Lenore Maier of The Garrys

Tom Tom Magazine covered Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada this past summer. This is the first of several featured drummers from that festival.

Name: Lenore Maier

Age: 35

Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Nickname(s): Lenny

Current band: The Garrys

Favourite place for takeout: No. 1 Noodle House in Saskatoon

In your own words; write a brief description of your band

We play surf garage doo-wop with lots of vocal harmonies and reverb. We try to stay true to early 50s rock n roll, with a nice hazy summer vibe. We are all sisters.

Tom Tom: When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

Lenore Maier : I was a guitar player for many years, but I always jumped behind the kit during fun jam sessions with friends whenever I had the chance. I usually didn’t last long because it was hard to keep up. It wasn’t until The Garrys formed in 2015 that I decided to put the guitar away and focus primarily on the drums.

Have you ever taken lessons?

I’ve never taken formal lessons. The closest thing to lessons would be when I watch drummers and take mental notes all the time when I go to live shows.

What was the first song you learned to play on drums?

“Go Fish” by Cub (Vancouver, BC) was the first song that The Garrys learned to play.

Do you play it at gigs still?

We do sometimes! It’s such a fun song, and a great Canadian garage-pop band from 90s Vancouver. 

Tell us about the gear you use

I just bought a vintage Mahogany 70s Slingerland kit with fibreskyn heads. I don’t use a rack tom. I use 2 floor toms. 1 Sabian AA Raw ride, 2 Sabian AA crashes, Dream Bliss hi-hats and a Ludwig Supraphonic snare. I like everything set really low and flush, and the cymbals to be perfectly level. I spend way too much time leveling my cymbals perfectly. I like Los Cabos sticks.

Do you write music/ lyrics ?

Yep, The Garrys write all of our music collaboratively.

Aside from the guitar , do  you play other instruments or sing ?

Yep, I play guitar with a band called the Karpinka Brothers whenever I can. It’s a lot of fun to keep up my guitar chops whenever possible. I played electric bass and stand-up bass in high school band. All of The Garrys sing quite a bit in the band. I also have a solo ambient electronic project called Ursa.

Interesting. Tell us more about The Karpinka Brothers and Ursa

I play guitar in The Karpinka Brothers whenever I can, although The Garrys have been so busy the past couple of years. Ursa is definitely more of a winter project for me. It gets really cold in Saskatchewan and the winters are long, so it’s a perfect time to dive into ambient electronic music. This fall I’ll be working on releasing an EP on cassette.  It’s a collection of cover songs selected from “The Velvet Underground & Nico” album, redone with synths and drum machines in the style of elevator music. It’s called “The Elevator Underground & Ursa”. 

Lenore Maier of The Garrys at Sled Island Festival ; Calgary Alberta
Lenore Maier of The Garrys at Sled Island Festival ; Calgary Alberta

What is in your own musical collection?

I have a lot of records. My favourites include Bjork, The Beatles, Los Saicos, La Luz, The War on Drugs, Beck, Sigur Ros, The Shangri-Las, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, Night Beats, Calexico, M83, Kurt Vile, Victor Jara, Samaris. I could go on.

What is the predominant format of the music you own ??  

I have lots of music on vinyl and also on iTunes. My cassette collection is also growing at a disturbing rate. 

Do you have musical idols?

The Beatles – I love the early Beatles. I can’t pick a favourite one. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Dolly Parton, she’s been through some shit. I could only imagine the sexism and general crap that she has endured throughout her career. Bjork, her level of talent is from another planet. I am always amazed by her. She is too brilliant for right now. Her debut album was the first CD I ever bought and it blew my mind. Still does. Elvis Presley – What can I say, I’m a sucker for the king. Always have been. Even though he didn’t even write Hound Dog. haha Did you know Elvis had a stillborn twin brother named Jesse? I’ve got a lot of useless Elvis facts, and I own a bottle of “Authentic Elvis Sweat” that I bought from a very respectable carnival worker when I was 12.  Bif Naked – I grew up listening to Bif. She taught me to be strong and fearless as a teenager. I met her once and fangirled so hard I cried! She was cool about it and gave me a big hug.

Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?

The Beatles, Dick Dale, The Shangri-Las, La Luz

Where do you practice / how often ?

We jam at our bassist Julie’s house, once or twice a week usually.

What have you taken away from playing live?

Playing live and recording are two very different things. Songs transitions are a good thing to practice as a band when you play live often.

What does pre show preparation involve?

I usually stay pretty chill before we play. I don’t have a routine or anything. I usually harass my sisters to make a set list.

Are you exhausted after a show?

No, I usually feel awesome and energized afterwards!

What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?

I got a bloody nose once while on stage, but that was many years ago, when I was a guitar player, so that doesn’t count. I always sweat way more than the other Garrys when on stage, so there’s that.

What are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?

I always wear a t-shirt and jeans.

Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming? (Do you hit hard? )

It depends on the song. Some songs demand that of you, some songs don’t. I can hit hard, and I can hit  light. It just depends on what the song needs. I try to hit “intentionally”.

What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?

It’s awesome to learn about so many active women/trans/femme drummers and bands that are around making cool music. Tom Tom helps to build a community that I can feel a part of when we are most usually underrepresented in our own music scenes. I only know a few women/trans/femme drummers, and they all rule and I wish I knew more.

Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer?

The Garrys’ first show was a fundraiser for Girls Rock Saskatoon. We played 3 songs and I played everything at a significantly faster tempo than I should have. I placed my vocal mic in a very weird spot also, because I didn’t know any better. It’s funny to think about now. But it went well and we played another show a couple of days later! I’m a very different drummer now.

What are your goals as a musician?

My goals are to always stand up for myself and other female/non-binary musicians when they aren’t treated right in the music  scene. To always push and challenge myself and have fun in the process. To be a good role model for younger folks in Saskatoon’s music scene. To make music that I would enjoy if I was to listen to it objectively.

What’s in the future for you musically?

The Garrys are playing a whack of summer festivals. After that we are going to write the score to a 1920s Scandinavian film called HAXAN, and we’ll perform it live during the film screening in the beautiful Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon, on Halloween. Then we are heading to Iceland Airwaves in November, and then recording our next album once the winter comes.

Tell us more about the HAXAN film project…..and Iceland Airwaves?

This Halloween, we are going to be writing and performing a live score for a screening of “Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages“. Its a fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe. There are some pretty wild scenes. It was directed by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen in 1922. For being almost 100 years old, it’s remarkably beautiful and still very demented and weird. It’s going to be so fun to jump completely outside of our genre and play what we feel the movie demands. Rehearsing and writing for it has been so much fun.

A few days after the Haxan screening, we are heading to Reykjavik to perform at Iceland Airwaves. I’ve been to Iceland in the summer and it is very beautiful. I’m very excited to experience it in the dark winter surrounded by some of the world’s best music. It’s a bucket list festival to attend for many, including myself. Playing at Airwaves will be a little cherry on top.

What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?

I listen to music much differently than I ever did. I was never this way as a guitarist, but I’m a very particular drummer.

What should people know about you?

I used to play a lot of competitive sports. I had a university hockey scholarship. I can’t swim. Mice freak me out. I co-run a cassette label with my friend Duncan Pickard called Grey Records.

Please elaborate on your cassette label

Grey Records is a label that I started in 2017 with my friend Duncan Pickard. We focus primarily on cassette releases and we’re about to release our 8th tape by an awesome band called “Ancient Pig”. Their cassette is extra pretty looking. We put on a lot of shows in Saskatoon as well. 

Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?

Making mistakes is how you grow. Be brave. Jump in. That’s the hardest part. Music is really fun!

How would you describe the local scene for bands like yours?

I think Saskatoon’s arts scene is amazing, one of the best things about the city. It’s a lot of artists supporting artists. We are all constantly paying $10 to see each other play.

What are your interests away from drumming?

I love camping, hiking. and traveling.

At the end of the day; when all is said and done …you play the drums because …..?

It’s so much fun. It’s hard and that’s why I like it.

Any last thoughts ?

I think Tom Tom is very cool! Thanks for coming to see The Garrys play at Sled Island!


Story/ Photographs : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography

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