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About SPIKE the Percussionist
SPIKE the Percussionist is a classically trained performer and composer who studied under percussion guru and Yamaha performing artist Dr. Norman Weinberg, author of Guide to Standardized Drumset Notation and The Electronic Drummer. A master of acoustic percussion, SPIKE is also an expert programmer and electronic music expert with a degree in audio engineering. While most drummers with SPIKE's talent and training would have headed for a career in classical symphony or jazz composition, SPIKE took an entirely different route. Inspired by Dr. Weinberg's advocacy of technological advances in percussion and his own inventiveness (SPIKE's award-winning sophomore recital was the first entirely electronic composition ever performed by a percussion student in competition), SPIKE focused his formidable abilities on ambient noiz and electro-industrial, two burgeoning, but at that time obscure, genres of music. "When I started back in the 80s, nobody was doing what I was doing. I am the only drummer I have ever heard of who actually embraced the coming of the drum machine---and the only one who could actually play along with it. Playing live with, or composing with, a drum machine is an art unto itself with its own set of disciplines and creative boundaries. In short, I came up with some really wild stuff. Things nobody had ever heard before. Now, suddenly there is this huge market for ambient noiz and electro industrial. It blows my mind to think that what I was doing then in my little hometown is suddenly the rage in the international underground and college scenes. If I had only been in New York or L.A. instead of Corpus Christi, Texas!" Like Dr. Weinberg's best-friend Kenny Aranoff, who found success as the drummer for John Cougar Mellencamp, SPIKE longed for the chance to make a living as a musician. Unfortunately, there were no John Cougar Mellencamps in Corpus Christi. While SPIKE's numerous bands achieved some local notoriety throughout the years, their attempts to break into the national scene always fell short. To SPIKE, the frustration was almost unbearable. "Even after I moved to Houston, I just couldn't find the right pieces to the puzzle. The lack of ambition, the irresponsibility, the drug use, the lousy singers with prima donna attitudes---you name it, I dealt with it. Fifteen years of crap. I closed my eyes to a lot of bad signs early on because I wanted to make it so bad. Most guys in local bands can daydream all day with you about making it big. But that is all it is to them---daydreams. They won't make the sacrifices. They have no real ambition. Even the most talented guys, the guys who could play with anybody, they just can't conceive of anything beyond their 9 to 5 job. I am willing to die for my music, to starve, to suffer. I just haven't been able to find anyone on the local scene with that kind of commitment yet." Fortunately, SPIKE never let go of his solo projects, continuing to compose and record his own material, even while devoting himself to his bands. Releasing his work sporadically, SPIKE was surprised to find himself the subject of numerous positive reviews. "Naturally I assumed that the only way I was going to make it was in a band. I mean that is how it works, right? So even though I was recording all this solo stuff in my spare time, I was devoting all my efforts to promoting the band. Every few months, I would send a single or two of my own off, and it would end up on a compilation album. But I was just like 'whatever.' I kept pushing the band. I guess I didn't see the big picture. In fact, it wasn't until just this year that I actually faced up to the fact that I was having much better success as a solo artist and that I should pursue that path. It was hard. I love the dynamics of a band; I love playing with other musicians. But I know now that it has to be the right band. We all have to have the same goals and be willing to put forth the effort. Otherwise, it just doesn't work." For the first time in his long music career, SPIKE the Percussionist is dedicating himself totally to his solo work. And, he says, he has never been happier. "The freedom is wonderful. I'm not tied down anywhere. I can focus entirely on my work. There is a market for what I am doing and I am building a fan base. I don't have to worry about dragging a bunch of unwilling bandmates with me. Sure I still love to play with other musicians, but I can do session work in New York, sit in with jazz combos downtown, work with some other bands in the studio, without feeling that I am neglecting my own group. I am the musical director for the performance group CoRE, something that I enjoy, and it doesn't take all of my time. I feel like I am part of the team rather than the player, coach, and general manager all in one!" All said, the future for SPIKE the Percussionist has never looked brighter or as the man himself would say "darker." "I am a night person," he says. "Dark actually has a more positive connotation to me than bright. Bright is painful. Like looking into the sun. Dark is placid. Dark is peace." As weird as that sounds, he has a point. And isn't that the best way to describe the man himself? His music? For while SPIKE and his music seem to fly in the face of convention, there is a point to it all. It is our job to see it. And if we can't, that is all well and good to SPIKE. "Whether or not you get what I am doing is not important to me. I just ask that you respect the fact that there are plenty of those out there who do and millions who will." And that is what being a visionary is all about.