When the Drummer Counts to Four
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: March 31, 2004
w/ The Kyle Harvey Band, The Doxies, Korey Anderson
3, 9 p.m.
13th & Martha
"Omaha loves you most at your CD release party and at your
reunion show," said a slightly inebriated Matt Whipkey.
words from a guy who's enjoyed the fruits of both occasions with his former band,
the alt-country/indie four-piece called The Movies. Now with Anonymous American,
a new outfit that plows similar sonic ground, Whipkey and his Movies comrade,
bassist Bobby Carrig, are going to try their best to break that tradition.
opposite Carrig and a brown-colored mixed drink at O'Leavers, Whipkey explained
how his new band rose both from the ashes of his old band and from his own personal
funk. Drummer and Whipkey roommate Wayne Brekke showed up late, while curly red-haired
guitarist Corey Weber was off somewhere on the highway selling medical textbooks.
It was actually the break-up of two bands that resulted in the birth of
Anonymous American. After releasing their well-received debut in early 2002, The
Movies lingered for more than a year, gathering a respectable local following,
but rarely leaving Omaha for road gigs, thanks in part to drummer Doug Kabourek,
who had warned the band when they first formed that he didn't have an appetite
for touring. In October 2002, Kabourek finally left the band, giving him more
time to focus on his own project, Fizzle Like a Flood.
"We were in a lethargic state," said
Carrig. "We didn't have anything on the horizon and I was going back to school.
I knew (Movies guitarist) Mike Friedman also was frustrated that it wasn't progressing."
and I were in the string room at Dietz Music where we both work and said, 'Let's
call it,'" remembers Whipkey. "I had just broken up with my longtime
girlfriend. My grandfather had just died. It was the worst time in my life."
continued to write songs and play folkie solo acoustic sets through the winter,
eventually pulling together material for a recording session booked at Bassline
Studios for March 2003. All he needed was a band. He would find one at, of all
things, a reunion show at the now defunct Music Box for The Get, a straight-up
rock outfit that featured Weber, his brother, Chris, and Brekke. Sitting in on
bass for the set was Carrig. Shortly thereafter, Carrig and Weber were jamming
"When I found out Corey was playing with those guys,
I assaulted Matt and said 'You must have me as your drummer,'" Brekke said.
"I had learned the whole Movies record and dug their vibe."
band would gel at a series of frenetic rehearsals for the Bassline sessions, whose
recordings were the beginning of Anonymous American's debut CD. "Matt plays
the same way at rehearsals as he does live," Brekke said. "When he gets
animated, it gets me just as animated behind the drums. For once, going to rehearsals
"I think I scared Corey at those first rehearsals,"
Whipkey said, "and I still do. The best shows The Movies every played were
rehearsals that no one's ever seen."
Anonymous American's sound falls
into a genre uncomfortably referred to as Americana, a hybrid of country and rock.
Look up the word in the All Music Guide and you'll find bands listed like The
Jayhawks, The Pontiac Brothers, Whiskeytown and John Hiatt. Add the obvious Bruce
Springsteen nuances along with a healthy dose of Let It Bleed-era Stones and a
touch of Gram Parsons and you'll begin to understand where Anonymous American
is coming from. I call it classic American bar rock music (honky-tonk if they
only had a keyboard) played for pure yee-haw enjoyment of the masses. The new
ensemble is less country-esque than The Movies without Friedman's pedal steel,
though there's still plenty of twang to go around, not the least of which is in
Whipkey's hound-dog vocals and Weber's peaceful, easy feelin' guitar solos reminiscent
of Joe Walsh.
had just broken up with my longtime girlfriend. My grandfather had just died.
It was the worst time in my life."
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drummers are like, 'Why do you let him stand on your drums?' Because it's so rock
The sound is captured in the band's debut
full-length, the self-released When the Drummer Counts to Four, but not
the stage spectacle. Whipkey's live presentation is sheer bravado, kicking and
whooping and comfortably prancing off stage to get closer to an audience that's
slightly afraid that they might get hit by a his flinging guitar. It's that energy
that makes Anonymous American one of the most endearing and well-received live
bands on Omaha stages these days.
"Matt broke my front drum rim because
he kept standing on it," Brekke said. "I had to put a reinforcement
around it. Other drummers are like, 'Why do you let him stand on your drums?'
Because it's so rock and roll. We know we're not playing the best we can sometimes,
but we don't care because we're having such a good time."
that kind of stuff about Matt's over-the-top antics all the time," Carrig
said, laughing. "He gives everything he has for every show. You never know
what'll happen. Matt went face-first into my bass a couple months ago. That's
something you can't plan."
A huge Springsteen fan, Whipkey says he's
emulating The Boss when he's on stage. "No one has put on a better show than
Springsteen. He's transcendent." At the same time, Whipkey also credits local
musicians Simon Joyner and Conor Oberst for inspiring him to try performing in
the first place. "Watching them gave you a sense that you didn't have to
be proficient vocally or musically to get on stage; you just needed to feel it
in your heart. I knew I could do it, too, if I had the heart and a few chords."
a band that's ready and willing to tour, Whipkey and Co. say there's nothing holding
them back this time 'round. And for Whipkey, there's no other place he'd rather
be than on stage.
"I love the crowds," he said after the rest
of the band had headed to another bar for last call, leaving him there to sober
up before he going home. "You feed off the people from stage. When the drummer
counts to four it starts off the most beautiful mess in the world. I'll never
get tired of that."
in The Omaha Reader March 31, 2004. Copyright © 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.