Wow! Check out past student of mine, Evan Chapman, in this interview with Modern Drummer Magazine.
The interview celebrates Evan's band, Square Peg Round Hole, their new (and fantastic) album, Juniper, and the world premiere of their "Name Not One Man" music video.
Square Peg Round Hole combines the best of electronic, post rock, and contemporary percussion idioms. I can tell Evan is totally nerding out explaining some of the grooves on the record (which are just as inspired by the band's classical/contemporary percussion background as they are modern rock and electronic):
MD: In “A-frame” off of Juniper, there’s a groove around the three-minute mark with single hi-hat hits that first occur a 16th note after the backbeat, and then during the second half of the phrase they sound like they come before it. It almost creates this push-pull motion, or feels like the groove is swirling. Do you have any specific approach to writing patterns like this?
Evan: This kind of writing draws from my love for process music. I’ll admit that I’m a total nerd when it comes to math in music, and I’m fascinated with permutations and serialism. On a larger scale, the group will often throw in compositional processes like addition, diminution, and phasing. But on a smaller scale, I’ll occasionally throw permutations into my drum parts. The “A-Frame” groove that you’re referring to is a subtle example of that. A more obvious example is the ending of “Unraveling,” where the bell of my ride cymbal cycles between every fourth 16th, then every third, then every second, then every downbeat, and then back again through the cycle in reverse. Like I said, I’m a nerd.
The SPRH sound has the rich expanse of a modern rock ensemble, all coming from just three percussionists. Rock music can be straightforward and often improvised. Likewise, a lot of SPRH ideas don't strike the ear as very complex at first, but the sound is very intently composed.
MD: At certain points it feels like standard drum grooves are dropped in favor of creating more of a percussive approach. For instance, using floor toms almost as a melody instrument. Is there any concept behind this approach?
Evan: I’m generally drawn to drummers who think more like composers and percussionists. Glenn Kotche is a perfect example of this. He’s expanded his drumset to be more like a multi-percussion setup, which causes him to think about his parts differently. I think along those same lines, using different drums and cymbals as different parts of the melody. I use a non-traditional setup with SPRH, which also inspires me to come up with more unique parts.
Our floor toms are a very large part of our sound and the drum patterns that develop between Sean [M. Gill] and me. Sean plays a floor tom in his setup as well, and we’re often coming up with patterns that work together to create something that no single player could achieve. During the section beginning at 6:07 in “Unraveling,” the two of us build a hocketing drum part in an additive way. With every repetition, Sean builds his part note-by-note from the back to the front, and I build mine from the front to the back. The result is a section that gradually evolves from seemingly chaos to a powerful groove.
Not to mention, it is very gracious for Evan to list me as an influence during his musical education, of which I am honored to have had any part in.
After John Gleason retired from teaching drums, I went on to study with several other wonderful private instructors—Grant Menefee, Scott Tiemann, and Robert Burns—who each taught me a unique set of skills including orchestral, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban percussion, four-mallet marimba, chart reading, sight reading, and more. All of this prepared me for a degree in music.
Check out Square Peg Round Hole. Congratulations Evan!