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Best Drummer: Patrick Hawley 

My introduction to Patrick Hawley's skills came in the early '90s, when he was in a great lost pop band called Twiggy (from Champaign, Ill.). Songwriter Todd Fletcher's vulnerably boyish vocals were given no-nonsense musical bodyguarding by Hawley's tough drumming. And that's Hawley's style: Whereas some drummers beat with masturbatory fills, playing with their own instruments like schoolboys in heat, Hawley comes from the tradition of Big Star's Jody Stephens and Television's Billy Ficca -- seldom any pompous displays of drum kitsch.

These days Hawley plays with both Robynn Ragland and Prisonshake -- and Adam Schmidt, when he plays in town -- and his drum patterns have slowly evolved, showcasing a tense restraint that opens spaces for his bandmates to fill. There is postpunk angst in Hawley's descriptive, judicious attack -- but it comes across like Keith Moon shining in "Nighttime," not macho cheese. Hawley says his "two main, and longtime, drumming influences are Rick Neuhaus of the Champaign, Ill., band Combo Audio and Terry Bozzio, the drummer for Missing Persons. Rick was my mentor and taught me everything I know about drumming." Hawley doesn't view drumming as an insular role -- in idea or execution. "I don't see drumming as an entity on its own," he says, "merely as a nonessential component of music. Any drummer who's worth a shit will certainly listen to all of the instruments in any band, since drumming is just as much about making a song work as is playing rhythm or lead guitar. Those who focus on Western drumming as its own entity -- anyone who owns more than one videotape of just a drummer -- has simply been misled."

-- Jordan Oakes

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