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Curt Bisquera

Interview by Jayson Brinkworth // March 02 2011
Curt Bisquera

There is still money to be made in this industry, but you must wear all kinds of hats. 

It's 1991 and I pick up the new Bonnie Raitt CD Nick of Time . I had heard that my drum hero Jeff Porcaro is on the album, but once I open the disc and read the credits, I see that Jeff is only on one track. And yet I am quickly entranced by the groove of the first track “Something to Talk About” featuring  another drummer: Curt Bisquera. Very interesting. Fast forward a few years and I pick up Elton John’s Duets and am also knocked out by the groove on track one, “Teardrops,” with Elton and K.D. Lang (a fan of hers, as she is from the Canadian prairies). Low and behold, the drummer on this track is again Curt Bisquera! There is really something in his groove, feel and tone that catches my ear, much like Jeff Porcaro.

As the years pass, Curt’s name shows up on albums by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Mick Jagger, Seal, Tina Turner, The B-52’s, Joni Mitchell (another prairie girl), Johnny Cash and many, many others. His work also spans into film, jingles and his own solo projects. I was lucky enough to be able to have Curt answer some questions while he is out on tour with Sarah McLachlan. Do yourself a big favour, read this interview and start researching and listening to this amazing musician known as “Kirkee B”. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the one and only Curt Bisquera. 

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Curt, it is a pleasure to do this interview with you. Thanks for your time. Let’s start off by giving The Black Page readers a glimpse into your beginnings as a drummer. 

I started off playing in night clubs at age 11 with my mom and uncle who both played piano and B3. Then in high school I had a band with a great singer by the name of Pam Delgado. She's in a band now called Blame Sally. After graduation, I took a year to work at a grocery store to save money to go to Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA. 

Where did the nickname “Kirkee B" come from? 

(Laughs) It was a culmination of my grandmother who could not say my name through her thick Filipino accent, along with working with all the funksters in my early touring years (Morris Day, Shalamar etc). 

Your catalogue of work to this point in your career is quite astounding. Can you possibly pinpoint what your first break might have been that got the ball rolling? 

Right off the bat I'd have to say getting the Morris Day gig was what put me in the game. I owe a lot to Morris. He trained me in such a way that I can work with about any artist with confidence. He's a badass drummer too so that helped! 

I know Jeff Porcaro was a big influence on you. He is definitely at the top of my list as a brilliant musician. How did he influence you as a player? 

Jeff heard me play when I was attending M.I., studying under his dad, Joe Porcaro. I think he saw and heard that I had a knack for time-keeping as well as the desire to learn to read and play to a click. That's what Jeff was all about to me—his ability to play great time and make it groove like a Muthaf^&*ka! Every session I'm at I think of him and how he'd do it. You don't hear drumming like that anymore! His essence will always be with those drummers who choose to groove. 

You have worked on so many great records, but one of the first times a lot of people heard you was on Bonnie Raitt's album Luck of the Draw. There are a lot of great songs on the record, but one that really caught my attention was “Good Woman, Good Man.” What a groove and focus! Can you tell us a bit about this track and working on such a huge album? 

It's actually a drum machine with me over-dubbing hi-hats. Tricky thing is making a drum machine groove by putting the human element on it! That was a challenge back then, but now machines have become part of the quiver, ya know? 

You have a new DVD out called Curt Bisquera on Wheels.  I love the format of the disc and how the information is presented, especially in this age of the chops DVDs out there. How did this project come about, and what made you script it the way you did? 

I wanted to do a DVD that was real. What I mean by that is what really happens in a studio environment. I dig chops! Everytime I hang with the master Vinnie Colaiuta I realize I suck at chops, but the thing for me is to lay it down, make a record and allow the artist to shine. That's my job. I wanted to have people glimpse into my world in what I do and what I'm about. I hope it does that. 

You also have a solo album out entitled C.M.B (Consciousness – Mindfulness – Beauty). First off, I love the title and the music is very cool. What brought this project on, and how did you possibly have time in your schedule to fit this in? 

It was done on my laptop while I was in France touring with Johnny Hallyday. I was moved by the way Europeans lush-out on the synths, while a groove is happening underneath. I wanted to do that with machines and live drums, so I brought a little recording rig out on tour with me and CMB is what came about. I am really proud of it! 

You are also great friends with Abe Laboriel Jr. In any clips of you two hanging out, it seems like you are almost brothers. How long have you been friends, and do you both get any chances to work or play together on projects? 

I've known Abe since he moved back from Boston when he went to Berkley. He's been so busy with Sir Paul McCartney it's been awhile since I've seen him. I'm sure the future holds something fun for us to do together. 

I just love the musicality and sensibility in your playing. As a drummer in this day and age, what do you see being the most important skills needed to  have a career in the music industry? 

I think having a desire at all costs. There is still money to be made in this industry, but you must wear all kinds of hats. I tell a lot of up-and-coming drummers, “Instead of going out and buying a bunch of drums, invest in recording equipment—a computer, a DAW, mics, mic pre's, EQ's. The internet is the gateway to music, no doubt. Also, play with as many players as you can. The better the player, the better you will become!” 

You are also currently on tour with Sarah McLachlan. How is the tour going? And are you working on any projects while you’re on the road? 

She is a joy to work with, such musical and lyrical content I sometimes get lost in her world, ya know? It's so driven by melody that I just have to create a bed of rhythm behind her to allow all that to happen. One of my fave gigs yet! She's been recording the shows. Maybe she'll do a live record? We'll have to wait and see. 

What is next up for Kirkee B? 

After this tour is over in the spring, I'm going to start writing and producing some more music—just put it all out there and see what happens. 

Thanks again for your time, literally. Any final words you would like to share with the musicians out there? 

Yes, invest in gold and silver and practice your rudiments with a light grip—don't grip your sticks so hard!

Visit Curt online: http://www.curtbisquera.com/

Photo: Rob Shanahan http://www.robshanahan.com/


 




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About the Author
Jayson  Brinkworth

Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.

Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.



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