Tob : While touring with Lenny Kravitz you used a very basic drum kit . Was it your choice or Lenny’s ? What model did you use ?
When I first joined Lenny in 1993, he asked me to play a small kit because he said that he saw a lot of drummers play on a big kit & not smoke on it. He wanted me to smoke & play a lot of drums on a small kit cause that is all that a great drummer really needs. That was no problem for me because I played small kits & larger ones too & was comfortable on both. The model of drumset that I first used in Lenny's band was a Sonor. But I now play Gretsch & started playing Gretsch with Lenny in February 2005. We have been on tour since March 2005 & my sound with Gretsch is incredible!!! On this tour we started rehearsing a song called "God Is Love", which has really low & deep tom-toms in it. As a result I added a second floor tom for the depth & the extra low note.
Tob : Can you tell us about your encounter with Lenny Kravitz ? Who went to meet the other one ?
LK & I have a mutual friend, a sax player named Antoine Roney. Antoine told me about a guy names Lenny, who at the time was married to Lisa Bone. I didn't know who Lenny was, but I knew who Lisa was. Anyway, Antoine told me that LK liked Gretsch drums & K-Zildjian cymbals, so I thought that he was a cool Rock 'N Roller right away !!!! LK had been looking for a drummer for 1 1/2 years & Antoine asked me if I would want to talk to him next time he called if he still needed a drummer. I said yes. A couple of months later Antoine called me and LK was on the line with him. We started talking & LK asked me if I had drums set up in my apartment, I said yes & he asked me to play for him over the phone! I played for about 5 minutes or so. when I got back to the phone I asked him if the sound was clear & if he could hear anything.
He said YES !!! I'm in LA, can you fly out here right now? I said yes right away. He said to come out for 1 or 2 days to play with his band & see how it feels with no strings attached. So, I packed 2 changes of clothes & got on a flight at 6am the next morning. When I got there LK picked me up from the airport himself which I though was really nice. We went back to the place that he was staying to play but the instruments weren't there yet.
As I waited, I began to see a person come in with a snare drum, someone else with sticks, another person with a bass drum pedal ... And the I realized that this was not the arrival of the drum kit but rather the arrival of lots of other drummers!!! Instead of being a relaxed little jam session, it ended up being a full scale audition with about 35-40 other drummers! I auditioned ... and rather than stay for 2 days, I ended up staying for 2 weeks! I learned the material & rehearsed with the band. And we all spent New Years together! At the end of the 2 weeks I did my first video with Lenny called "Are you goon go my way." After the video shoot was over LK & the band took me outside & he asked me if I wanted to join the band. I said yes, when does it start? He said it started 2 weeks ago!!!
Tob : When you work with Lenny Kravitz , can you express your musical opinions or the way you would like things to be ?
I play his parts from the records but I also add little things here & there of my own.
Tob : Which album did you work on most ?
I have only played on one song on one album of Lenny's called "Straight Cold Player" on the record entitled "5".
Tob : You recorded tribute to’ Deep Purple According to New York"’, TM Stevens, Ritchie Kotzen, took part in this project. Who asked you to play in this project ?
That was TM's project & he is the one who asked me to become involved. We had a blast !
Tob : What did you feel while you were in Ian Paice’s place playing Smoke On The Water and Space Truckin ?
We had a great time!!!!! Everything was fun. We made great music, laughed & had some great food!!!!!!! So, I had a good time.
Tob : Do you play other instruments ? Are there other instruments you would like to play ?
I use the piano to write music but I don't really play it. I love several other instruments but I have enough to do on journey & quest of becoming a virtuoso on the drums !
Tob : Famous female drummers are less numerous than male drummers . How can you explain it ?
No, I can't.
Would You Say That There’s a difference between a girl playing drums
and a boy ?
No, that all depends on the individual drummers. Any kid or adult, whether they are male or female, can take the drums as far as he or she allows themselves based upon amount of time & energy that they put into developing their skills. Skills are based on dedication and NOT on gender!
Tob : what pieces of advice would you give to a young female drummer, who would like to begin his professional career, ( as young as you were, when you started yours) in a world, which is still being ruled by men?
Be dedicated to your craft, determined to reach your goals & unrelentless in your pursuit of greatness.
Tob : You have performed with many artists and you have your own band too. Do you think you have the same responsabilities,the same rôle, in the both cases ?
I always take on the responsibility of being one with the music, open to creativity and willing to lead as well as follow. However, in my band, I would also add the responsibility of direction in the music being played, the band sound and our overall presentation.
Tob : What characterizes your playing ?
I would say feel, sound, style, technique & attitude.
Tob : Are there rhythms you like most ? which one and ,why ?
I enjoy having fun with most & like finding the fun in each. But specifically I like odd meter ostinatos, straight 8th note feels,walking bass lines, funky groves, & jazz rock lines.
Tob : do you have any projects ?
Yes, I have a new record called "Music for the new millennium" which will be sold on my website, www.cindyblackman.comI also have a new version of my band because recently I have added guitar in place of keyboards. The music has taken on a new life, it is more jazz/rock. It's got more of an edge in a way. The members are Fionn O Lochlainn - guitar, JD Allen- sax & George Mitchell- bass. Additionally I went into the studio recently & recorded with just guitar, bass & drums! That album will be out early next year & will also be sold on my website. I used the same rhythm section of Fionn & George.
Tob : To finish with, this is our traditional question : if you had to go and have a drink with someone dead or alive : who would it be and why ?
Tony Williams of course! He is my hero & the most prolific musician that I have ever encountered. But sorry, I have to name two more-I'd also want to sit down & have a drink with Moses! He is the epitome of humility, strength & unbiased Love. And, absolutely with Jesus. He represents total Love.
Nala - Décembre 2005
Photographs by order :
Jimmy Bruck, inconnu, Jimmy Bruck
Paul Bolotinski, Jimmy Bruck
Jo Lopez, Steve Rinkov.
REPORTAGE : Cindy BLACKMAN
Par Nala et toute l'équipe - Décembre 2005