Similarities and Influences (Interpol and The Chameleons)

Interpol’s Sam Fogarino has been drumming professionally for nearly 20 years.

Fogarino played with the South Florida act, The Holy Terrors as part of a music scene that also produced Marilyn Manson, Jack Off Jill, Saigon Kick and The Mavericks.

He was asked to join Marilyn Manson after the departure of Sara Lee Lucas in 1995. He turned them down and moved to New York instead. In 1996, Fogarino left South Florida to move to Gainesville (played in a band called Gus, with Jason Lederman), then finally settled in New York City in 1997. He first met guitarist Daniel Kessler in 1998 when he was selling vinyl in Beacon’s Closet, a clothing store in Brooklyn. With more than 10 years playing experience, he joined Interpol in 2000 after original drummer Greg Drudy left the band. Fogarino played his first show for Interpol on May 20, 2000 at the Mercury Lounge.

In early 2007, Fogarino joined with former Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin to form a side-project band called The Setting Suns. Since then, the duo have changed their name to Magnetic Morning and released a six-track EP on iTunes.

Read Sam’s blog post here about drumming and influences: see below







Because Sam’s website is now offline, I’ve copied and pasted the text from the linked above article below courtesy of Images and embedded video are missing…

  …just a drummer?

I’ve been grappling with this… what can only end up being a (fragmented) rhetorical question, for years now. Mainly due to the varying perception on The Drummer being very wide and differing; ranging from the time-keeper as absolutely crucial to “Oh, there’s someone back there?”. The polarized view on this primal form of expression does not only belong to the listener, the critic, or the composer of melody, as it’s shared by many drummers themselves. In a recent interview, Amir “Questlove” Thompson is quoted: “Some people say I’m not great ’cause they think I play the same beat over and over again. I can do the gospel-chops thing. However, I know a million of those gospel drummers who can’t play a straight beat to save their life.” [Modern Drummer – June 2010] Stewart Copeland wrote in his book Strange Things Happen, that he “hates” drum solos. The irony in his statement is brilliant. In contrast to Questlove’s, Copeland’s drumming, if extracted and isolated from a variety of Police songs, could be mistaken for soloing. However, it’s Copeland’s sheer understanding of context that keeps his beats and fills, fluid and seamless, within the body of a Police song. Thus not sounding anything like a display of ego with sticks – or, a drum solo. Drumming, as described by Larry Mullen Jr (U2’s battuer deluxe), is violent” and “visceral“, says the self-tought “street drummer”. I could not agree more with Mullen – even if only by virtue of the necessary physical application to achieve sound from the source. Reference the introduction to the U2’s Bullet The Blue Sky – The raw, but yet stylized, kick drum and snare drum sounds, in tandem with Larry’s clever take on a 6/8 beat, more than effectively launches the song up to soaring heights.  Let’s also take into account the expression of pure power in the polyphony of indeterminate pitch, created by a big, solid drum beat. Led Zeppelin’s When The Levy Breaks, kicks off with one of the most unmistakeable drum intros to a song in post-modern recorded music. My visual translation of John Bonham’s crushing groove, is that of massive steam ship’s engine, slowly propelling the monolithic structure down some deep, dark river – unwavering in it’s course. Even with the simplest of beats; a 4-on-the-floor, no matter how many times it’s been heard, felt, danced to – physically played by the likes of Tony Thompson to Vito Roccoforte, or programmed on a Roland 909, by many Chicago House DJs – the beat remains utterly compelling to most. The list runs long, with introductions to songs led by creative, simplistic and/or, complex drum patterns, only being a fraction of the definitive examples in – just how paramount rhythm and drumming is – period.

Violent, visceral, powerful – the sum of this equation, when added together properly (With no threat to one’s physical person!), creates a formula for true art, but outside of the world of drumgeekdom (or Modern Drummer magazine) – Is drumming viewed as Art? We can ride the rails of subjectivity all-day-long with this one… I, at times, feel that drumming is more of an athletic activity to some drummers, and not so much a craft of musical value – let alone an art form. I’m not very good with debate. Where I grew up for the first 15+ years of my life, on the fringe of inner-city Philadelphia (Illadelphia to Questlove), more specifically – Overbrook, West Philly – arguing an opinion to the unconvinced, no matter how informed, usually ended up in a scrap – or at best, in an angry, ignorant display of dismissal. In managing my post-traumatic West Philly syndrome, I opt to keep the coin two-sided. You fight this one out.

   Beat Apparat

Hip Hop. Pan-Electronic: The 808, SP-12, and the MPC; with Marley Marl or The Bomb Squad, to J Dilla and RZA, making those machines stretch artfully, far beyond the limits of intended purpose, is now and forever in the canon of post-modern technique. Delve into the fine works of the myriad electronic artists/DJs/producers/composers – From Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Diplo, to the lesser known Dalek and The Bug. All of whom command the machine to output sheer beauty – no matter the color of sound, or what emotion is evoked upon listening to the respective works of those artists — and countless others. The Machine, be it computer software like Logic, Ableton Live, or Pro Tools; the wide array of plug-ins, or dedicated physical units such as drum machines, samplers, and sequencers – further provides facility, ultimately demonstrating the importance and versatility of the beat. But, it goes far beyond simpler means. La machine empowers the artist to expand, re-define what a drum (and many other traditional instruments) should/could sound like. The most rudimentary of beats and patterns can take on composite form by means of electronic manipulation – creating multi-layers and voicing, triggered by a single note within a pattern. With the application of reverberation, echo, delay, compression, and a whole world of external effects – instruments of indeterminate pitch have the power to create an atonal, yet beautiful melody.

From A Place called Humility

 I started beating the kit (and stopped again) during various points of my early life. The first time I held a pair of drum sticks was at the age of 5. My parents bought me a (better-than) toy drum kit for Christmas. I soon misplaced one of the sticks. Then, I destroyed the whole set. Perhaps my Mother should have not taken me to see Tommy…. By the age of 12, I re-discovered the instrument, and it’s power – mainly in combination of kick/snare/hats; gravitating to the likes of Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, David Robinson, and the New Romantic beat-keeping of Roger Taylor. Within months of me re-claiming the title of drummer, a band formed in my Mother’s, dank, West Philly basement. Little music and a whole lotta [sic] noise was made. From this point in 1982, I played in several teenaged/living room/basement bands, up until 1990. This was the year that I actually learned how to play for a song – not just to it, or in it. I learned how to interpret what a song needed from me, as a drummer; being in command of a songs temperament, via dynamics, and of course – strong meter. The band I found myself in at this point went by the moniker of The Holy Terrors [REF – Le Enfant Terribles by John Cocteau] – three scraggly post-punkers, two of them from Boston, and the other, a Miami Cubano. The music was rooted in up-beat, late 1970’s punk. However, the chord structures were far from simplistic, the arrangements were complex, and the lyrics read more like Kafka rather than Romone. All of these components forced and molded me into a better listener, then… a better drummer.

So, what do I do with what I’ve been given… with all that I learned over the past two decades? Well, I over think it. That’s what I do. Diving deep into late, nightly analysis; where the eternal debate perpetuates; where the internal voice of insecurity plays the contestant, judge, and, incredulous audience — all being one in the same, in my mental forum. For a self-defined artist, reluctant to wear the badge of “drummer”, as I am, I constantly feel like jumping over the edge of over-compensation – looking for ways not to be placed in the narrow box of just a drummer. Interpol’s former bassist, Carlos Dengler, never really claimed ownership to his title of “Bass player”, but rather found his musical definition and expressive fulfillment in composing on the (faux) ivory keys. All in spite of the fact that he is an incredible bass player. My self-spun plight only differs in the fact that I love the act of drumming, and providing the integral role it serves in the context of rock, and the many other great genres of popular music. So, what in the hell am I talking about? I don’t know – I’m just sayin’.



[Incomplete] ADDENDUM

Sources of inspiration; rhythmical and otherwise – from chops heavy to just heavy. The straight and the angular, and a bit of the in-between….

My Bloody Valentine – “Only Shallow”

Single stroke drum roll = rudimentary perfection. Another example of sonic-iconic, at the top of a great explosion of a track. Colm`O Ciosoig is the man behind the kit in MBV.

David Bowie – “Fame”, “Young Americans”,  “Sound And Vision”,

“Ashes To Ashes”

 It’s no surprise Dennis Davis is the drummer on all four of these timeless pop compositions.

The Beatles – “Tomorrow Never Knows”, “A Day In The Life”, “Come Together”, “The Medley – ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, ‘Sun King’, ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’, ‘Polythene Pam’, ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’, ‘Golden Slumbers’, ‘Carry That Weight’, ‘The End’ “

Um…. Yeah.

Rush – “The Weapon”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Red Lenses”, “The Camera Eye”

The die-hard Neil Peart worshipers are rolling their eyes and scoffing, over the absence of any track[s] from 2112 not being referenced. Too bad. I’m an usual Rush fan. My favorite recordings of theirs are on the albums done through out the early to mid-1980’s. During this period they started employing the use of synth textures more frequently and prominantly, along with dissonant chord structures, and dance-y grooves. My favorite example is “The Weapon” off the LP Signals. The track opens with a complex, robotic, drum pattern – sounding more like a drum machine rather than the “Professor of the drum kit”. At the bottom of Peart’s drumming wizard beat, is a steady, straight four, on the kick drum. By the time the song hits its chorus, it takes on the form of a dark nod to the dance floor, right down to the off-beat high hat accents (Commonly heard in Techno and House beats.) — for a few measures, at least. No matter what, Mr. Peart clearly sheds light on all of his abilities, in this relatively short track (6+ mins.), that ranges from out-right mind blowing technical prowess, to nailing down a 4-on-the-floor, with heart and feel that matches his busiest exhibition of chops-driven-know-how.

Led Zeppelin – “Carouselambra”

For me to try and narrow it down – it’s nearly impossible. All of the great songs, passages of those songs; Bonham’s out takes alone are worthy of hyper-studious analyzing. However, with that said – I site “Carouselambra” from In Through The Out Door. Arguably, one of the most un-Zep Zeppelin songs ever recorded. Even still, this track contains what each member was known for, and excellent at doing – it’s like putting the engine of a Lotus into body of a different car. Essentially that car becomes a Lotus.

Melivns – “Honey Bucket”,  “Night Goat”, “*The Kicking Machine”

Dale Crover, Drummer #1 in Melvins, simply put, is a fucking beast behind some drums. Feel – is Dale’s, all his – and he can manipulate it with machine gun speed, or at the pace of slow dripping black tar of the thickest sort. During the past few years, Melvins have employed an additional drummer by the name of *Coady Willis (Murder City Devils, Big Business). In short, Willis, can play in unison with Crover (which alone demands a massive skill set.) – adding double threat to the percussive onslaught that is always brought with a Melvins track. However, Willis does bring something else to the fold – other than just matching Crover; it’s in the way he does so, by not hitting the beat exactly on Crover’s – just milliseconds off, to the front or back – creating some of the most interestingly powerful (dual) drumming in present day.

The Police – “Walking On The Moon”, “Driven To Tears/When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around”

Stewart Copeland is genius at making very busy, flashy, ahead-of-the-beat, drummingwork for a police track. His one of a kind technique is made even more interesting by the high and tight drum tuning he’s employed through out his drumming career – with that gun-shot sounding snare drum. Between his unique high hat playing, Reggae/Caribbean influence, use of digital delay, and not being afraid to over-dub parts in the studio – Copeland has left an unmistakeable signature on the art of drumming.

More to come….


3 thoughts on “Similarities and Influences (Interpol and The Chameleons)”

  1. Always nice to see someone mention this greatly under-estimated band. Everyone has been comparing Interpol/Editors and co. with Joy Division but the real steal is from The Chameleons. This is true for early U2 as well…

    I hope I can catch Burgess at du Nord at the end of the month. Last time (Lyon in 2006) was a blast!

  2. I thought the same thing regarding early U2 and The Chameleons until I realized that “Boy” came out in 1981, and “Script of the Bridge” came out in ’83. “Don’t Fall” is quite similar to “I Will Follow”.

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