Little Drummer Girl

We chat with the lil'est Tratchenburg, sing seasonal songs and give a concept-album reading list

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players -- the nation's foremost "indie-vaudeville conceptual art-rock pop" band -- consist of keyboardist/vocalist/dad Jason Trachtenburg, projectionist/mom Tina Piña Trachtenburg and drummer/sometime bassist/daughter Rachel Piña Trachtenburg. Before kicking off the band's current 27 States of Vintage Fabric tour at B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City, ten-year-old Rachel took time out from her stickers to talk about life on the road.

The Riverfront Times: What's the best thing about being on tour?

Rachel Piña Trachtenburg: I really like getting to go somewhere different every night, and I like playing shows.

The giant Trachtenburgs dismantle the Arch.
The giant Trachtenburgs dismantle the Arch.
The members of Mastodon love to curl up with a good book.
The members of Mastodon love to curl up with a good book.

Any crazy tour stories? Ever trashed any hotel rooms?

[Laughs] Lots of crazy stuff has happened before. We had this tour manager, Robert, and he liked to do lots of crazy stuff. We climbed a few mountains, and we jumped into swimming pools. He rode on the car while we were driving, and what else did we do?

Tina Piña Trachtenburg: How about the time when we crashed the wedding and tried to eat the cake? Remember that, when you were embarrassed?

Rachel: Mmm, yeah. [Laughs] We were at this fancy hotel like the Sheraton or Marriott; I don't know. And there was a wedding going on, and my mom and dad asked them where it was. We just rode up and down until someone got off at the fifteenth floor, because you had to have a special card, and then we got in. We got some cake, and then we got in trouble.

What's the worst part of being on tour -- besides the embarrassing parents, of course?

[Laughs] I don't think there is a worst part. Being away from home, I guess, but I don't mind that. I don't like sound checks! You just have to play the songs that you're just going to play again later.

Is there anything you always make sure you take on tour, any vital toys or lucky charms?

My iPod. I saved up for it for awhile to get one. And...nothing else. Just my purse with all my little knickknacks and stuff in it.

Have you ever met any of your drumming heroes?

I met Meg White.

Anyone that you've been able to learn from or trade tips with?

The drummer from They Might Be Giants helped me a lot. He doesn't drum with them anymore.

What did he teach you?

I used to wear flared pants and it always got stuck on the drum pedal. He taught me that I could stick it into my sock. It was very helpful.

Do you have any big goals?

I want to try to stop animal testing. And I want people to stop buying things that were tested on animals. -- Julie Seabaugh

Rockin' Is Fundamental!
Mastodon's latest album, Leviathan, is somewhat of a concept album: Most of its songs draw upon Herman Melville's masterpiece, Moby Dick, for themes and imagery. The album might be a bit of a shock for fans of Mastodon's last album, Remission, which was a relentless assault of technically raw and pounding metal riffage but lacked any general theme other than just balls-to-the-wall rock. Leviathan, on the other hand, is much more expansive and polished; it often relies on melody and sometimes even features (gasp!) cleanly sung vocals. With song titles like "I Am Ahab," "Aqua Dementia," "Megalodon," "Hearts Alive" and "Joseph Merrick," it's clear that Mastodon has chosen a path similar to other ridiculously talented bands with a penchant for erudition -- bands like Zeppelin (who dealt with Tolkien) or Iron Maiden (who rewrote Coleridge). With Leviathan, Mastodon has clearly earned a seat at the same table.

Ever glad to lend a helping hand to bands that catch our ears, we decided to offer a few literary suggestions for Mastodon to mine for inspiration next time.

Oh, and whether or not you're a metalhead, you'd be a damn fool to miss Mastodon opening for Slayer at the Pageant on Halloween. -- Guy Gray

Seasonal Songs
Wake Up, Lincoln!

With the Holiday Formerly Known as Samhain upon us, every schmuck with a Ouija board will be trying to get airtime with Elvis, Cleopatra or Granny. The spirit world has got to be a busy place come October 31, so extra incentive can be necessary to win over a specter's transitory time.

If this selection of songs doesn't get the intended spirits of a séance to sit up and take note, rest assured: At the very least, it'll have them rolling over in their graves.

T.S.O.L., "Code Blue"
"Middle of the night/So silently I creep on over to the mortuary/Lift up the casket and fiddle with the dead/Their cold blue flesh makes me turn red/Do what I want and they don't complain/I wanna fuck, I wanna fuck the dead."

Nekromantix, "Return of the Loving Dead"
"Screaming, calling for me/Unmask their beauty at the old cemetery/Sad eyes pale lips once so red/Oh the sweet return of the loving dead."

Cannibal Corpse, "The Undead Will Feast"
"Blood I want to drink, I want to suck/Brains I want to eat, the rest I'll chuck/Bones into a spear, I'll carve and kill/Hunger for the quest, I'll never fill."

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