Janet Weiss Makes Me Modest

A friend mentioned that she was “…incredibly charmed by your @myfriendlisa-related modesty.” There are people who can bang away on drums and then there are talented drummers like Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney. First, my history with Sleater-Kinney and how it ties into my drumming:

When I first moved to Vancouver I fell in with a group of friends who were all big Sleater-Kinney fans. My roommate, Shannon, had picked up their then-new record, All Hands on the Bad One, and we went to the Commodore shortly after to see them perform. I had given Shannon’s records a few spins but Sleater Kinney’s recorded music didn’t grab me. What I didn’t realize when I walked into the Commodore was that I was about to see the best band I’ve ever seen in my life! They blew me away! The next day we were in Seattle and I discovered that SK and Ani Difranco were both playing the Bumbershoot Festival that day so I ditched my friends and went to see two amazing shows. Sleater-Kinney was fantastic and the Ani show was one of the best Ani shows ever!

That was in 2000 and since then I’ve seen SK nearly a dozen times, most of which I’ve traveled to the States to see since they didn’t make the trip up north that often. In 2006 they announced they were splitting up and I scooped up my girlfriend and went down to Portland that summer to watch their last ever performance. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam showed up onstage beforehand to play a few songs and tell us that SK were one of his favorite bands as well.

So what the does this have to do with drumming and modesty?

Sleater-Kinney’s drummer was a girl named Janet Weiss and I firmly believe she’s been the best drummer in rock since John Bonham played for Led Zeppelin. One time when I was at the Showbox in Seattle I found myself captivated by Janet’s assault on the kit and I said to myself that if I ever got back into music I’d become a drummer just like Janet. Fast forward to 2008 when Reilly and I decided to form a band and I jumped into drums like I said I would at that Sleater-Kinney show.

With roughly a year of playing behind me (it’s been more like 2 years but I haven’t been playing consistently during that time) I can hold down a basic beat and throw in a few cymbal splashes here and there for color. Fortunately the music we make with My Friend Lisa isn’t as technically demanding as the last few Sleater-Kinney records and I’ve been able to keep pace with Reilly and Shan, who keep getting better and better each time I hear them. There are some percussive things I want to add to some of our songs but I don’t have the talent or speed to pull them off yet which is part of the reason that I don’t blow my own horn as a drummer.

The main reason I don’t say much about my drumming is that whenever I listen to a Sleater-Kinney record I realize just how far I have to go to be able to play like Janet Weiss. She is seriously amazing on that drum kit and I’ve added “learn 3 Sleater-Kinney songs by year end” to my list of goals for 2010. Once I can play some of the songs that Janet plays then I’ll feel like I can call myself a real drummer.

Here’s a video off their last album for one of my favorite songs – Entertain. They kept playing this song at shows before the album came out and I couldn’t wait for it to get released.

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