Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Make Mine a Double

I read the hype now and then about the new bands; I hate to think I'm missing something good. I was briefly excited about a new band called Wolf & Cub. First, because they are from Australia, a continent that has produced some brilliant rock music. Second, because there are two drummers in Wolf & Cub.

It is a tenet of blog-law that every article about Wolf & Cub must state that they have two drummers. Also, the writer is required to make a snarky comment about too many bands with the word Wolf in their name. Sadly, the third requirement of writing about Wolf & Cub is to complain that you can't tell that there are two drummers when you listen to their music. This I found to be true, based on the few songs that I heard.

The two drummer lineup dates back to the Dreadful Dead and the Allman Brothers. In the 1980's and 1990's, there were several groups with two drummers: Adam and the Ants, the Butthole Surfers, Beachbuggy, the Black Eyed Snakes, and the mighty Fall. During the years that original Fall drummer Karl Burns was accompanied by Pete Hanley (on drums) and Pete's brother Steve Hanley (on bass), the Fall made two of their most brilliant records: Hex Enduction Hour and Perverted by Language.

According to Wikipedia, "double drumming" may involve two drummers playing the same rhythm in unison, or one of the two may play lead drums, adding fills and counterpoints to the other drummer's basic rhythms. The hypnotic power of double drumming is made clear in the live tracks on the Fall's video Perverted by Language: Bis. The period in 1983 after guitarist Marc Riley quit, but before Brix joined, is documented on one Peel Session (disc two of the box) and on the PBL:B video with live performances of "Smile" (at the Speed Trials concert), "Tempo House" (at the Peppermint Lounge), plus a teasing snippet of "Hexen Definitive: Strife Knot". Guitarist Craig Scanlon locks into punishing grooves with Karl Burns and the two Hanleys.

The Fall: Smile (Peel Session, 1983)
Beachbuggy: Quarter Mile Machine (from Any Speed)
Butthole Surfers: Cherub(live 1992)

Here is a UK TV performance of "Smile" with the two drummers, two Hanleys, and the two Smiths.


At 5/17/2007 3:32 PM , Blogger anandamide said...

sorry if this invalidates your may 16th comment about the lack of commentary on this post, but i heard "two drummers" and couldn't resist. its like having two penises.

you omitted a sub-category: bands where the drummer thought he was too good to just sit behind the kit and decided to be a frontman, so had to hire someone for the stool. genesis, the foo fighters and the eagles would all fall into this category. in the case of genesis, they even set up an extra drum kit so that at some point, phil collins could forsake the mike and go slum it with his hired lackey for a "drum duet".

you can infer from that list of bands that, as a rule, letting the drummer switch to front man is a bad idea (although surprisingly lucrative).

At 5/18/2007 7:46 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

I'm not sure I could resist having two penises, either. I mean, if it was medically possible....

On a more serious note, your comment made me think of J.Mascis, another frontman who started out as a drummer. In his case, maybe the switch wasn't a bad idea. Unless you are a big fan of Deep Wound.


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