Brian Viglione was first introduced to
the drums the morning of December 25th,
1983. He was shown the fundamentals of
technical development by his proud father,
who after a few brief lessons, brought
the kit upstairs to let his son experiment
and play as he pleased. By mid-afternoon,
after much experimentation, Brian found
the most pleasurable of all sounds to
be pulled from his new instrument, was
the snapping reverberation which came
from puncturing the bass drum head with
sewing needles and paper clips.
Consequently, the Muppet drum set was
soon discarded. A second attempt was made
by his father two years later as Brian
was entering the first grade. A pilgrimage
to Daddy's Junky Music was made and a
shiny, blue-sparkle drum kit made its
way back to Greenville. There it waited,
patiently, for the years of G.I. Joe and
BMX obsession to pass, before Brian would
discover the release that would carry
him through his adolescence.
The single defining point at which Rock'n'Roll
sunk its fangs into this young boy's soul
could be traced back to the opening of
Shaw's Supermarket, in 1988. This unlikely
haven of evil, hid deep in its shelves
of Better Holmes & Gardens and Family
Circus, the pages of Metal Edge, Circus,
Hit Parader and RIP Magazine. All of them
seething with "Live&Kickin'!"
images of rock fury that set fire to Brian's
curiosity and already great love of music.
He started to amass tapes by groups far
more daring, it seemed to him, than "Weird
Al" Yankovic or The Fat Boys. Or
even Michael Jackson, for that matter.
Soon, mix tapes filled with Kiss, Skid
Row, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Guns'n'Roses,
Bon Jovi and (that's as far as we'll go),
blared out of the boom box next to Brian
and his drums as he would sit and play
"I remember cranking 'Slippery When
Wet' at night, in the attic bedroom, playing
my father's drums. My legs were too short
to reach the pedals if I sat, so I stood
to use the bass drum. I would get completely
lost in my 'arena rock world' and pretend
I was playing to thousands of screaming
fans. Playing along with those tapes was
the most useful tool for me at that stage
because I learned the patterns of the
beats and how to keep steady time playing
to those songs..."
1990, Brian entered the fifth grade and
developed an invaluable friendship with
another music-obsessed boy named Casey,
who was learning guitar. The two, ecstatic
at finding one another, jammed everyday
after school, writing songs and honing
their skills. A small dream came true
the night they performed 'Enter Sandman'
and 'I Remember You' to the school auditorium.
An encouraging teenager ran up to the
stage and started to 'head-bang'. It was
a euphoria never before experienced.
The following spring also introduced
a new depth to Brian's life: vibrant,
live music in the form of The Elvin
Jones Jazz Machine.
by Tina Tietz
"In between sets, my father told
me to go up to him and shake his hand.
He gave me a marker to get his autograph.
I walked up and extended my eleven year
old arm. I remember his hand completely
engulfing mine. I asked if he would
sign my jacket under the KISS patch
on the right lapel. He took the marker
from me with a big smile and said, 'Lets
see if there's a place on the back!".
He signed his name clear across my shoulder
blades. It was awesome. I watched the
documentary, 'A Different Drummer' all
the time and when it would finish, I
would run to my room and play. Elvin
is a great inspiration to me and I savor
and learn so much every time I see him
my pop: "he was always a very solid
exciting opportunity was to watch and
meet the late Tony Williams in 1993.
"The power and clarity that he
played with absolutely blows me away.
I'm most drawn to powerful, expressive
players like Art Blakey, Jo Jones, Elvin,
Tony, Jack DeJonette, and Buddy Rich.
Musicians that can melt the drum set
before your eyes, when they're only
using brushes. That kind of finesse
and grace floors me."
In January of 1996, Brian joined his
first gigging band, Green Eggs and Ham.
The group played shows at clubs around
southern N.H. for about two years before
disbanding. Over the last few years,
Brian had become quite interested in
hardcore and punk music as well as free
jazz and was listening to gobs of Minor
Threat, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Crass,
John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman and
put flyers up around Harvard Square,
Cambridge to find like minded band mates.
He joined up with several Arlington
fellows to form Sic Semper Tyrannis.
This group offered the perfect outlet
of aggression and energy that was needed
during the turbulent time of late teenager-dom,
but not quite satisfying the musical
direction that he wanted to pursue.
With a chronic case of small town burn-out
and determined to move to "the
city", he joined up with Boston
band Asciento in summer of '99. He took
a detour from the drums to play bass
in the group, whereupon he developed
a most hostile relationship with the
instrument, (most likely due to the
lack of pounding and smashing he was
accustomed to), however, trust was established
and feelings were reconciled with the
bass in the end.
member, Jason Celat, also took great
care in guiding Brian through the as
of yet untread musical waters of Nick
Cave, The Birthday Party, Diamanda Galas,
Swans, Miles Davis' later work, PJ Harvey
and the Gun Club. The group worked hard
through the next two years and even
gave a Halloween show, performing 'Pornography'
by the Cure, in its entirety in full
make up and light show. The group was
a great experience, however, Brian felt
a deep desire to return to his first
love of drumming.The band went on hiatus
for the month of November. During which
time Brian was invited to a Halloween
party by his friend and humanitarian
figurehead, Shawn Setaro, where he met
a young woman named Amanda Palmer.
one point in the evening, she sat down
to play her songs on the piano. What
came out of her when she started though.....when
I saw how she was grimacing and POUNDING
on the piano keys, when I listened to
how the lyrics and the erie melodies
she was evoking from the piano came
flowing out onto everyone listening
with these floods of emotion and angst,
I thought, 'Ohhh yeahhh, I have GOT
to play music with this freak...' It
was such a tremendous feeling. I knew
I had found some kind of kindred spirit.
I feel an amazing connection with Amanda.
I feel totally solid with her, on stage
and as a friend. We trust and respect
each other a great deal. It's a very
interesting thing, playing off only
one other person. The amount of concentration
it allows you to play off what they're
doing musically can allow for very intimate
and dynamic interplay. I feel very fortunate
to be in a situation with this person
where I'm allowed to play as expressively
as I can and the styles can shift between
jazzy "saloon" type numbers,
or bombastic, high energy songs, or
more interpretive pieces that I can
play with mallets. It's always a real
challenge and a great way to let your
my sis, unable to avoid her genetic
preconditions, circa 2001
In addition to The Dresden Dolls, current
ventures have included the Nanette Perrotte
Jazz Combo, Helicopter Helicopter, and
work with the NEOVOXER
Ensemble and HUMANWINE.
Generous Supporters Of The Cause:
VIC FIRTH DRUMSTICKS