It’s clear that drumming is a family affair – at least for the Marsico family. Frank and Liv Marsico reveal the familial legacy of a natural feel, attachment, and incredible talent for drumming. These two remind us of how music can blur generational boundaries, transcend fads, and solidify relationships all the while demonstrating that age has little to do with their views of music or drumming. Even when we find ourselves most at odds with our parents, this pair manages to possess and embrace a common gift and passion for music. Guess in this situation we can boldly claim: Like father, like daughter.
Liv Marsico interviews her father Frank Marsico, one of the best jazz vibists in Los Angeles at the moment. We can see here the generational gap doesn’t really change their views of the music or drumming much. Like father like daughter.
Liv: When you are playing jazz who do you focus on the most? Who are you listening to?
Frank: I try to listen to the band as a whole, myself included as just another player. I play best when I’m relaxed enough to expand my attention almost like looking and listening from above, detaching myself as if I’m listening to another drummer – not me.
Liv: You have had lots of experience playing with singers. What advice would you give to drummers playing with singers?
Frank: Listen. Don’t overplay just compliment and enhance. Be sensitive to what the singer is doing and where they want to take it. Of course this advice is useless unless all of the other members of the band are on the same page.
Liv: You are one of the best vibists in Los Angeles, but started playing drums. How hard was it to switch? How is the approach similar or different?
Frank: Being a drummer first helped very much technically speaking since I already was able to hit things with sticks but musically speaking, it would definitely have been much easier if I had arrived at the vibraphone via the piano. I had to learn in my teens all of the harmony and theory that is required to play jazz vibes which is a lot harder and took a lot longer than learning how to hit things with sticks.
Frank: Liv, do you find that you get treated (by other musicians) differently than male musicians because you’re a female?
Liv: Yes, absolutely. In high school I was considered a joke by pretty much all the male musicians. They were cruel, judgmental and made me want to work even harder. If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have practiced as much as I did.
Frank: What kind of music most inspires you?
Liv: Jazz inspires me. Radiohead inspires me. Flying Lotus, and the underground movement in Los Angeles right now inspires me. All those artists are doing things that the jazz musicians once did. They are making whatever they want; in any field they want. Musically they are free and are creating a sound for this generation that hasn’t existed before. That’s extremely exciting to watch grow and develop.
Frank: How do you feel about brushes? Where did you learn your brush technique?
Liv: Brushes are a beautiful thing. I’ve gathered my brush technique from many different places. I love how sensitive you have to be in order to get just the right sound. I learned a lot from Jeff Hamilton. He taught me his brush technique which was passed down from Philly Joe Jones. I try to incorporate his approach and technique whenever I play brushes.
Frank: Who are your favorite drummers?
Liv: Elvin Jones, Mitch Mitchell, Ed Thigpen, Max Roach, Brian Blade, Roy Haynes,Philly… The list goes on and on. I like truth, not showy chops. If I hear a drummer play from desperation, then they become my favorite drummer. Its simple. I believe if you always play truthfully than you will always play well.
By Liv Marsico, Frank Marsico and intro by Lajoie Girges