drumstanding

 

Lucky Lehrer got interview by AXS and among many topics he talked about the upcoming Ultimate Weed Jam. Here’s an extract of that interview, but if you’re interested in reading the full interview you can click in the links below.

[Rustyn Rose:]   Lucky – Thank you for taking a few minutes to chat and talk about Mary Jane and music.
[Lucky Lehrer:]       I’m a fan of your show and this is a privilege for me.
[Rustyn Rose:]   On November 1st, a week before the elections you will be hosting a special edition of the Ultimate Celebrity Jam at The Whiskey a Go-Go dubbed: “Ultimate Weed Jam” A celebration of Marijuana. Tell us about the event, why it’s so close to your heart, and what fans can expect from the show.
[Lucky Lehrer:]      For close to 2 years, Chuck Wright of Quiet Riot has been hosting an amazing jam in Hollywood that features some of the biggest musicians in L.A.  The show is at the Whiskey A Go-Go, is free to attend, and draws great crowds.  The theme of the November 1 event is a celebration of marijuana music and we’re calling it the “Ultimate Weed Jam.”   My friend Cheech Marin (of the famous comedy team Cheech and Chong) is appearing in support of California’s Prop 64.  The Proposition seeks to clarify and extend cannabis rights. 
Marijuana is discussed in Chinese medical literature dating back to nearly 3,000 B.C., and has been for achieving euphoria since ancient times.  I see Prop 64 as a civil rights thing.   Honestly, smoking anything probably isn’t great for your lungs, edibles seem to be a good option.   But as a practical matter, I’ve seen the devastation that overuse of alcohol and tobacco causes.  Then, there’s the pill epidemic.  The bass player of the Circle Jerks died on a combination of pills and booze.  It’s hypocritical that the big pharmaceutical companies, the liquor and tobacco companies continue to thrive when marijuana, one of the most studied substances of all time, causes less problems yet is treated much more criminally.   
[Rustyn Rose:]   Music, in particular rock music, has always been inexorably tied to marijuana.  How much great music do you think we’d have missed out on without Cannabis?
[Lucky Lehrer:]      I was recording with a punk band in Barcelona last month and we went to a local music store to get some guitar strings or something.  Next door to Spain’s version of the Guitar Center was the Marijuana and Hemp Museum.   This was a clear reminder of the relationship between music and marijuana.  Using marijuana seems to unlock creative doors to explore musical ideas.  I don’t perform under the influence but I don’t mind kicking back and listening to my favorite music this way, and I’m not the only one.   Putting the Ultimate Weed Jam together at The Whiskey a Go-Go, my friend Chuck Walker came up with a list of nearly 50 popular songs that make reference to marijuana.   Celebrity musicians will be performing some of those songs at the Ultimate Weed Jam.  Fans can expect to hear song like Sweet Leaf by Black Sabbath, Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin and more, it’s going to be awesome. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   You have been playing drums for many years now. You have one of the more unique styles I’ve ever heard, somehow meshing Latin rhythms and the jazzy swing style of Buddy Rich into your speedy punk and hardcore-fueled signature. How did that develop for you?
[Lucky Lehrer:]       Some of my earliest experiences were in a local band playing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, back then those dates were called “casuals.”   Ironically, there’s something about the traditional ethnic music, um-pah um-pah that, when speeded up, is music to mosh by.  From the start, I wanted to mix things up.  I’m sponsored by, among others, a Latin percussion company; I’ve always been interested in a wide variety of music.  My goal is to be innovative and appropriate to best support the song. I brought elements of swing, Latin and prog rock to punk to create more nuanced and interesting rhythms to hardcore music. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   You teach drumming to others, but you are a lifetime student of the drums yourself.  Why is it important at this stage in your career to keep trying to improve? You’ve already been hailed as the best punk drummer of all time.
[Lucky Lehrer:]       Percussion knowledge is infinite.  I get together with friends like Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper), Joey Heredia (Sheila E.), Brian Tichy (Billy Idol) or Matt Starr (Mr. Big) and we can talk about sticks, mallets from ballads to bossa novas for hours. Today on YouTube, the amount of information being shared by top drummers never ends.  Just last night, I was watching a 5 minute video by one of my friends, drum teacher guru Bruce Becker.   That led to watching videos with Mark Schulman (Pink, Cher) and more.  By the time I looked up, an hour went by.  Then it was time to apply some of the techniques I’d seen.   Yet while online information is great, nothing can replace an actual teacher. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   As a drummer, you have 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? 
[Lucky Lehrer:]       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. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   Having co-founded the iconic The Circle Jerks, and have 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?
[Lucky Lehrer:]       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 (the Circle Jerks).
[Rustyn Rose:]   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.
[Lucky Lehrer:]     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. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   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?
[Lucky Lehrer:]       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. 
[Rustyn Rose:]   How important to that movement would California getting on board impact a national decriminalization?
[Lucky Lehrer:]      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. 
[Rustyn Rose:]    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?
[Lucky Lehrer:]      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. 
[Rustyn Rose:]    Thanks so much for giving us a few moments. Feel free to add any final thoughts.
[Lucky Lehrer:]       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. 
Picture by Brooks Ayola.

Picture by Brooks Ayola.

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