Lynn Duck, AKA: Duckbeat, OLD Member InterviewMartin Osborne
Lynn Duck, or Duckbeat to the masses, is one of onlinedrummer.com’s most popular contributors. His popularity, enthusiasm, and willingness to teach and learn are very inspiring. After a short conversation, Lynn agreed to let his fellow contributors ask questions to him via the interview. What follows is an insight into a really great person, and someone that onlinedrummer.com could not do without. Please read on…
First off, thank you, Lynn, for stepping up to the mantle and allowing me to interview you for your co-patriots on the onlinedrummer.com forums.
I should really be thanking you. To be put in with all of these world class drummers you have interviewed is really, truly, an honor.
Here’s an obvious starter from Counterfeitgod3– Did someone inspire you to pick up the sticks, or was it just something that you felt from day one? And what kind of kit was the first kit you owned?
I started playing drums in the fall of 1976. I remember it like it was yesterday. Back then, music class was mandatory. We learned not only to read music, but we learned how to play different instruments as well. It was always the highlight of my school day, even though we only had music class once a week. One day, a private drum teacher showed up to class, and taught us a few things about drums and drumming…and I was hooked… all to the shock and horror of my parents, who thought that it was just a passing phase, but agreed to sign me up for lessons. A couple of years later, I was able to join the school concert band,and was given my first “solo”: two bars of 8thnotes. But, for a 10 year old, it was pretty scary. My first kit didn’t come until many years later. It was a1971 Ludwig Standard 4-piece in turquoise sparkle, and I still have it!
From SemiCircle Tiger –Why do you have a duck on your kit? And why the name Duckbeat?
It’s actually pretty simple. My real name is Lynn Duck. So…. I just kind of run with that and have a little fun.
From Chase David –In all your years of playing, what do you find the most challenging: playing covers, or creating the drum beats, fills, etc.,to original material?
That’s pretty much a tossup. Covers can be really challenging, depending, of course, on several things: How well known is the song? How difficult is it? Is the drum part well known by the general public? Those are the questions I have to ask myself when learning a new cover. As far as original material goes, I’m always trying to make my part more difficult than it needs to be. I don’t know why, I just do. Probably growing up listening to all those Rush albums has something to do with it. Lately, with The Zots, our music is a lot more straightforward and dance oriented than most of the other bands I’ve played in. So, I really have to look at the song from a pop perspective… KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.
And to add to that, from Hades – When you do a cover, do you try and replicate the song perfectly (as a drummer and as a band), or do you give it your own little bit of spice?
Again, it all depends on the song. If we’re playing “Tom Sawyer”(Rush), or “Good Times Bad Times” (Led Zeppelin), I pretty much have to hit those note for note. For other songs like,say, “Don’t Change” (INXS), I keep the main groove going with all the hits, but the fills I play are all mine. The band pretty much nails it note for note…. except for a few gems we install for your listening pleasure.
Over to MagicJohnson – After having that stroke that basically reset your drumming skills in your left hand back to beginner mode, did you find it hard to motivate yourself to work it up again? Did anything inspire you, or was it just a case of strong self-will? How are you coping now?
Thanks for asking! Well, the diagnosis was actually a “benign aneurysm”…whatever that is. I’ve never heard those two terms used together. Anyway, it was really difficult to even hold a stick for the first few days, let alone play anything. But, I just started out like a beginner, doing double stroke rolls the best I could. My band was extremely supportive, and actually adjusted the set lists for the following Friday night, so I wouldn’t be doing anything too difficult. My entire left arm gradually came back to life, and so did my playing. I don’t really know if it was due to playing drums, or just a natural progression, but I’d really like to think it was due to drumming and the exercise my brain and muscles get from playing.
A question from Terrence – I would like to know a little more about your job as a sound tech, like films/TV shows you have worked on, or anyone famous you have worked with. You see plenty of awards going to ‘ best cinematographer,’ or ‘best screenplay,’ etc, but is there such an award for all the other ‘ behind the scenes’ guys like yourself?
Well, right now, there’s not a lot to tell. The movie and TV biz is really booming here in New Mexico, and I thought it would be good to pursue something I’m pretty good at. But, there’s huge competition in the union, and all of the senior sound guys get the jobs first. I’ve only worked on three indie movies to date. As far as awards go, I don’t think you’ll see an Oscar go to the “Best Boom Operator,” or “Sound Mixer”. Most of those go to the people in the editing suites for post production work. Guys like me are just the grunts who make it happen.
Another from Chase David –Have you ever run into that “fork in the road,”where you were faced with a career changing choice that would take your music or drumming life in a whole new direction? What was your choice, and for what reasons? (I’m speaking in terms of:big time fortune and fame w/ band vs. permanent, secure job, great and steady pay, and all the benefits.)
Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you’d like to look at it), no. I’ve never had to make the choice. I have been really lucky to have done as much as I have without having to wonder where the next paycheck will be coming from. I’ve always, somehow, been just ahead of the curve with what becomes popular and makes stars out of everyday people.
And Ariffy asks – What was the first song you learned on the drums?
Oh man…. You’re going to ask an “old guy” a question like that? I’ll have to go with Open Arms by Journey. I remember hashing that one out right after I got my first kit.
And for the last time tonight, Chase David asks – Do you stretch out or do some light exercise before sitting down behind the set?
It depends on the amount of time I have before playing. I really try to loosen up my arms and fingers by doing Swiss Army Triplets at warp 7.5 for a few minutes, but sometimes all I get to do is use my sticks as weights and swing them in my hands to loosen my forearms. Other times, it’s a few frosty adult beverages before show time.
And one from me: You play in a band called The Strawberry Zots, and they contacted you with regards to playing for them, because they saw your ad in the paper after you’d had a quiet period without a band. (It happens to all of us.) Was it difficult to find work? Or did it come to you easy? Did your reputation proceed you?
Well, I think it was kind of a shot in the dark for them. They needed a drummer, and I had an ad posted. When contacted to play, I usually am the one asking questions, not the band. I need to be sure what they expect, and what role the drummer plays in the context of the band I’m auditioning for. I ask for some songs to learn as well. Never go into an audition cold, even for an improv band. Getting the gig with The Zots was a true audition. They had listened to 7 drummers before I showed up. I hadn’t really been living in town for very long, and didn’t have any real reputation here. I just went in, and acted like I could play whatever they threw at me. Confidence (not cockiness) is a great tool.
Finally, from Dpark,as he won’t let it go – Totally un-drum-related, but how do I get hold of some of your hot sauce? I’m serious about this. I guess I could have PM’d that, but there might be others with the same burning question.
Shoot me a PM with your e-mail and physical address. I’ll add you to my database, and shoot you a line when I have some ready. Right now, it’s a seasonal thing, so I don’t have sauce all year long. Hopefully, I’ll get my hot sauce biz running soon, and you can order some whenever you like!
Now, some very straightforward, quick questions:
1. What is the most played album on your iPod?
No iPod for me. I’m way too old school! I’ve really been digging Evanescence lately.
2. What is your proudest achievement in music?
Just being able to play as long as I have, with as many people as I have, in as many places as I have. That is something I’m really proud of.
3. Who would you most like to have a one-on-one drum-off with?
4. Which other drummers do you chill outwith?
I’m not one to really hang out in “the scene”. So, I really don’t chill out with other players. You’re more likely to see me at a racetrack!
5. You’re having a dinner party at your house with your wife, and you can invite two more people, dead or alive. Who would they be?
Elvis Presley, The Rat Pack, Rush, and Madonna.
6. Have you ever had a fan at a gig ask a strange request from you?
Funny story… I’ll keep it short. I was in Mississippi playing a dive bar, and there’s always one drunk guy in the back screaming “FREEBIRD!!!”at the top of his lungs. Well, we didn’t play the song, but he was really annoying the other customers. So, during one of his rants, I said…. “Here’s your Free Bird!”…and I flipped him the finger. Note to others: Make sure you know where the exits are when attempting this stunt.
7. What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Make coffee and read the news.
8. What type of car do you drive?
When it’s running… A 1983 Datsun 280zx. When it’s not… My 1995 Nissan 4x4truck.
9. When not drumming, what else do you get up to?
Good food, good friends, good beer.
10.What would you best like to be remembered for?
Hmm, I’ve never really thought about it! Probably just being a decent human being, a good drummer, and a good teacher.
Lynn, many thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final words of wisdom to say to the onlinedrummer community?
Learn the basics. Stick grip, rudiments, and timing. The rest will all fall into place. Oh, and don’t get yourself down with playing all the time and not making progress. Sometimes you just have to take a step away for a few days or a week. Also, don’t close yourself off to any type of music. There’s magic out there. It’s everywhere, if you just take the time to listen.
This is Lynn’s office:
(Photo taken by his bass player, which is why there is a blurriness to it,bass players hey?)………….