In your own words; write a brief description of your band
A heart crushing, unstoppable, rock and roll machine. Ha-ha .We like to say we’re too polite for punk rock as we all generally mind our P’s and Q’s. But oh boy, can we rock!
Name: Amber Banman
Hometown: Fort St. John, BC. Live in Victoria BC Canada
Nickname(s): Bam Bam, Chicken
Current band: RADco
Favourite place for takeout: Sabbhai Thai, coconut curry for the win!
Tom Tom: When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
Amber: I was 11. I was raised fairly conservative Mennonite, and my family had just started going to a new church and it had this spunky drummer who played the first time we went. It was the first time I had heard drums live and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him playing. Fast forward to later that year I had come home early and one of my dads’ friends was playing P.O.D’s Testify album in the CD player downstairs and my mind exploded! As soon as I was exposed to hard rock I knew I wanted to be a drummer like that.
Have you ever taken lessons?
I’ve taken a small handful over the years, mostly informal from friends, but I’m mainly self-taught. I spent my time listening to lots of music and pinpointing what the drummer is doing and picking up bits and pieces to create my own style.
What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
It was actually a couple of hymns. I had expressed my interest in playing and so my parents let me acquire a drum kit and I started playing for the church we were going to. It was all in 6/8 and I was so lost but the other drummer sat beside me and helped me count for the whole thing haha, it was great!
Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer?
I was 14, it was actually for a battle of the bands type show in my hometown, about 15 bands, everyone played 3 songs. It was so nerve wracking before I got out there but once I sat behind the kit I felt like I was at home. We played our songs and we actually ended up winning first place that night. Talk about an awesome first gig!
Describe your gear
I play a Taye Studio Maple 4 piece, my bass drum is a little obnoxious but I love it so much. I have Iron Cobra short board double kicks and my cymbals are a mix of Sabian and Zildjian. My high-hats are one half Zildjian top with a Sabian bottom. They got switcharoo’d somehow at a show on tour and I never found out where the other half went to, but now they have this crisp catch to them that I absolutely love, not even mad! I play Evans 360 hydraulic heads, “none more black” of course. I prefer SD10 Swingers from Vic Firth for my sticks.
Can you write music/ lyrics ?
I do dabble a bit with writing yes. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since I was a kid and have a couple books filled up with material that could be combined into songs for sure. As far as music goes, I can come up with creative beats or guitar patterns, but I have to give the song over for someone else to finish it.
Do you play other instruments or sing?
I play guitar yes, and I sing along while I play. I sing harmonies and backup vocals for RADco as well.
What is in your own musical collection?
I’m a bit of a sucker for the emo/post-punk scene. I started out listening to bands like Underoath, POD, and Tourniquet. Now I love to listen to stuff like Modest Mouse, Motion City Soundtrack, Brand New, Alexisonfire, Rise Against, Kaleo, Coheed and Cambria.
Do you have musical idols?
Aaron Gillespie from Underoath is hands down my favourite drummer. He is a maniac behind the drums and the inspiration for me to hit harder and practice more with weird syncopation.
Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?
That’s hard to pinpoint. The four of us all come from unique musical backgrounds that it turns into this weird combo where each of us can hear an entirely different band as an influence to one of our songs. For the recent recordings, producing wise, we have been aspiring to shoot for a Dead Weather production vibe.
Where do you practice / how often?
RADco has our own space set up, which is awesome, Christmas lights galore! We practice twice a week
What have you taken away from playing live?
Playing live is an interesting experience every time. Your crowd depends on you for entertainment and a connection with the music and lyrics. If you’re in a band you have to give it 100%. Onstage is where you can come alive and share a piece of yourself that may not get to be shown any other way, so I take full advantage of that! Let the freak flag fly! Mistakes will be made and technical difficulties will happen but playing live has taught me not to stress and to just roll with the punches. Have fun and don’t give two nickels about what anyone may say after the show, your passion shines through every time if you play honestly.
What does pre show preparation involve?
I have to eat chicken before every show ha-ha, it’s my comfort food and good luck charm I guess. It’s become routine. I like to have a drink once I set up my kit and peruse around the venue chatting with people showing up. I have a smoke right before we go on and some light stretches and then it’s show time!
Are you exhausted after a show?
Directly after a set I like to go outside, have a smoke and sit on the sidewalk, it’s my cool down time and allows me to catch my breath as I’m usually pretty tired. Five minutes of that and then I’m ready to go in and jump around for the next band!
What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
I’m a little accident prone, I’ve fallen off my throne after accidentally hitting myself in the eye with a stick and flinging myself backwards. Talk about embarrassing! I’ve also thrown my sticks out into the crowd at the end of the show and hit someone right in the head.. Whoops!
What are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?
If I have sleeves on, I will die ha-ha I prefer tank tops or T-shirts that I’ve cut the sides out of. I like to wear jeans and I wear the same pair of worn out converse every show, they’ve been buffed at the sole in all the perfect places for my pedals.
Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming? (Do you hit hard?)
Well they don’t call me Bam Bam for no reason! I was told I was too passive for the first couple years when I started playing, barely making my cymbals move and so I took the advice and went a little overboard for a while, I think I broke about 2 pairs of sticks a show! With practice and time I feel like I’ve developed an aggressive attack with lots of dynamic, not cracking cymbals anymore but still giving those bass amps a run for their money.
What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?
Tom Tom was so inspiring the first time I saw the magazine. For me I grew up knowing one other female drummer and just assumed there weren’t that many out there, only to find out boom! We’re everywhere and the talent is incredible! From big touring acts, to local garage bands you could pass on your street, they cover all kinds of unique individuals who all share the same passion. Magazines like this help take away the stigma of “you’re a good musician.. For a girl”
What are your goals as a musician ?
I’ve been asking myself the same question. I know making music will always be a priority in my life but some of my goals are to produce a few albums I can be proud of and I would love to tour as much as possible, hit Europe. I had a recent attitude change and its “hit it or quit it”; push myself and see how far I can go with it. I’m not great as a teacher but it would be pretty amazing to slide in and be a session or touring drummer and get to experience a variety of different bands and genres.
What’s in the future for you musically?
Talking this year RADco has been consistently preparing and will be releasing more new singles. We have ideas for a great video for one of them, and there are whispers about preparing for hitting the road next summer on one heck of an epic road trip.
What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?
Uprooting and moving cities just to be able to drum in a band again was a big one. What I’ve been choosing to do living wise and working wise is all shaped around the time I want to put into my band and my music.
What should people know about you?
Like special talents? Drunken karaoke song of choice?- Ice Ice Baby obviously haha.
Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?
Don’t get discouraged. Play because you love to play and the rest will follow. The people that may put you down or not be an encouragement will not matter if you don’t let them. It’s not a boys game anymore, don’t be afraid to show them that.
How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?
The local scene is a handful of very different venues. We’ve got funky small all ages venues to dive bars to big clubs downtown. For our genre we’re pretty lucky to have awesome local bands that keep things exciting and new. It has people coming out again and again regardless of how many times they’ve seen the local crew, which is so encouraging.
What are your interests away from drumming?
I’m a punk rock Mennonite. In my mild mannered life I am a house keeper, and I make sauerkraut with my singer Jen! I like to grow plants and a garden. I collect oddities, skulls and assorted insects. I cross stitch in my punk vest and my needlepoint glasses sitting on the end of my nose. It’s quite a sight haha.
At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?
It is so, so therapeutic. It feels like home behind the drums. I hope to inspire others to pursue the things they’ve always wanted to try, even if it’s a big jump or seems scary.
Any last thoughts ?
I just truly feel lucky for the opportunities I’ve been given. I really do have the best seat in the house!
Feature/ Photography : John Carlow-Finding Charlotte Photography