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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Sep 9th, 2014

We talk with legendary drummer Terry Bozzio

Terry BozzioFrom Frank Zappa through U.K., as the architect of Missing Persons, playing with Santana, The Becker Brothers and just about anybody else you can name, Terry Bozzio has established himself as a true rock drummer of great acclaim. Currently alongside his drum clinics, consistent band stints and studio work, Mr. Bozzio tours with an innovative one-man solo show on what his press calls a “monster sculpture of a drum kit” (he swings by NYC for two dates at the Iridium 9/14 and 9/15, two shows nightly at 8pm and 10pm).

I was honored to be able to talk with this brilliant player about his career, his approach to drumming and his current tour.

Being one of the pioneers of electronic drums, but working with a real set on these solo shows-albeit the world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set-can you talk about your personal evolution through your specific drum hardware changes?

I think we all got a bit sidetracked with the electronic possibilities. They were great learning experiences to be sure, but after a while it became a matter of anyone could make any sound electronically. I got to the point where I could spend hours looking for a certain snare drum sound on a Simmons pad and I thought, why not use a real snare drum?

Well, in your solo show you are certainly using a snare drum, and a whole lot more. It’s a massive kit you go out with now.

I play one hundred and eighty different percussion instruments, have pedals set three sixty degrees around me so I can hit bass drum notes of different low variations. It’s an overall advanced orchestra set, not just a marimba set or vibraphone, and my hands play real music bells, hand percussion, etc.

So this is as much drum orchestration as it is jazz improve?

Yes, it’s a real musical event in that I improvise like any other jazz guy. I take all those moments of usual spontaneous composition but not just lay patterns out but invent different music every night.

With such a history behind you, playing with some of the truly greatest pop/rock/fusion musicians of the past decades, do you do much looking back?

I leave my past in the past, being very happy with my contributions, knowing I did the best I knew how to do at the time. It’s all very good stuff that I am proud of. But I am thrilled to have been able to play solo now for the past 25-30 years, to develop something that nobody else is doing. I‘m sixty three, I’ll be sixty four when this tour is over, I just finished touring Japan, had my 5oth drum lesson, I always ask myself how much time do I get to have this much freedom and play, leave something behind that’s not normal entertainment? While I appreciate what’s come before I am much more interested in looking forward.

Get tickets for An Evening with TERRY BOZZIO North American Tour 2014’s four shows at theThe Iridium here.

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We talk with legendary drummer Terry Bozzio