June 12, 2008

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Buckets and sticks, really loud
Recycled Percussion break their Regal Tips at the Palace
By Brian Early bearly@hippopress.com

One of Recycled Percussion’s claims to fame is that they use more Regal Tip drum sticks in a year than any other band, which they estimate to be 2,500 a year, or about eight per show, per drummer.

They use that particular kind of drum stick because it lasts longer and is safer than most for the physical drumming work that the band does when whacking various solid items, such as plastic buckets, to the beat.

“We break a lot of sticks in our show,” said Justin Spencer, the remaining original member of the band.

They get deals on their sticks as well as some of their buckets. For instance, they haven’t paid for a five-gallon plastic bucket, a mainstay of their show, for years. But while their instruments are cheap, they make up for it with an impressive sound and light system that they lug around in a big trailer behind their Recycled Percussion bus.

The band has changed over time. When it first started, it was all drummers. Now there are two drummers, Spencer and Ryan Vezina, a guitarist, Jim Magoon, and DJ Pharaoh. Their last tour, “Man vs. Machine,” depicted a battle between human drumming and electronic music.

Currently, the band is home in the Manchester area on a brief hiatus from their touring for the month, as they work on their next project. They start back up in a week with a show at the Palace Theatre on Saturday, June 21. The show won’t be entirely different from when they last played a show in December, as it takes time to master a new show.

“It takes about eight weeks at home and eight weeks on the road” to hone the show, Spencer said.

They tour heavily on the college circuit as well as the corporate circuit and half-time shows. They played for Microsoft’s Vista launch last year and hung out with Bill Gates. They did a show for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The corporate gigs are by far not their favorite. They tend to be early, like 8 a.m. early, but they pay the best for the least work.

“Corporate events are always weird,” DJ Pharoh said. “They try to write the show for you.”

Quite often when they do shows for the public, there are folks who show up for the novelty aspect the band. They might think it’s going to be like Stomp.

“They have no idea what’s going to hit them,” Magoon said.

“When we go on stage, we want as much mayhem as possible,” Spencer said.

It’s a loud and physically demanding show. The drummers have had to learn body work skills to keep carpal tunnel to a minimum. Once Spencer broke his ankle five minutes into a show, but he had to just play on, he said.

After years of slow change within the band, it appears that this line-up might stick around for a while.

“This is the first tour that nobody got into a physical fight in the band,” Spencer said.


Recycled Percussion
Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
When: Saturday, June 20, at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25 to $26. www.palacetheatretickets.org, 668-5588.