Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mark Lanter Interview

Mark Lanter Interview

Alabama Music interviews Mark Lanter in our studios.

"When I speak of natural drummers I'm talking about guys that are playing with the talent God gave 'em."-Gene Krupa
The drum is said to be man's oldest musical percussion instrument, but the same can't be said of drum sets or kits. Drum sets, a grouping of various toned drums, originated in marching bands and parade bands in New Orleans. It was found that one drummer could play more than one drum simultaneously. This is known as double drumming. Cymbals and Tom Toms, which were invented in China, were added to drum kits. Percussion additives such as cowbells, wooden blocks, and chimes were incorporated as well. By the 1930's the standard drum kit had taken shape. The Kit consisted of a bass drum and foot pedal, snare, tom toms, a hi-hat cymbal, and large hanging cymbals. Others say the drum set was born because of budget cuts in big bands. It made no sense to have one person hitting a ride cymbal, and one person hitting the crash when the music indicated. The drum set was born! 
Regardless, early on Mark Lanter realized drum sets are the most important instrument in rock bands. Since that revelation Mark has become a drummer par excellence whose techniques, resilience and versatility is known throughout the industry.
Mark Lanter was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee into a family with 5 other children. He is the only musician among them. His great grandfather was a fiddler in a Baptist church in Kentucky. His family moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama when he was young. He was in the class of  '76 at Tuscaloosa County High School where he was in the choir and played in the jazz band under Ronald Lett. His first recordings appeared while in high school with Trans Improvisation artists Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith. Pataphisical Reveue (Alcohol Records) and From the One That Cut You, have maintained a steady cult following since the late 1970s. 
Mark is recognized as one of the top drummers in the Southeast.  He is self taught and was originally influenced by The Beatles (He now teaches a Beatles college course.). He learned to play drums by trying to imitate what he heard from drummers playing on the records and radio. His first instrument of choice was the guitar. He switched to drums out of need in his band while still in elementary school. He got his first drum set when he was 12 years old. The set was a Sears Mayfair red sparkle kit that didn't come with a hi-hat. 
When he was 14 years old he auditioned for The Bonnevilles, a very popular regional family band, and got the job.  That was his first paying gig and Mark has been a professional drummer every since.  While attending the University of Alabama he traveled and recorded with numerous regional acts including legendary Muscle Shoals recording artist Tippy Armstrong.  Highlighting those regional acts was Steve Sample's Moon Pie, a Ray Reach jazz band, Rabbit Branch and an extended amount of time with Forecast. In the years that followed, Mark has performed and/or recorded with such notables including Michael Hedges, Mose Alison, Eric Essix (Nova Records), Vova Nova (Chameleon Records), Mundel Lowe, Giacomo Gates, Boots Randolph, James Peterson, Willie King, Big Bo and Little Whit, Microwave Dave, Tom Wolfe, Ken Watters, Topper Price and the Upsetters, Otiel Burbidge, Chuck Redd, Marlon Jordan, Stephanie Jordan, Rachel Jordan, Kent Jordan, Ed Miller, Brian McNeill, and many others.
Most recent recordings include Tom Wolfe, Simple Peace, 2001, regional independent artists Downright, Downright, 2001, Hidden Agenda, 2003, Henri's Notions, Trip To The Cottage, 2007, Right Action Figures, 2008,and the Crimson Quartet, 2010. He currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama performing with Henri's Notions, the UA Jazz Faculty, and his own groups Mark Lanter Review, The Peytones, Black Jacket Symphony, and Bonus Round.  He plays in an Allman Brothers tribute band from time to time called Eat A Peach and a Grateful Dead tribute band called Electric Monkey Wrench; all while teaching private lessons and Jazz Studies at the University of Alabama, and African American Music and Jazz History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Mark stays very, very busy and thinks about retirement more often these days. Not saying he is ready for retirement but the thoughts of spending time on the remote property he owns in East Tennessee keeps reoccurring.  Mark is one of those guys that is just too busy to slow down right now.
Published January 2013 issue Tannehill Trader

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