A classically trained percussionist, Fay Milton possesses an adventurous compositional sense and keen sonic sensitivity that helped Savages become one of the most exciting, critically-lauded bands of the last decade. Fay and Joe met in Soho, London, to discuss: why there is hope in the darkness; the lack of surfer dudes in Australia; Savages; Fay's new Project, 180db; and the desire to have children amidst the instability of a life in music.
Woody Woodmansey propelled the legendary Spiders from Mars to international stardom and helped the post-war generation escape the prison of banality. Woody tells Joe about growing up in Northern England; his life as a plumber and factory worker; how fate led him to discover music; writing music and touring with David Bowie; craving uncertainty; living a life of excess; and re-defining himself when the magic carpet of rockstardom was pulled out from under him.
In this Bonus Episode, The Slits bassist, Tessa Pollitt, sat down with Joe after a recent screening of "Here to Be Heard", a documentary about the band.
Nate Wood has a gift for mastery when it comes to the mechanics of music; but he also possesses a creative clarity that transcends mere virtuosity. He talks about growing up in a musical family; his theory of genetic determinism; his approach to learning instruments; and how his new project, Four, might be his salvation when the robots rise to annihilate the human race.
Ryan Pope's metronomical groove and uniquely memorable beats helped The Get Up Kids become one of the most influential rock bands to emerge from the Midwest during the 1990s. Ryan tells Joe about: his incredibly close relationship with his brother/bandmate Rob; growing up Mormon and losing his faith; re-defining himself when the band ended its initial run; and his life as a serial entrepreneur.
Formed in 1990 in New York City, Quicksand drew inspiration from the energy of their native hardcore scene. Powered by drummer Alan Cage's dexterous groove, the band's angular compositions ushered in an influential new strain of heavy music. Alan tells Joe about: growing up as a mildly mischievous kid on Long Island; the formation and creative dynamic of Quicksand; working as a labor organizer when the band broke up; his fear of becoming a father; and becoming a father!
Adam Topol's formative years were spent listening to Kiss and punk rock, but he soon discovered a lifelong passion for jazz and world music that influenced his diverse career. He tells Joe about growing up in Lake Tahoe; his self-taught entrepreneur father; why art and academia feel at odds; why he never thought that he could make a living playing music; getting sober; his connection with deep Jack Johnson; and starting his percussion company, Roots EQ.
The Arctic Monkeys started out as more of an aspiration than an actual band--its members were teenagers who had just started playing their instruments. But--after gaining some online notoriety--the band was catapulted to massive popularity, releasing a string of number one albums in their native UK. Matt Helders talks to Joe about: growing up in Sheffield; struggling with feelings of "unearned" success early in the band's career; evolving as an artist; the thrilling fear of writing his solo album; and working with the great Iggy Pop on his acclaimed Post Pop Depression album.
On this episode of The Trap Set Live, Joe sits down with Chico Mann and Geoff Mann to discuss: musical parents (Geoff’s father being the legendary Herbie Mann); early influences; the first records they purchased with their own money; their tenure with Antibalas; the genesis of their current band Here Lies Man—which combines Afrobeat-inspired rhythm with heavy psychedelic textures; and parenting.
This episode was recorded live at The Amigo Room at Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, CA.
Lucky Lehrer's ferocious and agile style helped Circle Jerks become standard bearers of the nascent SoCal hardcore scene. He tells Joe about growing up in LA, his love of jazz, studying at UC-Berkeley, discovering punk, and his current creative focus--improvised comedy.
Formed in Philadelphia in 1983, The Dead Milkmen created a downright hillarious sonic universe that stood in stark contrast to their hardcore punk contemporaries. But it's a genuine, heartfelt emotional core that makes the band's classic body of work stand the test of time. Drummer Dean "Clean" Sabatino charts his journey from local hero, to major label big wigs, to father and graphic designer, to part-time punk.
The incredible Dale Crover (Melvins) graced The Trap Set during our salad days (Episode 10). Today, he makes a triumphant return to update us on what he's been up for the past few years. A great chat with one of the most compelling and unique drummers out there!
Tony Hajjar's explosive, emotionally-raw style propelled At The Drive-In to mainstream success. He tells Joe about emigrating to the US from Lebanon, losing both of his parents at an early age, his tight relationship with his brother, the band dynamic of ATDI, breaking up just after breaking into the mainstream, Sparta, staying in a psychological "survival mode", creating the stability he's always craved, and creating a thriving business with his wife.
Kate Schellenbach’s formative musical experience was in the choir at the Church of St. Luke in Greenwich Village; but soon enough, she was watching Clem Burke do lines at CBGB. Kate tells Joe about drumming for an early, punk-influenced version of The Beastie Boys; achieving popular success with Luscious Jackson; singing on Broadway as a child; her second career as an Emmy-Award-winning TV producer; and raising a son.
John "J.R" Robinson has an extraordinary sense of time, a crisp tone, and a gift for developing rhythmic hooks. All of these attributes contribute to his status as one of the most in-demand session drummers of all time. Joe visited J.R. at his home to discuss: his childhood in Iowa; why his drum set was his best friend; attending Berklee College; joining Rufus and moving to LA; working with a host of iconic artists; and why marriage is a bad idea (at least until you have your life together).
Pete Moffett cut his teeth in the DC punk scene, where he developed a signature style balancing angular inventiveness with oversized bombast. He talks to Joe about why he's so hard on himself; transitioning from an ELO-heavy diet to punk rock; the ramifications of being a recovering alcoholic; coming out and meeting his partner of 25 years; and drum teching for high profile artists.
Dave Elitch has the rare ability to deconstruct the craft of drumming on a granular level. This gift has led to a diversity gigs ranging from The Mars Volta to Justin Timberlake. Dave's primary passion, though, is for teaching. At age 34, he's taught a who's-who of professional drummers, some of whom are twice Dave's age and icons in their own right. Dave tells Joe about how he fell in love with drumming; his teaching style; his love of visual art; and the parallels between therapy and drum instruction.
In this bonus mini-episode, actor Ezra Miller (Justice League, Fantastic Beasts) talks about harnessing anxiety for creative endeavors, diarrhea, and Philip Glass. This is an excerpt from an upcoming episode about actors who are also drummers. Check out the debut album from Ezra's band, Sons of an Illustrious Father, out now!
Brian Blade burst on the scene in the early 90s and has since distinguished himself as one of the all time greats.
Brian met with Joe in Chicago to discuss: his musical beginnings in church; how he developed his gifts as an artist; what he learned from his older brother, drummer Brady Blade; working with iconoclasts ranging from Joni Mitchell to Wayne Shorter; being “in the moment, almost to a fault”; reuniting with his childhood sweetheart after nearly 30 years apart; and how within any one thing, everything else exists.
Musical mythology is rife with stories of troubled genius. As an antidote, here’s a conversation with a thoroughly joyful genius.
Rage Against the Machine is an exceptionally rare band that managed to combine a radical, populist message with massive popular success. At the core of the band is Brad Wilk's drumming, which combines an explosive groove and hypnotic use of space. Brad visits The Trap Set to discuss: his formative love of Van Halen; Studying with David Garibaldi; the creative dynamic of RATM, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage; playing flute; his family's roots in the jewelry business; parenting; a nine month love affair with cocaine; and his growing interest in meditation. Finally, he answers listeners' questions.
In 1969, Michael Shrieve took the world by storm with his jaw-dropping performance at Woodstock. His raw power, combined with jazz-inflected finesse, was a crucial component to the band's success. Over the subsequent 50 years, Michael's adventurous body of work has comprised collaborations with: Stomu Yamashta, Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola, Klaus Schulze, Andy Summers, Mick Jagger, etc. Joe met with Michael at his studio in Seattle to discuss Michael's childhood as a devout alter boy; his first drum kit (made from scraps of carpet); joining Santana and rocketing to superstardom as a teenager; his "left of center" aesthetic; creative inertia; guru shopping; and how too much success strained his relationship with a famous bandleader.
This week, we share Joe's epic live panel with Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam); Ruby Dunphy (Thunderpussy); Tendai Maraire (Shabazz Palaces); and Jason McGerr (Death Cab for Cutie). This episode was recorded in front of a capacity crowd at KEXP in Seattle.
Karriem Riggins is a rare artist whose creative voice resonates in improvised music and popular music alike. Karriem spoke to Joe in front of a live audience at Ace Hotel Palm Springs about: being born into a musical family in Detroit; his definition of greatness and mastery; working with established legends like Ray Brown and modern legends like J Dilla; and he answers listener questions. Also, Trap Set friend--Jose Medeles--calls to talk about his new book, The Stoic Drummer.
Yesterday, John "Jabo" Starks--one of the most important drummers of the twentieth century--died of cancer. He was 79. In tribute, we're revisiting Joe's conversation with the legendary musician, originally recorded in Madison, WI, in 2015.
In the 80s and 90s, Barrett Martin was a member of seminal Seattle bands Screaming Trees, Mad Season, and Skin Yard; but according to Barrett, talking about his life as a rock drummer isn’t all that interesting. Instead, Barrett and Joe have a conversation about the perception of time, the feminine energy of the universe, Barrett’s studies as a Zen monk, the dangers of capitalism, and the nature of music and consciousness.