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The Shards, Up Close and Exposed !!!



What is your role with The Shards?

I see my primary role as being ‘spot-on’ the beat (in the pocket) and holding the rhythm section together. There’s a great interview in ‘Westway to the World’ a documentary film about The Clash (one of my favorite bands). Joe Strummer is describing how The Clash was never the same after they kicked out their drummer Topper Headon. Headon was a phenomenal drummer, but his heroin addiction began to affect his playing. Strummer said something like ‘Horn players can do heroin and still play because they float above the music, but drummers need to hold the rhythm together. Heroin is bad for drummers and good for saxophone players.’ So my role is to be a drug-free Topper Headon.

Where are you from?

grew up in New York and after getting over my ‘NY attitude’ I now live in the Garden State.

How long have you been playing drums?

My folks gave me one of those cheap throw-away drum sets for Christmas when I was 4 or 5. They thought it would help my fidgeting, but they wrong. My first serious involvement in music was in 4th grade when I played drums in the Stratford School Band. Soon after that, my mom bought me my first real drum set for $130 at a garage sale. It was a very cool silver sparkle Ludwig kit, with Zildjian cymbals. I still have the hi-hat cymbals which are probably worth more now than the original price of the kit!.

Who are your musical influences?

Rolling Stones, The Police, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Clash, Peter Tosh, most Classic Rock.

Who is your favorite guitarist

Mark Knopfler(Dire Straits), Steve Howe (YES), Joe Walsh (Eagles)


Chris Squire (YES), John Entwhistle (The Who), Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report). Paul McCartney (The one and only)


Randy Newman, Dr. John, Lowell George (Little Feat)


Steve Winwood


Stewart Copeland (Police), Levon Helm (The Band), Steve Gadd, Elvin Jones




Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders)

Who is your least favorite guitarist?

Lou Reed


Rick James


Pete Best (think about it… Ringo replaced him)


Barry Manilow


Steve Perry

What’s currently in your CD player?

Let’s Face It - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Greetings from Hollywood - Royal Crown Revue
The Best of The Band - The Band
August and Everything - Counting Crows
True Love – Toots & The Maytals

If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring 6 CD’s what would they be?

1. Tattoo You – Rolling Stones
2. The Story of the Clash – The Clash
3. The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff (or a Bob Marley CD especially if stuck on an island)
4. Zenyatta Mondatta – The Police
5. Pretenders Greatest Hits
6. AJA – Steely Dan

What type of gear do you use?

Drums: Tama
Hardware: Tama, Tama Iron Cobra
Cymbals: Paiste 2002, Paiste Rude, Paiste Sound Edge and Zildjian
Sticks: Vic Firth/Dave Weckl
Various: LP Cowbells/shaker/chimes
Drum mics: Sennheiser e604
Sing With: Sennheiser e945

What’s your favorite piece of gear? (or most useful etc).

Tama Iron Cobra Double Bass Pedal. I just need to learn how to use it.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you while playing before a live audience?

There are so many. Like the time I played a frat party and some girl spilled her beer on the top of the lead guitarist’s vintage tube head and popped all the tubes. Or the time one of my sticks went straight through the snare drum head. Guess I hit it a bit too hard that night. But the most memorable was in college when my band warmed up for Jorma Kaukonen’s electric band. Just before the start of a song I took a chug from a glass of water, but it turned out to be straight vodka. Good thing it wasn’t JD.

What do you like to do besides play music?

Building or restoring just about anything.

What do you love to do most?

Watch my son play, draw, sing, or dance like nobody’s watching.

What do you like to do least?


What’s your favorite color?


What is your favorite food?

Pizza, pasta or just about any Italian dish -- especially veal saltimbocca with a nice wine.

Describe the perfect gig.

When you are used to schlepping around your own gear and being your own roadie, there’s nothing better than a gig where there is a ‘back-line’ and all you have to do is show up. You have the luxury of walking into a room with just sticks, play your heart out, and walk off stage to a happy crowd where you can hang out with them instead of packing up your drums and gear. Now that’s a perfect gig.

What do you like most about playing with The Shards

It’s the most democratic band I’ve been associated with. Very dedicated to the music, fun to play with, and all around just a good bunch of guys, despite what Gary might say.

James Lipton Questions...

What is your favorite word?

"Yes". When you’re in sales it beats ‘no’ every time.

What is your least favorite word?

"Hate". Because I hate it.

What turns you on or what is your favorite thing?

Next to my family, music is definitely my favorite thing.

What turns you off?

Snooty, pompous, ‘plastic’ people.

What sound or noise do you love?

Do you know what a ‘belly laugh’ is? When my son makes a belly laugh.

What sound or noise do you hate?

A piece of Styrofoam rubbing against another piece of Styrofoam. Either that, or the sound of a guitar being tuned with harmonics at a gig. Thankfully chromatic electronic tuners were invented.

What is your favorite curse word?

"Shit". It’s just so appropriate when you smash your thumb with a hammer.

What professions (other than music) would you like to attempt?

Some type of inventor or mechanical engineer.

What profession would you not like to do?

Any type of work in a nuclear facility.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?

"We’ve been expecting you."

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