Beat of a different drummer

Ex-DiFranco drummer Andy Stochansky to play Club 477

Andy Stochansky playing an oil drum.
Andy Stochansky playing an oil drum.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of andystochansky.com

Andy Stochansky is living every drummer’s dream.

After seven years of laying down the beat for folk heroine Ani DiFranco, Stochansky has decided that it’s time to do it his own way, taking on the role of songwriter and frontman for his own four-piece band. Having recorded two albums, the debut while you slept and last year’s critically lauded radiofusebox, Stochansky and his band play their first Kingston show at Club 477 tomorrow night.

“It was a case of, ‘I’ve got all these songs written, it’s time to leave now,” Stochansky said of his decision to vacate the drummer’s stool to perform his own songs. “(Playing percussion) just feels so damn good, but for me, it’s an even better feeling to be singing,” he said, adding that he’s “always wanted to play guitar.”

Stochansky has, however, abandoned his roots as a percussionist. His music, which has been described as everything from brooding to operatic, combines intricate melodies and gracefully fragile vocals with strong almost tribal rhythmic structures. Indeed, an often-noted fact about Stochansky music is his use of a large oil drum as an instrument.

“It was always just something I saw fitting into the band,” he says of the unusual percussive device, which he includes in his live arsenal along with numerous hand drums. Far from being an attention-getting gimmick, this drum is indicative of Stochansky’s genuine wish to explore different musical textures, and his desire to create and original sound. “After so many years of playing drums, you get bored of the traditional percussion sounds,” he says.

A surprising aspect of Stochansky’s songs is the strength and versatility of his vocals, which both contrast with and complement the more rhythmic elements of his music. “I listen to a lot of classical, a lot of opera,” he says when asked about the origins of his vocal technique. Stochansky, in fact, cites a diverse list of artists as inspirations, ranging from Led Zeppelin to Curtis Mayfield. “There’s always something I can find in any style that I like,” he said of how the music he admires impacts the creations of his own.

An artist that surely had an impact on Stochansky is Ani DiFranco, who he played with for seven years. Asked if DiFranco’s strong political stance is something he wishes to be associated with, Stochansky stated that, “My lyrics have always been political. I think it’s a good forum to express my views.” However, he stressed that the personal and the political are inextricably intertwined in his music. “The best part about it is when somebody just connects with it,” he said.

Stochansky’s close relationship with his audience is evident on his website (www.andystochansky.com), which includes an interactive section that allows anyone to post remixes of his songs. “I’m really interested to see what people are gonna do,” he said of the project, which continues the interest in remixes demonstrated by The Glory Remix album, a disc that featured remixed tracks from while you slept. Stochansky said that enough mixes are posted on his site, there is a good possibility of their being released as an album.

As for the show at 477, Stochansky seemed enthusiastic. “Kingston’s a great town,” he said. However, he was careful to warn those looking for a night of typical musical tedium. “If somebody expects to come to a loud rock show, they’re going to be disappointed.” What to expect, then? An oil drum is a good bet. And, it seems safe to say, so is the discovery of an intriguing and extraordinary new talent.

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