Oneida’s Kid Millions: Why Drumming With Boredoms Is “A Kick In The Ass”

With Oneida on the eve of their UK tour, Kid Millions called to tell us about playing with the Boredoms on a ship off Japan during the solar eclipse

I played in Boadrum 77 and 88. For those performances I was one of the so-called drum leaders, a handful of guys who got to rehearse before the main shows. I was there to usher the other drummers through the piece, because most of them hadn’t even had the chance to hear the piece.

I was giving directions, stuff like that. My friend Hisham Bharoocha [ex-Black Dice, Lightning Bolt] is half Japanese and used to live there and became friendly with the Boredoms and got called by them to organise those events, because getting 77 or 88 drummers onboard is, as you can imagine, a bit of a nightmare. Through working those two shows, I had met the Boredoms, and I guess it was one of those things that felt like a good fit for the eclipse show. That was kind of how it happened. I don’t really know in the final steps why it was me and not somebody else, but I’m really glad I got to do it.

There were six drummers in total, two in the Boredoms, then four extra people; me, Hisham, Zach Hill from Hella and Jesse Lee, the new drummer in Gang Gang Dance. We stopped playing before the eclipse happened, we started at 9.15 and ended at about quarter to 11, then the eclipse happened shortly after that. It was actually too cloudy to see the eclipse, but it was dark, it was really dramatic. I’d never seen anything even close to that before.

We played on a Russian boat, set up to be a cruise liner. It was small, maybe 250, 300 capacity. There was a dining hall, a pool area, though the stage was in the pool, then cabins. It wasn’t like a fishing boat or something, but it wasn’t plush. We travelled hundreds of miles off the south island of Japan, so we were on the boat for four days and three nights. I was checking out being at sea for sure, but my main effort was listening to the piece, running it in my head, getting sleep. It was a real hippy, neo-cosmic vibe. It’s nothing like it might have been in the States, or Britain. There weren’t a lot of drugs, you know, which was fine, honestly. It was a party, but it was in control.

With the Boredoms there’s always a cosmic element. We didn’t talk about the meaning of the piece really, but it definitely had the reference points to traditional Japanese spiritual touchstones. For example the chapel drums at the end of the day that play together, there were a couple of sections like that. The Boredoms are never wildly or directly programmatic about their stuff. If you’ve heard their newer material over the years it was kind of like that, you wouldn’t be shocked, but it was harder than the Boadrums, there were 25-odd changes that I had to be aware of. It was physically demanding, but not in a way that was overwhelming. It was more being on top of the changes and locking in, being on top of the piece.

Playing with The Boredoms felt like a new level for me. Oneida is more like inwardly-directed. The music that you might have analogue for the Boredoms, it’s like the ultimate rehearsal studio, the music we might make jamming. It’s funny, it was more the experience, the performance, the boat, all of that, it was all so surreal, so beyond comprehension to have been part of, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to take out of it. I think the experience for me was more being inspired by the entire vision of the Boredoms. 77 was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, musical or otherwise. 88 was amazing for sure, it wasn’t like that first one where we were just flying out of the seat of our pants and didn’t even know what the piece was going to sound like. That was like this birth process, 88 was more ‘wow, can we do this again?’ And then this particular performance which, at the time we did it, was not named. I asked Eye what the piece was going to be called and he wasn’t sure. It was seeing that this band has a real vision beyond this other nonsense of being in a band, making albums and doing tours in a way that doesn’t lend itself to any kind of creative or spiritual growth. They’ve moved beyond that and it’s really inspirational. Playing with the guys in the group was really inspiring to me. It was kind of a kick in the ass.

For details of Oneida’s current UK tour, please visit their mySpace

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