Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

3. Steve ReichDrumming

I had the privilege of playing this four-part masterpiece in college. It was composed in 1970. It’s delicate, complex and pretty much solidified Steve Reich as a heavyweight minimalist composer. There was a time I knew this inside out. I had to study it. To be totally honest, I’m not Mr Avant-garde Aficionado, but at the same time I can’t help including this – it’s coming from a genuine place. I had to live with this for so long it felt like I was rehearsing lines for a play. It was that intense.

It sounds easy but it’s really, really hard. It’s so minimal that it’s easy to get lost and drift, and it’s game over if you do. I was an orchestral percussion major in school. You have your general percussion stuff like your snare drums, but you’re studying mallets, you’re transcribing Bach pieces and Mozart to marimba, there’s your timpani workshop. Then you have percussion ensemble, marimba ensemble… and none of that has anything to do with rock drums.

Way before that, I also played in drum corps. I marched twice, in school marching bands, but DCI, Drum Corps International, that’s totally separate. Both corps that I marched in no longer exist. It’s a commitment, and it’s a totally weird world in itself, very insular. I knew kids who dropped out of high school to march in drum corps. I knew a kid who hitchhiked to San Francisco just to march with Santa Clara Vanguard. You age out when you’re 20.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Mercury Rev, Valentina Magaletti, Dan Deacon
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