SPIKE the Percussionist is a classically trained performer
who studied under percussion guru and Yamaha performing artist
Norman Weinberg, author of Guide to Standardized Drumset Notation
and The Electronic Drummer. A master of acoustic percussion, SPIKE
is also an expert programmer and electronic music expert with a degree
in audio engineering.
While most drummers with SPIKE's talent and training would
for a career in classical symphony or jazz composition, SPIKE
entirely different route. Inspired by Dr. Weinberg's advocacy
technological advances in percussion and his own inventiveness
award-winning sophomore recital was the first entirely electronic
composition ever performed by a percussion student in competition),
SPIKE focused his formidable abilities on ambient noiz and
electro-industrial, two burgeoning, but at that time obscure,
"When I started back in the 80s, nobody was doing what
I was doing. I am the only drummer I have ever heard of who actually embraced the
coming of the drum machine---and the only one who could actually play
along with it. Playing live with, or composing with, a drum machine
is an art unto itself with its own set of disciplines and creative boundaries.
short, I came up with some really wild stuff. Things nobody had
heard before. Now, suddenly there is this huge market for ambient
and electro industrial. It blows my mind to think that what I
then in my little hometown is suddenly the rage in the international
underground and college scenes. If I had only been in New York
instead of Corpus Christi, Texas!"
Like Dr. Weinberg's best-friend Kenny Aranoff, who found success
drummer for John Cougar Mellencamp, SPIKE longed for the chance
to make a living as a musician. Unfortunately, there were no John Cougar
Mellencamps in Corpus Christi. While SPIKE's numerous bands achieved
some local notoriety throughout the years, their attempts to break
the national scene always fell short. To SPIKE, the frustration
"Even after I moved to Houston, I just couldn't find the
right pieces to
the puzzle. The lack of ambition, the irresponsibility, the drug
the lousy singers with prima donna attitudes---you name it, I
it. Fifteen years of crap. I closed my eyes to a lot of bad signs
on because I wanted to make it so bad. Most guys in local bands
daydream all day with you about making it big. But that is all
it is to
them---daydreams. They won't make the sacrifices. They have no
ambition. Even the most talented guys, the guys who could play
anybody, they just can't conceive of anything beyond their 9 to
I am willing to die for my music, to starve, to suffer. I just
been able to find anyone on the local scene with that kind of
Fortunately, SPIKE never let go of his solo projects, continuing
compose and record his own material, even while devoting himself
bands. Releasing his work sporadically, SPIKE was surprised to
himself the subject of numerous positive reviews.
"Naturally I assumed that the only way I was going to
make it was in a
band. I mean that is how it works, right? So even though I was
recording all this solo stuff in my spare time, I was devoting
efforts to promoting the band. Every few months, I would send
or two of my own off, and it would end up on a compilation album.
was just like 'whatever.' I kept pushing the band. I guess I didn't
see the big picture. In fact, it wasn't until just this year that
actually faced up to the fact that I was having much better success
solo artist and that I should pursue that path. It was hard. I
the dynamics of a band; I love playing with other musicians. But
now that it has to be the right band. We all have to have the
goals and be willing to put forth the effort. Otherwise, it just
For the first time in his long music career, SPIKE the Percussionist
dedicating himself totally to his solo work. And, he says, he
"The freedom is wonderful. I'm not tied down anywhere.
I can focus
entirely on my work. There is a market for what I am doing and
building a fan base. I don't have to worry about dragging a bunch
unwilling bandmates with me. Sure I still love to play with other
musicians, but I can do session work in New York, sit in with
combos downtown, work with some other bands in the studio, without
feeling that I am neglecting my own group. I am the musical director
for the performance group CORE, something that I enjoy, and it
take all of my time. I feel like I am part of the team rather
player, coach, and general manager all in one!"
All said, the future for SPIKE the Percussionist has never
brighter or as the man himself would say "darker."
"I am a night person," he says. "Dark actually
has a more positive
connotation to me than bright. Bright is painful. Like looking
the sun. Dark is placid. Dark is peace."
As weird as that sounds, he has a point. And isn't that the
best way to
describe the man himself? His music? For while SPIKE and his music
to fly in the face of convention, there is a point to it all.
It is our
job to see it. And if we can't, that is all well and good to SPIKE.
"Whether or not you get what I am doing is not important
to me. I just
ask that you respect the fact that there are plenty of those out
who do and millions who will."
And that is what being a visionary is all about.