Saturday, July 17, 2010

BDK Interview - Paul Banwatt

photo : Marc Hodge

I posted about Paul Banwatt (of The Rural Alberta Advantage and Woodhands) back in June. Figuring that he might not be that hard to get a hold of (he wasn't), I sought him out for an interview. Here it is.

1. What drummers (local or otherwise) influenced your particular style growing up?

Steve Shelly, John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell. And I still respectfully rip them off every day.

2. What was the musical climate like when you started playing in bands?

I started playing in the Mississauga and Brampton high school band scene. I love how DIY it is for kids who want to put on shows but are not welcome in most bars. You find every space that will have you - rec centers, churches, friends' basements. I'm sure it is still the same way today. The only sad part is that it creates a separation between the kids and the adults.

3. How does your approach differ between your two projects (RAA and Woodhands)?

They are very different bands, but they are each fronted by an extremely talented songwriter. There is something universal about great songwriting, regardless of genre. I think I try my best to pull each band towards the same middle-ground, which is less boring than it sounds.

photo : Patrick Leduc

4. Is there any particular gear or equipment you have an attachment to?

I have grown very fond of my pearly Rhythm Traveller. I am using it in a way that it was not intended, but it is holding up like a champ. And with new heads and hardware, it is a sturdy little kit.

5. What kind of process do you use when working out rhythms?

I start by listening to vocal melodies and blocking out everything else. Ideally, I like it when my drums compliment and accent the vocals. Then, I listen to everything else that is happening to out the rest of the rhythm. Neither band I play in has a bass player, and I feel like that gives me a little bit more freedom rhythmically.

6. Your approach on some of the RAA songs is fairly involved for that particular genre, are you ever asked to tone it down?

All the time. But honestly, even more often I am asked to be more crazy. No one will believe me, but it is often me telling Nils that I don't want to ruin his beautiful songs by playing something too insane. It is one reason why I love playing in that band though. We will let each other try anything, no matter how strange, before rejecting it. And we all can have input on every aspect of a song.

7. What are some albums you feel are underrated in terms of drumming or percussion?

I'm not sure if it is underrated, but the drumming on Dirty Projectors' Bitte Orca is incredible.

Next on the docket perhaps?

8. Do you have any particular rituals on tour to keep your energy up and stay motivated?

No rituals. I just need 8 hours of sleep. I also try to limit the amount of time I spend in venues. If I spend the whole day in the venue before playing, I feel less excited.

9. Is there any particular recordings you've done that you are most proud of?

I have always liked Drain The Blood, just because I didn't quite know how to play the beat I could hear in my head for that song, so I worked on it and learned it. I am better at it now than I was then, so it is fun for me to listen to that and feel like I am still improving.

"hey wait, what if we tried the rhythm method?"

Paul will be coming to the Maritimes when Woodhands plays the Evolve festival at the end of the month. Make sure you take a break from the hula hooping and fire dancing and go see them, it'll be worth it.