By Sylvia Massy for Tom Tom Magazine
Name: Morgan Doctor
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Lives in: Toronto, Canada
Past Bands: The Cliks
Current Bands: Andy Kim, Belle Ayre
Drum Set: Yamaha Club Custom
Cymbals: Zildjian A and K Customs
Hi-Hat: 14″ new beat Zildjians
Snare: 14″ Yamaha Club Custom
Pedal: Tama Iron cobra
Sticks: Vic Firth 85A
Fav Food: Fish tacos
Fav Venue: Radio City Music Hall and Red Rocks
Sylvia Massy for Tom Tom Magazine: Morgan, it wasn’t any accident that you became a drummer. How did it all start? Is it fate?
Morgan Doctor: I started when I was ten and all I remember is being in the toy store and seeing a drum kit and then asking my parents if I could have one. They said, “You can, but you have to take lessons.” So I started really young and I had no idea what I was doing. It’s been the only thing in my life that I’ve just had such passion for that I continued consistently with. When I was a kid, I had a bit of a temper problem, I use to have these temper tantrums. So maybe it helped with that (laughter).
So pounding on drums at your parents house probably really helped things.
(laughs) Yeah. When I started my drum kit was in my room and then next thing you know it was in the garage, than they built a room on the other side of the garage…
They put you as far away as possible (laughs)
With several walls in-between…
You and I met while working on the Cliks album in California. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with that?
Well it was something I was really was looking forward to because I had never been in a situation where I had so much time to do pre-production. To be able to play the drums for 8 hours a day and focus on creating music for 6 weeks in nature was something I always wanted to do. We also did some really cool things on that album that I had never done in the studio before as a drummer. Needless to say it pushed me.
Well when you started in that room at your parents’ house, were you practicing to existing music or were you writing as well? I know that The Cliks album had a lot of your personal writing involved in the pre-production and in the actual arrangement of the songs.
When I was a kid I use to pick up the guitar a lot and jam around as well. We had a beach house up in Ventura and there was absolutely nothing to do. No TV, nothing, so I would teach myself Beatles songs. I got familiar with other parts of music aside from the drums. I think I was naturally attuned to arrangements. Through the years of playing with so many different people I’ve developed that particularly well. But, I didn’t do a lot of writing until right before The Cliks.
As far as your technique goes, is there something that you do that is different from other drummers?
From the onset of playing drums I always felt that if I could understand and play Jazz music than it would help my playing a lot in every other genre. I’ve always been drawn towards loud music and played in bands that have a lot of energy. I studied Jazz for quite a few years with a teacher named Jim Blackly in Toronto. It infused into the rock music I was playing. So, I guess in turn my style, no matter what I am playing becomes jazzy in a weird way. So to me, that would be the difference… I’m a swinging rock drummer (laughs)
So what other drummers have inspired you?
When we were on the road with The B52’s and The Cult I was just so amazed by Sterling Campbell. Also, I would just stand side stage of John Tempesta (The Cult) when we were touring with them and just watch him play every night.
What would your dream gig would be?
A gig where I could bring my wiener dog, Cymbal, on the road with me.
If you could have any vintage kit is there one in particular that you have your eye on?
My first kit was a gold sparkle 60’s Gretsch kit, I wouldn’t mind having that again.
Are there any other real special moments in your career as far as touring or sessions or interactions with other musicians?
When The Cliks were touring with Cyndi Lauper at the end of each show we would get on stage and do “True Colors” and just looking out over ten thousand people and everyone is singing…, I would say to myself, “Yes this is happening.” Times like those are really, really special. There have been times where I played in a small club too and there is such a loving feeling from the audience and the performers. Those moments where everything is just sitting in the right place and you don’t want it to end.
The magic part of being a musician. That’s what keeps us going.
Yeah, you work so hard, practice, do your rudiments and rehearse, all the structure, and then the freedom is in letting that all go and just playing and having the magic happen.
I have one last question, I’m sure that everyone wants to know… The name Morgan Doctor, Is that your given name? It’s a fantastic name.
(laughs) It is my given name and I could tell you some pretty crazy stories about it. My dad is actually a psychologist… So he is, Dr. Doctor. (They laugh) I’ve always had interesting interactions around my name, especially when I go into hospitals… It can get tricky.
(still laughing) Well you are a fantastic drummer Morgan and a wonderful person. I really am excited to have been able to do this interview with you.
Morgan just finished a released a third album, Major Over Minor, put out by Aporia Records in Canada. This one is an instrumental album full of ambient, down tempo music.