Man Forever willl push percussion limits at Sluggo’s North
The NYC-based percussion project Man Forever, created by Oneida drummer Kid Millions—real name: John Colpitts—found initial momentum in 2010 after Colpitts witnessed a concert of Lou Reed’s infamous noise album Metal Machine Music performed by an acoustic chamber ensemble and wanted to make a drum-only version.
By using a multitude of thickly layered tuned drums, Colpitts, with a rotating cast of collaborators, harnesses the power of sound waves crashing together through original compositions that have intense payoffs. Colpitts has also worked with the Japanese group Boredoms, Spiritualized, William Basinski and novelist Rick Moody.
Colpitts answered some questions via email for The Pulse in advance of the June 26 Man Forever concert at Sluggo’s North.
The Pulse: You’ve referred to your compositions as experiments. What premises formed the basis for the tracks on your new album Ryonen with So Percussion?
John Colpitts: The two full-length records that came before this new one are all based around arrhythmic percussion. They were ways to play the drums without a focus on rhythm and to see what kind of aleatoric rhythms emerged from that. For this project I wanted to bring in a drum set and work on a number of pieces that had a distinct and powerful pulse.
So that’s where I started. I created a number of pieces around this idea and the two that made the record were the best suited for So Percussion. I also wanted to incorporate vocals into the mix; I wanted to have the drummers singing and harmonizing.
TP: How strict are your live performances? How much room is there for improvisation?
JC: For the other drummers it’s pretty strict, but there’s supposed to be a build from the start to the end: a gradual build. It’s not really improvisation, but there’s some flexibility. I started this project initially because I was sick of personal expression driving rock and jazz music. There was something impersonal about the first two Man Forever albums—I liked that. Now it’s more personal; I was ready to go into that world a bit.
TP: Does the venue itself shape a Man Forever show?
JC: I think definitely, yes. I’ve played in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in punk houses. I think there’s more GIVE to a punk house space. It’s smaller—you can expend more energy and have it absorbed into the structure—whereas concert halls want to resonate, and it can cause restraint on stage. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It just will drive the performance in a certain way. Clarity vs. abandon: there are pluses to both things.
TP: What do you want audiences to get from a performance?
JC: I want the audience to leave feeling energized, and perhaps there was room made in their minds for their own thoughts. Not even about my music—who cares?—but maybe some strands of ideas would meet there. They could get ideas, inspiration...and energy.
With Buffalo Princess, Monomath and White Gregg
June 26, 10 p.m., $7
501 Cherokee Blvd.