And here’s the second part of the same interview. Enjoy!
ere is no such thing as a small conversation with Lucky Lehrer,especially when discussing two topics, music and marijuana, which are close to his heart. The iconic punk drummer, known as the Godfather of hardcore drumming, was voted the best punk drummer of all-time by fanzine, Flipside. He utilizes his own custom designed Speed Stick, and has been an influential drum teacher for decades. In the second part of AXS’ interview with Lucky, he talks more in-depth about his drumming and his support of marijuana legalization. Lehrer will be hosting a special celebrity jam on Nov. 1; Ultimate Weed Jam – A celebration of Marijuana, at the famed Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles. The event is to help support and bring awareness to Proposition 64, a pro-marijuana legalization bill.
AXS: As a drummer, you’ve seen the era of sampling emerge, and now technology has evolved to the point that many artists are not just using drum machines for demos, but replacing drummers with machines completely. Are drummer’s days numbered?
LL: One of the benefits of having a young wife is I’m continually exposed to different music. [Editor’s note: Holland Baxley Lehrer is a yoga teacher and fitness model in Los Angeles]. We went to an amazing event last weekend, We Can Survive, where some of the top players in pop music performed. Pit Bull has 2 drummers, G-Eazy came out with just a DJ and a drummer. Music continues to evolve. I find inspiration in those cancer survivors, many of whom turn to weed for relief from the horrible side effects of their heroic treatment. With drumming as in life, stay optimistic and perseverant.
AXS: Having co-founded the iconic Circle Jerks, and having played with Bad Religion, Red Kross, Darby Crash, and many others; What does your dream gig look like today? Who would you like to perform/record with?
LL: These pipe dream questions are fun and, since I love so many different kinds of music, let me name 4 genres and fantasize. For rock, I’d like to perform with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones (laughs). If they don’t happen to be available, a band like the Adrenalin Mob seems like people who are still doing cool stuff and whose music is directly in my wheelhouse. For jazz, I’m working up a new 4 piece combo and, if the players are good, it’s more important that you vibe each other and play well together. I’m also working on an experimental project that marries a myriad of musical influences that’s promising. If we’re talking about pure hardcore, my favorite is Keith Morris and Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks).
AXS: You have also had a longtime affiliation with Mary Jane. Tell us a bit about how you came to be involved being a supporter of the movement for decriminalization/legalization.
LL: I’m more of a weekend partier but in college at the University of California I was selected for a unique program where I lived in Washington, D.C., and worked in a Congressman’s office. I was still a kid, but it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot. One of the issues of the day was Paraquat, the aerial spraying by the U.S. Government of a toxic defoliant on marijuana plants outside our boarder. Farmers would harvest the plants just after the spraying and ship them to the U.S. where people ended up smoking grass laced with powerful carcinogens. It wasn’t a pro-marijuana issue, but nobody in the Congressman’s office wanted to handle it so I got involved. Seemingly out of nowhere, the issue hit big and, to the chagrin of everyone in the office, the Congressman was with the President aboard Air Force One calling to speak with me.
AXS: You are a big supporter of the upcoming Prop 64 in California. Do you see nationwide legalization of marijuana happening given the entrenchment of the tobacco industry and how far they are willing to go to keep it illegal?
LL: It’s anyone’s guess but I believe it will eventually be legal across the country. Many of the people who’ve been involved in the legal struggle for years hope to keep this a billion dollar small farm industry, and I agree. The cynical side of me sees big tobacco working behind the scenes, angling for the lion’s share.
AXS: How important to that movement would California getting on board impact a national decriminalization?
LL: If you believe, as some political theorists do, that each State is a small laboratory where ideas are incubated and tested before accepted nationally, it’s worth remembering California was the first State to decriminalize small possession. While Colorado was leader on the recreational side, California’s constituency carries a lot of clout. No legal system will be perfect, because laws involve drawing lines, such as about age. What I dislike about the current situation is that things seem too arbitrary. A person goes to jail in one county of California for the same behavior that’s considered harmless a few miles away. Legal marijuana will generate lots of tax dollars too.
AXS: You are one of a top handful of drummers who has performed at the annual Bonzo Bash, you’re a huge Bonham fan. What have you taken from the way he plays and introduced into your own style?
LL: John Bonham’s inventiveness and “deep groove” are studied and admired by every rock drummer. Listen carefully, Bonham definitely knew how to swing, which he got from jazz. That’s why I tell my students to study jazz. Like another hero, The Who’s Keith Moon, Bonzo could drink insane amounts of ale, sometimes mixed with pills, which ultimately caused both great drummers to die. Maybe if they just smoked pot both drummers would still be alive. Led Zeppelin’s drummer had an intensely forceful technique, standing atop subtle rhythmical accents. Equally important, Bonzo understood that playing less notes creates more space and drama.
AXS: Thanks so much for giving us a few moments.
LL: Your questions were awesome and gets me thinking….groups like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and so many other great artists wrote classic songs celebrating the inspiration and relaxation associated with consuming marijuana. It’s great coming back to the Whiskey, the kind of venue where most of us got our start, and feel the club’s support at this important time. Ultimate Weed Night will feature outstanding performances from a host of great performers, maybe even some surprises. You can’t imagine the number of celebrities that passionately favor Prop 64! There is never a better time to celebrate the music of Mary Jane than right now.