Petter Diamant Dares To Be Different With Baron Bane – Exclusive InterviewLauren Fearon
BARON BANE is a group of musicians championing a new term; Indietronica. Where you may think it a bit dramatic of their self-analysis – you only have to watch some clips, or even see them live to find out why.
The group is a visual and sonic experience, and employ many varieties of performance artists to make their live shows a success. They have been known to use dancers, fire artists, mime artists, graphical artists – and so the list goes on. The band has also been noted for their prolific use of an overhead projector.
Baron Bane is pretty active in Europe over the coming months; they really are worth a second look.
OLD: When did you know you wanted to be a drummer? Where did it all begin?
Petter: Well, I suppose it all began when I saw the legendary Norwegian Jazz Drummer Egil Johansen perform with the Brass Brothers, when I was about 5-6 years old.
(Egil Johansen on drums)
I thought that was the coolest thing ever. The strange thing is that I didn’t start playing drums until I was 10, and after the first 5-6 years in community music school I didn’t want to play anymore. The thing that kept me from quitting was my father who pushed me to continue, and the joy of playing to the old ABBA records. Ola Brunkert was a fantastic Drummer, you got to love the grooves!
(Ola Brunkert with Janne Schaffer Harvest Machine)
I decided to give drums a serious try when I was 15-16 and got in touch with a very inspiring Jazz Drummer, Martin Löfgren – all my love to him. He opened my eyes to what the drums are for me today, not rudiments and sound, but joy and music.
OLD: What is it like playing for Baron Bane?
Petter: It’s quite hard to explain my relationship with the band. I’m one of the founders so it’s something special to work with. I’m probably doing 150 gigs a year nowadays, mostly playing music that somebody else has written (check out Gungfly on Facebook). In Baron Bane I’m involved in the whole process from the embryo of a song; to the projections of the shows, to the promotion photos – well you know, something to do with everything.
It’s hard because you are responsible for everything the band does, and have to take the consequences as well. The drumming is the easy part.
OLD: What are a few steps you would advise drummers to take, when aiming to break out professionally?
Petter: I don’t know if there are certain steps to make it but I can share a couple of my tips.
– Be nice to everyone you meet! Don’t be an asshole, you never know who can give you work in the future!
– Have fun with the music and the drums. A drummer who doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing is useless and boring.
– Listen and learn different kinds of music and styles.
– Open your ears, eyes, and mind and give everything a chance. You never know what you can learn.
– Use social and digital networks to get in touch with other musicians.
– Dare to be different!
OLD: Do you have any tips for audition situations?
Petter: I don’t think I’ve ever done an audition. But like always, be yourself and be prepared!
OLD: How do you warm up for gigs? What do you do to keep your nerves in check?
Petter: I grab my sticks and bang those legs for a couple of minutes. I don’t really get nervous like I used to anymore. I’m just focused and filled with nice energy!
OLD: What is the worst drumming experience you’ve ever had to date?
Petter: It’s a bit ironic because I have had all the worst experiences drumming with Baron Bane. Over the years with Baron Bane we have had so many technical malfunctions I’m surprised people still want to see us live. The one thing I hate the most is when technicians mess it up for the musicians.
For those who don’t know what Baron Bane is/does I’ll sum it up here: visual electronic pop/rock with projection synced to music with some stuff on backtrack. In the beginning we were a three-piece band with vocals on backtrack just to get a reaction. We are a bigger band today, but there is still some stuff on tape.
In Baron Bane we have big ideas, great visions of huge performances and shows but no money. Everything we’ve ever done we have done from nothing. And the learning process of getting everything to work properly has been (and still is) long and hard. We haven’t had the funds to get the right gear so we’ve had so much trouble with our shows. Good for us this isn’t always obvious to the audience.
So, to answer the question; I hate drumming on a gig not knowing if the backtracks are going to make it through the whole set! It’s hard to relax and have fun!
We have a pretty stable system now though…
OLD: And your best?
Petter: In 2010 we were invited to perform at the biggest Frank Zappa festival in the world; the Zappanale in Germany. This was with a unique three-piece Zappa tribute band called Bongo Fury. We did our favorite Zappa songs on drums, bass and guitar/vocals. Quite hard but a lot of fun!
We came as a totally unknown act and by the end of the show we had one of the biggest crowds of the festival. We all played great, the feedback from crowd was fantastic and I could never in my wildest dreams imagine something like that. It’s a memory for life, and I will forever be thankful for that experience.
OLD: Elvin Jones has been quoted as saying that if you couldn’t get at least 20 sounds out of your cymbal; there was either something wrong with it, or something wrong with you. Do you think you could get that many out of your cymbal?
Petter: I see the drums as a musical and melodic instrument just like any other instrument. In particular the cymbals with the variety of sound they can produce. Yes, I think I can get 20 sounds of a cymbal… maybe.
I love complex cymbals that can produce many different sounds. I ride my crashes and crash my rides, and everything in between. I try to play the cymbals not just by only hitting them. Maybe that is why I never break my cymbals.
OLD: Rudiments are core to every drummer’s skills. What do you think about this statement?
Petter: For many years I didn’t care much for rudiments. My main focus has been listening to music trying to understand different grooves, and why I find them groovy. About two years ago I found myself stuck in a corner doing the same things over and over again. It created a limitation in my playing, that I couldn’t evolve.
With the help of YouTube and rudiments I had a breakthrough. Rudiments can help you find weaknesses in your drumming, and can help you to work with them. On YouTube,and sites like this, there are millions of drummers with tips and tricks on how to apply rudiments in creative ways. Nowadays I actually practice on my weaknesses, this is something I wish I had done earlier…
OLD: Tuning Drums, What do you think about that?
Petter: I hate tuning drums. Not because it isn’t important but because it’s hard, and it isn’t my best ability. I’m happy with my Starclassic (Tama), as it’s quite easy to make them sound great. Like everything else with my drumming the art of tuning is a work in progress. Making the drums sound and feel like I want when I want, is my goal.
OLD: If you could sum up your drumming style in 5 words, what would they be?
Petter: Musical, Groove, Interesting, Fun, Different
My drumming is a work in progress and a complicated struggle for me. Therefore these words have to reflect my vision of my drumming!
A big thanks to Petter Diamant for giving his time!
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