Gemma Goletski of The Plodes
Specializing in hyperactive 2-minute absurdist-punk ramblings, The Plodes are a lively, entertaining duo consisting of singer-guitarist Reid Blakley and powerhouse drummer Gemma Goletski. They’ve self-released two records, 2013’s A Foot Was As Long As… A Foot! and 2014’s High Five Every Animal, a combined 27 minutes of rapid-fire 4/4 beats and accordion drones. They’ve appeared at the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival in Calgary, and recently filmed an appearance on the French-language music TV show BRBR, to air on TFO in early 2016. They’re available for high school assemblies and self-important political rallies.
Full name: Gemma Goletski
Nicknames: Dad, Cyber Crimes Johnson
Born: Mission, British Columbia Canada
Fav place for takeout: Vegan Pizza House (I am a sensitive baby and cheese ruins my life)
TT: When did you first start drumming and what was the motivation?
I started drumming when I was eleven years old after I saw videos of the Beatles playing. I knew I wanted to be like Ringo. I identified with him a lot because I’m also small and have a big nose.
TT: Have you ever taken lessons?
I took lessons from the ages 14 to 17 because I had decided I was going to go to jazz school after I graduated from high school. At that point I already knew how to play along to most of the music I was listening to at the time, but wanted to learn more rudiments and make sure I wasn’t developing any bad habits from being self-taught.
TT: Tell us about your kit/gear.
I’m not a big gear nerd to be honest, since I have so little money (ha-ha). My kit is pretty standard; it’s a Yamaha tour custom that I bought off my old drum teacher. 22” bass drum with one 12” inch tom set up on a snare stand (not mounted on the bass drum), and a 16” floor tom. I usually just have the standard snare, 1 crash, 1 ride, and hi hat. The only thing special/weird about my kit is my obscene looking Iron Cobra pedal. It is actually meant to have a second beater (and a second pedal attached) because I went through a very intense progressive metal phase at about 15 or 16 years old. I got it for my birthday.
TT: Do you play in other bands? Do you have other musical projects?
Other than The Plodes, I have a musical project that I don’t play drums for called “shitlord fuckerman.” It’s basically an excuse to be excessively weird and thrash around. I wear a painters suit and a Mr. Bean mask and play chiptune-inspired electronic music.
TT: Tell us the funniest /most unusual thing that happened to you on stage.
I can’t think of one outrageous thing, but I have a couple weird ones. The Plodes played a show in Vancouver at a venue called the Black Lab and an audience member had a real live python. Another time I was in my hometown of Comox, and the Plodes were playing a festival. We were set up in an alleyway and there was hardly anyone there. Suddenly a 100 plus person parade came through the alley with tubas and colorful outfits and danced and cheered during one song, then left. We played the rest of our set to hardly anyone. The last incident I can think of was from one of the times The Plodes played the Railway Club. There was a guy who Reid (the guitarist and singer in The Plodes) said looked like the estranged son of Devin Townsend and the Heat Miser yelling at us the whole time (not sure if it was in a positive or negative manner).
TT: What is in your musical collection?
I managed to steal my mom’s and dad’s record collection (or just the good stuff) before I moved out. I think my parent’s music tastes influenced mine more than I’d care to admit. There’s a lot of Talking Heads in there, Brian Eno, and King Crimson. Those kinds of records really interested me when I was in high school, and they still haven’t gotten old .
TT: Do you have musician idols?
I’m a bit ashamed to say a lot of my favorite musicians are male, and a lot of them don’t even play drums! I really like musicians who are good at composition and are really high energy live performers. At the moment I’m really into new wave, so I like Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman, both as front men and composers. Teresa Taylor of the Butthole Surfers and Carla Azar of Autolux are two really great drummers more people should talk about. I also really admire people like Wendy Carlos, old jazz/blues performers and band leaders like Cab Calloway, Ma Rainey, and Sonny Terry.
TT: Why is Tom Tom Magazine important?
I think magazines like Tom Tom are really important because female drummers need more publicity. There are so many out there, but none of them are getting the credit they deserve! Magazines like Tom Tom make us impossible to ignore (haha). I hope it also inspires young girls to keep going. The other day I saw a video of a five year old girl from Brazil named Eduarda Henklein playing drums to Chop Suey by System Of A Down, and she ripped it up! It was amazing. Little girls who love playing instruments are actually my true idols. They inspire me.
TT: What is the first song you ever learned?
I can’t remember the first song I learned to play, but I remember the first drum beat I ever learned was a swing rhythm.
TT: Who would be playing with you on a dream billing?
Probably all the people I mentioned before would be at my dream show, including the little girl who plays drums to System Of A Down (all the dead people would rise from the grave). I would also love to play with Lightning Bolt. The Plodes played Sled Island with them, but I would love to meet them. They seem like really cool , nice dudes. Also on the bill would be Nomeansno, who are my favorite Canadian band ever. My high school band had the chance to open for them, but it was in a bar so we got kicked out immediately after we finished playing because we were underage! Kate Bush and Björk would be there, and they would sing a duet. Everyone in the audience would scream and cry because it would be incredible. Swans, Dan Deacon, The Coneheads, and The Coup would also play.
TT: What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from being a drummer?
Learning things really slowly first is OK! You can’t rush progress and expect to get a really great result. So many things I learned to play on drums I had to play at painfully slow speeds before I could speed them up and actually be good at them. Through playing drums live in bands I’ve learned how to better hide the fact that I’m having a crap day by putting on a good show. I’m really bad at this in real life usually, but it’s a lot easier to do with performing since I’m hitting shit as fast as I can and then people clap at me after. It’s hard to stay mad and feel sorry for yourself when that happens.
© 2016 Finding Charlotte Photography
Interview John Carlow/ Gemma Goletski -December 2015-January 2016