Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brooke Svanes: The Beat Speaks

On March 15, 2009 I met Brooke Svanes (and the rest of Sick of Sarah, but let’s focus). It was the best night of my life. I mean I’d been blown away by Brooke’s drumming via Youtube for some time at that point. I mean I’ve seen her drum on storage containers, sofas, trash cans…etc. To see her live is amazing. She hardly moves her head when she drums, the only thing that moves is her hands (at what speed? I don’t even know! FAST!). She’s so meticulous. If she wasn’t drumming so loud I think we could hear her keeping time in her head. She’s quite a fascinating individual. She’s a quiet individual (mostly) and it’s my honor to present to you what I’m sure will be one of few interviews throughout Svanes’ career. How did I get so lucky???

So I've heard a couple times now that you started drumming when you were 10. That's really young. How old were you when you joined your first band?

I joined my first band at age 14? We were called the menstrual tramps. I totally thought I was genius because I thought of the name in 9th grade physical science class. But then found out that was already the name of a Minneapolis band. Ha. Other bands I played in were: Disrespectfully Yours, The Pseudonyms, Bootleg, Vertigo, The Pink Slips. All through high school.

Who were you're biggest influences?

I was super influenced by bands like Motley Crue, Firehouse, Saigon Kick, and Guns n Roses at the young age of 5. I had older brothers so I would get really addicted to their music. I was always wearing headphones and listening to my little cassette tapes. Like constantly. It was my escape really. And then I got into bands like Nirvana, Garbage and Hole. That's when I met my friend Elija, who basically runs the ND music scene. And he lent me Sleater-Kinney's self-titled album and Bikini Kill's CD version of the first two records. From there I started listening to all sorts of bands, like The Third Sex, Team Dresch, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, Sarge, Unwound, Bangs, Minor Threat even! haha...

How do you come up with your beats? Could you take us through that process?

I've always been obsessed with numbers and counting (praise OCD here...lol) and so I just always kind of hear beats in my head. I might hear a drumbeat I like and then sort of elaborate upon it and make it my own, as it is impossible not to be influenced by music one listens to, I think.

You're a bit more reserved than the rest of the band. I guess drummers have a reputation for being kinda crazy. Do you find that people are surprised at how cool and laid-back you are?

Well, I think that being crazy is sort of a prerequisite to being a drummer. I mean, we like to hit things. A lot. But yes, I am a more introverted person by nature. Though I'm also a Gemini, so there are many different facets to my personality. I am a pretty private person. Laid-back? Depends on the day and what I'm on. haha...

Is there a specific venue you want to play that you guys haven't yet?

I'd love to play the main-room at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Sick of Sarah has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Could you offer some advice to any young aspiring female musicians?

Advice? Keep practicing. Don't let anyone try and dictate to you what you should be playing or how. I mean, suggestions are rad, and we all need help, but in musician world, there are a lot of egos floating around and people who like to call the shots. Just play, and be open to constructive criticism. Let it inspire you. Play to get better. Play to get it out of you, because you have to. Play for the right reasons.

Photo Credit: Amber McDonald

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