Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming
Edited by S.W. Lauden
Rare Bird Books
Review by Roy Peak
"The drummer is not the expendable guy, he’s the fucking heart in the center of the rock and roll universe." Mike Watt
When I was young, while my parents were away, and my siblings weren't home, I'd get out the biggest pots and pans I could find in the kitchen, set them up in a semi-circle around me and bang on them with wooden spoons, making a horrible racket. Fun times indeed.
Decades later I try to play drums, I really do, but since I started late, and never have time to put in the necessary hours, I'm a drummer wanna-be at best. I do happen to own a set of drums. An early seventies set of Pearl drums in deep see-through green which sound fantastic—especially considering that all of the heads have been on these drums at least since the nineties, twenty years before I got them, when a friend needed room in his garage. They sit in my studio, miked up and ready to go whenever a real drummer needs them for a track. I have played them myself on a few songs, but like I said, I'm not a drummer. I get by on simplicity and the fact that that these drums sound fantastic.
When I found out about this book, Forbidden Beat, I was nearly salivating. Not just a book about drums, not just a book about punk rock, but a book specifically about drumming in punk rock. With essays by dozens of real drummers talking about their favorite drummers, and why and how they came to play drums in punk rock bands.
Most books about music—and punk music in particular—fall short of the main thing they're written about. Namely, that punk music is exciting, full of fury and energy and if you weren't there, you probably missed it. This book nails it. Firsthand accounts and well-written essays and lists of favorite drummers abound through this tome in short, easy to digest chapters. Like much of punk rock, you don't get a chance to be bored as everything flies by so fast. You don't like this song/chapter? Wait two minutes, another one—completely different—is coming your way.
Highlights include D. H. Peligro's rapid fire rant on the beginnings of the San Francisco punk scene, Mike Watt talking about George Hurley, his partner in crime in their band, Minutemen, a glowing tribute to Go-Go's drummer Gina Shock by Laura Bethita Neptuna, Matt Diehl's exhaustive and learned essay on the "D-Beat" and the drummers who pioneered it—actually, every essay in this tome is highly readable and very informative.
Also cool are the several interviews that editor S.W. Lauden has sprinkled throughout the book. Tré Cool from Green Day, Lori Barbero from Babes in Toyland, Rat Scabies from the Damned, and more all have interesting stories to tell, and are great jumping off points if you want to learn more about these bands and their music.
This is a fantastic book, please check it out, even if you're one of those weirdos that DOESN'T like drums.
March 10, 2022
Roy Peak is Sacred Chickens' Music Editor. He has played electric bass in more bands than he cares to remember for more years than he can remember. He wrote the theme song for the Utica, New York radio show "Hey You Kids, Get Off My Lawn" on WPNR-FM. His solo debut album, All Is Well, has been called "Loud, cacophonous, and beautiful by a truly unique artist." His short fiction has been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and he writes music reviews for the King Tut Vintage Album Museum of Jacksonville. Roy writes music reviews for the Rocking Magpie among others.