It was the drumming equivalent of a pick-up game of basketball. Oh, waitaminute–I don’t play basketball. But we get the drift.
Last Saturday was Nico Pineda’s wife Ristalle’s birthday party in Ristalle’s abode in La Vista, Quezon City. I arrived that night with a greeting from these two monsters, Nico and Alvin Zafra, that there are two drum kits at the back of the house and it’s time for us to play.
The prospect was exciting for me primarily because I always wanted to try it. But it was also a bit scary because it means I’ll be playing with two drumming colleagues of mine who I consider superiors.
The first time I saw Alvin play was way back in highschool. It was a battle of the bands event in Los Baños, Laguna and he and his band are playing unforgettable Metallica covers. I finally got to know him in college in UP Diliman and saw him in action with The Brew and Aizo. It was also around the time I met Nico and got to know his chops drumming for Chubibo. We immediately formed this tiny pseudo-formal cabal of drummers hanging out, talking drummer talk, grabbing a few beers now and then like any other college cabal of guys.
Now cut to that Saturday night and that two-drum kit room. It’s almost a given for a drummer couple to have such a set up (Ristalle plays for Duster). I would expect nothing less than a room with two drum kits facing each other, and I would assume that each is stylistically representative of its master. In the video, the one at the back was more of the jazz set-up while the other was more of the spartan punk.
The video was the third jam. The first one was between me and Alvin, me in the smaller kit and Alvin the bigger one. I have to confess I was in unfamiliar territory when we started playing together since I’m not the drum solo kind of player. In those moments I was wishing I was that kind of player. Although it was definitely an exercise, I reminded myself that it was for fun and we weren’t playing for anybody other than ourselves. So I got a kick out of it.
When Nico stepped in, a sense of order came in the room. After Nico and Alvin went through a dry run I got my camera ready. I just had let these two veterans go at it and it was up to me to record the drum duel for posterity. Sure it was rough at some points, but it was still a clinic and an experience. I’d love to do this again with these two, with other drummer brothers and sisters welcome to join in.
The video could have been longer if I didn’t run out of memory. Nonetheless this is a good memory, and there will be a next time.