Just drumming-- this is the simple but never simplistic concept that guides Kid Millions' Man Forever project. When not beating skins for Oneida, Kid Millions (birth name, John Colpitts) rounds up other drummer friends to help him realize uncomplicated yet sophisticated percussion compositions which float like ragas and invite somewhat deceptive comparisons to Steve Reich's non-tape compositions. For his most recent album on Thrill Jockey, Ryonen, Kid Millions enlisted New York contemporary classical ensemble So Percussion to record two long-form, propulsive compositions which, in the words of So Percussion's Jason Treuting, "express an energy."
A couple of weeks back, we here at Ad Hoc sat down with Kid Millions and So Percussion at the Ace Hotel to discuss the new record, as well as a short mockumentary made in promotion of it. Kid Millions says the video "was inspired by a video compilation of [Chris Burden's] work that was shown in the Feldman Gallery. It was from the 80s, I guess. It had this really weird aesthetic. I had gone to see the show at the New Museum, I was like, wow, this is incredible, and I’m going to make a joke." Check out that video below, along with some excerpts of Kid Millions' responses during the Ace Hotel conversation. A recording of that conversation is available in full at Ace Hotel's website.
On his mental state while drumming:
I try to let my body do the work. I try to let my body get ahead of my mind. For the first piece on the record, I’m trying to constantly do different phrasing, and yeah, little phrases that will extend or retract in surprising ways, in ways that I can’t anticipate. So I try to play phrases that are out of my range, so to speak. In that way I kind of try to quiet the chatter that’s underneath, that we all go through all the time. There’s a goal, a state of mind that’s a goal that I don’t really reach much.
The way that I approach drums, I don’t have many ideas. What I practice is really simple. It’s very repetitive things, like I’ll play all my limbs all at once all together for fifteen minutes and then stop. I don’t really.. .I could, I should work on the craft of different rhythms and interlocking things and I certainly could use that, but I don’t think in those terms.
On the compositional conceit of Ryonen:
There is no "one." That would be the one thing that I try to do. There is no "one," if that makes sense in terms of the "one" of a measure being the start of a measure and if it’s four beats per measure, there may be an accent when you come back to the "one" every time. So you have a sense of how the rhythm is moving in space. The idea with this stuff was I wanted there to be a pulse, I wanted you to feel the momentum and to be carried forward with the music, but I didn’t want there to be a one, I didn’t want someone to anticipate that rhythmic repetition. It’s like pulse patterns that are always moving forward but that never coalesce in a clear way. And I felt like you could get a real driving feel without that "one."
On working with So Percussion:
So Percussion were able to listen to the parts and they were like, oh, that’s in [the time signature] 11/4, that’s in [the time signature] 7/4. I didn’t think about that. I just created the pieces with sticking patterns, sticking patterns being what strokes you’re doing with your hands. You might do right-right-left, right-right-left, right-right-right-right-left. There was a pattern that I had established on two drums using a particular sticking, and I just showed them, this is what it is, this is how you play it, this is the best way, I think, to play it, this particular sticking. I think Eric was like, oh yeah, it’s in [the time signature] 11/4. I was like, ok, fuck, alright, cool.
On collaborating with different bands:
With So [Percussion], I felt like I had to have my A-game, for sure. It brought that fear out. Like, "I’ve got to be ready for this big leagues type of shit." And then with Oneida, when I come back to it, I’m always like, "shit, there’s no drumming like that." It’s funny, I don’t really identify myself with Oneida. I hope this makes sense. When I come back and play drums in Oneida, I’m like "holy shit, this is hard. This music is hard. Fuck." Nothing else is like that, so I have to really dig deep. It brings out a totally unique thing. Based on the people you play with, I think. Anybody here who plays would say it’s all about the interaction for sure.
Man Forever tour dates:
Tue April 8 - New York, NY - Ace Hotel DJ Night
Wed April 9 - Hudson, NY - The Half Moon
Tue April 15 - Ace Hotel DJ Night
Wed April 16 - Buffalo, NY - Dreamland
Thu April 17 - Toronto, ON - Double Double Land
Fri April 18 - Chicago, IL - The Burlington
Sat April 19 - Cleveland, OH - Happy Dog
Mon April 21 - New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge w/ So Percussion
Tue April 22 - Ace Hotel DJ Night
Wed April 23 - Philadelphia - Kung Fu Necktie
Thu April 24 - Washington, DC - Union Arts DC
Fri April 25 - Baltimore, MD - The Metro w/ White Hills
Sat April 26 - Winston Salem, NC - Reanimator w/ Cakes of Light
Sun April 27 - Richmond, VA - Balliceaux
Mon April 28 - Charlottesville, VA - The Southern
Tue April 29 - New York, NY - Ace Hotel DJ Night
Thu May 8 - Albany, NY - the Low Beat
Sat May 24 - Pittsburgh, PA - Gooski's
Sun May 25 - Erie, PA - Basement Transmissions (early set)
Mon May 26 - Columbus, OH - Double Happiness
Tues May 27 - Detroit, MI - Trinosophes
Wed May 28 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club w/ Cave
Fri May 30 - Madison, WI - Good Style Shop w/ Spiral Joy Band
Sat May 31 - Louisville, KY - Dreamland
Sun June 1 - Dayton, OH - Blind Bob's
Sun June 22 - Raleigh, NC - King's Barcade
Mon June 23 - Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light
Tue June 24 - Asheville, NC - Mothlight
Wed June 25 - Atlanta, GA - Local 529