Drummers are often characterized as “loose cannons” or “wild cards”—especially punk rock drummers. I’m not saying this is false, but the larger truth is that most drummers are oddly wired maniacs who view things differently than the average rocker. In Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming, editor S.W. Lauden presents a collection of essays, interviews, and Top 5s by and/or about punk drummers.
Some of the chapters in Forbidden Beat feature drummers detailing their basic musical history (Benny Horowitz), while others list and discuss their favorite drummers (Pete Finestone). However, the best parts of Lauden’s book are when the subjects are more philosophical about the instrument and its place in punk rock and music in general (Bill Stevenson).
Lucky Lehrer’s forward is a well-deserved honor, and his inclusion is an obvious choice considering his mind-breaking performance on the Circle Jerks majestic 1980 Group Sex LP. The forward is well written and insightful, but the inclusion of his personal logo (complete with equipment sponsor logos embedded) is a little bit of a bummer.
On the other hand, some of Forbidden Beat’s highlights include a Jim Ruland piece on Bill Stevenson (“There’s just a certain velocity at which the drums sound good. I wouldn’t call it hard or soft, I would call it consistent”). Jon Wurster’s “Top Five Punk(ish) Songs to Make You a Better Drummer” (“I think Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is the greatest rock and roll album of all time.”), and Matt Diehl’s history of d-beat (“If punk rock has an equivalent to Bo Diddley, it can only be the D-beat.”)
There are several interviews in the book as well. A few that really stand out are Mike Watt’s interview about Minutemen/fIREHOSE drummer George Hurley, Joey Shithead’s interview about Chuck Biscuits, and the editor Lauden’s interviews with Rat Scabies of The Damned and with Steve McDonald of Redd Kross.
As mentioned in the book, a rock’n’roll band is only as good as its drummer, so if you love rock’n’roll, you’ll find something to love in Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming. Most importantly, you’ll get a glimpse into the inner workings of the strange and unpredictable mind of the enigma known as the punk rock drummer. Cover art by Brian Walsby. –Buddha (Rare Bird Books, rarebirdbooks.com)