And The Winner IsArticle by Sean Mitchell // September 12 2012
A few months back we launched our innagural Summer Solo Series and with it our very first drum solo competition. The most uniqe and creative way of playing drums without the use of drumsticks would be crowned champion. The competetion was incredible stiff and all our entrants put on a heck of a show. But alas there can only be one winner.
So without further adieu; ladies and gentleman our 2012 Summer Solo Series winner is Chandler Arizona's very own Nathan Hubbard.
Nathan, tell us a bit about your drumming career and how you got started.
My beginnings were fairly usual—school band, garage rock, etc. I continued my studies into college, where I had the good fortune to study with Pat Pfiffner and Danlee Mitchell. This time period was also where I began performing solo, composing and getting involved with many different types of music. Since that time I have presented my own music in Canada, the USA, Mexico, as well as in bits of the European Union.
My current musical life is a bit fractured; I regularly perform as both a sideman and a band leader, in a variety of genres and styles.
Your solo was very unique and your use of just a snare drum was brilliant! Tell me how you came up with the solo.
I have been playing solo for 13 years, have released two CDs and several EPs of this music, and have presented concerts in a wide variety of contexts, from concert halls and festivals to freeway underpasses and desolate mountain roads. In this period I have been focusing on certain techniques and structural ideas, and I thought that recording several miniatures would be a good chance to work some of this out. For the video, each piece uses the same drum, but it is approached with different structural concepts as well as different mallets and percussion.
The violin bow was a really cool touch. What brought that about?
Much of the music I create when playing solo attempts to get away from the usual "sharp attack/quick decay" of most percussion instruments. So using a violin bow is one way to get no attack and long sustain. I also have to give credit to Gerry Hemingway and his watershed recording “Four Studies for Single Instruments,” which has influenced me greatly.
Where do you hail from, and what bands are you playing with? Where could readers see you play in your corner of the world?
I hail from Encinitas, California, and currently live in Chandler, Arizona. In San Diego I perform regularly with rock legend Rafter as well as leading two groups, Nathan Hubbard/Passengers and Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed. In the Phoenix metro area you can hear me with a group called The Scorpion Decides. I also show up regularly in various freelance and ad hoc situations.
Are you doing any teaching in your area? If so, where could someone contact you for lessons?
I teach privately and also have a background of classroom and group teaching. Anyone interested can contact me through my website or any of the myriad social networking sites.
What type of setup are you currently using?
My setup changes depending on the situation. With Rafter, I play high energy rock music and use an early 60s Slingerland kit with a 24" kick, 16" floor tom, various snares, two crashes and a hi-hat. For most jazz gigs I use a hodge-podge kit of older Ludwig and Gretsch drums in red sparkle, usually a 16" kick, 14" floor tom, 12" tom tom, various snares, two rides and a hi-hat. For solo music I use a lot of homemade instruments and modified drum/cymbals. The tech page on my website has a nice selection of pictures and commentary on setups if anybody is interested.
And last but not least, in your opinion, four songs every drummer should listen to and why?
Well, I don't know about songs, but since we are talking about solo drums, here are four recordings that changed my life and gave me new perspectives on percussion and music:
Max Roach – Survivors (Soul Note Records, 1984). A 20-minute piece for drum kit and string quartet—plus a treasure trove of classic Max Roach solo pieces.
Paul Lytton - The Inclined Stick (Po Torch Records, 1979). A classic and a favorite. Would somebody please re-release this on CD?
Gerry Hemingway - Tubworks (Sound Aspects Records, 1988). Mentioned in a earlier comment, a great multi-faceted look into Gerrys solo language.
Fritz Hauser - Solodrumming (hat[now]ART, 1985). Amazing attention to detail and beautiful music from Herr Hauser.
Visit Nathan online at www.castorandpolluxmusic.com. Stay tuned to The Black Page for more contests in the near future!
Photo: Kelly Hubbard
About the Author
Sean has 15 years experience behind the kit, studying under greats like Mitch Dorge and participating in master classes with Dom Famularo and Zoro. It was these life-changing exchanges that prompted the Canadian-born drummer to create a global drumming community, The Black Page, that was easily accessible to drummers of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. In addition to his work with BP, Sean is one-half of the world soul group The Mitchells.
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