Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds: Frank Zwee of D.R.U.M.

There was a time when world music was simply just a trend. That odd section in Barnes & Noble, the one where people with beaded jewelry and Birkenstocks went to buy their Christmas presents. Now, it's a widely respected genre that includes exactly what its title professes, blending in a mix of music that can be heard anywhere from a shack out in La Porte to a remote jungle in South America. It has no specific style or feel, it represents a culture. Since 1991, D.R.U.M. has brought this musical combination to H-town.

On their latest album Loveternalightruthealingrowthappiness, there is a distinct reggae element on each song, but it's hardly the only thing going on. There is also a mix of smooth-jazz horns that compliment the R&B vocals. This can best be heard on the slower "No Good," about the pains of being a bad relationship. Within this track, a reggae beat once again sets the rhythm, but there are also rock guitar riffs, jazz horns and piano and a rap vocal accompaniment. Though this seems like too much on one song, it's honestly beautiful.

Throughout the album, each genre is given just enough space to show that it's there on the song without overpowering the others, which highlights the various backgrounds and ethnicities of D.R.U.M.'s membership very well.

Rocks off got the chance to talk with D.R.U.M guitarist and backup vocalist Frank Zwee before the band's CD release show Saturday at the Continental Club.

Rocks Off: How would you say the band's diverse backgrounds aid your music?

Frank Zweback : I think we come together to make music we love. We have diverse backgrounds as individuals, but in terms of music we're all really coming from the same place to a large extent. Everyone in the band really has a pretty extensive list of music that has influenced each person, and many of those people are the same.

And pretty much any artist or group that one of us in really into the others dig a lot as well. None of us are real genre-oriented, in my opinion. We're just about music, is it good, does it move you, does it make you feel? That make sense?

RO: Describe the primary focal points of D.R.U.M.'s music in your eyes.

FZ: I'd say it's playing music that makes us feel inspired and connected, that we're truly into, and trying to transmit that to the listener. And lyrically it's definitely about the message. Our new CD is called LOVETERNALIGTRUTHEALINGROWTHAPPINESS. I think that sums it up.

RO: How long has the current lineup been together?

FZ: I've been with the group for three years. The rest of the band has been the same for over 10 years, and Baba Ifalade and Nathan Faulk have been in the band since it's inception.

RO: How would you say the new album differs from the group's past releases?

FZ: Man, it's just a true reflection of the band, and it's the first studio recording in a long, long time. So it's just a fresh, new entity in terms of a D.R.U.M. record, and I play a lot differently and sound a lot different then the former guitarist, Jamal, who was awesome, but we don't sound alike. I've been a fan of D.R.U.M. since like 1993, so it's amazing to now actually be in the band.

RO: "World music" is so general - is it easy or hard for D.R.U.M. to fuse that many different kinds of music into one coherent sound?

FZ: I really think it's just what we do. I actually think it comes naturally to us, because we all are involved with, and have been involved with, so many different kinds of music. so i guess it's easy and natural for us.

RO: Can you think of a better term than "World music" to describe D.R.U.M.'s music?

FZ: Reggae works. Roots, rock, reggae.

RO: Is it easier or harder to write new music now than in the past? Why? FZ: Same as it ever was. : ) Because it's sometimes just really easy, and sometimes near impossible. But maybe a little harder, because when you've hardly written anything, the first thing that comes to your mind can work, and seem fresh.

RO: In what areas in particular have you noticed the group's biggest musical growth over time?

FZ: Improvisation, connectedness. Is that a word? But just from playing with the same people, really listening, and being in the moment, that's when the magic stuff happens. It's kind of like a zen art of sorts, and if you do it like that, the more you do it, the better it can get.
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Kim Douglass
Contact: Kim Douglass