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  • Interview: Street Drum Corps

    Tue, 11 Nov 2008 06:52:53

    Interview: Street Drum Corps - Bang the drum loudly

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    "I kind of don't want this election to end," laughs Street Drum Corps singer Bobby Alt. "I love this whole McCain vs. Obama thing. I think they both should be president. Then it would be like Tyson vs. Holyfield all over again for eight years. They got everybody riled up, so let's keep the excitement going. They're great at arguing with each other. It's funny. I got to vote. I've voted for a few years now, and this is just a magical day for me and all my friends." Even though the results are now in, Bobby still had a good time on Election Day. He's such an affable and charismatic guy that there's no doubt he's got a smile on his face somewhere right now too. He's got every reason to smile. His band, The Street Drum Corps, just inked a deal with Interscope, and he's in the midst of working on his major label debut. Plus, Street Drum Corps is set to open for some of Bobby's childhood idols, Motley Crue, on November 14 in Hollywood. Blending experimental percussion, punk rock and flourishes of alternative, Street Drum Corps are quite an anomaly. They've garnered attention from everyone from Deftones to Linkin Park. Now, they're about to make a big splash. Bobby talked to ARTISTdirect about politics, percussion and much more in this exclusive interview.

    Do you feel like politics has gone digital for this election?

    Yeah, it really is, which is scary, but even back in the day with the paper trail, it all could get messed up if there's enough power behind it. I'm a big 24 fan. I'm not sure who you're voting for, but to have a black president like in 24 is very exciting. My last band, S.T.U.N., was touring in 2004, when the last Bush election was. We did a show at the Palace. Shephard Fairey was there. Everyone was rallying to not have a Bush in there again. It happened, but it was a really exciting time. I feel like it's like that again for bands to get all political at this time. We use our voice—not necessarily to tell people who to vote for, but definitely to tell people to go vote. That's one thing. I definitely haven't been like, "Oh, vote for this person or that person," because I don't know the right choice. I don't think anyone really does.

    There isn't necessarily a right or wrong choice. The situation is so tumultuous as it is. There's not going to be one man that can simply fix it.

    It's so true. There's so much behind it—so many corporations, wars, etc. We can just go out and vote, and that's what I'm going to do. I've got voting today and Motley Crue next week.

    How did everything with Crue come about?

    Well, Tommy Lee heard about Street Drum Corps through one of the Guitar Center drum-offs that we did. We got in touch with him. He likes what Street Drum Corps is doing. My partner in Street Drum Corps, Frank, knew him. We were on tour with Linkin Park this summer. We were playing an arena in Cleveland. Motley Crue was playing the same arena the next night. We've been huge Motley Crue fans ever since we were little. Frank called up Tommy and told him we were in town. Tommy hooked us up with front row tickets, a party in his dressing room after the show—I won't go into too many details about what happened, but I'm sure you can use your imagination [Laughs]. It's a Motley Crue and Tommy Lee backstage situation [Laughs]. Frank just got back from Miami. He went to kick it with Tommy while he did some gigs with DJ Arrow. Basically, it's just friendship. It had to go through all of the channels. Nikki Six got in there and said, "Yeah, we love these guys. Let's have them open the show." We're also playing "Primal Scream" with them, so we're going to come out with our gear and play a song with them that we're going to rehearse on Wednesday. It's sick! I saw Motley Crue on the Dr. Feelgood tour in 1989. I was a little kid, and Frank saw Motley Crue on the Shout at the Devil tour opening for Ozzy. We both grew up in the New Jersey and New York area. To come full circle and be able to open up for your heroes is so magical. It's really a message to other kids out there too—younger kids in bands. Stick with it! You can open up for your favorite bands and get the opportunity to hang out with them. Hopefully when you get to hang out with them, they're as cool as you thought they were. That's always scary [Laughs].

    It's amazing to see that dream come true.

    It really is a dream. I got the opportunity to open for my other favorite band, Jane's Addiction, with my other band S.T.U.N. We played New Year's Eve at the Wiltern with them. We did a little two-week run. It's so cool. Jane's and Motley's music just charges us up. They're big influences on Street Drum Corps and what we do. Street Drum Corps is a drumming band, and Tommy Lee's one of the greatest drummers of all time. He really inspires a lot of the grooves we have under there. That all comes from the Tommy Lee world of drumming.

    You include the show element—like Lee or Shannon Larkin.

    Exactly, yeah! We try to be as theatrical as possible, put on a good show and make it high energy. That is what Motley Crue always did back in the day—whether it was the drum solo or them playing their great songs. Now that we've become songwriters, we've got to write those great songs like they did, so that's what we're working on now!

    How is the new material coming along?

    It's going great, man. We signed with Interscope, and the record will probably come out in spring or summer of next year. We've written about 25 songs. The first record we did with DJ Lethal was more on the hip hop, street vibe. That's where we were then. The second one we did was more industrial and dance—a bit heavier. Now, this one takes everything and puts it all together with new influences. I'm singing in the band, so we've hired a guitar player and bass player. It's more like Adam and the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Creatures. We went from "street" to more tribal and just really heavy drumming. Plus, we're focusing on songwriting. We arranging songs and working on the musical direction. It's been great. We've gotten the opportunity to record with some amazing people, and we're about to pick our producer soon too.

    You've always been adaptable, and it's led to longevity.

    We started by playing private parties, bar mitzvahs and doing the street stuff at places like Magic Mountain and Disneyland. We're still keeping our roots, but we've hired kids to do the show we wrote four or five years ago on the college circuit and things like that. We're definitely keeping our roots by using these other groups, and it's giving us the ability to expand naturally as musicians. We want to expand and try new things, maybe even pick up instruments that we've never played before. We rented some tympanis, marimbas and horns. We're playing them, and we've got friends playing them. One thing about the Street Drum Corps is we want to experiment. It's been an outlet to try new things for us outside of the other bands we've been in. We can give each other the pat on the back for trying it. We trust our gut.

    You capture a primal energy. Would you say that's the case?

    We're not necessarily trying to fit in and be a part of an emo scene, screamo, hip hop or metal. We're just doing our thing and taking elements from everything. If a song pops on the mainstream, or a song on our new record gets some love, that's fantastic, but we also are doing something that's outside of the box.

    What's the next evolution?

    The Motley Crue show is the first time a bass player is joining us, so now we've got a bassist and guitarist on stage with us. This time right now for us is probably one of the most creative times we've ever had. Interscope has been incredibly supportive, giving us all the time we need to prepare this record. The first record we did we had a week. The second record, we had two weeks. Now, we've been working on this one for months, and it'll be a few more months. This is really going to special for our major label debut.

    —Rick Florino

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