culture.

female drummers: Recognizing their History and Featuring One of Their Own

Debs Cobon of Lake Placid

Kristy O'Regan

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Photo by Dani Cyr Creative - danicyrcreative.com

When one thinks of a drummer, they think male, possibly Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ringo Starr of The Beatles, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, Keith Moon of The Who.

But can anyone name any famous female drummers? Aside from Meg White of The White Stripes?

It’s time we look back at some classic female drummers and look forward at our feature female drummer, Debs Cobon of Lake Placid.

Females Who Conquered the Drum Throne

Honey Lantree:

Notable as one of the few female drummers to come out of the British Invasion,” AllMusic.com The first “star” female drummer in Rock N’ Roll history.

Band– The Honeycombs

Years Active- 1963-67

Big Hit- “Have I the Right

Moe Tucker:

With an unconventional style of playing standing rather than seated on a drum throne, she used mallets rather than sticks and rarely used cymbals, citing them as unnecessary and drowned out the other instruments.

Band- Velvet Underground

Years Active- 1964-73, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1996

Big Hit- “Sweet Jane

Karen Carpenter

“In a 1975 Playboy magazine readers poll, Karen Carpenter was voted the best rock drummer of the year—beating out Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham.”  Modern Drummer

Band- The Carpenters

Years Active- 1969-83

Big Hit- “We’ve Only Just Begun

Who says us girls can’t play with the boys? These ladies have proven powerful and so have those who dominated the all-female bands, such as Sandy West of The Runaways.

It’s almost 2019 and there are more female drummers out there (Wikipedia’s Female Drummer List) than there were back then however not all are known or well-known. It’s high time we give them the recognition they deserve!

Playing Nice with the Boys: Debs Cobon On Her Experiences as a Female Drummer

Photo By Marquessa Mackenzie @quessarylee

What is it like being a female drummer in an all male band?

It’s pretty great! Lake Placid is the first band I’ve ever been in, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I love it. Derry, our vocalist/ guitar player saw a video I posted on Instagram and reached out asking if I’d like to take over for their old drummer who had to leave the band due to tinnitus. Both Derry and John have been really supportive and encouraging and have helped me adapt and develop my skills as well as my understanding of song composition. They make jams a comfortable place to learn and experiment. I feel so lucky have such lovely band mates.

How did you get into drumming? Do you have any formal training?

I grew up playing piano like my Mom, but my Dad was a drummer, and I always wanted to learn. It wasn’t until 2014 that I started drumming. I got home from work on my birthday and my boyfriend at the time had an electronic kit set up in the living room. So, that’s how it all began for me. Soon after I started taking lessons with Jesse Cameron at Downbeat Drum Studio in Victoria and I continue to see him once a week.

Are there any female drummers that inspire you?

Right now, I’ve got The Beaches on heavy rotation. I really like their drummer Eliza McDaniel. They recently toured with Death From Above 1979 and she played on stage with them, which is the dream. Emmanuelle Caplette is incredible, I love watching her practice rudiments on Instagram, she has such good technique, the fastest hands and she makes it look effortless.

Are there any drummers in general that are your all-time favourite?

Travis Barker was my first drummer crush, growing up I was really into Blink 182. He’s so talented and so hardworking. Dave Grohl [Currently Foo Fighters, Previously Nirvana] is a favourite as well, I love his style, he’s collaborated with so many cool musicians. Bernard Purdie, if you get a chance check out the Purdie shuffle on YouTube, he’s hilarious, beams with happiness when he plays, and he really brings the funk.

Photo By Marquessa Mackenzie @quessarylee

What is your preferred drumming gear?

I just bought my first kit. I was playing an electronic Roland kit for the past few years, but now have a Mapex Armoury in smoke. My cymbals are a mix of Dream and Zildjian, and I use Los Cabos sticks.

Where would you say you draw your drumming style from?

I like the simplicity of The Strokes, and the heaviness of Death from Above 1979; but, I’d say I’m still trying to find my style. It feels like it progresses and changes a little bit with each song we write.

Have you met any recognized drummers?

On my 19th birthday I went to see Foo Fighters at Rogers Arena. There was a part in the set when Dave Grohl started running around the arena while ripping one hell of a guitar solo. Fully embracing the 19-year-old fan girl I was, I booked it from my seat down the stairs and slammed my body into the boards just in time reach out and touch him. My watch got stuck in the buttons of his flannel and ripped it open while coating my hand in his sweat. So, I guess it’s safe to say I had an informal meeting with Dave Grohl. But as far as anything respectful, unfortunately, not yet.

What is it like for you up on stage performing?

I get really nervous beforehand and during the first couple of songs, that I’m going to have a problem with something beyond my control, like having issues with my in-ear monitors or not being able to hear the guitar on the songs where it’s looped and the timing is so finicky and particular. But, somewhere toward the middle of the set I really start to enjoy it, I look around and try to interact with the audience a bit. By the last song, I try to savour every beat because life is crazy and unpredictable, and you never know if you’re going to have the opportunity to perform on stage again.

Do you inspire to make this your main career in life, or more so a hobby, or perhaps the happy medium?

Playing drums is definitely a hobby for now, but if there was ever an opportunity to make a living doing it, oh boy, I’d be all over that. What a dream!

What has been your best stage moment so far in your drumming career?

The first time I ever played drums on stage was on my 30th birthday. My friends rented out Lucky Bar and had a few of my favourite local bands play and then, to my surprise, they called me up on stage to play my favourite song at the time, Out of the Black by Royal Blood with two of my best friends on guitar. The song was way beyond my skill level and I didn’t even know it off by heart, the boys set up an iPad with the drum tab on it. I made so many mistakes but had the most fun. When the song finished everyone sang happy birthday and I stage dove into the crowd where they carried me to the bar on my back and the bartender poured Jameson’s in my mouth. It was totally ridiculous. I still can’t believe it happened.

What advice would you give to young female musicians starting out, that might be intimidated by male bands?

When you’re starting out it’s really helpful to find a mentor or a teacher if you can, someone who can help you develop your skills and who believes in you and will encourage you. Don’t be afraid to be scared or uncomfortable, that’s a great measure of growth. As far as dealing with intimidation, everyone is on their own journey and deals with their own doubts and insecurities. I’d recommend focusing on yourself, working hard and not wasting your energy comparing yourself to others or worrying too much about what other people think.

Some great stories and fantastic advice. We can’t wait to see how far your career will take you. Show your support for local bands and help them grow.

You go girls! Keep on Drumming!

Follow Deb on Instagram @debsdebsdebs or Lake Placid @lakeplacidband

Follow Lake Placid Band on Facebook

Check out Lake Placid on Spotify!

Kristy O'Regan / smltwnwriter@hotmail.com

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