Stanton Moore
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The best kept secret in music

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"CD of the month"

In business school,they say: location,location,location. For Moore’s third solo release, it’s not just aptly titled, it also couldn’t have been recorded in a more historic locale: Preservation Hall in New Orleans – the drummer’s hometown. “I wanted to do something in the hall because of the sound in the room and amazing vibe there,” Moore comments. “After Katrina, they weren’t having music and were waiting to reopen, so I saw that as an awesome and rare opportunity to spend a few days in there with a remote recording setup and make a record.” The love for the city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina is obvious, from the funky rock-steady groove of ‘Poison Pushy’ (which should be sampled by, well, everybody), to the second-line stomp of ‘Maple Plank’, to the choppy funk of ‘(Don ’t Be Comin ’ With No)Weak Sauce’, to the ghost-note heaven of ‘Big ‘Uns Get The Ball Rolling’. The latter (what titles, eh?) also features Moore stretching out through some stop time, throwing triplets around like they ’re going out of style, and at the same time showing you why they are definitively not. Complementing Moore on the disc are Hammond B3 king Robert Walter, guitarist Will Bernard, Skerik on tenor sax, and trombonist Mark Mullins. A poignant trio of tunes finishes the disc: Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘Water From An Ancient Well’, an eloquent rendition of Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’, and the traditional ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’. -DZ - Drummer Magazine


"NEVER JUDGE A DRUMMER BY HIS GLASSES"

Have you seen Angels in America?

Remember the scene where the pill-popping, Valium-addicted Mormon wife and the AIDS-inflicted protagonist meet each other in a mutual medication-induced dream? The woman is dumbfounded as to why they are sharing this vision because they had never met prior to the subconscious encounter. She contends that nothing in life is truly original. Every thing that the brain perceives as original is actually a tiny sliver of people, places, and things that we've already experienced in life, amalgamated together to form something that we think is completely new and fresh but is actually just an aggregation of things we already know, just in different shapes and sizes. After I heard that speech, it changed the whole way that I looked at the world. It especially influenced the way I listen to music since it seems to me that so much of current music, from the live music scene to MTV, has all been done before. Just because you are wearing a shorter skirt, two full-sleeve tattoos, or glitter patchwork pants doesn't make you original. Maybe nothing or no one is truly original, but I think Stanton Moore comes pretty close.

Stanton is best known as the percussive groove anchor for Galactic, but his outside projects are numerous, varied, and in my opinion, superior to the work he does with his mainstay band. With each different hat that he wears, Stanton brings a distinctive flavor to each band that is always unmistakably Stanton but also tailored to fit that particular outfit. Before he landed on the West Coast for a California tour with his all-star funk powerhouse ensemble, The Frequinox (Robert Walters, Donald Harrison, Will Bernard, and Robert Mercurio) I caught up with him in New Orleans, the day before Jazz Fest began. He was driving around New Orleans trying to run errands before everything broke loose. "You have five primary projects, correct?" I asked. "Galactic, The Frequinox, Garage a Trois, Moore and More, and the Stanton Moore Trio?" He shot me right down. "Actually, no." Then, he rattled off a lengthy list of recent and regular collaborations with New Orleans artists from Leo Nocentelli to Tim Green. The newest thing on his plate, and what he was most excited about, was his recent recording with Corrosion of Conformity. When I heard that I did a double-take and kind of chuckled - one of those surprised laughs when you're not sure what to say. He laughed with me a little and then got semi-serious.

"It's hardcore, really. It's a killer record and honestly one of the coolest things I've ever been a part of," he explained. "It's a real roots heavy metal sound, like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Skynyrd." I asked him if it was a challenge to play for a hardcore band, since his sound and style is so distinctly funk-infused. "No, it wasn't hard at all. Before I ever listened to the Meters or Coltrane, I was listening to Black Sabbath. Sabotage was the first record I had when I was 11, so it was real natural to go back to heavy metal. And those guys had a lot of the same influences that I did, like Elvin Jones, Earle Palmer, Bonham. It's pretty fuckin' cool."

When I saw the Frequinox at The Independent on May 6th, I could hear hardcore elements pounding out of the drum kit. While this group is without a doubt a star-laden collective, Stanton was the omnipotent force that strung the whole thing together. Granted, that is the job of any drummer - to lay down the foundation of the groove, but in this setting, Moore's presence and rhythm were overwhelming. He jumped to his feet more than once and pummeled his kit with solid aggression. Interwoven with undeniable funk beats was a hard metal energy that was nothing short of electrifying. It was especially intriguing to me when I reflected on our conversation. I asked him to give me a brief rundown of (what I consider to be) his four most prominent projects: Galactic, Garage a Trois, Moore and More, and the Frequinox.

"Galactic is about taking vintage New Orleans funk and putting a new spin on it, like looping. It's a big beat sound about making the groove relentless – an instant head-bobbing kind of thing. Moore and More started out as my way to work on playing and learning more jazz. We were playing a lot of Wayne Shorter and Elvin Jones, but it evolved into this dance/jazz/funk group because audiences were expecting a party instead of sit-down jazz. (The Stanton Moore Trio has since emerged as his more pure listening jazz group.) Charlie Hunter and Skerik played with me on the first Moore and More record and that evolved into Garage a Trois. That band is all about creating grooves that didn't exist before. Charlie chose to put things in different scales, and that forced all of us to write in new ways. So I would have something like a Brazilian rhythm in the right hand, a Mardi Gras Indian beat in the left hand, and an Afro-Cuban in the bass drum."

(Think about that for a second. I can barely walk my dog and talk on the phone at same time without running the risk of impaling myself on a parking meter - or worse.)

"The Frequinox was originally a super jam kind of thing, but we had such fun doing it that we all felt like 'Damn, we gotta do this more!' For that group, anything from 1969 - 1974 funk is fair game. Meters, James Brown, Booker T and the MGs - all of the stuff we grew up listening to we could just play and have it be fun and funky. We didn't have to worry about doing something new, we could just play funk and write tunes within that same style. Of course, you put Donald Harrison on pretty much anything, and it's bound to be funky. It's really natural playing with these guys."

Their comfort level was matched by the level of musicianship, which was exceptional. It was New Orleans in San Francisco for a night; an undeniably funky dance party that you hoped would go on for hours. Will Bernard's guitar licks were intuitive, creating symbiotic grooves with his band mates without veering into the self-indulgent wailing guitar zone. Robert Walter is a skilled keyboardist, and while I love the sound of a Hammond B3, he sounded most captivating on the Fender Rhodes. I've read a lot of press about this band that describes it as the intersection of New Orleans boogaloo and West Coast soul-jazz. The songs with Walter on the Rhodes made that press package banter come true. It was a unification of two styles to create a new sound. Donald Harrison's saxophone work was startling, daring, and evocative. It is true – just add Harrison for a funky good time. I was indifferent about Robert Mercurio's bass skill prior to this evening, but his bass lines were complex, improvisational, and original. Or course it is possible that it was just little pieces of other bass players that I've heard over the course of my life combined together to create something that I only thought was original, but even if that was the case, I was still impressed. There were elements of Les Claypool, Oteil Burbridge, George Porter Jr., and Christian McBride channeled into one bassist. It was a complete package.

Even with this mountain of sheer musical excellence on stage, it would have been lost without Stanton behind the kit. When you go to Galactic's website, Stanton Moore is the first thing you see for a reason. This unassuming man with Buddy Holly glasses is a juggernaut of rhythm. He re-invents himself every time he sits behind his kit to bring a sound that is fresh and unique. Maybe nothing is original, but Stanton Moore is inimitable. When is Corrosion of Conformity coming to town? - Jambase


"MAN OF 1,000 FACES"

Ever wish you were a master of disguise?

In just these past few months, Stanton Moore has: gigged and recorded with his main band, the masters of cosmic New Orleans funk, Galactic; laid down drum tracks for metal leviathans Corrosion Of Conformity on In The Arms Of God, their first album in four years, and joined them on the road with Motörhead; conspired with tenstring guitar wizard Charlie Hunter, percussionist Mike Dillon, and sax innovator Skerik to invent grooves never before played under the auspices of their avant/improv project Garage à Trois; buzz-rolled and parade-thumped through century-old traditional jazz classics with the Preservation Hall Band; whisked brushes across snare and cymbal for a whispery trio gig at a fancy restaurant; shared the secrets of the second-line groove on a pair of instructional videos; written a book; and even stayed still long enough to be interviewed by DRUM!

What’s more impressive is that none of these personas is a disguise; each offers a glimpse of the real Stanton Moore from another angle.

More than mastering the New Orleans clavé, or walking the line between straight and swung eighths, or blowing a fresh breeze through the cobwebs of metal drumming, in the end, the most important lesson exemplified by Stanton Moore is: you can play any music you love.

Make no mistake, Stanton Moore loves metal. Sure, he’s become kind of a roving ambassador for the music of New Orleans, with its unique mixtures of Afro-Cuban, marching band, and other flavors. But he put in his share of time listening to bands with big drums and screeching guitars too – and like most drummers, he nurtured a serious jones in particular for John Bonham.

“Actually,” he remembers, “before I was into New Orleans music at all I was stringing lights around the ceiling of my room, turning them on, and playing to all these Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Jimi Hendrix records. I still remember the first record I ever actually owned. I got it when I was nine or ten, something like that, from this family friend who also had the first drum set I ever saw in person. This dude had [Black Sabbath’s] Sabotage, which he gave to me. I went home, put it on the turntable, and I was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ It starts off heavy, and I’m like, ‘All right, yeah, this is cool.’ Then it just stops and goes into this triplet acoustic thing, and I’m like, ‘Is the record broken? Is that why he gave it to me?’”

In discovering British proto-metal before getting hip to the music being played a few miles away along Bourbon Street, Moore was not that different from a lot of kids coming up in the city today. “There’s still not that much awareness of the culture that surrounds New Orleans,” he says. “Knowing that, I went back to my high school a while ago and did a clinic with Galactic. We started off by playing a bit of our stuff. Then we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to play a tune like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. How many of you guys know about them?’ Out of 80 or 100 kids, maybe ten or 15 raised their hands. And when we played a Meters tune after that, the same ten or 15 kids said they know who the Meters are. These kids were born and raised in New Orleans! But I didn’t know who they were either when I was their age.”

- Drum Magazine


"GALACTIC'S STANTON: HIS TIME HAS COME"

One of the marks of greatness in a musician is that you can recognize him after the first couple of notes. Take, for example, New Orleans legend Johnny Vidacovich, who once showed a young student named Stanton Moore a thing or two about playing looser and more slap-happy. As soon as Vidacovich lays sticks to hear, you can tell it’s him. He’s that funky – and he’s got a sound.

Today that’s what everybody’s saying about Stanton Moore. The instant you hear one of Moore’s monstrous grooves, stuttering press rolls, or “jalopy” tom fills, you recognize him. The thirty-one-year-old drummer is that funky – and, man, we haven’t even started to talk about his sound.

When Stanton gets behind his kit with Galactic, or with one of his many side projects such as Garage A Trios or Moore & More, there’s no doubt who it is. Call his sound infectious. Call it part jazz-meets-Bonham. Call it nouveau second-line., No matter; whether he’s boppin’ behind and 18” champagne-sparkle jazz kick or battle-worn old 26”, Stanton is serving up new-style funk.

Maybe it’s a little easier to be funky if you’re born in New Orleans and have the likes of Johnny V. steering you right. But it takes something very special to rise to the top, as Stanton has done, and assume a place among the greats – drummers who’ve risen from the melting pot of Latin, second-line, rhythm & blues, jazz, and funk. New Orleans, after all, is where Earl Palmer, one of the slickest drummers ever, started out. It was also home to James Black, a multi-faceted musician people still talk about in hushed tones. And it was fertile ground for the snappy grooves of Meters drummer Zigaboo Modeliste. That’s some lineage.

Moore is clearly next in line. His band Galactic has emerged proudly from the New Orleans scene, and after a slew of albums and relentless touring, has become the group that other emulate. Without so much as planning it, Galactic has managed to tap into today’s pulse while proudly hanging onto yesterday’s vibe. The band’s latest release, Ruckus, proves just that.

The focal point of Galactic is Moore. The Crescent City literally oozes out of him. The life, the food, the marching, the sweaty nightlife—it’s all there. At a live show with Galactic, all eyes are on Stanton. As one fan proclaimed on the heels of the band’s recent performance at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, "Stanton is the center of the Galactic universe." He’s a man in motion, his hands freely traversing his kit, clicking sticks on the rims or shells, beating a jingly thud out of his de-tuned pandeiro, or even standing up and playing the front side of his ride cymbal. And when he kicks the groove into overdrive with his auxiliary bass drum, a 26" monster, it’s a sub woofer from hell. The crowd goes wild.

No question, Moore’s time has come. He’s everywhere—on tour, on record, and in clinic. Stanton recently won the Eric A. Bergquist award for being one of the top clinicians of the year. He’s just completed writing a book on funk and New Orleans drumming. (An accompanying DVD was just filmed and features Stanton performing with New Orleans music royalty George Porter, Ivan Neville, and The Dirty Dozen horns.) Besides having already released two solo albums, Stanton recently contributed a track to the MD/Magna Carta collaborative CD, Drum Nation. And now he’s receiving calls to produce other bands. It seems everybody wants a piece of Stanton Moore.

MD: Let’s start off by discussing your most recent solo album, Flyin’ The Koop. It marked the debut of that mighty bass drum. What’s the story behind that drum?

Stanton: Every year for the last eight or nine, Galactic has played Lundi Gras, which is the night before Mardi Gras. Then, once the sun comes up, we hit the Julu parade and march around playing and looking for the Mardi Gras Indians. They’re something people like to see, and they don’t have a route drawn out, so you have to go find them.

We have our own little crew, started by the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, which is a band [Galactic saxophonist] Ben Ellmas and I played in for several years. Being that Klezmer is Jewish music and we were following the Zulu parade, we started calling our selves The Crew Of Julu. I was supposed to bring a bass drum to march with, but at the time I didn’t have any drum other than a vintage Slingerland I was using at Benn’s [club].

Then I noticed that at Benny’s there was this big 26” bass drum hanging on the wall. Felix, who ran the club, let me borrow it. It had calf heads on both sides and Mardi Gras beads hanging on it. I put some duct tape on strategic spots and made it sound pretty good, then went out and played it and had a blast. And then, before I could give it back, the club closed down and Felix told me, “Just keep it.”

I started creating loops with the drum and it sounded really cool, especially when you compressed the heck out of it. So I started thinking, What if I add it to my kit and play it with a remote pedal? I had a double pedal lying around, so I started bringing that pedal and bass drum to gigs. So now I have two different bass drums for two different sounds, and I play each with my right foot.

On the new Galactic record, Ruckus, it’s the only bass drum I used. Aside from a few sample, it’s the one. On “Bittersweet,” “Gypsy Fade,” “The Moil”-on all those, it’s that big bass drum.

MD: Did you have to muffle the drum to record it?

Stanton: I think we used a strip of tape on the batter side and maybe a little piece of duct tape on the front. Sometimes we may have leaned a pillow up against it, too. But any muffling was on the outside of the drum; there wasn’t a single thing inside.

I wasn’t really intending on using that bass drum on the whole record, but Mike Napolitano, our engineer, suggested we set up a sort of Flintstones kit with congas for toms. I had a cross between a djembe and a floor tom that somebody made for me. I was using a Remo Mondo snare that a friend loaned me. All the drums had either calfskin heads or simulated calfskin heads. On the big bass drum, the calf heads had split, so there was a Fiberskyn on the audience side and an Ambassador on the batter side.

That drum doesn’t even have a pin in the center of the shell for a lug, just the long rods across the shell. You turn the rods and they tension both batter and audience-side heads. It’s bare-bones!

MD: I know that on Flyin’ the Koop, you used Bosphorus cymbals. But on your previous solo album, All Kooked Out!, ou used old A Zildjian cymbals. I could have sworn they were old K’s. Those cymbals sounded so good.

Stanton: Thanks. On All Kooked Out!, the ride was an A Zildian 20” from maybe the mid- to late- ‘60s, and the pang was a mid- to late- ‘70s model. The hi-hats were a mis-matched pair of 13s that I found at two different pawnshops in Florida. The top was an ‘80s K, but not the bottom… it looks like a K, but it has no stamp, and some kid painted “Paiste” across the bottom. It has a small center hole like an old cymbal, and it’s really hammered.

One of those cymbals was an A Zildian pang. Now with Bosphorus, we’ve designed a similar pang type of cymbal and we’re into several prototypes. The one I’m using right now is like, Caw! It’s not very China-ish at all-it’s buttery, and if anything it’s a hair less cantankerous than the Zildjian pang. By that, I mean there’s a little less attack.

I still have all those A Zildians. Back then, what I really wanted were old Turkish-made Ks, but they were getting hard to find. Besides, I couldn’t really afford them, so I would find old As at pawnshops for something like eighty bucks. I’d choose the ones with a darker sound.

MD: So do Bosphorus cymbals measure up to old Ks?

Stanton: I think that Bosphorus makes great cymbals. There’s never going to be anything that’s exactly like an old K, but, to be honest, I like a lot of my Bosphorus cymbals more than most K’s I’ve heard. I have a few old Ks that are killing, and the Bosphorus are definitely in that lineage-the hand-hammered Turkish tradition – but they’re not necessarily trying to copy old Ks.

I love to have guys come over to the house and bring their cymbals. I’ve got my own cymbals on shelves behind my drums, and we just keep pulling cymbals out and playing them. I get to hear a lot of cymbals that guys have spent fifteen hundred dollars on, or traded this or that for, and some are great cymbals.

MD: On Flyin’ The Koop, what drums were you using?

Stanton: I was using the same kit I used at the Modern Drummer Festival: the big bass drum along with the Gretsch 18” bass drum and the 12” and 14” toms. For that album, we experimented with mic’ placement and got the drums sounding good.

MD: On “Fallin’ Off The Floor,” in which you have the Mardi Gras Indians chanting, what rhythm are you playing?

Stanton: It’s basically a 2-3 clave. There are two rhythms going on : a loop of this rhythm that I call “The Magnolia Special.” which is my interpretation of the Mardi Gras Indian stuff, and this other New Orleans-type rhythm I’m playing between the panderio and a snare drum with the snares off.

MD: On the track “Let’s Go,” which is kind of a rolling Bo Diddley beat, you rode and crashed a lot of cymbals. If you were to re-cut that track today, would you do all of that cymbal work? The reason I ask is that on Ruckus, there’s hardly any cymbals to be heard.

Stanton: Yeah! Our goal with Ruckus was to create grooves that were super relentless and head-bopping, so that the listener couldn’t stop moving. Whereas on Flyin’ The Koop- and when I’m left to my own devices- I like to play more interactively and expressively. I like to blur the lines between jazz and funk. With Ruckus, we decided to make all of the grooves clobber you over the head?: It was definitely less of a jazz approach.

MD: Did the Ruckus experience shape your style permanently, or do you still have the other side waiting to come out?

Stanton: Oh, of course! I’m putting together my next solo record, and it’s going to be definitely more along with the lines of Flyin’ The Koop. What you’re talking about is where my heart is- but it’s with Galactic, too. And I get to play like that with Garage A Trois too. my side project with Charlie Hunter, Mike Dillon, and Skerik.

MD: “Magnolia Triangle” [from Flyin’ The Koop] fascinates me. The composer is James Black: Did you get a chance to see him play?

Stanton: Unfortunately, he passed away when I was in high school and before I was aware of him. In some circles, he’s spoken of in the same breath as James Booker and Professor Longhair. But the thing is that James Black was so far ahead of his time and so erratic as an individual, that he never got recorded that much. He had some great gigs, though , like with Yusef Lateef.

I’m going to tell you about two recordings you have to find. There’s The Classic Ellis Marsalis: It’s mind-blowing to hear how James Black was so ahead of his time as a drummer and composer. “Magnolia Triangle” is a fourteen-bar tune in five. Another tune, “Dee Wee,” has six bars of three as the intro and then the A section is four bars of five, a measure of three, and then four bars of five. In ’63, this guy was playing polyrhythms that blow me away today, and they’re over bars of five. And he’s crossing the bar lines! Black was playing stuff people still can’t play today.

Another record is Eddie Bo’s Hook & Sling. It was recorded in 1969. The first Meters record came out in 1969 as well. Either James Black was playing Zig’s [Zigaboo Modeliste] stuff before Zig was playing it, or they were both playing that stuff at the same time. James Black was the man in New Orleans.

MD: Let’s move on to Galactic’s latest work, Ruckus. The first thing you hear is that strong descending fill, followed by absolute bottom end. Observation one: Your fills have changed. They still swing, but you’re so much more "on the beat" and nailing them. All I can think of is John Bonham.

Stanton: Cool! With this record, there was definitely a lot of that. In the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to think of ways of adding intensity to a groove without necessarily having to play more notes or play louder. The main way of doing that is "straightening out" the notes a little bit. I’m swinging a little bit less and moving a little more towards straight. Then every now and then I’ll play a fill that comes out swung, because that’s the way I play, and the contrast works.

MD: That’s really a John Bonham thing.

Stanton: Oh yeah, totally! That’s one of the things I dig about Bonham, Zig, Keith Moon, and Mitch Mitchell. Those guys grew up playing shuffled 8th notes and listening to blues and jazz. When they tried to straighten this stuff out, they couldn’t help but swing it a little bit. I’m always experimenting with that place between straight and swung.

MD: How does a larger bass drum affect your style?

Stanton: That big bass drum enabled us to make everything super fat. With that drum I was tending to play less as a jazz player and interactively, which is usually the way I play funk. I like to blur the lines between jazz and funk and improvise on the groove – just float through it. The big bass drum made me think a little more from the bottom up; it’s more of a meet ‘n’ potatoes thing.

MD: Forward to Ruckus. On “Bongo Joe,” what’s the woman on the sample saying to her child?

Stanton: It’s in Japanese. We’ve been to Japan several times, and Ben [Ellman] is enamored with Japanese culture. For that track, he found some Japanese dialog off a cartoon and sampled it.

MD: And for the second time on the album, we’ve got that beautiful juxtaposition of harmonica and fat bottom end. Is that snare the Remo Mondo?

Stanton: I think it is. Ben came in with a loop and I played all over it. I let the loop run and then came up with a groove. Then this harmonica part came to my mind. We were going for a spaghetti-western vibe, and the harmonica seemed right.

MD: In “Gypsy Fade,” you’re doing this neat little cross-stick flam. Can you explain how you created this sound?

Stanton: It’s something I caught when I saw Erykah Badu in Philly. I’m playing cross-stick with my left hand and hi-hat with my right, but when it comes to the backbeat, I’m hitting my right stick on top of my left stick, which is still resting on the snare drum for the cross-stick. I can open it up by widening the flam that the two sticks make.

MD: I understand that you used a different sort of “click track” for Ruckus.

Stanton: Yeah, I’d go in and play a groove and get everybody’s agreement on the feel and tempo. I’d record it and then we’d pick one bar and loop it. So then I’d have a loop of myself to play to. Doing that makes it much less mechanical than playing with a click track. Sometimes we would layer other sounds on the loop, like brake drum sounds, and everybody would go, “Wow, that’s crazy. Let’s go play. This will be fun!”

I actually started doing that on Flyin’ The Koop. You can take the loop out after, or you can use part of it and run it through a speaker and stick the speaker in a trash can and mike the trash can! If you play on top of that groove, it’s going to give you consistency throughout the tune.

We’re always trying to take new technology in a way that feels comfortable to us. Yeah we’re playing to loops, but we’re playing to loops of me. Even though we all use old, vintage instrument, we try to put a new spin on it. At one time I was a purist and didn’t want to deal with technology, but now I’m learning that you can create art with it.

MD: On “Uptown Odyssey,” we hear that unique “cross-stick flam” again. I kept thinking you were going to go to the open snare, but you held back until the end of the song.

Stanton: I was going to the open snare on the chorus, but Rob [Mercurio, bassist] said it sounded better on cross-stick. To me, while I was playing it, it sounded better going to open snare, but when I listened back, I realized he was right. We’re all open to suggestions in this band. When I finally went to the open snare, I think it was my Slingerland reissue 6 ½ x 14 solid-shell Radio King. I’ve had nothing but good luck with that drum.

MD: “Kid Kenner”: To me, it’s almost a soul beat meets electronica, a real bouncing groove.

Stanton: That one is right hand on the cowbell and left hand alternating between hi-hat and snare drum. I made a loop and ran it through a Comptortion pedal and compressed the hell out of it. That loop is the beginning of the tune before you hear the acoustic guitar, and then there’s a part where I’m playing four on the floor while my left hand is on the panderio-that’s the jingle sound you hear.

MD: “Tenderness” is a cover, but for the life of me I can’t place it. Sounds like an old ballad.

Stanton: No, that’s the old General Public tune we slowed down.

MD: What are you hitting before the chorus to make that clicking sound?

Stanton: I’m glad you asked about that. Again, I played a loop and superimposed some sounds and made it fat. Then I went and played live drums over it. Then I played a rhythm very similar to the loop on “Fallin’ off the Floor.” There are several levels, and one of them is me playing on the rim or side of the floor tom. It was out producer’s idea to do implied New Orleans stuff underneath.

MD: You say you never play a double pedal in the conventional manner. But in “All Behind You Now,” there are sections where I could have sworn you were using a double pedal with two beaters on one drum.

Stanton: One of the things I did was play a four-on-the-floor pattern into the Boomerang [phrase sampler], and then “reversed” it in the Boomerang. It comes out “whoosh, wick, whoosh,” and then I’ll take that and play something more involved over the top of it. Next I’ll overdub that in the Boomerang and reverse that, so that the more involved stuff is now reversed. So what you might be hearing during the guitar and drum breakdown is the backwards loop again.

What’s really hilarious is that I did the initial sample at a sound check while our monitor guy, John Hardee, was testing a Wurlitzer piano. You can hear a chromatic scale in the background. Check it out at the beginning of the song. At the guitar breakdown, I’m playing a Brazilian samba, with that reversed loop underneath.

MD: Which brings us to the last song on Ruckus, “Doomed,” with its Bonham-like instruction.

Stanton: This one, again, I created in the Boomerang. It’s a two-bar loop and I ran it through a flanger and Sans amp, which is a guitar preamp that crunches up the sound. The funny thing is that it sounds great on everything except guitar, but it sounds really good on drums!

Once you’ve got your thing looped, you can put it through any guitar effects box. This tune has no live drums; it’s all loops. What happens around 1:23 is that we copy the original loop, then start it up, this time a 16th note late: It’s sort of “stuttering.”

MD: You have a ton of charisma onstage when you’re performing with Galactic. Are you conscious about the extent to which people see you as the center of the group?

Stanton: Not really, especially touring this latest record. I feel like I’m playing songs a little big more.

MD: It seems that you’re hitting harder and using more matched grip on stage than earlier in your career. When I saw you with Moore & More, I thought you were playing softer and that you were using more traditional grip.

Stanton: I tend to use traditional grip when I play jazz, or more of the New Orleans second-line stuff. But I like to play backbeats with matched grip. With Galactic, we’ve definitely been hitting harder, but then I started backing off and making a conscious effort to play quieter.

At the start of the last tour, I was cracking my maple 5As left and right, so I switched to hickory 5As. After I made an effort to play looser, though, I went back to the maples and could go through an entire gig without breaking a stick. Again, it’s about playing with intensity but not bashing. Bonham was a master of that. Sure, he had bigger sticks and big drums, but he wasn’t really hitting them that hard.

Watch Led Zeppelin’s DVD. When Bonham chokes up on the right stick he’s got a giant, gaping hole between his thumb and forefinger. It looks to me as if he’s using the thumb and middle finger as a fulcrum, which is what I do, and not the thumb and forefinger, because there’s less tension. If you pinch the thumb and first finger, you see the tendons tighten up. Pinch the thumb and the middle finger and there’s no tension.

Lately, even with traditional grip, I’ve been experimenting with pinching between the thumb and the middle finger. But the funny thing is that I was looking at a picture of me playing—and there wasn’t a single finger touching the stick! I was playing so loose, just using my thumb and my hand.

MD: With a 26” bass drum, I’m presuming it’s a similar loose technique and that you’re releasing the beater from the head in order to get full resonance.

Stanton: I always release the beater.

MD: And what we’re hearing, live and in the studio, are bass drums with no holes in the front heads?

Stanton: Live with Galactic, there’s a 4” hole in the 20”. With Garage à Trois, there’s no hole. And the 26” never has a hole. On Emphasizer, with Garage à Trois, and Flyin’ The Koop, that’s an 18” with no hold.

I think the hole is easier for engineers to deal with. Our engineer likes the hole for big rooms because he can open up the low and in the EQ and make it fat. If I give him something that’s already fat, it’s hard to take that and put it through the PA. It’s weird because my 26” sounds wide open and gargantuan and has no hole. It’s miked from the player’s side. Usually with an 18” or 20” with no hole, I’m miking from the batter side; I’m coming up from under the floor tom. the Audix D6 works well for that.

MD: You’ve recently gone to a 12” first tom and a 16” floor tom. Any changes in your approach to tuning?

Stanton: I nearly always use coated Ambassadors on everything- the top and bottom of my toms, the snare batter and snare side, and the bass drum. I’ll tune them up a little more for a jazz gig, but in general I tune the bottom head a little bit higher than the top. I don’t fight the drum: I find out where the drum likes to sit. I don’t necessarily tune way high.

My Gretsch drums have a wide tuning span, but I try not to get them too high or too low. Nowadays, if I’m going to tuine them up or down, I’ll mess mostly with the top heard and leave the bottom one along, maybe keep it a little tighter.

MD: How would you describe the difference between the new Gretsch drums and your vintage round-badge Gretsch kit?

Stanton: Just last night I had a friend over. We opened up a bottle of wind and set up my new Gretsches- 12”, 14
. and 18”- and then we set up the old round badge kit in the same sizes. It may be an unfair comparison, because I haven’t replaced the new Gretsch bottoms with coated Ambassadors, which mellow out the tone. But the main difference I hear is that, with the new drums, the overtones are a little wilder. The drums sound really good, and I was pleasantly surprised.

MD: You’re involved in a staggering number of projects. Can you outline some of these?

Stanton: Besides working with Galactic, I’ve done two hours in the last few months with Garage à Trois. I’m playing tonight with Moore & More, opening up for The Meters. I’m working on a book: my take on New Orleans drumming and how I apply it to funk. They’ll be a DVD along the same lines, to mirror what I cover in my clinics and the book. I’m working on a 20” “trash-crash ride” with Bosphorus. We’re going to call the other cymbal I told you about a “Pang Thang.” I contributed a track to the Drum Nation CD. And I co-produced an album with Robert Mercurio for The Greyhounds. They’re a Texas organ trio, but they also have vocals, which is hip. The drum sound is great.

MD: How’s the rest of 2004 looking?

Stanton: Galactic will be going to Japan, Australia, and Europe. We’re starting writing for a new Galactic album, I’m working on my next solo record, and I’m still playing with Moore & More.

MD: Any hints on staying sane when you get so busy?

Stanton: I don’t know. I dig what I’m doing. I have a girlfriend and I miss her when I’m away, but I guess I’ve gotten used to life on the road. Things have been good. - Modern Drummer


Discography

III (Telarc Records, 2006)
STANTON MOORE
Stanton Moore, Robert Walter, Will Bernard, Skerik, Mark Mullins

AFTER THE RAIN (Rounder Records, 2006)
IRMA THOMAS
Irma Thomas, David Torkanowsky, James Singleton, Stanton Moore, Sonny Landreth, Corey Harris & others...

SUPER HEAVY ORGAN (Magnatude Records, 2005)
ROBERT WALTER
Robert Walter, James Singleton, Stanton Moore, Johnny Vidacovich

OUTRE MER (Spire Artists Media, 2005)
GARAGE A TROIS
Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Skerik & Mike Dillon

IN THE ARMS OF GOD (Sanctuary Records, 2005)
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
Pepper Keenan, Woodroe Weatherman, Mike Dean, Stanton Moore

TAKE YOU HIGHER:
THE SONGS OF SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE (Magna Carta Records, 2003)
THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION
Kai Eckhardt , Michael Lee Firkins, Cochemea (Cheme) Gastelum, areed Haque, Charlie Hitchcock, Eric Levy, Stanton Moore, Chuck Prada, Robert Walter

RUCKUS (Sanctuary Records, 2003)
GALACTIC
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

EMPHASIZER (Tone Cool Records, 2003)
GARAGE A TROIS
Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Skerik & Mike Dillon

VINTAGE RESERVE (Volcano Records, 2003)
GALACTIC
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

FLYIN' THE KOOP (Blue Thumb/Verve Records, 2002)
STANTON MOORE
Stanton Moore, Karl Denson, Skerik, Chris Wood, Brian Seeger

WE LOVE 'EM TONIGHT (Volcano Records, 2001) GALACTIC (LIVE AT TIPITINA'S)
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

THE HOUSEMAN COMETH (Bullseye Jazz & Blues Records, 2001)
THERYL "HOUSEMAN" DE'CLOUET
Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman & others...

MADE IN MEDINA (Barclay Records, 2001)
RACHID TAHA
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel & others...

MONEY SHOT (Fog City Records, 2000) ROBERT WALTER'S 20TH CONGRESS
Robert Walter, Cochemea Gastellum, David Carano, Stanton Moore & others...

LATE FOR THE FUTURE (Capricorn Records, 2000) GALACTIC
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

ORGAN-IZED (High Street Records, 1999) VARIOUS ARTISTS
Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Benjamin Ellman, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, and others...

MYSTERYFUNK EP (Fog City Records, 1998) GARAGE A TROIS
Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Skerik

ALL KOOKED OUT! (Fog City Records, 1998) STANTON MOORE
Stanton Moore, Charlie Hunter, Skerik

CRAZYHORSE MONGOOSE (Capricorn Records, 1998) GALACTIC
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Ben Ellman, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

WELCOME TO HIGH SIERRA (High Sierra Records, 1998)
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Clarence Johnson, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Jason Mingledorff and others...

THE BIG KIBOSH (Shanachie, 1997)
NEW ORLEANS KLEZMER ALLSTARS
Ben Ellman, Robert Wagner, Rick Perles, Glenn Hartman, Jonathan Freilich, Arthur Kastler, Stanton Moore & others...

EPONYMOUS DEBUT (Sousaphonk Records, 1997) ALL THAT
Davis Rogan, Keith "Wolf" Anderson, Ben Ellman, Kirk Joseph, Stanton Moore, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet & others...

MANICHALFWITZ (Gert Town Records, 1996)
NEW ORLEANS KLEZMER ALLSTARS
Ben Ellman, Robert Wagner, Rick Perles, Glenn Hartman, Jonathan Freilich, Arthur Kastler, Stanton Moore & others...

COOLIN' OFF (Fog City Records, 1996) GALACTIC
Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, Theryl "The Houseman" de Clouet

IS THAT JAZZ? (Ubiquity Records, 1995)
VARIOUS ARTISTS
Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Clarence Johnson, Jeff Raines, Rich Vogel, and others...

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Born and raised in New Orleans (and living there still, when he’s not on the road), Stanton Moore is very much a product of geography, culture and creative networking. He grew up in the thriving music scene of his hometown that included Professor Longhair, Doctor John, the Meters and countless other Big Easy mainstays.

In the early ‘90s, Moore hooked up with guitarist Jeff Raines, bassist Robert Mercurio and keyboardist Rich Vogel and saxophonist Ben Ellman to form the New Orleans-based “steam-roller” funk band known as Galactic. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in music and business from Loyola University, Moore and the band made their first record (the widely acclaimed Coolin’ Off) and hit the road to do nearly 200 gigs a year for the first ten years of Galactic’s existence. The band has since released five more albums since Coolin’ Off, and continues to amass a worldwide audience via recording and touring globally.

Aided by eight-string guitar virtuoso Charlie Hunter and saxophonist Skerik (Les Claypool, John Scofield, Roger Waters), Moore launched his solo career in the late ‘90s with the All Kooked Out!, an album recorded in New Orleans just after Mardi Gras in 1998 and released later that year. In addition to the Moore-Hunter-Skerik core, All Kooked Out! also featured a handful of New Orleans horn players, including Brent Rose, Brian Seeger, Matt Perrine, Ben Ellman, and former Sun Ra trumpeter Michael Ray. Moore extended the solo discography with the 2001 release of Flyin’ the Koop (Verve/Blue Thumb).

In the midst of Moore’s All Kooked Out! sessions, yet another concept was taking shape. Outtakes from the session turned into the first Garage a Trois release, Mysteryfunk (1999). In 2000, the trio was augmented by percussionist Mike Dillon (Les Claypool, Ani DeFranco) and has since released two more albums – Emphasizer in 2003 and Outre Mer (on Telarc) in 2005 – both with Moore behind the drum kit.

Moore continues his Telarc affiliation with the September 2006 release of III, his third solo recording. In addition to a trademark sound that Modern Drummer calls “infectious, jazz-meets-Bonham, nouveau second-line,” III also features organist Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars, The Head Hunters), guitarist Will Bernard (T.J. Kirk, Doctor Lonnie Smith), along with a few special guests: Skerik and trombonist Mark Mullins (Galactic, Bonerama, Harry Connick, Jr., Better Than Ezra).The album was recorded at the legendary Preservation Hall in New Orleans.

Moore has also been keeping busy with a myriad of side projects. In 2005, he released an educational project covering his approach to New Orleans drumming called Take It to the Street, comprised of a book/CD and two DVDs. The project has been very well received and has won numerous accolades, including 4.5- and 5-star ratings from Modern Drummer magazine and first and second place in the 2006 MD readers poll. The project covers both the traditional and modern approaches to new Orleans second-line drumming and features the Dirty Dozen, George Porter, Jr., and Ivan Neville. To support this project, Moore has been traveling the globe performing one-man clinics (sometimes with band support) and master classes. He has appeared at the Modern Drummer Festival weekend, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Drummer’s Collective (NYC) and Drummer Live (the main UK drum magazine’s festival).

He stays very involved in education, constantly teaching private lessons in New Orleans and on the road. He was a contributing writer for Drum! magazine and is currently a regular writer for Modern Drummer, which featured him on their April 2004 cover. Showing a rare versatility, he appeared (within the same year) on Heavy Metal Grammy nominees Corrosion of Conformity’s In the Arms of God, Irma Thomas’ After the Rain and Robert Walter’s Super Heavy Organ. In 2005, he launched a signature line of cymbals with Bosphorus Cymbals and a signature drum stick with the Vic Firth stick company.

Despite some severe property damage and other personal setbacks in the aftermath of Katrina, Moore was quick to lend a hand to other drummers in New Orleans by donating cymbals and other gear to musicians whose equipment was damaged by the storm. He has also played a number of benefit concerts in the past year to help raise money for Katrina victims. He recently spearheaded the Tipitina’s Music Workshop to work with young and developing musicians in the New Orleans area. The workshop will focus on the preservation of New Orleans music and culture and will host a rotating cast of well known local and national musicians to work with the attendees. He continues to play dates throughout the Big Easy as well as globally with an ever-evolving cast of musicians: John Scofield; Karl Denson; George Porter, Jr., and Leo Nocentelli (of the Meters); Charlie Hunter; Warren Haynes; John Medeski and John Wood (of Medeski, Martin and Wood); Donald Harrison Jr.; Robert Walt