Fun @ Gigs – Episode 3: Seizure

Posted: July 26, 2013 in My Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , ,

When I was playing with The Dark, we had an epileptic drummer named Dan. When we were auditioning drummers, his phone call was one to remember – in fact, I don’t recall any other. He spoke very slowly, as if he were thinking carefully about every word, and even as I booked his audition, I envisioned him moving slowly as well and wondered how he could possibly play the drums, which are quite a physically demanding instrument. Dan seemed to have a condition in addition to epilepsy which caused him to basically move at 3/4 speed compared to the rest of the world.

Dan showed up to the audition, and he moved and talked as slowly in person as I expected him to. He was also a perfectionist, so setting up his kit took an eon. While he was setting it up, the guys and I were dying to know what was going to happen when he sat behind the kit with sticks in his hand, and we all started playing.

In a nutshell, he nailed it. We were stunned. It was as if the whole “slow” thing was a joke to throw us off. We played a nice rocking tune, and when it was over, he went right back to his 3/4 speed self. It was the greatest Jeckyll & Hyde I’d ever seen. We opted to bring Dan on board because we figured, so what if he moved slowly – it only mattered what he could do with the sticks, and he was a very good drummer.

And so it was – Dan played drums quite well with us, and we never worried about his skills. He would frequently miss coming in on the one because he was busy trying to paradiddle the pants off his fills, but in general, we were able to look forward and face the audience while we played.

One night, though, and I forget which song it was, we were just rocking out as usual (I think we were playing at Good Time Emporium in Somerville, MA), and the drums just went haywire … they lost the beat, went a little wild, had no relation to the song, and basically just rambled on for maybe a bar or two. Then they settled back in and found their place.

After the show, we asked Dan what happened, and he said that he had a seizure in the middle of the song. In the whole time we had played with him, he’d never had a seizure, and though we knew he had epilepsy, enough time had elapsed since he joined the band that we got comfortable and never thought about it. And we certainly never expected him to have a seizure while drumming, since that seemed to be his happy place.

In conclusion, if you’re shopping for drummers, and an epileptic one calls you back, don’t be afraid, but be ready for some improv jazz in the middle of your prog rock.



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