Nov 10, 2012

Many Thanks to Hank Shteamer and Matei Tibacu!

I have been so much busier than ever before with the release of "Iron Balls of Steel" and the subsequent interviews, layouts, pending shows and all of the things that being in an active band demands.  Most of it has been enjoyable, and some of it has been richly rewarding.  It can be surreal at times.  Especially when you end up meeting people who have been profoundly affected by the music you have put out there.  There are plenty of people to whom thanks must go, but perhaps none are more deserving of recognition than Hank Shteamer and Matei Tibacu.

Matei Tibacu is a Romanian drummer who is currently studying music and law in London and has had his own radio show for quite some time.  The roster of people he has been able to interview is truly impressive, yet for some reason he had been interested in conducting a rather lengthy interview with me for a long, long time.  We caught up earlier this year via Skype to have an audio part of the interview for his radio show, and have spent many hours making each other laugh through e-mails ever since he first found me around the time the Loincloth record came out.  He's a lot of fun, very witty, and is incredibly accomplished for someone half my age.  He is also the architect of one of the strangest experiences, almost out-of-body like, that I have ever had.

Matei pieced together a four hour radio show, not based on Loincloth or Confessor, but on me and the music that has inspired me personally to be the kind of musician I am.  An hour long version of the show aired the day after Confessor played live for the first time in years and I was alerted to it about ten minutes before it came on.  I had already been thinking about how the kinds of relationships that have come about through my association with Confessor have taken on this strange sort of family reunion vibe at our shows.  The same faces are in the exact same sections of the audience even twenty years later, and though many of the people are not friends I see regularly, there is a familiarity that resembles the extended family you see once a year at holiday dinners.  It was a surprisingly warm, and nearly affectionate reflection that became almost hallucinatory once Matei's show became the background to my lazy afternoon of wandering thoughts.

Through his long interview and scores of e-mails, Matei was able to create a short attention span guide through my musical subconscious.  I was already feeling nostalgic thinking about Confessor's long and completely unpredictable road because of our show the night before. Hearing the snippets of songs I have loved personally for thirty years, and so many of my own thoughts and ideas about music spill out of the speakers during his show made me feel as though I was somehow inside my own head.  It was weirder than that though because those ideas, and the music that had been so inspirational to me were actually being played on air, and someone else had taken the time and initiative to put it together!  It's difficult to describe what it felt like, but it was like a benign sort of schizophrenia.  At least the voices I heard were partly my own and never once suggested I kill anyone!  At any rate, I had a really strange and totally unexpected experience that day, and I owe it all to Matei. Thanks, pal!

Hank Shteamer is also a drummer and happens to be playing with us in Brooklyn next weekend with his band STATS, at a club called Public Assembly with Dysrhythmia, who are wrapping up their tour in support of their new album, "Test of Submission".  Hank told me just recently that he had wanted to interview me for a long time, and I suppose that when "Iron Balls of Steel" came out in January he decided it was a perfect time for him to catch up with me.  

When Confessor's first album, "Condemned" came out someone got it into the hands of the people at Modern Drummer.  As far as I know, they were the one and only drumming magazine to consider back then.  I knew nothing about the review until I went into a store here in town called "2112 Percussion" to pick up some heads or sticks.  I had never met the owner of the store before, but as soon as I walked in he said rather loudly, "There he is!". Well, I looked around me to see what he was talking about and within a few seconds he pointed out the issue of MD that had a small review of our album towards the back of the magazine.  I was delighted, but I had no idea what a couple of the things the critic described as common techniques of mine actually were!  It took me a couple of years to figure out what one of them was.  I couldn't read music if my life depended upon it, and I am no more versed in drum jargon or music theory now.  Regardless, it was a real thrill and I found myself daydreaming of being interviewed for the magazine once Confessor ruled the world.  I figured it might take a couple more years.

Fast forward to 2012, and my little fantasy of actually making it back onto the pages of Modern Drummer as a featured artist had long been forgotten.  Hank however, was driven to see that that very thing did come to pass, and he caught up with me sometime around April, if memory serves.  Hank asked a lot of great questions, and it was very clear that he had either done his homework well or was a bigger fan than he let on at the time.  We spoke for something like three hours, and I could tell that he truly understood the thought process behind what I have tried to do for years behind my drum kit.  He had a real intuitive grasp of how I developed many of my ideas and by the end of the phone call I felt as though I was talking to an old friend I hadn't seen in years.  I can't tell you how excited I was for the opportunity!  Being in bands has taught me not to get too excited about something until I know it's about to happen, so I kept it to myself until the magazine finally did come out early this month.  One person in each band knew, and Monica knew but I never told anyone else. Hank had written one of the best reviews of IBOS earlier that year, and I was happy for him that he was going to be published in Modern Drummer for the first time.  The review wasn't great because it was overly complimentary.  It was great because I could tell he "got it", and because he did offer one criticism that I believe was totally on the mark.  He was honest, and you can't ask for anything more from a person. 

I met Hank and his wife, Laal at the Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore that Confessor was invited to play earlier this year.  They were both incredibly nice and gracious, and Monica and I were really happy to have met them.  I told Hank when he first introduced himself to me that I felt like I should hug him!  I never thought I'd have another chance to make it into Modern Drummer, but his conviction and dedication made it happen!  I love talking to people who have been influenced by the band's music and whether they believe me or not, it really is humbling to feel that what we have done actually means something to people.  It was never something we considered as we were writing our records, but it is the greatest reward! Music is a form of communication, and it is an inspiring, often life changing one at that.  There are some wonderful and creative people who have sought us out to thank us for our contribution to their lives.  Hank Shteamer and Matei Tibacu are two such people, and I cannot thank either of them enough for what they have done to enrich my own life.  My deepest, most heartfelt thanks to both of them...

I have links to both of their blogs if anyone would like to check out what they are into.  I should come up with a name for people who rock The Poundry blogsite.  Hmm... "Pounders"?  "Poundetators"?  "The Poundry Army"?  Maybe simply "Nerds"...

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