Cheryl Caddick grew up in a musical household and most likely was kicking in time when she was in the womb. Her whole life is a musical timeline in fact. With a traveling music teacher as a mom and a choir teacher as a dad, she sang quite a bit a home. Later she attended the prestigious Orange County High School of the Arts for Musical Theater. “When I realized that I could spend my musical life studying, creating, engaging in rhythm, it was a complete revelation. I might even say a revolution” she gushes.
“I think the drummer is the heart of any band,” says Caddick. She is the heart of the band Silver Phial, finishing up their soon to be released EP called, Aeronautique. The name of the album is inspired by vintage air travel, as Caddick has a healthy fascination with old-timey French hot air balloons. The name of the EP maybe French, but it has a very magical California 60’s vibe with warm 2 part harmonies that make you want to “kick up your feet and bask in the sunshine”
“Playing different instruments isn’t intimidating if you simply allow yourself to hear what that particular instrument wants to say. You can be a channel for its voice.” The song spiritualist really knows how to channel a drumming style that is straight forward and will speak to your heart.
-By Heather Cvar
Full name: Cheryl Lynn Caddick
Age: The Age of Reason
Hometown: Cypress, California
Where do you live now: I live in Atwater Village, CA. Zip 90039.
Bands you are drumming in currently: Silver Phial, Eagle-Winged Palace, The Dolly Rocker Movement
Bands you were drumming for in the past: Mountain Party, Layer
What you do for a living: teaching, playing and writing music
Photos by Sarah Morrison and Lindsey Walker (top 3).
Tom Tom Magazine: When did you start playing drums?
Chery Caddick: I really started playing the drum kit only about six years ago, but I have been playing percussion instruments almost all my life. I think I was always beating on things, even as a child. I really started to get into percussion when I got this wild hair to buy a conga. I met up with some drummers, did drum circles, and then discovered the frame drum and the amazing history of women and rhythm. That was in 1995 and I haven’t stopped.
Tom Tom Magazine: Reason that you started playing drums?
Cheryl Caddick: Rhythm is life. Rhythm changes consciousness, especially odd meters; 5’s, 7’s, 9’s. These are my favorite! When I realized that I could spend my musical life studying, creating, engaging in rhythm, it was a complete revelation. I might even say a revolution.
Tom Tom Magazine: What is your favorite drum set-up? Why?
Chery Caddick: My favorite, most interesting drum set-up was when I was playing with Mountain Party. I decided that I needed more power, more wildness in the sound of my frame drum and soft shakers, bells, etc. So, I concocted a microphone set up to clip onto my frame drum, and connected this to an effects unit and amp. So, I got some incredibly psychedelic sounds from what had been fairly soft, subtle instruments.
Tom Tom Magazine: What would your dream kit consist of?
Cheryl Caddick: I think it would be a lot like Trilok Gurtu’s percussive kit. I saw him play live at PASIC in the late 90’s. He was down on his knees playing the most incredible array of percussion instruments; cymbals, tablas, shakers, bells, etc. All set up in a kit-like formation in front of him. It was a solo performance and completely mesmerizing! I don’t think I breathed for an hour!
TTM: What do you think the role of a drummer is in a band?
CC: I think the drummer is the heart of any band. A drummer who has finesse can bring a kind of musicality to the rhythmic aspects of the music that someone who is simply banging away cannot. That’s one reason I think women make excellent drummers. We usually have finesse.
TTM: Do you play any other instruments?
CC: Lots. I sing, play guitar, flute, keys, and harmonium. My parents are music teachers and musicians themselves, so I have been surrounded by music since birth. Playing different instruments isn’t intimidating if you simply allow yourself to hear what that particular instrument wants to say. You can be a channel for its voice.
TTM: How does playing different instruments effect your drumming?
CC: I think playing different instruments helps to make me a more musical drummer. I read music and understand meter, dynamics, and composition. I think it’s important for drummers to have some experience with melody, otherwise they can easily lose the subtlety of the musical line, the sense of the arc of the song. Also, I think studying different rhythmic systems has helped immensely. I studied the Tala, the Indian rhythmic system with a master Tabla player some years ago. That really messed with my mind! Talk about a highly developed rhythmic system. We think we are so sophisticated with our four beat cycles. Try sixteen-beat cycles!
TTM: What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about the drums?
CC: Playing and singing at the same time.
TTM: What’s your favorite part about playing drums?
CC: Playing and singing at the same time! I think it locks me into the song completely. I watch Phil Collins in early Genesis videos and I’m so inspired. Karen Carpenter too. They both have a complete musical knowledge and embody the work so definitely. I hope to be inspiring in that way.
TTM: Most notable show you ever played?
CC: The most notable show I ever played was when I was in a women’s frame drum ensemble called “Lipushiau” (she is the first named drummer in history, by the way. She was a Sumerian priestess in the temple of the moon at Ur). We somehow got asked to play on a tall ship in the harbor near Long Beach. We began our set and this insane wind came up! My frame drum was acting like a sail, and I had a horrible time just trying to hold it and play without feeling like it was going to blow away!
TTM: Have you experienced any setbacks as a female drummer?
CC: Luckily I haven’t had too many setbacks. My family has always been extremely supportive of me as a drummer and musician. I was ingrained with the idea that I could basically play whatever I was drawn to. I don’t like to be told I can’t do things by individuals or society. That makes me want to do them all the more.
TTM: Who are your favorite drummers?
CC: My favorite drummers… there are so many, I will try to limit my list! Karen Carpenter, Sheila E., Layne Redmond, Rowan Storm, Miranda Rondeau, Trilok Gurtu, Bev Bevan (love the use of mallets, plus The Move and ELO rule!), John Bonham (of course!), Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) Giovanni Hidalgo, and, of course Phil Collins (don’t be a hater!)
TTM: If you could change one thing about the drums what would it be?
CC: It would be great to have a roadie. That’s the only thing I would change; the constant set-ups and tear-downs. The playing itself is magical!
TTM: Where do you shop for your drum gear?
CC: I shop at Pro Drum shop and Guitar Center in Hollywood. I have acquired lots of percussion instruments from my travels and at wonderful shops like <a href=”http://www.rhythmfusion.com/>Rhythm Fusion</a> in Santa Cruz. Once you start collecting percussion instruments it becomes an obsession for sure.
TTM: What would you recommend to a new drummer starting off?
CC: I would say, find out what YOU really like to play. There are so many forms and ways to engage with rhythm, don’t limit yourself. Also, if you are going to play kit, find one that fits you! Don’t get talked into buying something just because someone else likes it, or it has a great reputation, etc. Make the hardware fit you, not the other way round. Also, try different styles of rhythm. Even if you stick with the kit, you will be in much more demand if you can incorporate other kinds of rhythms into your playing.
TTM: What are some of your other hobbies / interests?
CC: Reading, philosophizing, cooking, writing. I love anything that puts me in the center of my own soul and helps me connect with others in a deep way.
TTM: Who are some of your favorite lady drummers right now?
CC: I mentioned a few earlier. They are mostly percussionists: Layne Redmond, Rowan Storm, Miranda Rondeau. Of course there is Karen Carpenter, and Sheila E. Those two women really broke ground for female drummers. I have to say, I kind of hate the “female drummer” moniker however. I think it puts drumming in a different category from other instruments. For example, you wouldn’t say, “Oh, she’s an amazing FEMALE violinist” now, would you? I think that we sort of help to reify this idea that women playing drums is an odd or abnormal thing. If you look back throughout history and art (see Layne Redmond’s wonderful book When the Drummers Were Women, for some great examples), you can see lots of examples of women drumming! Think of the goddess Cybele or the biblical Miriam with her timbrel, which was a kind of early tambourine. It is so worthwhile for women to know that we are inherently rhythmic beings. We just need to reclaim it!
TTM: Who are some of your favorite bands right now?
CC: Hmmm… I don’t know. I am kind of stuck in the 60’s and 70’s to be perfectly honest. I do like some local bands like The Dolly Rocker Movement, Monogroove, Entrance, Fools Gold, Les Shelleys, and Whispering Pines. My friend Michael Padilla in Grass Valley has a fantastic band called the Soft Bombs. Wonderful. I am also pretty excited about my band, Silver Phial’s upcoming release Aeronautique. We are putting the finishing touches on the record now. Sorry for that bit of shameless self-promotion! It is exciting to hear one’s hard work and dreams realized of course.
TTM: I know a lot of musicians have a stage alter ego.
Do you assume a character onstage?
CC: Not really, though I always fantasize about performing in different, fantastical costumes a la David Bowie. He’s one of my stylistic and musical inspirations for sure. Maybe someday… a golden butterfly goddess perhaps!
TTM: Do you have any special routines or rituals before playing a show?
CC: Just a lot of deep breathing! I think setting up a drum kit is about as ritualistic as you can get! Always a particular way of doing things which differs drummer to drummer. The mojo and the magic come in making the design just perfect. I think drummers have to be the most gear-obsessed musicians!! Everyone has their own likes and dislikes; a particular kind of stick, cymbal, stand, etc. that is a direct reflection of one’s character. My Gretch kit, for example, is a small jazz-sized kit. Just right for my size!!
TTM: You mentioned being stuck in the 60s and 70s as far as musical taste.
Who are some of your favorite bands from those eras?
CC: Oh, there are so many!! Well, many of the usual suspects are in my list of faves: Beatles, Stones, Doors, Who, Kinks, Moby Grape, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett solo stuff. I also love the California psych-country of The Byrds. I’m a big Bowie fan, as I’ve said, and I love the Sweet and T Rex too, on the glam side. I think the seventies was an amazing decade in music! I mean everything from Abba to Zepplin to Roxy Music, The Sex Pistols and The Jam. So much diversity. I love the Bee Gee’s too! I was really fortunate to come of age in the So Cal mod scene in the mid to late 80’s. I was surrounded by so much incredible music, especially sixties Jamaican music, like rock steady, blue beat and early ska. On the flip side, there was northern soul and Motown, as well as psych. It was the most amazing incubator of musical taste I can imagine. Being a part of that scene really shaped me in so many ways.
TTM: I love that you named your drumming ensemble “Lipushiau” after the first female drummer in history. Do you have any other historical drummer facts up your sleeve?
CC: Actually, I didn’t name the group. A friend of mine, Wendy Griffin, who is a professor at Cal State Long Beach, wanted to get this percussion ensemble together and she proposed the name. Since we were all influenced by Layne Redmond, who introduced us to Lipushiau and her place in history, we all agreed that would be the perfect name for us. It was a collective effort!
I think one historical drum fact that is interesting, though perhaps not so obscure, is that the modern snare drum is actually a great-great grandchild of a medieval drum called the tabor, which had a single gut string stretched across the bottom. Also, I think we got the concept of military drumming from the Ottoman Turks, actually. The Swiss army heard the Turks drumming and were probably scared out of their wits! I guess they figured they’d better use drums to scare their enemies too!
Also, another snare connection: the Moroccan bendir, another frame drum which I play, employs gut snares across the back, giving it an amazing buzzing sound. Hearing multiple bendirs playing together is kind of mind-blowing!
I think that’s all the drum lore I have on hand!
TTM: Where was your favorite place in the world you visited when touring? What moment made it your favorite?
CC: Well, I haven’t done much touring as of yet! I’d really love to plan a tour to England with my band Silver Phial. We already have some fans there and a few connections! You are never a prophet in your own land after all!