Ever have one of those days where you get a song stuck in your head and you can’t get it out… no matter what? You’re not even sure where or when you heard it. It might have been playing on the alarm radio when you woke up or maybe it was blasting from a car next to you at a red light. You can’t remember the source… but your brain seems to think that it’s a great idea to play it over and over and over. It can be a highly frustrating experience. One that I’ve been plagued with today.
Today’s loop is the result of having Oukast’s“Hey Ya!” stuck in my head for the past seven hours. It’s a great song the first nine times you hear it… but I’ll admit, it wears a bit thin after hour five. Much like holding your breath when you have the hiccups, I thought if I just played some drums it would eventually go away. No such luck…. All I ended up with was a beat that sounded just like it and some pissed off neighbors.
I just realized my “Style” category was missing one crucial genre: Reggae. But then I also realized I have no clue how to play the real “roots” stuff. Apparently I forgot to take that “Reggae 101” class at Berklee (they still let me graduate) and Burning Spear hasn’t called me for any gigs lately.
To get in the right frame of mind for today’s loop, I trekked over to the nearest frat house, ate a few “brownies” and listened to Bob Marley’s“Legend” on repeat for three hours straight. I eventually wandered home (after stopping for another snack at Taco Bell) and recorded this beat.
I apologize for the recent lack of loops over the past week. As you know, there is lot of behind the scenes work going on at ryangruss.com in preparation for June 1st. Between the film crew in my house, the international press junkets and my fresh Botox injections, it’s been hard to keep up with the day to day administration of this site. Plus it’s Memorial Day weekend, so I’m also busy barbecuing and drinking beer.
To keep you entertained in the meantime, here’s a tour of Stewart Copeland’s kit from the recent Police reunion tour. Normally, I make fun of people with splash cymbals (especially six of them), but Stewart is one of the few who can get away with it.
The life of a touring musician is one that is often full of bizarre and surreal encounters. Between hanging out with methed-out truckers while you eat pancakes during 4am pit stops, to the VIP events you attend because you’re “in a band”, traveling around the world and playing music will supply you with plenty of crazy stories to tell your grandkids (and blog readers). Often times, these encounters include rubbing elbows with the most random of celebrities in even more random situations. Like my drunken 4th of July in Malibu with Don Johnson and Anthony Kiedis or having Maria Sharapova turn up at my gig at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Out of all of the crazy and unexpected things that have taken place while on the road, a certain night in San Francisco remains the most incongruous.
It was 2006 and my band was in the middle of a West Coast tour. We were scheduled to play San Fransisco on a Friday night and our manager, Peter Asher, decided that he’d fly up from LA for the weekend to attend the show and stay with his good friend who lived in the city. Well, it turns out Peter’s good friend was comedic legend, Robin Williams.
As we were soundchecking for that show, my cell phone rang and it was Peter, telling us that Robin wanted to come out to the gig and asked if we could also put him on the guest list. Sure. NO BIG DEAL. Now, it’s not like we were playing The Fillmore and could reserve some box seats for Robin and Peter. We were playing a rather intimate (small and disgusting) hipster/rock club in the seedier side of San Fran. A place that made the bathrooms at CBGBs seem like they belonged in The Four Seasons. I walked up to the heavily tattooed door guy and told him to jot down those two names on the guest list. At first he laughed at me. “Robin Williams? Coming to this shit hole on a Friday night??” I assured him it was true.
Fast forward six hours later. I hit the final crash of our encore and stumbled off the stage, a sweaty mess, looking for the nearest bottle of water (or beer). As I entered the green room, I saw Peter and another man whom I never thought I’d meet, let alone be shaking hands with in a dingy club. “Ryan, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Robin.” Like he needed to tell me his name. He told me that he enjoyed the show and said he hadn’t been to a club like this in years. We continued to chat for a few minutes until we were interrupted by the stage manager. “The DJ needs to set up his turntables. Can you move the drums off of the stage?” Apparently this rock club turned into a dance club at the stroke of midnight.
Before I could answer, Robin transformed into a character that I had never seen on TV or in his movies. It wasn’t “Mork”, or “Mrs. Doubtfire”, or even “Garp”. It was “Ryan’s British Roadie”. Picking up a nearby flashlight and suddenly developing a thick, Cockney accent, Robin leapt into action, breaking down all of my hardware and taking the cymbals off of their stands. I stood in amazement, watching this Oscar-winning actor play the part of someone who would normally be hauling road cases for Iron Maiden. Before I had a chance to process all of it, my drums were off of the stage and Robin was back to his normal self, saying goodbye to me and the band.
This loop is dedicated to the funniest (and cheapest) roadie I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure this is the same dance beat the DJ was playing as I stood there in that shitty club in San Francisco, wondering if that really just happened.
If providing you with every possible loop format is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. In another step to make this blog the greatest thing since the NKOTB reunion, I’ve decided to start providing Apple loops (AIFF files) along with every new beat. They’ll be included at the bottom of each post along with the WAV and REX2 files. Now you can just drop the loops into GarageBand or Logic and easily adjust the tempo to fit your needs. Look for the inaugural AIFF file to be posted shortly…
Our good friend, Kenny Aronoff, is back to play us a few syncopation examples from Carmine Appice’s legendary instructional book, “Realistic Rock“. Speaking of realistic, is Kenny’s vest made from alligator or snake skin?
Normally, going out to lunch isn’t a big deal for a high school student, but my school had a “closed campus policy” and even employed a full time security guard to make sure kids weren’t leaving the premises. This made the noontime adventure all the more exciting… almost like a prison break.
It was a process that involved reconnaissance, agility, patience and courage. Crawling on our stomachs, diving behind cars and hiding behind bushes. If it wasn’t for that scholarship to Berklee, these lunchtime escapes would have been the perfect gateway to a career as a Navy SEAL.
Once we safely made it into the my friend’s Land Cruiser (we would always take his car since it had the loudest stereo… complete with 12″ subwoofers), we’d roll down the windows, crank some Rage Against The Machine and taunt the security guard as we peeled out of the parking lot, making our great escape.
To make sure I was recalling the details of these adventures accurately, I just emailed one of my old cohorts to do some fact checking. I believe his response sums things up perfectly:
“We went to buy that album the day it came out over lunch. Look it up, but I would bet a few bucks that it was 4/16/1996 (Evil Empire). I remember one of the songs getting quiet (like all of them do), and all of us looking at each other knowing they were about to kick some a**.”
Sneaking out of school, eating bagels and kicking some a**. This is what my senior year was all about.
This loop goes out to all of those kids back at Valley High who are still fighting the man, breaking out of school for lunch and driving around in luxury SUVs.