Photo Credit: Eric Slick
While most know you as the drummer of Dr. Dog, you also front your own projects and release music with different people. What’s it like having to sort of switch back and forth between being the drummer in a rock and roll band and being the guy who’s name is on the front of the record? Do you prefer one or the other?
Slick: I wouldn’t say that I prefer one to the other. They’re two different experiences. Drumming is second nature to me. I’ve been playing since I was cognizant of my surroundings. My parents were very supportive and put drumsticks in my hands at a young age. Playing guitar isn’t new to me either, it’s been a part of my life since 6th grade. The biggest hurdle has been singing. I was disavowed from singing when I was 15 years old. I had a very abusive teacher who publicly shamed my singing voice and it took a long time/therapy to get over it. Singing makes my soul feel better and my drumming stronger, and so it’s paramount to my growth as a musician. I can switch between the roles a lot more seamlessly these days. It’s a little bit like being an actor.
That’s a good comparison. Would you consider yourself more of a drummer, who works on other projects on the side or more of a multi-instrumentalist who happens to play drums as well?
Slick: These days I would say I’m a multi-instrumentalist or simply, a musician and composer. It saddens me that we have to make a distinction between drummers and musicians. I know some drummers who have more melodic sensibility than people who claim to be musicians, or <gasp>, artists.
Yeah, I get what you mean. Who inspired you to pick up an instrument and start playing?
Slick: My biggest musical influence is still The Beatles. I hate when people try to be pretentious and avoid saying they like bands who are popular. There’s a reason they’re beloved! Ringo is 100% the reason I play drums. He was a guy who was able to maintain a sense of humor and play with excellent tone. Sometimes when I write music with my partner Dom Angelella, I’ll get excited about a chord progression and he’ll say, “Dude, that’s a Beatles song.”. And then I accept defeat. I’d like to give a cooler answer like Prince or Throbbing Gristle, but it wouldn’t be true.
What records do you find yourself returning to over and over again, do you have any that consistently hold the title of all-time favorite?
Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica
Bjork – Vespertine
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Those are some great picks. Dr. Dog just released the new album Critical Equation and are touring for the first time in a couple of years. What’s it been like getting back into the studio and grooving with those guys, particularly after such a long hiatus?
Slick: It’s been great. I’ve really stayed on top of my drumming by playing with other bands during our hiatus. I’m touring and writing relentlessly. I feel sharp for the first time in a while. I feel very fortunate to play drums on beautiful songs, and Dr. Dog has no shortage of great ones. Scott and Toby are simply a rare breed. You don’t find great songwriters every day.
Yeah, I’ve listened to the album several times and it’s really great! Are there any shows your particularly excited for that are coming up?
Slick: Any shows with Dr. Dog or Natalie Prass. People actually come to those shows, although people have finally started turning up to my solo ones. Dr. Dog in Philadelphia is always special. I always look forward to shows in Chicago and Austin. The excitement is palpable in those towns.
Hometown wise, what would you say are some of your favorite places in the city, music related or otherwise?
Slick: Johnny Brenda’s, Everybody Hits, PhilaMOCA, The Academy of Music, and The Curtis School.