the songs (Water, Muck, Blowin it, ect…) on "Green Mind." I think that is what he was talking about. Although now that I am checking it out it seems Pat is getting the same sound. Maybe J was B.S.ing me. But he did kind of have his hi hats at an angle and you could hit the bottom cymbal on the edge.

    7.) Sabians: I have to check them out again. I got turned off of Sabians when I noticed that the bell on a sabian sounds more like a fire bell then a cymbal bell. Also they have a painted on finish.

    J and Pat have distinctive personalities as drummers. Most drummers don’t even have the freedom to express that on a recording. Or maybe they don’t dare because they are afraid some one will think they suck…. J and Pat don’t care if anyone thinks they suck and that is a big part of their sound and feel.

    I am especially referring to what J does with tempo. Sometimes he is actually speeding up and slowing down. Sometimes he is just suggesting it by where he places the beat. Pat does that too but in a different, smoother way. It’s a Hard-Core Punk thing. All of Deep Wounds’ songs had tempo changes where most of the song would be moderate tempo but then the chorus would be like… SCREAMING QUADRUPLE TIME! J does magic when he evokes that feel while keeping metronome like time! Or totally sloppy time. Either way, it’s cool.

    FOR THE GUITARISTS:

    I heard J say a number of times that playing guitar is a lot like playing drums. What do you think of that? It definitely is a way of getting a different feel when playing guitar if you try to evoke the feel of a drum beat, or a drum fill.

    #55693

    umascow
    Participant

    Well you bring an interesting outake on the drummers of dinosaur. I never wanted to convey that George is a bad drummer, obviusly he is very talented. It’s just that the live shows lack so much without "Murph". Everyone I have tlaked to kind of feels the same way too. I know i’m not alone on this.
    You have to undertand. Something so perfect is now semi-perfect. (my opinion) And dont even get me started on Mike Watt. But you are probbly right J is just going a different direction.

    Now do you know for sure that murph did not use a double bass pedal. Cause if thats not a double bass, then tell me what pedal he uses and i want one. Also it seems to me he had a double-bass with the Lemonheads too. Another song to check out that sounds like double bass is "budge" live.(another song George disapoints me)

    Yeah the Sabian bells are weak this is true, it doesn’t bother me though i rarely use the bell.

    You offer alot of insight into dinosaur. It must have been weird watching them get all famous.

    One more question. You mentioned J being tired of writing songs for murphs drumming. I was always under the impression that his song writing encompassed three things 1.guitar 2. melody 3. drums . So do you really think murphs style hindered j’s style?

    Oh yeah one more song "Wahtevers cool With me" please dont tell thats not double-bass. If it isn’t i will love murph even more. Someone’s gotta teach me that.

    #55694

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Yeah, that 16th note bass drum (or snare) stuff is hard to learn at first. The book that me, J and Pat learned it form is called "Realistic Rock" by Carmin Appeice (SIC). There is probably a better book out now.

    But it just takes practice. Also you have to learn it bit by bit otherwise that technique can mess with your style and feel A LOT! I don’t really know how else to say that but it opens doors to playing that you are not really ready to play yet when you get over the barriers to that kind of "Ambidexterity" as it is called. You sort of need time to think about it.

    The next step after leaning to play 16th notes on the bass drum and snare while playing 8th notes on the hihat is to achieve independence playing a jazz beat. Or maybe I learned other stuff in between there…. I can’t remember….

    There is all kinds of other stuff in that "Realistic Rock" book. You probably know other drummers. You can ask them for pointers.

    #55695

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Hi Mascow

    I seem to be getting incoherent! I did not bother to read your post very well before I responded. Sorry!

    Please remember. I have not run across J in about 13 years. I just think it is fun to remember stuff.

    I know that when I had a drum kit I could at least attempt to play anything that I have heard on a Dinosaur album. I don’t think I could get the feel right or remember all the fills. I also like ringy drums and rim shots so I would not play in that style. J and Pat like DEAD, REBOUNDLESS toms. They would let the mikes take care of providing volume. J loved Heavy Metal like Motorhead. He always talked about "Philthy Animal" being god. But maybe he was just talking… Anyway I can’t always relate to Js ideas.

    A double bass set kind of has a pretensious look to it. Also contrary to popular belief it was not developed to provide endless 16th notes. It was developed by swing drummers for VOLUME. And that is what rock drummers use it for also. 16th notes actually sound better on one bass drum. I have tried using two bass drums and I could not get them tuned to sound the same. I later was told that they are not supposed to be in tune with each other. They sound best tuned 1/2 step different (sharp or flat.)

    Keep trying! You can play Budge!!!! Do you have a book with drumming exercises in it? Just try the exercises using base drum and left hand instead of right and left hand. Any pedal will work. You just need to limber up your foot. Like with a stick in your hand you have to get it to bounce and then catch the rebound.

    It was cool hearing that they were making it. I always suspected they would. J always had star quality even at his geekyest excesses. And just like he always said he would he lived at home as long as he possibly could.

    I bet that Pat would love to play double bass and maybe he did on some albums. But it is more trouble than it is worth. Most drummers have an extra bass drum just for their solos. But I never really got into it so maybe I am wrong. That is just what I read in Modern Drummer magazine when I was a teenager…

    Anyway on Budge I am almost positive that Pat is just doing a hand/foot roll. Bounce-bounce on the bass drum and bounce-bounce on the snare.

    Have fun!!!

    ( I really don’t know about those last questions. J did so much overdubbing on most of the albums after Bug. I don’t understand how that is done. But I would lay down the drums first if I were doing it. But I supose it might be hard to follow.)

    #55696

    umascow
    Participant

    16th notes huh? I’ll look in to it. I dont think you can do it on any pedal though, mine sucks.

    I was’nt saying murph used two bass drums. I do think he used a doubel bass pedal though. yeah the double bass kits look very lame.

    talk to ya later

    #55697

    rosa
    Participant

    Hi RuBrick,

    I am no expert but I herein offer my humble opinions on your question "For the Guitarists" (guitar vs. drums).

    I play guitar and my sister plays drums. Occasionally we have swapped, just to try it, but she loses patience with the guitar and I am just too clumsy to carry a beat with all four limbs at once.

    But I think there are some similarities. There is the rhythmic aspect of course; with the guitar you just channel it through your hands, as opposed to drums, where you sort of channel it through your hands and your feet. And when J breaks down a guitar chord into individual notes (not soloing), it is kinda the same thing as throwing trills into a basic drum beat. You keep the rhythm but you break it down into smaller pieces at the same time.

    You could argue that with drumming, a screw-up is more noticeable, because the rest of the instruments (including voice) rest their weight on the drummer’s beat. But when you see Mike and George take their solo runs during any particular song, your recognize that each guy takes his turn resting his weight on the other two. So a guitar rhythm or a bass rhythm becomes equally important in keeping the song in time. This is why it was especially interesting to watch Ron Asheton join in on guitar. I had never seen J play with a 2nd guitarist, much less take the passenger’s seat to another 6-string. I’m sure he’s done it in the studio, playing over his own rhythm tracks, but it was really cool to watch him sort of lay it down for Asheton. Especially when the solos ended and they were playing in tandem…ohhhhhh…..the memories…… [img]images/smiles/converted/dizzy.gif[/img]

    But anyway, I think that the rhythm is the similarity. With both guitar and drums, you can play calculated, measured notes, or you can throw in little squeaks and clings, or you can just slam away at the thing.

    So what is the difference? Why is it that my sister would rather eat nails than figure out a guitar chord, and I can’t carry a drum beat without losing sight of the song as a whole?

    The difference, my fellow music dorks, is a question of roomfulness.

    On guitar, you have more room to explore & experiment within the song. You can go high, low; you can make some notes longer & some notes shorter. You can make yourself dizzy with effects pedals, different amps, different cables– infinitely manipulate the texture of your sound.

    On drums, you can explore as well, but it is more restricted. You can texture your drumming with cymbals, trills, hitting the rim of the snare, etc.; but you have to do it within the rhythmic boundaries of the song. With guitar, if your finger trips, you can make up for it by taking your solo or rhythm into a different direction & making it seamless. Every once in a while I will screw up during a performance, lament it afterwards, and have people ask me what the hell I’m talking about, they thought it was supposed to be that way. Sometimes I will pick up something completely new from some fuckup I made on guitar. You can learn from drum slip-ups too, but I don’t really think there is a smooth way to get one’s self out of a drumming error when performing with other musicians.

    Imagine that drumming is the game of baseball and guitar is the game of basketball. In baseball you play within the formation of the team, but the players are made great by their strength and reflexes, as well as their awareness of what the other players are doing. In basketball there is more room to improvise, to break away for the slam dunk or the flashy theatrics, though the player doesn’t always have to take that route if he doesn’t want to. Both games require mastery and stamina, & each is beautiful in its own right.

    I’ve seen J play both, and good lord, he is the Deion Sanders of rock.

    Rosa

    <FONT>[ May 25, 2001 05:33 AM: Message edited 1 time, lastly by rosa ]</font>

    #55698

    AGAP
    Participant

    Hey Rubrick,

    You started a good thing here,, some great responses…congrats.

    Thanks for clearing up where I saw that picture of Mascis on drums, first place I looked was City Slang.

    Philthy Animal is God…too funny, my fav drummer from way back is Rat Scabies ex of The Damned….what ever happened to cool names like that!!

    Wondering what your take is on J’s theory on drummers being not quite right after playing on tour..ie shaking their brains until it is hanging upside down and not functioning properly…my spin on his statement?

    Allison [img]images/smiles/converted/wink.gif[/img]

    ps thought you like this link..
    http://www.moderndrummer.com/md1/0201/0201critique.html

    #55699

    AGAP
    Participant

    Hey,

    Seems like I forgot to add my thoughts on the comment made by J about drummers being well different….thats what I like about drummers!!! Pretty much all the drummers I know are all a little…ok maybe more…off center, but kind of a chicken/egg situation…what comes first? In my books normal can get very boring so anything outside the norm is cool with me including off the wall drummers!!! Although that statement helped me understand my husband….hehe, just kidding always knew he was crazy.

    Allison

    ps I don’t think Rat Scabies was god or anything but I think Rat thought he was a god!!

    #55700

    RuBrick
    Participant

    Hey everybody! Thanks for posting responses!!

    Thanks for the dialog UMASCOW. I hope that everybody who reads this notices all the "I think"s and other disclaimers I put in there. Who really knows what is going on in Js head!?!?!

    On the "Drums being like Guitar" thing:

    What I THINK he meant was that you can emphasize the bassyer notes on One and emphasize the higher notes on Three. One and three being part of a four note stanza: One, Two, Three, Four. Usually there is a bass drum on One and a snare drum on Three. Or where ever the bass and the snare go in a song you can give a little bass or treble emphasis to a chord.

    Or you can hit the strings in different ways. If you play with your fingers you can hit the strings with your fingernails on three and give the strings a nice bassy plucking on One. Or you can Hit the middle of the string on one and hit the strings right near the bridge on three.

    My favorit song to do this with is "Keep the GLove." I love that dippy drum beat. And it reall comes across when you incorporate it into a guitar strum.

    Or Maybe J just meant that when you play guitar one hand usually strums eighth or sisteenth notes while the other hand does stuff within or around that frame work…

    I think guitarists should all learn to play drums a little bit. It takes some practice so you are not too clumsy. But:

    1.) Drums are a big part of a song. They are loud and unique. If you don’t have an idea what they are going to do and what they can do they are going to take over your songs.

    2.) Playing a drum kit you learn better hand foot coordination. Not only does it make you less clumsy but also if you understand the stuff above about sixteenh notes on the bass drum, you know that there is a strong tendency for the foot to follow the hand SLAVISHLY. Drumming can help to give your foot more independence.

    So if you want to play things on a wah wah pedal for instance it will be a lot easier. Most guitarists are at a loss trying to play the reggae rhythm guitar part which involves a close coordination between your strum and moving a wah wah. I am sure there are other similarly difficult guitar parts involving an effects pedal.

    You are right that the guitar is generally more forgiving then the drums. But you would be surprised how easily the untrained ear misses a screw up on the drums.

    As for this brain shaking theory: I don’t know as I have not played much professionally. Although I get the idea that J also feels pretty messed up after a tour. Like he is not sure who he is after having to stand in front of an audience every night for a month. I never read his comment on drummers having upside down brains. I suspect that any probems drummers have would be becase we use a lot of instinct and maybe the logical part of the mind gets flabby. Uhhhhh…….

    I will check out that link.

    Maybe there should be a drummers forum at FREAKSCENE.NET

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