Brannock Device

On The Beat with Bernie Dugan

This week's edition of On The Beat features multi-faceted drummer Bernie Dugan of The Brannock Device, Cher U.K., and The Quivers. He's a busy guy and a gear head. How does he do it? Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is a weekly interview brought to you by drummer Sergio Moreno (of Hillary Watts Riot and Alacartoona), and features some of the many talented drummers in the Kansas City area.

   

On The Beat with Bernie Dugan


 

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On The Beat with Bernie Dugan

 

Bernie Dugan’s style is a lot like the many drumsets he’s collected through the years; rooted in tradition, warm in sound, steady in performance and most importantly, sparkly and fun. As the drummer for The Brannock Device, Cher UK and The Quivers, Dugan has swiftly become a staple of our local music scene.

The Deli: How did the drums find you?

Bernie DuganMy brother and brother-in-law both play drums. I started out playing on my brother's set. He is a lefty, so I would always have to rearrange his drums. I bought my own set in 1985, after saving up my money.

The Deli: Tell us about your collection.

BD: It is a slippery slope...You buy one, then another...and if you are not careful, you end up with more drums than room to keep them in. I got out of control in the late 1990s. I owned 12 drum sets and 40 or 50 snare drums. I just kept on finding good deals. I eventually grew tired of the size of my collection and scaled it down. Currently each band I am in has its own drum kit complete with bass drum art and I keep a kit in my practice space.

The Deli: What's up with vintage drums?

BD: I have a love-hate relationship with vintage drums. They can have a great warm tone that can't be duplicated with modern materials, but old drums have problems. Vintage drums were not made with the same precision that drums are made with today. Older drums have characteristics that you have to work around. Inevitably, parts fail and that can be a hassle especially when you are on stage.

I played vintage drums exclusively for years. Then one day, I had enough. Forty-year-old drums are not built to withstand the abuse I was dishing out at the time. I sold all of my vintage drums except for a snare drum and bought some second-hand, custom-built drums.

Some of the custom drum builders are making outstanding instruments. They tune easily, stay in tune and the modern hardware is so much more reliable. I played a number of custom kits for nearly 10 years and avoided vintage drums until I used the studio kit for the latest Brannock Device recording. It was a beautiful 1960s Ludwig Blue Sparkle kit. I was hooked. I never realized how much I missed that warm, woody tone. Shortly after I picked up the Gold Sparkle Ludwig kit that I use with The Quivers.

The Deli: Obligatory question: your favorite drummers. And why?

BD: I have too many favorites to list. My first favorite was Stewart Copeland. At the tender age of 14, he floored me. I couldn't comprehend why he sounded so different but I knew what he was doing was important. Ringo is on the list because he has style. Some of Ringo's beats will stick in your head like an ear worm. Max Roach is my favorite jazz drummer because he possessed all of the technical ability, yet had a very organic feel. Stephen Hodges is pretty remarkable, he has played on my favorite Tom Waits songs and my favorite Mike Watt songs.

The Deli: What's your process?

BD: The songs dictate much of what I do and I play what feels right to me. It is pretty simple, I don't try to analyze a song, I just try to feel it. I approach each band differently. With The Quivers, I have to keep it solid. I lock in with the bass and leave plenty of room for the rest of the instruments. I play what needs to be played while keeping it satisfyingly interesting. The Brannock Device is something completely different. It is about pushing and being shoved, but in a good way.

The Deli: Playing in three different bands, is it ever tricky?

BD: I just enjoy playing music and truly enjoy the people I play with. I consider my band members some of my best friends and would hang out with them even if we weren't in bands together.

Scheduling is the only real complication because, like me, most of my bands' members also play in multiple bands and/or have extensive solo performances.

Bernie is a busy drummer; if you haven’t seen him play yet, you will. Catch him live at recordBar this Sunday, June 24 with The Brannock Device (Sonic Spectrum’s tribute to The Minutemen) and June 30 with The Quivers (Sonic Spectrum’s Local Music Showcase).

 -Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.

 

 
Bernie Dugan
Bernie Dugan 

 
 

The Brannock Device
Into The Witness Chamber

The Quivers
The Quivers EP

Cher U.K.
She's A Weird Little Snack