Bryan Harris & the Vegabonds Are on a Roll
We were extraordinarily fortunate to sit down with Vegabonds founding member and drummer Bryan Harris, and given that it was just two days past the devastating tornadoes that had just swept through the greater portion of Nashville just the day before, we were delighted to hear of Bryan's inspirations, his faith, and his determination in seeing things through. We found that Bryan is just the kind of guy that maintains an outstanding attitude no matter what the circumstances, and takes what he can and learns from just about any and all experiences. In just three short hours, he was to have packed all his gear, make sure all group members were present with all their gear, and then make the rather lengthy drive (about 9 hours) to Charlottesville, Virginia...and that is only the beginning as they prepare for an all-out blitzkrieg of concerts through North America, and Europe.
Drumpickers: The Vegabonds have this "rootsy", gritty, and yet down home inspired Rock-N-Roll feel with fantastic vocals and really catchy hooks. What inspired you to play, and play the way you do?
Bryan: It was my brother that first showed me how to play the drums, but it was my late father that inspired me. I never saw my dad play, but he was always an encouragement as well as my mother.
Drumpickers: Were there any influences in style that you adapted to create your own?
Bryan: Not really, although I respect the type of playing you hear from Charlie Watts. He's got that straight ahead playing that seems timeless. That's the kind of playing I see myself applying to our music when I'm 60 (laughs).
Drumpickers: What gear are you using right now?
Bryan: Well, I've been using a Pearl Master's Studio kit for as long as I can remember, and absolutely love it. The snare drum is a Gretsch Taylor Hawkins Signature snare and it has a great sound when we play live.
Drumpickers: And the cymbals you prefer?
Bryan: I'm playing mostly Sabian AAX models, but have heard the Meinl Byzance series, and every time I do, they really get my attention.
Drumpickers: What gear is different from playing live, and playing in the studio?
Bryan: We just did our album at West End Studios in Atlanta Georgia, and it was great. I tend to stick with the Pearl Master's Studio kit most of the time, but on this last album we did with (producer) Tom Tapley (Sugarland/Blackberry Smoke), I used a Ludwig Black Beauty and really liked the sound we got.
Drumpickers: As you prepare for the tour in support of your fifth album (simply titled "V"), you're gonna be playing for quite a while. Are there things that can piss you off?
Bryan: (Laughs) I gotta say I'm pretty happy and I know I'm blessed to do what I do, and in large part that's due to my father and the struggles he endured with MS. If anyone had a reason to be pissed-off, it was him. However throughout it all, he kept a wonderful sense of humor, and remained encouraged, while encouraging others. He set quite an example for me and my family. On the other hand, being on the road can wear you down sometimes, so if I was to search my mind, I'd say when we show up and there's no green room, or when you play to crowds that are really unenthusiastic, that can do it...
Drumpickers: Have you ever experienced a "drumming emergency", and how would you characterize that?
Bryan: (Without pause) When a cymbal goes flying off the stand. I play with my cymbals straight and level. I know that's not necessarily the right way - because you're supposed to play them at an angle, but when the wing-nut is missing, they've come off before. There was also a time when the band was getting our gear together, and I was meeting them at the show, and we had everything off the truck and were setting up and I said, "Where are my cymbals?" They looked at each other and said, "Don't you have them?" (Laughs)
Drumpickers: What'd you do?
Bryan: Oh, I had to borrow a set of of ZBT cymbals from a kid. Not a good situation, but we made it through that night.
Drumpickers: What advice would you pass along to drummers who are just getting their start?
Bryan: Learn to play the harmonica! (Laughs) No seriously, I'd say play anywhere, and everywhere, and NEVER say no to a a gig. I'd also recommend you have like minded people around you playing, and build your fan base one fan at a time.
Drumpickers: Talk about your greatest moment playing...
Bryan: Well there was a time when my stepdad David Allen took me to see Charlie Daniels, and I told him that one day I'd be playing alongside his band. In 2012 the opportunity came and The Vegabonds were asked to open for them, and it didn't dawn on me until we were in the middle of our set, and I looked over and saw my stepdad there. It made me a little emotional, and will certainly be something I never forget.
With that, our time was seemingly cut just a bit short due to his need to be on the road. However Bryan's rock steady attitude, and happy presence was infectious and vibrant. His vision wasn't simply the "here and now", but long term. His determination and style of play, ...solid and powerful. We look forward to watching the stock continue to rise for The Vegabonds, and encourage those reading this to pick up their latest album "V", and look for them as they tour this Spring and Summer. One of their favorite showcases is The Music Mile in Appleton Wisconsin. Bryan highly recommends it. And If you're a fan of Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, or The Allman Brothers, then once you listen to The Vegabonds, you'll know you've found a new favorite.