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JEFF FRIEDL that music. I really got in touch with the energy of it and that helped my playing significantly.” Brimming with new rhythmic ideas, he enrolled in University Of Arizona’s percussion and performance program. After his fill of academia, he lit out for California to get even deeper into the music world, everything from small ensembles to supper club salsa orchestras to folk and country bands. All along, Friedl was adapting folkloric percussion to drum set, adding stuff like bongo bells and timbales to his kit and developing a hybrid style. The innovative drummers of Cuba’s famed songo band Los Van Van, Jose Luis “Changuito” Quintana, and especially Changuito’s successor, Samuel Formell, were a major inspiration. “I really had to step up because there’s a lot more depth to the scene in L.A. than there is in Arizona. But I only scratched the surface. I’m not going to say I’m this professional salsa musician like the percussionists that live and breathe it. It’s something I was passionate about and pretty good at. The syncopation and speed and precision that salsa music has, comes out even in my rock drumming.” He had a good thing going. Even if all the different bands didn’t raise his profile



in rock circles, he was making a living at his craft. “I played in a bunch of hardcore bands and punk bands when I was living in Arizona, but I never made any money doing it. I always made money playing jazz, Caribbean, and Top 40.” A chance audition in 2007 with Ashes Divide, a new project from APC’s Howerdel, set him on a different path. “I played hard at that gig,” he says. “I feel very fortunate that Billy believed in me and that threw me up into the upper echelon of the industry. That was the first time where I went, ‘Oh, I can make a decent living playing rock.’ And it kind of snowballed from there.”


Puscifer’s hipster cred is indisputable, but sporadic touring means Friedl has to hustle other jobs. For the last seven years he has been heavily involved with pioneering new wave act Devo. It started in early 2008 when he was called in to record some of the songs that would end up on Something For Everybody, the band’s first new material in 20 years. He ended up tracking over a period of six weeks but was never credited. He did get a shout-out on subsequent B-sides collection Something Else For Everybody.

(Check out dedicated live music site for a 2013 concert. Or search YouTube for “Monsterman,” a Something Else cut, to see him rock an e-kit in full monster makeup.) As with Puscifer, much of what the drummer laid down at Devo’s compound (the flying saucer-looking building, Mutato Muzika, on Sunset Boulevard) has a lot of electronics on it, but on tour he gets to play all those classic spud tunes with the same twitchy energy as Devo’s original drummer Alan Myers. And as any Devo fan-slash-drummer can attest, the band’s tunes are a real wrist killer. “It’s relentless and that’s what Devo expect live too, man. I know when I started playing with them they kind of freaked out on me. I was pushing really hard and channeling my inner Alan Myers and they had to tell me to calm down. I said, ‘I’m going to have a hard time calming down because that’s how I hear these parts in these songs.’ They were like, ‘Great, we really like your approach, but let’s slowly ramp up the tempo [laughs].’ So we found a happy medium, but I feel like I erred on the side of making it as punk as I could.” Friedl demonstrated the approach at a Musicians Institute clinic — choking up on the sticks for maximum rotational force

December 2015

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DRUM! Magazine December 2015  

Try a copy of DRUM! and learn to play better faster. The huge (144 pages) holiday issue features jazz triple grammy winner Teri Lyne Carring...

DRUM! Magazine December 2015  

Try a copy of DRUM! and learn to play better faster. The huge (144 pages) holiday issue features jazz triple grammy winner Teri Lyne Carring...