Plaid Faction

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Caught By Skip...

Going from Skip to Matt...

 

If you notice in the first gig videos we have one drummer, then in the May Day and Boozer's videos, we have another.  Plaid Faction was sort of like Spinal Tap in number of drummers we went through when you add them up.  Adrian, Brandon, Skip, Matt, Jerry and another Brandon.  We went through a few :)  But in reality, Matt Key was "the" Plaid Faction drummer.  He was in the band I think from 1992 to 1996 or 1997.  I could be wrong here, but regardless of the exact years, he was the longest running drummer in PF.  He came along at the right time and really cemented the style that got us to our peak.  Without him, I don't think the really hard driving, power groove style that everyone thinks of as Plaid Faction would have been born.  That's why I think of him as "the" drummer.

 

Skip...

Skip came along and saved our butts a bit.  We had already booked our first gig at the Rhythm Room and had a whole set of material worked up with another drummer named Brandon.  The few things I can remember about him was that he had a remote controlled hi hat, could play hip hop like he wasn't white and could break dance like a maniac which he did every time we had a break in rehearsal.  At that time, PF was all set to be a really funky band with him on the drums.  But just before our first gig, his mom talked some sense into him and he quit the band and went to college.  Probably a good move :)

So there we were with an upcoming gig and no drummer.  I can't remember if we rescheduled the gig or not or just found Skip on really short notice and played the original slot.  Either way, Skip came in and learned all the tunes really quickly and we got back on track.  Skip was pretty much the polar opposite of Brandon though.  He really didn't have any funk in him to speak of and to be honest, at that time didn't really have a good sense of time.  Which is a fairly important skill to have in a drummer.  But to be fair, we didn't have a great sense of time as players at that point either.  The difference was, we knew it, Skip didn't :)

On the flipside, Skip was a heck of a nice guy and had a great stage presence as you can see in the videos.  He had a really hard driving, kinda "Hulk Smash!" sort of playing style that everyone dug.  He also wore a (then) cool headband, had tassels on his sticks, knew how to spin his sticks like Tommy Lee and would just periodically stand up while playing and just start beating the crap out of his drums.  Of course at that point, he usually quit playing the bass drum and we all fell apart rhythmically, but the crowd ate it up.

But as time went on and we all continued to grow as musicians, it quickly came apparent that Skip was not and we all felt that he was starting to hold us back a little.  So the search was on... 

 

The Search for the Next Drummer...

We rehearsed at this rehearsal studio down by Maple and Lemon Avenue.  I forget the name of it now, but it was a decent rehearsal space as those things go.  I remember the owners were a strange couple.  Seems like the guy's name was Terry and he was a drummer.  His girlfriend was this really good looking, but inevitably crazy blond woman who's claim to fame was that Peter Frampton picked her up every time he passed through town.  Not sure how Terry felt about that...  Regardless, they fought daily like cats and dogs.  I remember her getting him so crazy one time he punched one of the walls up there and broke most of the bones in his hand. 

There was also this strange transient dude that lived there named Oli Da Bach or something like that.  The guy looked like one of the Milli Vanilli's and made his living by tending to the manual parts of the rehearsal studio by day and walked around and sold roses by night in Deep Ellum.  I'm really dusting off some old synapses here, but I think I remember him having a billboard or something that we always laughed about with a picture of him on it saying something like, "There is no rose as sweet as an Oli Da Bach rose..." or something similar.  You had to watch this guy though, he would steal you blind.  But thievery was fairly rampant among us loser rocker types any way :)  The whole scene was completely surreal and just as strange as it sounds, but I digress...

There were a few bands there that came and went in this rehearsal space like Drowning Pool and July Alley.  They were two of the ones that received the ultimate honor of "getting signed" by a label.  But there was a whole slough of groups that passed through over the years that we were friends with and drank beer with after practice.  Another couple that just popped to mind were Pulp Society and Tusk.  It seems like we had a monthly rental at that point where we left all of our gear there setup so we could just walk in and rehearse any time we wanted to.  By gear I mean my bass amp and JC's guitar amp because Chris never bought a PA for him to sing through the entire time we were a band.  It was a running joke through the whole thing.  If I remember correctly, he just rented PAs occasionally when we harassed him enough to actually sing at our rehearsals :)

I can't remember how many drummers we went through looking for Skip's replacement.  It seems like we tried out the owner Terry, but he was just too 80s for us.  That's pretty funny to think now :)  Regardless, I just remember two drummers, the guy I wanted and Matt :)

 

Matt...

I think Matt came in first before the guy I wanted.  He basically kicked the door in with a cigarette in his mouth and looked at us like WTF?  Matt was a trip :)  He had this kinda grumpy laid back thing going.  Like he was a little agitated about something all the time, but not really enough to be mad but at the same time kind of had this "whatever" sort of out look on life.  He also had this air of confidence about him and come to find out, for good reason.  Along with Earl Harvin, he was probably the best drummer in Deep Ellum. 

He came from Lubbock and if I remember right was the major stud hoss drummer in high school out there.  Won some awards and stuff.  I think he kinda got taken under the wing by a guy named Snodgrass that he followed out to UTA in Arlington.  There Matt quickly became the #1 seat drummer in the Jazz Orchestra at UTA.  Outside of North Texas, UTA had the next most prestigious music department in the area and Matt was the stud hoss drummer from there.  During his stint in Plaid Faction they played all over the place with some awesome Jazz musicians, with the biggest piece being invited to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland.  Look it up, its a HUGE accomplishment for any musician.  Being the asses that we were, we of course always referred to it as the Montreal Pop Festival when telling someone about it in Matt's presence because it riled him up every time :)  (That's like saying he went to a district playoff football game instead of the Super bowl :))

Side note: To this day I still don't know why he wanted to play with us.  He was clearly several levels better than we were and could have easily played in any band anywhere.  But he always said PF was like a fun getaway for him from the rigors of the UTA Jazz Orchestra.  Whatever the reason, I'm sure glad he did.  His powerful technical playing really defined the PF sound as well as he taught me how/forced me to become a real bass player.  For that I owe him a lot, not to mention he was a good friend through the PF years.  Matt if you ever read any of this, shoot me an email.

But needless to say, Matt came in and just killed.  Anything we threw at him he ripped through it on another level than we had thought of.  He made Skip look a complete newb technique wise.  Even though he didn't jump up and down, he played with this power that Skip couldn't match.  I don't think I've played with a drummer since that could match his power.  He made it look effortless, but man when he came down on those drums, it was LOUD!  The clincher was he played the drum line to Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave You Lover"   The drum part on that was done by one of my all time favorite drummers, Steve Gadd and is very hard to play correctly.  At this point he had won over Chris and JC, but I thought he was too cocky and grumpy for the PF.

 

The Guy I Wanted...

My guy came in after Matt's audition.  He was waiting out in the hall and heard Matt playing "50 Ways to Leave You Lover" so of course he tried to do it to show he was as good as Matt.  In retrospect, it was a bad move because his version was quite crappy compared to Matt's and just made him look bad.  Despite his first try, he gelled with us well and had a good groove thing going.  He seemed a lot nicer than Matt and easy going.  He also worked at Brook Mays and could get like 40% discount on every thing in the store.  Being the big gear whore I am, that really appealed to me personally :)  But regardless, Matt had already sealed the deal.  When he played he left no doubt he was the best.  So ultimately I gave in and we went with Matt.  Chris said we couldn't have my guy any way since he came in wearing black socks with his sandals and that was just not going to do in Chris' book :)

 

Getting Caught...

When my guy came in, he also brought a note with him.  He said Skip had shown up and caught us trying out drummers.  My guy actually asked Skip if he was auditioning for the band as well, hehe.  Ouch.  Ok, so we weren't the smoothest operators at that point.  If I remember correctly, we were trying out drummers on the night one of Skip's favorite bands was playing at Trees.  We knew (thought) that Skip would be there and wouldn't come to the rehearsal studio.  Obviously, we were wrong.  Skip apparently went to the front desk and got a piece of paper and wrote a note.  It said something like:

"I guess you guys are looking for a new drummers.  That's fine.  Good luck, I'll pick up my stuff later."

And I think that was the last we ever heard from Skip...

 


Until July 2008!

While searching PF on the net on 7/24/08, I found Skip!  He had found this site a couple of years after I started it and posted a blog to his site about it in January 2008.  Here's what Skip had to say:

 

http://skipnikz.blogspot.com/2008/01/plaid-faction.html

Check out the current section for a reply from Skip and more info about him now.