Citizen Staff Writer
ROGELIO YUBETA OLIVAS
Tucson is home to the “World’s Most Accurate Drummer.” Local musician Erik Truelove has won the title four times at the National Association of Music Merchants show. Last year the 39-year-old drumming sensation scored 758 out of a possible 800, the highest mark recorded to date. The competition involved playing the same two-bar rhythm for at least one minute on a Beatnik Rhythm Analyzer electronic drum pad. Truelove, who plays with country-rockers the Jadi Norris Band on Thursday nights at the Maverick, moved to Tucson in 2001 from Seattle. In a recent e-mail interview, the ever congenial Truelove reveals the truth about his name, enlightens us about the keys to good drumming and shows his hidden talent for stand-up.
Question: First things first, is Erik Truelove your real name? That sounds like the perfect stage moniker.
Answer: I get that a lot, but it actually is my real last name.
You’ve won the title of “World’s Most Accurate Drummer” four times. What’s the secret to your success?
The first win I would have to attribute to my teaching experience and a quest to overcome the sloppy sense of meter that I developed in my younger playing years. The subsequent times were from LOTS of practice.
You also teach drumming. What’s the best advice you give students?
It’s usually the old adage of “less is more.” A lot of times drummers tend to overplay and fail to simply play what the song needs. Actually any musician can fall into this trap but I think it is more noticeable when a drummer does it. The drummer’s primary responsibilities are to create a solid rhythm, add texture, and to punctuate the song. If the drummer is trying to be too flashy, the likelihood of he or she abandoning those responsibilities is much greater.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you onstage?
It was either when I was in first grade and I was playing one of the little drummer boys in the Christmas play. We had made our own drums out of oatmeal containers and tire inner tubes. When our big part of the show came up, I dropped my stick right off the stage. I was mortified; I think I may have even cried. I’m scarred for life as you can see. The other time was a few years ago when I was performing for the filming of a TV reality show called “Girl Meets Cowboy.” I realized, as I was setting up my drums, that I had forgotten my cymbals but had no time to try and get them, so I had to improvise. The only thing I could find that was made out of metal in the middle of the desert were the license plates off my car. So, I played that gig with license plates for cymbals.
Which local bands or musicians have you toured with?
I toured with a psychedelic, desert rock band called Rich Hopkins & the Luminarios in February of 2007. We did a European tour that consisted of 23 shows in 24 days. That was a pretty grueling tour schedule, but it was a bunch of fun. Playing overseas was great because the fans were so appreciative of live music as an art form and we were really well taken care of as far as the accommodations and food. The beer was delicious, too! I have also toured a few times around the country, and once in Mexico, with the very talented country singer-songwriter and good friend Andy Hersey. Additionally, I have done some regional touring with the funky, jazzy, rock band The TRYST. They have a very “Partridge Family”-style tour bus that makes touring with them more fun than should be legal. I hope to have the opportunity for more touring. It’s such a great way to see new places and meet new people.
What’s the biggest fallacy or misconception about drummers?
There are so many jokes out there about drummers being dim-witted and slow, like: How do you know if the stage is level? . . . The drummer drools out of both sides of his mouth! Or, what do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? . . . Homeless! Badum Chhhh! However, in my experiences I’ve found that most drummers are actually very smart and organized. The act of drumming itself is multitasking at its finest.
Why did you want to become a drummer?
When I was a 6-year-old boy, I remember looking through the Sears catalog at the drums sets and being totally enthralled by them. I think this must have been right after seeing the late, great Buddy Rich performing seemingly impossible things on the drum set on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Besides, I knew at that young age that drummers get all the chicks!
Who were your music idols when you were younger?
The Beach Boys, Van Halen, Motley Crüe, Queen, KISS, and of course, Animal from the Muppets.
Besides you on drums, which other famous musicians would be part of your fantasy band?
Stanley Jordan on guitar, Wil-Dog from Ozomatli on bass, Bernie Worrell (Dr. Woo) of P-funk on keyboards and Sade on vocals. Can we make that happen?