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On the Beat




On The Beat with Ross Brown


Ross Brown is a drummer, a songwriter, a guitarist, a singer. He splits his time as the bombastic timekeeper for The Empty Spaces, the frontman for Fullbloods, and he’s a solo artist with a new album on the way—his first since 2007. We sit down with him and find out more about his life as a drummer and all-around musician.

The Deli: How did the drums find you?

Ross Brown: I started homeschooling my sophomore year of high school, which basically meant I blazed through my work and played music all day. The problem was that all of my friends were at school during the day, so I didn't have anyone to jam with. I borrowed an old kit from my buddy and started playing along with my own recordings to fill out the rhythm section. If that's not a pathetic story, I don't know what is.

The Deli: Did you play drums first, or another instrument?

Ross: I started with trumpet and euphonium as a kid and picked up guitar and bass along the way. Drums were the last addition.

The Deli: What kind of kit do you use?
Ross: I've had the same Gretsch Catalina Club kit for years. It's a decent and versatile enough kit to keep around. I love the 18" kick. I usually play a 14" brass Tama Starclassic snare and use Aquarian Modern Vintage heads on everything but the kick.
I'm fortunate enough to have Fullbloods practice in my basement, so I get to hammer on the kits that Bill Pollock brings over. There was a span of time where I swear that guy was bringing a different kit every two weeks. His vintage Rogers kits are killer.

The Deli: When you think of your musical career, do you see yourself as a drummer?
Ross: I definitely didn't until about a year into playing with The Empty Spaces. I finally broke down and accepted that the thing I was doing when flailing sticks around at wooden shells was called "playing the drums.”
The Deli: Are there any local drummers you look up to?
Ross: Kyle Rausch (of The ACB’s) is currently my favorite drummer in Kansas City.

The Deli: You also are a solo artist and the frontman of Fullbloods. Do you think of yourself first as a songwriter or a drummer/instrumentalist?
Ross: Songwriter. I think that helps me not go nuts and tromp over the rest of the band. Sometimes.

The Deli: What’s coming up that you’re especially looking forward to?
Ross: Officially releasing my solo album Small Victories on October 23 on Golden Sound Records. Really stoked that The Empty Spaces get to play with Broncho on Novermber 30 at Czar

The Deli: Finally, you’re a part of Golden Sound Records. Tell me a little bit about that collective and what role you play.
Ross: We're a "record label" in that we help artists put out records, promote them, and sell them. Our main goal is to do cool stuff with music and the community and bring attention to music we think is great. I do a lot of the recording/mixing/mastering, web development, and design stuff.
The next time you can catch Ross hitting the skins with The Empty Spaces will be this Saturday, October 20 at recordBar with The Cave Girls and Mad Spirits. Then, be sure to check him out with the band at this year’s Apocalypse Meow benefit at The Beaumont Club on Saturday, November 3. His solo album Small Victories will be available exclusively through Golden Sound Records as a digital download next Tuesday, October 23.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She never ate glue in school, honest. 

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Ross Brown

The Empty Spaces - Party Line

Golden Sound Records

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On The Beat with Solomon Radke

In a very short time, St. Joseph brothers Radkey has taken the Kansas City area by storm, and beyond. They recently wrapped up a headlining show in Lawrence, just finished a music video in Brooklyn, and played the Afro-Punk Festival. A third of the band’s success is due to Solomon Radke, who pummels the drums with purpose and can show up any veteran drummer. Find out a little more about one of the youngest, most talented drummers on the scene right here!

On The Beat is typically brought to you by Sergio Moreno, but has been overtaken this week by editor Michelle Bacon. This weekly interview features some of the many talented drummers in the area.

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On The Beat with Solomon Radke


Solomon Radke seems fairly shy and soft-spoken when you first meet him. He looks like any other 15-year-old kid, maybe with a bit more style. But then he takes the stage with his brothers Darrion and Isaiah of Radkey, and this is where his personality shines. He beats the skins mercilessly, boldly, and precisely while his brothers hammer the audience with rock n’ roll in the same spirit as The Ramones and the punk attitude of Bad Brains. We got to talk to Solomon and find a little bit more about his background.
The Deli: How did the drums find you?
Solomon Radke: I started playing two and a half years ago. Isaiah had the idea of starting a band so I just decided to play the drums.

The Deli: That’s pretty amazing, considering you’re already a very solid drummer. What has been your biggest musical accomplishment so far?
Solomon: Playing the Afro-Punk Festival (in Brooklyn) and making a music video.

The Deli: Who are your biggest influences as a drummer? 
Solomon: Neil Peart, Ringo Starr, Pat Wilson, Keith Moon, Tre Cool, Taylor Hawkins, and John Bonham.

The Deli: Do you still see yourself playing drums in 10 years?
Solomon: Yes. I want to do a national tour, and spend the rest of my life playing music.

The Deli: What have you been listening to lately?
Solomon: Weezer, Green Day and The Foo Fighters. 

The Deli: As the youngest musician I've interviewed, do you have any advice for other young musicians who want to begin a musical career?
Solomon: Practice for at least 15 minutes every single day and play the kind of music that you want to play. Don't try to please anyone but yourself when writing music. 

The Deli: What's next for Radkey? What are you most looking forward to?
Solomon: Hopefully a full-length album and a national tour. 
You can catch Solomon with his brothers tomorrow night, October 6, at The Brick. They’ll be performing alongside heavy hitters The Dead Girls and Sons of Great Dane. Also, see him in action below in Radkey’s first music video. This is “Cat and Mouse,” and it was recorded at Adrian Grenier’s Wreckroom in New York.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. Her first CD was either Green Day's Dookie or Boyz II Men's II. She is sorry. 

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Solomon Radke

Photo by Nathan Reynolds


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On The Beat with Pat Tomek

(Photo by Chip Duden)

Pat Tomek is one of the most versatile people you'll meet in the Kansas City music community. He plays drums in town with legendary KC songwriter Howard Iceberg, spends time rocking across Norway with the Rainmakers, and engineers albums for local groups. This week you can find out a little bit more about one of the most successful drummers in the area. Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is typically brought to you by Sergio Moreno, but has been overtaken this week by KKFI 90.1 host of Signal To Noise, Barry Lee. This weekly interview features some of the many talented drummers in the area.

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On The Beat with Pat Tomek


Not many KC drummers get to do what Pat Tomek does. One night he can be playing drums in a neighborhood bar with Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, the next week play a sold-out opera house with the Rainmakers in Norway, then come back home to produce an album for Deco Auto in his home studio. Recently inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, he's a true Kansas City star.    

The Deli: Pat, tell us about your first set of drums.

Pat Tomek: It was a blue sparkle Stewart (cheap Japanese drums from the '60s). Between my junior and senior years in high school I worked a summer job at a furniture store and scraped enough money together to buy a used kit.

The Deli: Who or what inspired you to be a drummer?
Pat: A few years before that, my brother's best friend got a drum kit and they let me sit down to play it. They said, "You sound really good! You should play drums!" and I believed them. I spent a year or so playing along with songs on the radio or stereo, pounding on pillows first with pencils and then some real sticks, until I got a job and bought some drums. I was going to leave them at home when I went to college, but a friend told me I could make some money playing parties. He was right, and you could say I owe my career to him.
I never had lessons. I guess I must have had some innate talent because I played with high school stage band when I'd only had the drums a couple of months. I couldn't really read music (I still suck at it)—I just made things up and the teacher was none the wiser. I did sweat one time when he asked me, "What are you playing on bar such-and-such?" I just made something up, and then he told me what it should have been. Whew!
I should say some friends were putting a band together when I got the kit, so I started playing immediately. We did stuff by Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Spirit, Creedence—a lot of what was on the radio at the time (1969). 

The Deli: Before you joined the Rainmakers, you played in a variety of bands. Is there one particular band you remember most fondly?
Pat: Well, the best-known band I was in before the Rainmakers was The Secrets*, with Brent Hoad and Norm Dahlor (now with The Elders) and Steve Davis (Liverpool). The first professional recordings I was on were with them, recording for Titan Records in 1978. We eventually did an album out in LA, produced by Greg Penny and Stan Lynch (Tom Petty's drummer). I don't think Stan liked me, but I learned a huge amount just being around him. Looking back on it, I'd never had a role model before. 
If I can mention another band, the 4 Sknns was loads of fun. We played '60s and early '70s covers back before anyone else (except Steve, Bob and Rich, who started about the same time). We did exactly what we wanted and more or less dared anybody to fire us. We just didn't care, and that was very liberating for me. Joe "Guido Toledo" Welsh, Richard Streeter, and Gary Charlson (another Titan Records alum). If I can put a plug in here, the Sknns are doing a reunion weekend October 12-13 at The Brooksider. Hopefully we won't suck.
The Deli: The Rainmakers evolved from a trio: Steve, Bob and Rich. Bob Walkenhorst played drums for that group. How did you come to join the Rainmakers?

Pat: Oh good, I can segue from the last question! The Sknns and Steve, Bob and Rich were playing a lot of the same clubs, like Parody Hall and Blayney's. We got to know each other, and one day I got a phone call from Bob. He said they had been signed to Mercury/PolyGram and the plan was to replace him on drums so he could move up front. I never auditioned, just started learning the songs. In fact, we had to take promo pics before we even had a chance for a rehearsal; I remember thinking, "I sure hope this works."

The Deli: You've also played with lots of area bands, including Hidden Pictures and Howard Iceberg and the Titanics. How would you describe your role within a particular band? For instance, does your approach to playing change depending on the type of band it is?
Pat: Every band is unique. One of the benefits of playing with different groups is that you can't just do the same old thing, because it won't work. You have to stay on your toes. In some bands, I have a lot of latitude. In others, like the early days of the Rainmakers or in Hidden Pictures, the songwriter is also a drummer and may have some definite ideas as to what I should do. 
Of course the material has a lot to do with itI'll be a lot busier playing Who covers than in a straight country band, for instance. In general I do try to play the fewest notes possible, because I think it sounds cleaner. If that means people don't think I'm very good, that's okay. I'd much rather they think the band is good than that the drummer is.  
Occasionally, though, clutter is good. For instance, there's no point in being restrained on "Won't Get Fooled Again!"
The Deli: You've had the great fortune to tour all over the world. What would your advice be to a drummer about to embark on his or her first tour outside their hometown? 
Pat: Try to sleep, and eat well. It won't happen, but do what you can. You'll last longer. Yoga has been a huge help to me, though I'm not very good at it. In every sense be as flexible as you can, because everyone around you is under a strain, too. Keep your eyes and ears open: my biggest regret from my touring days is that I didn't force myself to be more outgoing, to make contact and learn as much as I could from the amazing people I met. 
The Deli:  When you're not playing music, how do you like to spend your time?
Pat: I've been a freelance web designer since 1996, but haven't done as much with that since the Rainmakers started up again. I have a Pro Tools-based studio in my house; I've done most of Howard Iceberg's recording since the early '90s. I tracked the Rainmakers' 25 On album (Bob mixed), recorded The Cave Girls and Deco Auto, and I'm in the home stretch of a double-CD album with Forrest Whitlow. It looks like I might be recording The Lucky next. 
In my spare time, I like to hang out with our cats. There are lots of them.

The next time you can catch the Rainmakers in Kansas City will be at the Parktoberfest at English Landing Park in Parkville on Saturday, October 6 at 3:30 pm. Pat can be seen banging the drums at the 4 Sknns reunion shows on Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13.

--Barry Lee

Barry Lee is the host of the long-running free-form radio show Signal To Noise, which is broadcast on Sunday nights at 8:00 pm on KKFI.

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Pat Tomek

Photo by Chip Duden

The Rainmakers





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