Interview: Zoe Brecher of Total Slacker

Total Slacker

By Colin Langenus for Tom Tom Magazine

I first saw Zoe Brecher and her band Total Slacker play a couple months ago. I’d heard of the band. I love their name. But I didn’t see them until one of my bands Alien Whale played before them at 285 Kent in Brooklyn. They leveled the joint.  They were having so much damn fun! They really seem to be great friends, which is captivating to watch. 

I approached Zoe at the gig about this interview and she was so damn nice. I’m really psyched we got a chance to meet and do something together.

Zoe keeps great time and has a nice feel that ties the noise and the chaotic energy together.  It feels good to listen to Total Slacker. I caught up with Zoe over email:

 Zoe Brecher on drums

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in NYC and currently live in the East Village.

When did you start playing drums?

I started playing drums when I was 10.

How did that come about? Did you take any lessons?

I was always a tomboy and loved music and I knew I wanted to play an instrument. I knew a lot of people who played guitar, but didn’t know many people, and definitely not any girls, who played drums. My school offered lessons, so I figured I would try it out and it just felt right to me. I was very shy growing up, and playing the drums was my way of having a presence and showing people what I was about. I took lessons throughout middle school, high school and college.

Do you drum or wanna drum in any other genres than rock? (Rock rules! I’m not to trying to imply that you should)

Playing rock this heavy is something that’s actually very new to me! I’ve been in jazz bands since I was 13 and I’ve started bands in a bunch of different genres, from funk to indie-pop. I also occasionally am the hired-drummer for my high school’s musicals. I love playing all styles of music and hope never to be tied down to just one.

What other instruments do you play?

I don’t really play any other instruments, but I’ve taught myself enough on guitar and piano to write songs. I hope one day to take trumpet lessons! I think that would be really fun.

Tell me about your song writing.

I started writing songs at Skidmore, where I went to college. Experiencing so many new things and learning more about myself, I became really inspired to write songs about what I was feeling. So I did, and during my freshman year I recorded an album on Garageband called “The Feels and Wants” and I gave it out to a few of my friends just for fun. Since then, I’ve written a lot of other songs and I’ve been lucky enough to perform some of them in bands.

Total Slacker rules! The love really comes across. How did y’all meet? Any plans to conquer the world? 

Haha. Thank you! Last October, I ran into a friend at the supermarket and I told her I was looking for people to play music with in the city. By chance, she was friends with Tucker (our lead guitarist) from Total Slacker’s performance at Skidmore the year before, and he had asked if she knew any drummers. So Tucker got in touch with me and I met up with the band and we hit it off instantly. Less than a week later, I was invited to a diner and, over a plate of French fries, I was asked to join the group!

What drummers inspire you?

I’m really inspired by drummers who look like they’re having so much fun behind the kit. Lately, I can’t stop watching videos of Chris Coleman. I also love Kim Thompson, Ziggy Modeliste, Mitch Mitchell, and Steve Gadd, just to name a few of so many. A friend of mine recently introduced me to Terri Lyne Carrington. I have no idea how I’d never heard of her before, but OH MY GOD!! She’s definitely going to be my favorite for a while.

Do you practice drums much? Do you have a routine? What is it?

In college, the practice rooms were a short walk from my dorm, so I would practice almost every day. But one of the greatest downsides to living in the city is that I can’t play drums in my apartment, so I haven’t been practicing as much as I would like. I’m hoping to pick up lessons again soon. I don’t really have a routine when I practice. It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I just make a playlist of songs I want to play along to and call that my “practice” for the day. But when I get into it, I don’t like focusing on just one thing. The most useful practices I have involve a mixed routine of rudiments as well as playing along to songs in various styles, and within that I practice improvisation.

 What’s coming up for you? What’s coming up for Total Slacker?

Life is good. With a part-time job and this band, I’m keeping busy. I am always eager to meet new people to play with, so I’m hoping to start some fun side-projects soon. As far as Total Slacker goes, we recently got signed to a label called Black Bell that’s releasing our second album sometime later this year and we also plan to start touring then. So I’m really excited because with all that’s happened so far with this band, the journey has definitely just begun!

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