Viral Rhythm: The Mad Drummer Phenomenon

It started with that clip, This Drummer Is At The Wrong Gig, which was posted on a friend’s Facebook page about a week ago. You must have seen it by now…

We talked about how over the top the drummer guy was, I even wondered if he was playing so freely because the show was all coming from a concealed laptop, but my friends convinced me to watch again and I soon realized that, yes, this guy was really playing. Amusing. Fun. Thanks for sending it. Then it was banished to the Facebook trash bin, a one or two day story at best. Or so I thought.

Why am I always surprised when something goes viral? Yes, thanks to web redemption, Steve Moore a/k/a the Mad Drummer, is the new viral star. But Moore, the propulsive “Animal from The Muppet Show” force behind Rick K. and the Allnighters (“America’s Most Exciting Showband”) is different than, say, the dude who sang “Chocolate Rain” in that he is a work-a-day musician with endorsements and everything. Check out his site The Mad Drummer.com, http://www.maddrummerinc.com/. There, at the bottom of the  ENTER screen you’ll see his long list of sponsors, from Ludwig drums and Pro-Mark sticks to Randall May, a company that makes those little clips for miking drums.

You’ll also find a whole slew of media for the guy, including a great interview with Michael Alan Goldberg for Philadelphia Weekly, wherein Moore explains his how his journeyman instincts kicked in the minute the “Sharp Dressed Man” clip went viral.

“The first thing that went through my mind,” Moore told Goldberg, “I thought, “Oh man, what if this thing goes to the moon? I really gotta grab that name!” So http://www.viraldrummer.com is already mine. It’s set up to do the forwarding to my site, http://www.themaddrummer.com. I thought, “It’s 10-15 bucks, why not?”

He says going “viral”, a term he says he only learned by being at the center of the phenomenon, was akin to winning the lottery. But despite the fame, it’s the little things that blow his mind, such as learning, through a friend, that his favourite drummer, Mike Portnoy from the band Dream Theater, had Twittered about him, which lead to the two becoming Facebook friends within hours.

“I don’t care about money and all that,” Moore told Philadelphia Weekly, “but to get that sort of respect, you know what I mean, on that level? That guy doesn’t look at me and go, ‘Oh, that guy’s a joke.’ That’s huge to me, man!”

He’s also pleasantly aware that people often mock the anonymous road warriors in everyday working show bands, but explains that it’s like “spinach – not everybody likes it. I get that. But at the same time it’s really hard, to a degree, when you see everyone else in the band get ripped to shreds, because they’re nice guys// I gotta be honest with you, man — a lot of the comments on YouTube, man, they’re funnier than hell! I mean, I can laugh at ‘em, it doesn’t offend me because they’re funny, man. Some people really come up with some good stuff.”

He also discusses how he developed his flashy stage antics, and reveals that he’s been drumming since he was around six years old, and blown away by obvious forerunners such as Keith “the Loon” Moon or jazz legend Gene Krupa “… visual kind of players. But it didn’t do me any good …until l I first saw Tommy Lee with Mötley Crüe — he’s a great drummer, don’t get me wrong, but he did spins and twirls that I could do. I couldn’t do them as good as Tommy Lee and I still can’t, but as far as making an attempt at it, it was like, I could do that! So I watched a lot of Tommy Lee and then went out on a gig one day and when I finally worked it up I twirled my drumstick and a bunch of people in the audience pointed at me. So at the age of 12 or 13, whatever it was, I literally just went, “Ah ok, I get it!” And I started doing silly things, things that weren’t necessarily difficult — like if you lift your foot in the air or make a funny face, that’s not technically challenging but it would make people point. So a quote I’ve used for the last 20 or 30 years, ‘People hear with their eyes.’ They really do….but what I’m doing really isn’t that hard. If  you’re playing drums and you take your left arm and raise it above your head, well, anybody can do that … each move on its own is really simplistic. …It’s not hard twirling sticks, anyone can do that, but to not let the beat go to hell, that’s what’s so hard. And especially the hi-hat — it’s just such a sensitive instrument and I do a lot of back-sticking, and to make those sound the same when it’s two different parts of the stick, that’s what’s difficult, trying to make it sound halfway decent. Anybody can go apeshit, but making it sound decent at the same time is hard! And that’s something I constantly work at.”

“Well the thing is,” he admitted to Goldberg, “I do that same sort of thing most of the show. Not all of the show — I try to have some taste, if that’s possible [laughs]. But still, a lot of people aren’t catching the fact that Rick K., he’s not even in the video…Most people will watch “Sharp-Dressed Man,” and then they’ll see we do “Wipeout,” and maybe they’ll watch that…”

“…and that’s usually where their attention drops off,” he continues, “and they run along to the pissing cat or whatever else it is. By then you’re competing with the farting dog or something. So unfortunately, Rick gets the bad end of the stick because people never realize that it’s his organization and he’s the singer and all of that. I think Rick will probably keep things the way it’s been. As far as how it will affect things, I honestly don’t know. I mean, I would love to think it’s gonna affect things in a good way, and I know it will for me personally as far as endorsements and things like that. That’s already started — I’ve already gotten calls from two or three different companies as far as that kind of thing.”  For the full Philadelphia Weekly story go to http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/music/2010/06/04/exclusive-interview-steve-moore-a-k-a-the-viral-drummer/

If you want to catch Steve with Rick K., they’re at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota all this week! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!

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3 Responses to “Viral Rhythm: The Mad Drummer Phenomenon”

  1. No offense but, I hate viral anything. Fucking hate it. Fuck.

  2. pulmyears Says:

    Hey Dan!
    Perhaps my post failed in that I intended only to discuss how viral fame collides with an ambitious self-promoting journeyman. Fucking fuck indeed! Love that you’re still checking in!

  3. Todd Bernhardt Says:

    Great overview, Paul. I remembering laughing with joy as soon as I saw this guy — you can tell he’s a hard-working journeyman just trying to entertain people. I hope he gets some recognition, and even some money, out of this. I mean, why the hell not? All he was doing was having fun and trying to please the viewers — he didn’t know he was “going viral.”

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