Sunday, May 2, 2010

BDK Interview - Brad Weber

Brad Weber is fast becoming one of Canada's most inventive and talented drummers. Most often he is on the road playing with Dan Snaith's Polaris-prize winning project Caribou (whom I previously wrote about here). Any down time is put towards his current multi percussion juggernaut Pick a Piper (whom I also wrote about, here). PaP recently completed an eastern Canadian tour before Weber shipped off to the UK to begin rehearsals for the next Caribou outing. With Pick a Piper, Weber breaks songs down to their rhythmic core and builds them back up with layers upon layers of tribal beats, tambourines, shakers and multiple drum kits. With Caribou, he blazes a trail through the schizophrenic patterns and melodies planted by Snaith, something that requires a deeper understanding of rock drumming than most care to explore. He is a master of dynamics and an engaging performer, someone that really displays the capacities of the instrument while still having a good time.

I met Brad after I shared the stage with Pick a Piper for two shows in Halifax. I knew he was going to be a decent drummer, but I didn't expect him to be as theatrical as he was. He struck me as someone who can remain extremely focused amidst musical chaos, someone who never loses his place or his cool. I've always been interested in people who can still have fun whilst taking their art seriously. I asked Brad if he would be interested in doing an interview. He's a pretty nice guy, so he said yes.

photo: F. Yang

1. Your approach to percussion in Pick a Piper seems influenced by tribal/polyrhythmic drumming. When did you begin exploring the potential of multiple drummers?

I started exploring multi-drum rhythms a lot in solo recordings of mine, perhaps starting 6 or 7 years ago. It was just so interesting how rhythmic layers could play off each other in an intriguing way. I've always been into various hand percussion, shaky items, pots and pans, etc... anything I can toss into a track I will.

I didn't start to play with another drummer live until I joined Caribou in 2007. After a year of touring with such a setup I was fascinated to try out a similar incarnation of my own. I had started collaborating a lot with Angus and Dan Roberts (second drummer and bass player in Pick a Piper respectively) and everything we completed just begged for at least one more kit on stage. Then we added hand percussion and points in the set when the four of us would play drums together.

2. Walk me through your songwriting process, do drums come first?

So far that has mostly been the case. We'll start with a rhythmic idea and base the song around that. We've been setting out to make dance music by organic means. Incorporating lots of percussion and building songs around those rhythmic origins has been a good way so far.

3. How did you become involved with Caribou?

My old band Winter Equinox saw Caribou back in 2004 and gave them our demo CD at the time and kept up communication with Dan Snaith over email. Near the end of The Milk Of Human Kindness tour, we emailed Dan and asked if we could open a show in Hamilton. To our excitement, he said yes! A year and a bit after that show Dan was still living in London UK and sent me an email about possibly joining Caribou in the future. He said he had remembered my drumming from that show and asked if I could record an audition. Coincidentally enough I happened to be in London on holidays at the time and met up with him and Ryan for lunch. We seemed to hit it off well and I went back to Canada and bunkered up for a week learning short loops of some of the more challenging Caribou drum parts. In the end he was happy with the audition and asked me to join. Definitely a highlight of my life so far.

4. Has drumming for Caribou influenced your playing in Pick a Piper, or vice-versa?

Playing with Snaith and the guys has taught me a lot. I've really learned to be a lot more dynamic drummer and very aware of space in my playing -- knowing when to keep it simple and when to release the gorilla! Snaith has turned me on to tons of amazing records that have totally broadened m style and given Pick a Piper a much larger palette of influences to draw from. Other than a few frantic moments in the PaP set, I generally try to lock onto the rhythmic foundation of the song and play out that particular groove in an almost hypnotic fashion. I think it's really important as a drummer to know when to just hold down the fort, especially making dancier music with Pick a Piper.

5. You have a very huge presence on the drums (mouth open, arms up in the air), is this something that just happens naturally?

I think it's just a matter of really really enjoying playing music live. I can't help but physically ebb and flow along to what I am playing.

6. What are some of your favorite independent Canadian drummers who should get more attention?

Mark Gaudet -- Elevator/Eric's Trip
Liam Epps -- What's He Building in There/ Ace Kincaid
Mike Bond -- Bocce

I don't really think of drummers in terms of their nationalities, so I'm having a tough time figuring out who is Canadian or not! Those guys are all really good though and there are tons more that I'm definitely missing.

Elevator - maritime psych rock wunderkinds

7. Do you have any specific gear you can't go on the road without?

I'm not much of a gear head really. I feel like it's easy to spend more time obsessing over gear than actually making music. I really enjoy making the most of whatever equipment I have at the time. Right now I'm playing on a really small Gretsch jazz kit that I really like, but with Caribou I play with Dan's kit, which is totally different. I've been incorporating midi triggers and foot pedals connected through a laptop lately and really enjoy the freedom and spontaneity those allow us. I've always used Vic Firth 5A sticks. I guess that's the one thing I can't go without, I'm pretty picky about it. Although I've never used anything else for most of my drumming career, so maybe I should force a change at some point!

8. What are your intentions with drumming for the future?

I'd like to continue playing with Caribou as long as I can and then work on my own music whenever we have breaks. I'll be touring with Caribou for the rest of the year, so we're hoping to finish writing and recording a Pick a Piper full length sometime in 2011. I just always want to be playing with other people and so far it's working out pretty well!

You can catch Brad on tour with Caribou for the next while. The Halifax show on June 11th will be supported by two great acts, Rich Aucoin, who is a one man dance party, and Tomcat Combat, whom I've previously written about here. It's the must see show of the summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment