Picture this: you walk through the gates to Rice Field to watch a home football game. You buy your ticket and begin walking down the metal bleachers to find a spot for yourself. Then you hear it, the thunderous booming of the drummers down on the sideline. They’re playing a song called D & K, but you don’t know that. You just know that the game hasn’t started yet, and your attention has been grabbed by the drummers.
You might’ve experienced something along those lines when going to a home game, and even if you haven’t, you might be wondering just what goes on behind the scenes with the drumline. Or maybe you just like the drums, which is a perfectly acceptable reason to read this as well. Today, I’m showing you from a drummer’s perspective what goes on in the drumline and taking a look at the talented individuals behind it.
The Cymbal Clan:
Everyone has to start somewhere, and on the AHS drumline, that somewhere is the cymbal section. Although technically at the bottom of the food chain per se, the cymbal players still hold a vital role in the drumline’s sound. This school year, the Cymbal Clan consists of Cyrus Nourizadeh, Anne Gill, Jonah Smith, and Caleb Kidd. These four freshmen aid the band’s sound with consistent hi-hat clicks to hold tempo and big climactic crashes for added effects. They provide the high-end of the backbeat for the rest of the line to follow, which proves their importance to the group.
The Bass Drum Tribe:
For a drummer’s sophomore year, they move up to the bass drum, the low, thumping sound that really gives the group that added umph. This year there are three members of the Bass Drum Tribe: Darren Bunker, Olivia Turnage, and Dominic Vevag. Each member’s drum is tuned to a different pitch, so in some cadences, they have to coordinate between one another to create melodies between the three of them, known as ‘splits.’ The power and low end that the bass drums add to the group demonstrates how much of a necessity they are, and the skill of the players aides that claim more so.
The Snare Overlords:
After sophomore year, an Anacortes High School drummer is forced to make the most difficult decision of their high school career; snare or tenors. For junior Abby Ball and senior Rylan Yonkman, they chose the snare drum. From complex rudiments and militaristic rolls, these players show the skill that is necessary for this instrument, including the use of traditional grip, which is a technique in which a drummer holds the stick in their left hand with their palm facing up, which is quite challenging to learn and even harder to master. The AHS Snare Section, however, has no trouble with these strange techniques and plays fantastically anyway.
The Tenor Gods:
Finally, we find the tenor players, the marching tom-toms of the group. These players are typically responsible for the melody of the group’s cadences, as well as being the maintainers of the groove. This year’s Tenor Gods are senior Jacob Fry and junior Kellen Murphy, who also happens to be me. This year, besides being responsible for the speedy solos and groovy verses of cadences, the tenor players have adopted a job to create more crowd involvement: yelling. Amongst the drumline members, many nicknames have been given over the years, most of which were given to Jacob Fry. Those nicknames consist of Captain Jacovich, Big Man, Greasy Jesus, and most recently, the CEO of Loud. The sheer amount of energy radiated off by the tenors shows how much of a necessity they are to the group’s sound.
During school events such as assemblies, football games, basketball games, and even the annual Christmas parade, the drumline will play songs that are just percussion, which are called cadences. Most cadences have been passed down from generation to generation, many of which are a good 10+ years old. These include cadences such as D & K, Rockin’ Hell, G Unit, Hawks, iDrum, and Mary. Other cadences, however, are relatively recent additions to the drummers’ catalog. These newer cadences are either written by students or from a packet of sheet music. Some examples are Hand Jive, White Boy Smooth, McDonald’s Dollar Menu, and Nigel Thornberry.
One cadence, however, has a history that is, at least to me, substantially more interesting than that of the rest of them. Firesticks has been in the drumline’s use for at least 15 years, and probably more, but what sets this cadence apart from the rest isn’t its age, but rather who wrote it: Braydn Krueger. Braydn was the drummer and backup singer for the rock band The Lonely Forest, whose biggest hits include We Sing In Time and Turn Off This Song And Go Outside, both of which have more than one million plays on Spotify. All four of The Lonely Forest members went to AHS, and Braydn Krueger was on the drumline. For his senior project, he decided to write some new cadences for the group, which included Firesticks. Due to the author’s impact on most of the drumline as musicians, the cadence Firesticks will always hold a special place in our hearts.