Monday, October 4, 2010

Tucson Drummers series: The Fabulous...Cheryl Graham!!

Cheryl, in the '80's
SLIT:  How long have you been playing drums? Are you self taught?

CG: I started in 5th grade, in my grade school band.

SLIT:  What was your first drum set? Do you play other instruments?

CG: A five-piece blue sparkle Ludwig. I bought it for $200 in 1978 or 79. That seems like a deal today, but it was a lot of money then. I wish I still had that set!

SLIT: What bands have you drummed for?

CG: Les Seldoms, Phantom Limbs, Bible Party
SLIT: How did you start drumming for the Phantom Limbs?

CG: I think I asked them. I was playing in the Seldoms and all the guys went off to college. The Limbs were between drummers at the time, as I recall, so it was just good timing. I had been a big fan of theirs since the beginning, and always wanted to be in that band!

SLIT: Do you have a special way of holding your sticks? Any special techniques or rolls that you like?  How do you practice?

CG: I don't play anymore, but I learned the traditional drum corps way of holding the sticks, which is differently in each hand, but then in high school I had a teacher who encouraged me to hold them "match grip" I think it is called, and that's how I've done it since them. You get a lot more power from the left hand that way, and buy the time I was playing in rock bands, I was using the biggest sticks I could find, and chewing them up pretty well. Drumming gave me unusually strong wrists. I don't know if that's any kind of advantage in the real world, but there you have it. By the way, I recently bought a digital drum pad, and I hope to do some music again soon.

SLIT: What drummers have influenced you?  What have some highlights or milestones in your career as a drummer?  What inspires you?

CG: Well my two very early inspirations were my babysitter when I was about 6. She played the drums in the high school band. And then of course, there was Karen Carpenter, who probably inspired an entire generation of women drummers. She was the real deal, even though they made her wear a dress while drumming.  One of my favorite drummers was Clem Burke, from Blondie. I read and interview with him once in which he said he developed his style because their bass player wasn't very good at first, so he had to fill in. Steve Gadd I think is a genius. And of course Winston Watson, who is the most fun to watch :)

Tune in again for another installment of...Tucson Drummers!

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