Who is Bill Mead?
Well of course, Bill Mead is a Drummer, Percussionist, Craftsman and Music Educator. He resides deep in the mountain woods of Maine where he lives an off-grid homestead lifestyle that includes everything the name suggests.
In hopes of changing the face of musical perspective, he teaches drums and percussion at nearby private schools and says that he “loves working with the young ones, because either they naturally get it, or are at least too young to have been ruined by someone who doesn’t.” When he’s not teaching, gigging, or doing all the things that anyone who’s crazy enough to want to live like that does, he’s playing his drums, building or modifying drums to play, or recording these amazing Organic Drum Loops.
In the 30 years he has devoted to being a professional artist who’s medium is drumming, Mead has often (think – always) been at odds with conformist thinking and playing. Leroy Clouden (B-52’s, Steely Dan), his primary teacher at NYC’s “The Collective” had a “Zen-like approach that often found him asking his students to play the same simple beat over and over for months on end.” Many (think – most) of the other students hated this approach. Our man relished it. If you had known him back then, you might have guessed all of this that has come later – including his having discovered the wonders of calfskin heads and his lack of indoor plumbing.
Bill has never been someone you’d think to call for a wedding gig – unless perhaps it was for one of those Cecil Taylor cover bands that are seemingly everywhere these days. His has a purist approach, not about what music is being played but, more about how it’s being played. He loves to do sessions. It’s just that he’s a little more selective about what he signs up for than a lot of working musicians might be. He says, “It’s just that I like what I like and decided that it was going to be easier to deal with the monetary repercussions of the preferences I have, than it would be to play music that I didn’t dig. It’s not a judgement thing. It’s a love thing really.”
In 2008, being on a session at Jerry Marotta’a studio for the Ken Burns’ documentary “Prohibition” and choosing drums for an “old Rag-Timey” cue, he selected an ultra-vintage bass drum with front and back calfskin heads, a calfskin-headed snare and some temple blocks, from the piles of drums Marotta had from which to choose. “I was blown away! The sound and feel of calfskin heads was unlike anything I had ever known, in years and years of drumming. They were so unique and so cool and recorded so well that I was hooked, and started thinking about this project – almost immediately.”
Mead’s Organic Drum Loops are a perfect reflection of his skills as a drummer and percussionist, as a craftsperson, as a recording artist, and also of his desire as a person to bring meaning into his life by creating a product that will encourage and facilitate like-minded people. The loops were all recorded using 100% solar energy. It’s very important to him that you know this. If your music ignores cliché and if unorthodox rhythmic ideas interest you, you owe it to yourself to give these beautiful loops entrée into your world, and by doing so, discovering drummer Bill Mead.