Noah Levy is truly one of Minnesota’s hardest working drummers. He was a founding member of The Honeydogs and played on their first four records. He has also recorded with Mason Jennings, BoDeans, Golden Smog, Mandy Moore and Brian Setzer. In addition, he’s one of the most in-demand live drummers in town, playing regularly with Mason Jennings, Golden Smog, Martin Zellar, Zeppo, The BoDeans, The Disbelievers, and Brian Setzer.
Needless to say, if you don’t already, Noah Levy is a drummer you need to “Get To Know”.
MND: How did you end up in the Minnesota music scene? Are you from here?
Noah: I’m from St. Paul. I got started when I was five or six. My older brother, Adam, put markers in my hand for drumsticks to play along to Beatles records on cardboard instruments.
MND: Who are some of the artists you have worked with that we may know?
Noah: I have played and toured with the Honeydogs, Golden Smog, Five For Fighting, Mason Jennings, Peter Frampton, The BoDeans, Nelson, and Tift Merritt among others. And for the last nine years, Brian Setzer.
MND: What is your drumming education?
Noah: I am self-taught.
MND: Who are your top three influences and why?
Noah: My three main influences would have to be:
John Bonham for his groove and power.
Steve Jordan for his deep pocket and simplicity.
Ringo Starr for showing me how to play for the song.
I’m sneaking in a fourth- Jim Keltner showed me how to play behind the beat.
MND: Where are you playing? Where can we see you locally?
Noah: Locally, you can see me with my tiki band, The Intoxicats, at Psycho Suzi’s almost every month. I also have a monthly gig with my brother and Sunshine Committee (formerly Hookers and Blow) at Mortimer’s.
MND: Are you a teacher?
Noah: I’m afraid I’m not a great teacher. It takes me two hours to teach something that a great teacher could teach in ten minutes.
MND: What are you using for gear? What is your set up?
Noah: For gear, I have a few kits that I alternate between. I have two Gretsch USA customs that I love. Both have 24” kick drums. I also have a set of pork pies that I had made 25 years ago–they sound amazing! I also have a Rogers kit from the early 70s that someone found in a school in rural Minnesota (with a 20” kick). They sound like an old soul record. I’m always swapping out snares. Lately, I’ve been favoring a Ludwig Copper Phonic and a Ludwig mahogany reissue. I generally use Sabian cymbals.
MND: What style of music do you like to play the most?
Noah: I play all kinds of music: rock, reggae, country, ska, world music, funk, etc. I don’t like my straight-ahead jazz playing as much. I’m working on floating more instead of relying on my backbeat.
MND: Are you a versatile drummer? How do you define your style?
Noah: I would say I’m versatile, but I’m always trying to absorb more. I would define my style as slightly swampy groove.
MND: What other drummers inside and outside of our scene should we know about?
Noah: A couple of drummers that I really like are Richard Medek and Bennett Velline. Richard has a fantastic feel and makes the whole band sound great. Bennett is an eighteen-year-old phenom that has been subbing for me since he was thirteen. He also has a wonderful feel and already understands how to quarterback a band.
MND: What recordings (Discography, if any) can we find some of your work on?
Noah: Some recordings that I’ve played on;
The Honeydogs – (their first four records)
Brian Setzer – Songs from Lonely Avenue, Osaka Rocka, Setzer Goes Instrumental, Live From the Planet
Mandy Moore – Coverage
BoDeans – Still
Golden Smog – Down By the Old Mainstream
Mason Jennings – Century Spring
MND: What is your best or favorite musical experience?
Noah: My best musical experience? Any time I’m on a stage or in the studio is a good day. It keeps getting sweeter with age.
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