News Column

MICHAEL SHRIEVE [MD: Modern Drummer]

July 1, 2013


This legendary drummer won't sacrifice soul-maybe just some sleep.

If you played with Santana at the original Woodstock festival as a teenager, got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and made the top ten in a 2011 Rolling Stone readers' poll of the best drummers of all time, you'd be forgiven for resting on your laurels. But "at rest" isn't the preferred mode for Michael Shrieve, who recently began hosting Notes From the Field, a weekly interview show on the Seattle-centric online station Jet City Stream ( And while the show's focus isn't exclusively on music-Shrieve has spoken with a master chef and with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn-recent episodes have featured the drum heroes Matt Chamberlain and Neil Peart opening up the way musicians do only with one another.

"I'm a voracious reader and have been a fan of interviews and podcasts for years," Shrieve says. "It connects me with fascinating people. Notes features all local people or ones coming to Seattle, and I really enjoy doing the research. I've learned to go in with fewer questions and leave room for the subject to speak and for me to react. It's very much like music. I always approach the artists with respect and admiration for their work. I try to present them.

"Though we'd never met, Neil and I had a lot in common," Shrieve says of the longtime Rush drummer. "He had very specific references to records I've played on. I didn't expect that. He's a fabulous guy and full of life."

The radio show also feels fresh because Shrieve keeps it interesting by asking writers what music they're listening to-and by grilling musicians about their favorite books or films. "It turns you on to things they like outside of their own medium," he says.

Other projects include the almost completed Drums of Compassion. "As a drummer," Shrieve says, "[I thought about] what kind of music I would make to listen to at 2 A.M.-a kind of 'chill' music." To achieve the sound he imagined, Shrieve, who works with synthesist Jeff Greinke on the recording, assembled sixteen toms in a semicircle and played them standing up. "Eventually," he explains, "I started adding other drummers, like Zakir Hussain, Airto Moreira, and Jack DeJohnette. There's also a piece with [electronic musician] Amon Tobin. It's not a blowing record; it's more of a spiritual space."

Don't assume that Shrieve has given up shredding, though. Fans can still catch the drummer letting loose in a weekly residency with his fusion band, Spellbinder, at the White Rabbit club in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. Check the group's Facebook page for its live schedule.

Ilya Stemkovsky

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