Thomas Pridgen is a professional drummer who has played with the likes of Christian Scott and Juliette Lewis. However, he is mostly known for his stint as the drummer for The Mars Volta, which includes winning a Grammy for 'Best Hard Rock Performance' with the song 'Wax Simulacra' from The Mars Volta's 2008 album, 'The Bedlam in Goliath'. I got the chance to speak with Pridgen on his new musical project.
Q. Word on the street is that you have a new music project called The Memorials. Can you tell us a little about this new musical endeavor of yours?
Yeah we're about a year old now. We're about to put our first record out. The music is like progressive soul rock. Hard to put in words honestly, but I'm making music with a fun bunch of people.
Q. From playing in The Mars Volta for around three years, what are the most discernible aspects of being musician that you have picked up in working with those guys?
I dunno. I'm glad I played in that band, I'm also glad I'm not playing in that band. I totally did a lot for those [guys], [and] to be under-appreciated and not paid for my services; I treated those guys as family/homies. I brought them to my hood. I totally opened myself to them. Told them things that i didn't tell people, and then in the end it backfired in ways that I wasn't ready for. Parting ways is one thing, but getting screwed over money, that's unforgivable. Getting lied on and snitched on by a band mate to the police and [expletive]. C'mon homie that doesn't play out well where I'm from.
Q. What is it like now, having a lot more creative control over the band you play in?
I totally put a lot of my passions in the creative ideas of this band. I've always been someone that [with] people I was working with would listen to. I'm from the Bay Area. Its a lot of creative people here. Before I didn't care if people knew I did it or put the idea in someones ear. So I guess it's not too different, just more a known thing now that I'm somewhat of a leader.
Q. Other than The Memorials, are you in any other projects that you can tell us about? I got called for some pretty nice gigs, but I'm really determined to kill it with The Memorials. I love these guys on more levels than money and fame. I've been playing on records though. I did a record with Curren$y the spitta, I played on Foxy Shazam's record. I did a record with Jordan Ferriera called 'Elixir on Mute'. I also did a record with a guy by the name of Jon Reshard, and The Memorials album.
Q. Who are some of your biggest influences on you as a musician? From the numerous projects you have played in, you show a knack to play different styles at such a high level. I'm influenced by Tony Williams and Vinnie Coluita and Dennis Chambers and all the other greats that every drummer in the world talks about.
I got my idea to learn every style from my grandmother. She felt like I should learn all aspects of music and I just tried to keep it authentic and keep it me. I'm a total free bird.
Q. Who are some of the artists/bands that you have been listening to lately that some of us should know?
Fela Kuti, Lamb of God, Venitian Snares, [expletive] people give me. I listen to a [expletive]-load of hip-hop and rap. I love Squarepusher and Portishead and System. And everything good. I'm a music lover.
Q. When can we expect the debut LP from The Memorials to drop?
January 18th. We pushed it back. I was kinda on the fence about it, but now I'm just embracing it. I know when it comes out everyone's going to flip out. We wrote and recorded the music in a week. I'm really proud of that. Hopefully people will see me and my band for what we are, real musicians.
Q. What is the name of this aforementioned album?
The record is self titled. It's our first one, and we feel like our name speaks for itself. We didn't just name our band The Memorials because we saw the word on a sign or on a monument.
Something designed to keep the memory alive.
"Music are memorials. Songs can bring back the feelings of certain memories; such as a first love, a vacation, the music your parents played while you we're growing up, making love and babies, etc. Lot's of things are memorials to mark the time, place, and feelings you've had in life such as your first car, or your first guitar(drums!!). Music definitely implies the same mark! Just like Jacob, who fought the angel in Genesis, named the place where he fought to commemorate the date and place where he wrestled God and God did not prevail. Music can mark not only our feelings at a time, but it can also show us our tenacity, our sense of self-worth, our imagination. The music The Memorials makes is both thought compelling and it will etch out a place for the band to leave it's mark, telling the world we were here!"
I think its important to have some kind of a message. I totally play drums for a reason. I hope my drumming sounds like it all makes sense. I want this band to be about something and I wanted each song to mean something. I want this band to be memorable.
Q. What label are you signed to for The Memorials?
We got lucky and it took a while, but we have our own label with major distribution.
Q. Do you guys have any upcoming shows?
Yeah. We're planning a tour for late January and all of February. I'm trying to go conquer the world.
Q. What are your aspirations for your new band The Memorials?
Just to keep having fun, making music and touring the world. I'm happy doing what I've always been happy doing. That all the other BS is just extra.
Along with Thomas Pridgen, The Memorials consist of:
Lead singer - Viveca Hawkins
Lead guitarist - Nick Brewer
Bass guitar - Uriah Duffy (formerly of Whitesnake)