An Interview with Drummer Curt Bisquera at the AES Show 2014

While studio drummer Curt Bisquera (affectionately referred to as “Kirkee B.” by those who know him best) has performed with a host of world-famous artists, he is a legend in his own right.

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To say that he’s in demand, both in the studio and on the road, is an understatement. His impressive client list includes everyone from Mick Jagger, Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Seal, John Fogerty, Sarah McLachlan and John Legend to Hans Zimmer, Josh Groban, Lana Del Rey, Celine Dion, Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Donny Osmond, Lionel Richie and many, many more.

Bisquera’s success can be traced all the way back to his childhood, when he began playing drums at the tender age of three. According to Drummerworld.com, Bisquera had such a unique talent that by the time he entered grade school, his mother – a jazz musician herself – had him playing with her in jazz clubs on the weekends. At the age of 19, after attending the Musician’s Institute and studying under the likes of Joe Porcaro, Ed Roscetti and Joe Brancato, Bisquera landed his first “official” tour with Morris Day. After two tours and several other projects with R&B artists, Bisquera was hired for his first major studio session, playing on Bonnie Raitt’s “Luck of the Draw” album. Her single, “Something to Talk About,” went on to win a Grammy award, effectively launching Bisquera into the spotlight as a highly sought-after musician. And the attention only grew from there.

As part of our “Ask Me Anything” series from AES 2014, Curt sat down with us to answer some questions from the live audience and those on Twitter.

Question: What was the most challenging studio recording experience you’ve had?

Curt Bisquera: Right off the bat I would have to say [the most challenging experience was] in the ’90 s when I did a record with Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash with Rick Rubin producing. Just the fact that it was those two legends – I couldn’t play. How do you play along with such great top-notch talent, such as those two guys? It was nerve-wracking. But because Rick was there and the great players that were surrounding me, like Benmont Tench – basically the Heartbreakers were the backing band and I was playing drums – it was easy to do. They made it relaxing. But definitely [my most challenging studio experience was with] Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash; those two guys were pretty intense.

Q: When you’re about to sit down what goes through your mind as far as on a rhythmic basis? What gets you moving?

CB: Well, first of all it has to be a good song. If it’s not a good song, I have to find something to lock into musically that I’ll find enjoyable to play to. It all really does boil down to the lyrics and melody for me. Being a drummer that plays behind many singers, that’s always the thing that moves me first. That’s most inspiring.

Q: Buddy Rich or Neil Peart?

CB: Oh man – Buddy!

Q: Have you ever DJ’ed before?

CB: No, but I would love to. Because there is something… I can relate to that. It’s all patterns. I was at a party in New York a few years ago and Questlove was DJing and I just thought, “Cool – a drummer and a DJ.” It got the wheels spinning in my head, but then I realized I don’t have enough time to learn that aspect. I have a lot of respect for DJing.

Q: Talk a little bit about the experience of drumming on a soundtrack for a movie.

CB: The latest one I did was with the great Hans Zimmer. He wrote and scored the movie, “Man of Steel.” “Man of Steel” was done with 12 drummers. So a lot of what you see on that movie soundtrack, which came out two years ago, is all live drums. The drummer that was involved with that was my dear friend, Satnam Ramgotra. He was the one that put us all together. He was the main drummer who came up with some cool parts for us to play. It was myself, John Robinson, Matt Chamberlain, the great Jim Keltner, another dear friend of mine, Toss Panos, Bernie Dresel, Trevor Lawrence Jr., Sheila E., Vinnie Colaiuta. And then the second round, Pharrell [Williams] came in and played drums along with Jason Bonham, John Bonham’s son. That right there was a dream moment for me, where I got to hang with all my drum heroes and play on a Superman movie. That was pretty cool.

For the complete AMA interview with Curt Bisquera, please check out the video below!

We would like to thank Curt for taking the time to be part of our AES Ask Me Anything Livestream event!

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