Lucero have long been one of my favorite bands. Ben Nichols’ voice and song-writing tug at my heart strings like no other, and the band’s willingness to deviate from “the path” (both musically and career-wise) have earned them my deepest respect and loyalty. I’ve had the pleasure of attending many a Lucero show over the years, and I can’t say I’ve ever been disappointed. If you can get to one on their current tour, go. You won’t regret it. Till then, welcome to TVD’s Lucero Takeover Week.
Roy Berry impresses me, plain and simple. I have always thought his drumming style ingenious and wondered if the person behind the kit was as intelligent, thoughtful, and fun-loving as I had imagined. Turns out, it’s all true – and then some. Roy talks about our mutual love of street art, his side projects, and his technological skills. Oh, and partying. Let’s not forget the partying.
You’re one of my favorite people to watch play in Lucero. You kind of remind me of Animal from the Muppets. What’s going on back there?
Thanks. Who knows, that guy’s weird. . . here’s the short list: neuroses, flashbacks, binary math, break dancing, amnesia, smoking, drinking, music church, mumbling, monitor problems, video games.
I hear you’re one of the few members of the band not challenged by technology. Do you consider this a hindrance or an asset?
I made video games for fun in high school, used to be a computer programmer and taught myself drums using binary and ternary numbers. Of course being unchallenged by technology is an asset. I do other music under the name Overjoid using electronics instead of drums. It helps me try out odd rhythms and sounds, keeps me informed about recording and audio technology and helps me talk the talk with studio and live sound engineers.
There actually are a few spots on Lucero records with drum machines/samples (by themselves or mixed in with the live drums). For example, “Slow Dancing” and “Sweet Little Thing” both have whole parts that are drum machine through an analogue filter. Generally in life it’s good to be able to figure out electronics and basic logic, especially these days where everything is electronic (or illogical) in some way.
Lucero – Sweet Little Thing
I’ve noticed some pretty rad pictures on your Facebook, particularly of street art, which happens to be one of my interests. Is that stuff you seek out, or do you mostly stumble upon it in your travels? It looks like you really have fun with it.
Thanks. I love taking pictures and it’s a lot easier now that I have a phone with a halfway decent camera; it’s always with me. I love art. I have art sensory overload going on in my living room and have in all of my past living spaces. I make art as well. I should post some of that somewhere on the internet I guess. It’s mostly black ink on white paper with a few more colorful things, paintings, prints; strange stuff.
Anyhow, I like good street art and check walls and poles as I pass, looking for it. I’m always wandering around between soundcheck and show (which is kind of how I got my jaw broken a year or so ago). I like to see the places I get to go as a traveling musician and digital cameras are great. I’ll take around 300 pictures in a day if there’s a lot of visually interesting stuff in my view.
Your musical taste is all over the place, from Devo to Jawbreaker to Fugazi. What genre or bands do you think influence you the most strongly?
I like all kinds of music. Whatever music I have on my Facebook is just what has showed up in the news feed or on the right side of the page and I click the like button if I like it. My influences as a drummer are wide. I’ve paraphrased things I’ve learned from fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties rock and roll and soul, seventies, eighties, nineties metal and punk, new wave, odd and underground bands, old school hip-hop, Memphis hip-hop, The Jesus Lizard, Tom Petty, southern rock, old Van Halen, AC/DC, stuff I’ve heard on the radio in passing and noticed that the beat was interesting.
Basically, I like drummers that can play something interesting, odd or unique for the type of song…but not lose the audience. The song is key. I listened to Mac McNeilly (The Jesus Lizard), Stan Gallimore (The Grifters), Mitch Mitchell (Hendrix), Rich Trosper (K9 Arts), Keith Moon and [John] Bonham (of course) a lot in the beginning of my learning drums.
Lucero – All Sewn Up
Life seems pretty good for Lucero right now. New record label, touring, new album in the works… How are you feeling about all of this?
Lucero’s been good to me since the beginning and will always be. This is exactly how I want to be living and more fans are always welcome. We usually are on a new label, touring and have a new album in the works, that’s just the business and I love it. I love making music and get to do it constantly. You know, I like to party.