No Such Thing as Hitting Too Hard

Name: Megan Bell
Age: 29
Hometown: Squamish, BC Canada
Nickname (s): Meg, Meg’s, Megoo, the typical Megan nicknames.
Current band: Strange Breed
Favourite place for takeout: Jinya Ramen, and The DownLow Chicken Shack.


Tom Tom Magazine : In your own words, write a brief description of your band

Megan : We’re loud, we’re queer, we’re mindful. We’re too soft to be heavy rock/punk, but too heavy to be pop rock.


When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

It was in music class in grade 7. We didn’t have a big music program at my elementary
school, but there was a music room with guitars on the wall and a 3 piece drum kit
tucked away in the inaccessible storage room. Only the grade 7’s were shown the drum
kit for one week out of the year. We were taught a 4/4 rock beat, and we were all given
a turn on the drum kit. I was one of the last people to get a turn so I had been taking
mental notes on where I might struggle. As I took my place on the stool, it all clicked
and the rock beat came pouring out of me like it had been there all along. I fell in love.

Have you ever taken lessons?

I played the high school band as well as the extra curricular jazz band. That taught me
a bit about reading scores, sight reading and anticipating transitions instinctively.
I took one formal lesson outside of school. The instructor impressed me by playing Iron
Maiden’s “Run to the Hills,” but then spent most of the hour boasting about his
dwindled music career, and saying that I was pretty good – FOR A GIRL….

I didn’t go back.

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

I don’t remember, but I’m sure it was something like “Seven Nation Army,” by The White Stripes or “Thunderstruck,” by AC/DC.

Describe your gear

In need of an upgrade. Everything except my cymbals has been bought off of Craig’s List for the sole purpose of fearlessly gigging wherever we can. The kit itself is a 2016, 5 piece Pearl Export. The shells are a blended poplar and asian mahogany wrapped in a wine red finish, with black hardware for aesthetic. The toms and the bass sound decent for a cheap kit, but the snare had to go. My snare is a Pearl Export Series 14” x 6.5” * 8 lug steel snare with black hoops (from the stock kit) again for aesthetic. Recently I bought a new 14×5.5 clear acrylic snare to change up the franken-snare. Though the franksen-snare will always be my baby!! Cymbals are Zildjan S Series with 14’ Mastersound hi-hats, a 16” and 18” crash, and a 20” ride. And my kick is the Tama Iron Cobra Power Glide Double Kick.

Would you like to eventually sponsor a brand as a drummer?

That would be a dream come true! It’s such a competitive industry. I know I don’t have the technique to impress anyone. But with drive and passion, maybe one day it’ll happen 🙂

Can you write music/ lyrics ?

Yes. In this band however, I more help with the layout/structure of the songs.

Strange Breed @ Rubber Boot Club. Victoria BC Canada

Do you play other instruments or sing ?

I play guitar and a bit of piano. The piano was pushed on me as a kid and I never
really enjoyed it. But it gave me a foundation of knowledge that allowed me to pick up
other instruments, such as the guitar, with ease. I love the drums and guitar equally, but I get
different things from different instruments. For example, I have an almost impossible time
performing with my guitar, but when I need to unwind and reconnect my mind to my soul,
the guitar is always where I go. I have no problem performing behind a drum kit, but I have
difficulty finding those “flow moments” where I can fully connect my passion to my art.
Maybe it’ll come with more experience?

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

Sleater Kinney is a huge influence, as well as Paramore, Bikini Kill, Joan Jett, The
Runaways, Mitski and The Donnas.

What have you taken away from playing live?

Don’t drink too much before your set. No one wants to see you sloppily struggle
through your songs. Perform because you love it, not to show off . There’s a good
chance that the audience doesn’t care about you. If you’re not having fun onstage, then
there’s no point. Always be professional!!!

What does pre show preparation involve?

I am a bit of an introvert before a show. I like to have my set list ready far in advance,
like immediately after soundcheck, and then I nurse a beer while rehearsing the set in
my head. I think of parts that were sloppy at a previous show, I remind myself to stay
hydrated, and I fold up the set list in my pocket, and enjoy the show!

Are you exhausted after a show?

I am exhilarated after a show! Adrenaline runs through my body and I am on cloud
nine. I am exhausted after loading up the gear. I seriously need to get a roadie ha-ha.

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

This one time, on the last hit of the last song of our set, I dramatically went for an
accenting hit, dropped both sticks at the same time to make it look like I threw the
sticks after the hit. The small crowd seemed impressed and I was happy that the sound
wasn’t affected.

Megan Bell of Strange Breed

In the interests of mobility and keeping cool, what are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?

Anything that doesn’t have long sleeves.

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

Oh yeah. I always joke that what I lack in skill and technique, I make up for in sweat and
performance. I have an infamous “bass face ” that never goes unnoticed.

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

To be honest, I don’t remember my first performance as a drummer. Which leads me to
think that it was a high school Jazz band or something mundane like that.

What are your goals as a musician ?

To inspire as many other women and young girls as possible to pick up the sticks themselves.

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

Vancouver has so much talent. But I’m sure with every new city, the cliques are real
and tough to break into. Strange Breed has finally found our place with both the queer
scene and the indie scene, but it took a lot of growing pains to get there.
I guess the easiest way to describe the music scene in Vancouver is – It’s new, it’s
fragile. So as a result, its defensive and weary of new comers. But if you prove your
stamina and longevity, the scene is warm and welcoming.

Where do you practice / how often ?

Our band has a lockout jam space in East Van. We practice about 2 times a week, and
unfortunately that’s usually all the practice I get aside from the odd solo sesh I’ll have.
I’m working on getting a Roland kit for home. Then I will be unstoppable!!

What is in your own musical collection?

Oh boy, everything from Vivaldi to Slayer. Artists or bands I could never get tired of listening to are Norah Jones, Feist, Metric, July Talk, Imogen Heap.

Format of the majority of your music.. ( tape..cd..vinyl ) and what do you prefer ?

I’m a vinyl nerd. I love every step of the process. From finding those record store treasures, to the blown up, in your face art, to even placing the needle to engage the music. Listening becomes the activity instead of treating music as the “background sound.” You have to connect to vinyl and fully listen.

Whats on your walls in your room ?

I have a small collection of poster sized prints that were the covers of erotic novels
from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Its from these posters that my band got its name, as one
of the novels was titled “Strange Breed.”

What should people know about you?

Collectively I have about 10 years of drumming experience. However about 8 years of
that experience was from 2002 – 2009. As a result of this band Strange Breed, I have
been able to return to playing the drums and reconnect with something that I love so
much.

What are your interests away from drumming?

I love playing guitar and writing little folky type songs. I love my little dog Meatball Zoe
and going on adventures around the neighborhood with her. I love going to
restaurants with my wonderful partner. And on a rainy Sunday, I love playing my old
school Nintendo 64 in my pajamas with a fresh coffee.

Do you have musical idols?

Norah Jones for sure! As well as Eva Cassidy, Kathleen Hannah, Danny Carey, Anika
Nilles, Taylor Gordon, and Laura Jane Grace.

What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?

Women are SO talented! Not in comparison or in competition with men but as equals.
Women can hold their own as musicians, but are never given a chance to talk about
their experiences as a women in a male dominated industry. Not only are women just
as talented and creative as the men, but also have incredible stories about mental and
emotional strength and endurance as a result of always being brushed aside, or second
guessed. Tom Tom magazine is important because it shows other women and girls that they
too can be a drummer, and not a “girl drummer.” It shows women being taken seriously as
musicians without being compared to men. I truly believe that it is essential for young
girls to have strong female role models, and Tom Tom Magazine is a perfect resource
for positive female musicians to reach younger inspired musicians.

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

Learn about your gear so that sound techs and other men will never adjust your setup, or try to correct your gear. There is nothing more annoying! Don’t compete with other bands. That’s not what the music community is about. Your job as a drummer is to complement the music, not to be the focal point of the show. People will notice you, don’t worry.

What are your thoughts on streaming music and its effect on bands ?

– it’s a bitter sweet relationship.
Like I love that people in Spain, or Brazil or even Reno have been listening to our music without any touring or physical foot work. But, I know that streaming our music could never pay off the recording fees and the band and I will forever be broke while we sort of pay off the line of credit. It opens the windows for a more successful tour, but buying a physical copy of the album is the best way to support your local musicians.

Your thoughts on arena shows versus smaller venues?

As long as the crowd is courteous, it doesn’t matter. Experiencing live music is such a primitive part of us as people, and I think it’s vital to our mental health as a society to have these spaces where we can connect with strangers on such a personal level. As I have yet to play an arena, it is a romantic day dream and will always be. I am happy to play to whomever will listen be it 10 people or 10 000.

Has social media helped local music?

Definitely! It’s a great way for touring artists to connect with bands from other cities. Advertising anything, be it a show, or a album/single release, is much easier and effective thanks to target marketing. Plus it’s an great way to support other artists without any effort. A simple follow on their social media page is helpful!
*relentless plug* so follow us on insta @strangebreedband

What would be a ” dream bill ” for you ? Who would you want to play with ?

Dream bill for me would consist of Bif Naked, The Distillers, War on Women and of course Strange Breed. A line up of bad ass bitches who have always been fighting for a good cause!

What’s in the future for you musically?

Since being in this band, there have been a lot of career firsts for me. Since returning
from our first cross Canada tour we have immediately started planning for a West
Coast tour. So I guess more touring is in store, and with that, more gigging
experience. Hopefully one day a European tour!!

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

People just assume that I’m cool. I, for the record, am not.

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

I love it! It’s allowed me to travel, and hangout with other cool bands, and record in a
dream of a studio. Drumming has allowed me to write songs with my friends and share
a message with the country. I love the community aspect of it, I love what it has
brought into my life. I love the physical act of music , creativity and connection I
feel to the craft of drums and the development of drums , therefore all
drummers before me. I love the drums!

Any last thoughts ?

There is no such thing as hitting too hard 😉

 

Story/ Photographs : John Carlow/ Finding Charlotte Photography

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