If you know Animal from the muppets, you’ll understand how Minnesotan Anna Marie Amick got her nickname, Annamul: she’s wild and sweet, with a decidedly un-midwestern love for theatrical insanity. Now a bit more grown up but still drumming like (ahem) an Annamul, she volunteers teaching young girls how to drum at GRRR (Girls Rock and Roll Retreat).
Name: Anna Marie Amick, AKA Annamul
Age: 39 (shhhhhhh!)
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Since you’re from MN, who wins in a fight: Butter sculpture or ice sculpture? Ice sculpture! Vulcans Rule!
Tom Tom Magazine: Your mother was a drummer. Did she play when you were little? How much did you learn from her? What kind of drums did she play?
Annamul: My mom didn’t play drums when I was growing up. She was a single mom taking care of me and my sister, working and putting herself through school, so she didn’t have much time for music. She was big into concert bands, orchestras and marching band when she was younger; didn’t get too much into the trap set (old school, but that’s what they called the drum set back then!) or bands outside of that. Later, she incorporated hand drumming back into her life. Aside from this, I believe her being a drummer played a big role in me wanting to be a drummer as a little girl. It was in my blood.
You started piano lessons when you were seven, do you still play? Why did drums capture your heart and not piano?
I don’t still play, but I can still mess around when I have a keyboard or a piano in front of me. In a perfect world, I’d have enough time to play both piano and bass on a regular basis, in addition to my drums. I remember when I went into fifth grade we were given the option to join the concert band and pick an instrument, and I can’t tell you why, but I had this grand vision that I was going to play the drums! Again, it was in my blood. My parents, even though divorced, both supported it, and it was all over from there. I had a passion for drumming, and an awesome teacher who influenced and motivated me a lot.
What bands are you in right now?
I got seriously involved with someone, and knowing what the road can do to relationships I decided to chill for a year and just work on some new arrangements, some demo material, my website and PR. During that time a major touring act began looking for drummers and a friend, Scott Underwood (Train), urged me to consider it. So aside from playing with some local bands to keep the chops strong, I’ve been considering offers.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m still adding to my current demo material. Will be recording a couple of Chicago tunes in the next month. I have been working on a studio project with Jenny and Amy from my former band, Hester Mofet, on an updated EP. I’m an equipment junkie. I just added a Shure in-ear wireless system to my gear, I’m really not sure how I survived without this fantastic tool! I’ve been upgrading my custom DW set and replaced my heads with Evans hydraulic heads, switched to DW hardcore bass drum beaters, and Zildjian A Custom Rezo 15″ hats, 18″ & 20″ crashes.
You teach at GRRR, (Girls Rock&Roll Retreat), why? What’s the best thing about it?
Being able to give back to the community and be a positive role model for young girl rockers is why I do it: this experience is one of the most rewarding things in my life. Who else is going to teach them how to make a gnarly rock face or to put their foot up on the monitor during a guitar solo? Or to give the audience metal horns? I LOVE being a part of this team in Minneapolis. It’s an all-female staff, and not only that, it’s an extremely talented, competent, powerful, passionate and fun all-female staff. Sadly, the music industry is still highly male dominated, and we need more female rockers! And we need to start encouraging and empowering them when they are young! I wish something like this existed when I was growing up.
Which female drummers do you admire? Do you model your drumming style after any of them?
Sheila E without a doubt! I wouldn’t say my drumming style has been modeled after hers, as she has concentrated more on latin styles and percussion, but I was influenced by her style, that she fronted a band, and that she sang, she definitely has it all going on. I definitely admire Cindy Blackman—love her big hair and funk style. Samantha Maloney—she’s hardcore, and any chick that can tour with Mötley Crüe and hold her own is top shit in my book! Lori Barbero from Babes in Toyland was a local Minneapolis band while I was in high school; they were nasty and raw. Unfortunately, and this is why we need more women rockers, I don’t model my drumming after any of these women. The drummers that reached me and influenced me the most were John Bonham, Terry Bozzio, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and Neil Peart.
What’s playing in your house/iPod/radio right now? What’s on your top five favorite playlist this week?
Allen Stone is my favorite new artist/up-and-comer, and I’ve been on a big Chicago kick lately. I’m big into R & B and funk so I mostly play my genius mix which consists of Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bee Gees… you get the picture. I really love all music: anything from Elton John to Muse and everything in between.
You traveled around the world with a band (a corporate show band: what’s that?) after high school, and you say it taught you to love road life. What else did it teach you?
We played corporate engagements—private parties for big corporate accounts. In the summer we’d play festivals. It was a variety show band meaning we weren’t a band per se—we put on a show. There were theatrics: costume changes, comedy, improv, audience participation, all that. We played medleys from the 40’s on up, plus country, dixieland, TV show tunes, and motown medleys. The show was a blast. Not only did I find a love for the road, but I learned how to play to a sequence. They wrote their sequence so I didn’t need to listen to a click track. I followed along to the bass line. This made me a real solid drummer and I am forever grateful for that experience. I learned a lot about the business aspect of operating a successful touring band, and I still stay in touch with those guys. We became family.
You seem to have a penchant for alter-egos; that’s partly how you got the nickname ‘annamul’, true? Do you have any new alter-egos?
Ha! Yes. I LOVE the theatrical aspect of music and performing. I love Kiss, but not so much for their music. I love face paint. I love costumes. I love the expression of self through image whether it’s hair, makeup, clothes, props. I wouldn’t say I have “new” alter-egos, they just morph with time. I got the nickname Annamul from Jenny, guitarist/singer of Hester Mofet. She was fifteen and I was eighteen when we first met and decided to form a band together. She watched me play drums for about a month. One day she said, “Do you know what you look like when you play?” I kinda get into my drumming—move around a lot and bang my head. The rest is history.
By Rachel Miller for Tom Tom Magazine