By Madeleine Campbell and Garrett Haines for Tom Tom Magazine
Photos by Dave Hidek
I first met Dani Buncher when I assisted on a drum recording session at Treelady Studios for her band Teammate’s new EP, The Sequel. Although the band’s two members are on opposite coasts (Pittsburgh and Los Angeles), they come together to create modern pop music with an edge and, as Dani says, “one of the happiest breakup songs ever.”
Name: Dani Buncher
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Lives in: Pittsburgh, PA
Past bands: Big Hurry, Big Snow Big Thaw
Current Bands: TeamMate
Drum Set Up: (I am an endorsed ddrum artist) 4 piece ddrum w/ Roland SPD-SX
Fav Venue: Hometown venues.
Fan Band: Madonna
Favorite Food: Soup
Tom Tom Magazine: How old were you when you started drumming and what made you want to start?
Dani Buncher: When I was young, around age 8, my best friend played drums. His father was a drum teacher at a local drums shop. Every time I went to his house, I admired his beautiful drum set. He was the one who inspired me to talk to my mom about getting started with lessons. I was in the marching band in high school and at college. I loved playing snare drum and I think it’s definitely shaped the drumming style I have today.
How did your current band, Teammate, begin?
Teammate consists of me and my musical partner, Scott Simons. Scott and I dated for ten years. After our breakup, we remained best friends, really close. We started recording music together and shortly after we formed Teammate. We’ve been touring and recording and our first EP was released on April 16.
You and Scott played at the Rostrum Records Showcase at SXSW in March. How was that? Was it your first time at SXSW?
That was Teammate’s first time playing at SXSW. I’ve been in the past as a music fan but playing was a whole new experience. It was really exciting to be around so many cool bands that support each other. We got to see our friends Atomic Tom player. Those guys are killer. In my dreams, I saw the Justin Timberlake show but unfortunately it conflicted with our show so it didn’t work out.
Tell us a little bit about Teammate’s new EP, The Sequel.
This album is kind of like an introduction to the band. It has four songs that lead up to a full-length that we’ll be putting out later. The Sequel EP is titled after our first single, also called “The Sequel”, which is a pretty literal account of the story of my relationship with Scott. Basically it says this is who we are and this is how we got to this point. In our opinion it’s one of the happiest breakup songs ever. The other songs really represent the sound we want to convey and the energy we have when we play live.
What do you listen to when you aren’t practicing?
Oh man, I love pop music. I love indie rock. I really love a good melody. Any genre that has a good melody that I can sing along to and move my body to is what I want to hear.
How did being in the marching band impact your drumming today?
The discipline of practice is huge. Learning how to read music and be really tight with other musicians. There should be no space. You may be marching in a line with twelve snare drummers, but everything has to sound like one drum. There’s a preciseness that you have to, kind of, grow into. That’s really helpful lateron in life when you’re playing in a rock band.
A lot of marching people are used to die cast hoops. Do you use a triple-flanged hoop on your snare or use a die cast rim?
I actually have an S-Hoop on my snare. It has a really cool rim sound to it. Unlike other hoops, the S doesn’t stick up above the drum head. It has a great crack to it when you get the rim in the right place but it doesn’t take over the snare drum sound. The only thing that’s really tough about that is miking it live. I always run into some trouble because you can’t clip a mic onto it. [Note: S-Hoop is patented design of Rick Barrickman of the Safehoop Company.]
Can you say more on avoiding drum-related injury?
I love the giant “whack!” sound of a big snare drum. When I was in the marching snare, I played with thick, heavy sticks. I love the sound of a crazy heavy stick on drums, but the problem is that it can really damage your wrists. You have to be careful and adjust. I went from playing with a 5B to a 5A. It’s a subtle difference but it matters. It’s hard to break yourself of habits you make when you’re young. It takes a lot of time and it’s definitely a challenge to rework your body into making the same sound in a different way.
Do you notice that being a female drummer in particular has affected you in any way?
Honestly, not really. I think it’s just something you notice right away. I don’t know why that is. If you see a guy drumming, you don’t think to yourself “Oh, there’s a male drummer.” Really the main thing that’s affected me about being a female drummer is the stories I get to tell about interacting with people aren’t used to a female drummer. There have been a few instances when I’m loading my drums into clubs to play a show where I have to convince the door guy that I’m in the band and not just someone’s girlfriend or
roadie. I’ve definitely experienced some sexism in dealing with people with…smaller minds.
So, on the subject of playing shows, if you could share the stage with any musician, who would it be?
Definitely Peter Gabriel. I’d love to stand next to Sheila E. and just watch her play.
Do you alter your kit for when you’re on tour versus when you’re in the studio?hen I’m recording, every song is different. I like to sub in different drums and heads for different sounds as much as I can. My tour kit is pretty close to my studio kit with the exception of the snare drums and some cymbals.
Do you have any tips for a drummer who is about to go into the studio for the first time?
I think if a drummer wants to prepare themselves for recording in a studio, the first thing they should do is buy a metronome and start practicing to a click. That can be very frustrating experience if you aren’t used to it. You don’t want your first session to be the first time you play to a click. No, definitely not. It takes some getting used to.
What advice do you have for a younger girl who wants to learn how to play drums?
Just go for it! Make sure you are educated. If you want to play an instrument, no matter what it is, do your research. Read some books. Take some lessons and play with other musicians. Take it seriously. If its something you want to do, keep doing it and don’t stop. Knowing good technique is important. It can save you from injury and frustration down the road.
What’s coming up for you in the next few months?
With the release of our new EP, we’ll be touring a lot and releasing a few videos. We’re just excited to get our music out there as much as possible.
Madeleine Campbell is an engineer at Treelady Studios in Pittsburgh
PA. Garrett Haines is Chief Mastering Engineer at Treelady