Happy spring everybody!!! Here’s a quick Mr. Anonymous news update:
1. The new Mr. Anonymous album(featuring Ranking Roger, Ranking Jr., and Brando) is in the process of being mixed, and I’m shooting to have it released on Saturday June 15th. The songs have a summer vibe for sure, so I’m looking forward to throwing all of you a great new soundtrack for the poolside, golf cart, convertible top down drive to an amusement park like Cedar Point, a trip to to the lake in Chicago or beach on Long Island,etc. It will be Free and downloadable on www.mranonymous.net so i’ll let you guys know when its done.
2. LIVE SHOWS…Mr. Anonymous is playing the Fox Theater in Boulder on Sat. June 15th and Dickens Opera House in Longmont on Sat. June 22nd. I’m excited for these because we’re co-billing the show with my buddy Al(from The samples) and his band Highway 50
3. …and i’m playing drums for Al’s band at the Boulder Creekfest on Sunday May 26th at the Boulder Bandshell…we hit the stage at 6:00 pm and I’m pretty sure Dj Blue will be helping as my drum tech, so if any of you want an autograph from this famed radio dj, i’m sure she’d be more than pleased.
…ok i just got back last night from Birmingham England and the sessions with Ranking Roger and Ranking Jr. were “off the hook” great!!! I was there for a week and experienced some great moments. on the first day, Roger and I went to Handsworth and had ackee and saltfish at his favorite jamaican restaurant and that night we went out and saw a reggae band at one club and some punk bands at another spot in downtown Birmingham.
the next night i rode with him and ranking Jr. down to Coventry where they were performing live as “The Beat”. It was an anniversary/benefit for 2-tone records and the place was packed with ska memorabelia and old school ska heads skanking…and the dj’s before the live bands played some sweet vintage ska which reminded me a lot of the Denver Vintage Reggae guys here in Denver(Scott Damnit and Dj Tone)…and before the show i hung out at another west indian/jamaican restaurant club for some jerk chicken and killer dancehall sound system tunes.
sunday was a day off and i kicked it off with an english breakfast of kipper snacks, beans and toast and then walked the streets and gardens and parks for about 4 hours listening to the spring birds and wow what an experience…in the afternonn i chilled at a pub(it was st. Patrick’s day) and enjoyed some pints of Guinness and watched soccer with locals.
monday and tuesday were solely dedicated to tracking vocals in Roger’s new studio. he is a HUGE fan of all things space(like me) and built a studio in his backyard in the shape of a space ship…it looks like the “jupiter 2” from the show “Lost In Space” that i used to watch as a kid. all of his and Ranking Jr’s ideas were pulled together and/or improved that day and the vibes were pure and fresh and we had a blast…i’m really excited and this new album is gonna be really nice sounding so i appreciate you all being patient while i mix it all together.
oh and two last things…Roger has a bengal cat named “Shocka” and this guy is great. every time i sat down, he crawled in my coat, literally in my sleeve and just wanted to hang out in there….and he has a sweater leash thing that’s cool so he can go on walks which he takes quite seriously…shocka enjoys things for sure….and secondly, Roger’s friend Pauline made us great coffees throughout the day and she gave me a secret about how to make nescafe taste so good. you have to put the cream or whole milk in FIRST before you pour in the hot water so the water doesnt burn the coffee grinds…i tried it this morning and its my new thing so big thanks to pauline and shocka and BIG BIG thanks to Ranking Roger and Ranking Jr. for sharing the good vibes to me as friends and singers….stay tuned for the album this summer!!!!
“20 minute theory” on drums and fitness
….ok so here is my second installment of drum advice and then no more blabbin from me……I’ve given several different renditions of the same advice over the years, and I’ve decided that it all comes down to one simple concept.
I call it the “20 Minute” theory. I use it for drums and exercise, and it’s TOTALLY worked for me over the years. Here’s how it works.
step 1: buy a timer…a stopwatch, a kitchen timer, or just a clock
step 2: practice for EXACTLY 20 minutes every day or in 20-minute sessions…no more and no less
step 3: during those 20 minutes, work ONLY on something that’s challenging or new
This is the key point: HOW you practice rather than HOW LONG you practice is the key. I think most people assume that anybody who’s really good at something (or better than they are) either was simply born with the talent or started playing when they were 3 and practiced 8 hours a day for years and years. I disagree. There ARE definitely those types, but I also think the guys who get really good at anything are the ones who keep themselves excited.
Let’s face it, many drummers fall into the habit of jamming for hours playing the same stuff they already know how to play. It’s gratifying and fun, but it doesn’t really advance your skill set, and I think ultimately leads to boredom. By diving into something new and challenging for just 20 minutes a day, you’ll feel invigorated because it’s a short enough time for you to EMBRACE THE STRUGGLE of learning a new challenge.
I use the same 20 minute theory for fitness….doing 20 minute sessions of (pushups, situps,and leg squats) every other day and then 20 minute sessions of cardio(running, jump roping, or sprints) on the alternate days. Its a great workout and easy to commit to because it’s a SHORT FOCUSED amount of time.
I’ve always been a huge fan of boxing and now mixed martial arts and this “20 minute” approach is like my version of a training camp before a fight. A fighter’s day is broken into short high intensity sessions….he works the heavy bag and speed bag…then rests….then works on ground skills…then rests…..then works on striking and kicks….then rests….takes a lunch and nap(Oscar De La Hoya did that every day in his camps)….and then does cardio or lifts weights in the afternoon. So I approach the drumming and fitness the same way. Doing even one session of each every day at high intensity(for exercise) and high focus(for drums), i’m able to continue to grow and have fun doing it.
So there it is….pick up a kitchen timer, try it out and see how it goes!!!
Over the years I’ve been asked by friends and fans and drummers what my approach is to practicing. I’ve also been asked to teach or give advice to drummers who feel stagnant and bored with their playing. These are my top 5 recommendations:
#1 SIMPLIFY….go back to just a hat kick snare and tom……youll be inspired because you dont have the usual places to throw your sticks which will change your brain’s habit of performing the same fills youve always done.
#2 Go To YOUTUBE….because there are so many cool instructional videos in all styles…jazz reggae death metal funk punk….whatever youre into…..and pick ONE(only 1) to try to learn. picking ONLY one is key because there is so much stuff on there that its overwhelming and you’ll end up distracting yourself trying to learn 10 different things at once….like the term “baby steps”, think of a baby taking his first steps. he’s not simultaneously trying to read, learn the alphabet, and get his potty training under control…it’d be impossible! so use your practice time on just one new skill.
#3 TWENTY MINUTES….commit to ONLY practicing or playing for 20 minutes a day so that you are excited to play each new day…and in that time work only on the new lick/style/fill …and then reward yourself in the last 2 minutes with playing the stuff you know(if you need to)….or reward yourself one day a week with 20 minutes of playing whatever you want
#4 START SLOW…any new technique you decide to learn, start PAINFULLY slow to the point where it doesn’t even feel like a drum beat or rhythm….there is always a tendency to want to play something fast instantly but FORCE yourself to play SLOW SLOW SLOW until it feels automatic like breathing. Every musician or martial artist or athlete started at the same place as you(the beginning) and they all started just as slow as you….so relax and enjoy this part because you’re only at the beginning once.
#5 EMBRACE THE STRUGGLE… this is the MOST important concept which i liken to the “filling of a glass of water”…learning drums or guitar or martial arts or any skill is like filling a glass full of water…its just a matter of showing up and doing it!!! and the the time spent doing it is like the water drops going into a glass…each drop represents the minute you spend struggling and even though you feel like you suck when you’re attempting a new skill, you ARE getting better and you ARE getting closer to your goal in the same way that each “drop” IS filling the glass….and it actually becomes fun to be at the bottom of that hill so to speak because you know you cant get any worse than when you started on the very first time….and gradually things will start to fall together as your body and brain learn the new technique.