If you long for the days where players put a real emphasis on stage presence and being entertaining from behind the kit, this week we have the drummer for you. He’s an arm-swingin’, hair-flingin’, stick-twirlin’ machine. And with a ton of experience playing for numerous original, cover, and tribute bands, he also has the chops to go along with it. Jerry Babcock is a drummer you should get to know.
By: Mike Jueneman
MND: How did you end up in the Minnesota music scene?
Jerry: I got my start in the Minneapolis music scene back in the early 80s (though I was too young to participate yet), when it was actually a thriving scene, both for cover bands & original bands. I knew that drums were my instrument by 8 years old. I got my first kit at age nine. By the time I got in my first band a couple years later, I’d been banging on the skins just about every day since getting started, so I was ready.
MND: What is your drumming education background?
Jerry: I haven’t had much for formal music training, but in 4th grade I took a drum class and learned a handful of rudiments. The rest was taking what I had learned and practicing it all the time, while starting to learn how to play songs as well.
MND: Who are your top three influences and why?
Jerry: It’s hard to keep it to just three, but I’ll try.
#1 is obviously Neil (God rest his soul). Peart is my #1. I literally started playing the drums because I heard “Circumstances” off Rush’s Hemispheres from outside my older sister’s bedroom when I was around seven or eight years old. For the next half-decade there was no other band but RUSH. Yes, I was a drum snob. Then when I started in my first cover band at 11, I was introduced to a great many artists and drummers.
#2 is Lee Kerslake of Uriah Heap, and Ozzy Osborne. I am a huge fan of 70s era Uriah Heap, and Lee drove that bus like no other drummer could have. When I heard the drum tracks he laid down on Ozzy’s first two solo albums, I was floored (although at the time I thought Tommy Aldridge played on Diary of a Madman because he was pictured on the album). Side note: when I heard Randy Rhodes play for the first time, I nearly switched to guitar. I did start playing guitar about a year later, but quickly realized I had already found my calling in drums.
#3 is a hard one, because five drummers come to mind for this slot. Iron Maiden’s drummers Clive Burr, and Nikko McBrain were huge influences on me when I started playing metal. And Tommy Aldridge (whom I’ve already mentioned) blew me away when he played with Pat Travers. “Snortin’ Whiskey” is still one of my favorite tunes to perform. As a more local influence, I have to include Rock Williams of Slave Raider. And my last pick may seem strange given the classic rock/metal drummers I’ve been talking about, but Morgan Rose of Sevendust had an immediate impact on me when first I heard his drumming; so much so that parts of his style have become a part of my playing. I guess that’s normal when developing your style.
MND: Who are some artists/groups you’ve worked with in the past?
Jerry: I’ve been extremely lucky, and am very grateful to have been able to work with some of the absolute best musicians that this state (though not necessarily FROM this state) has to offer.
A few bands I’ve worked with include:
Fear Itself – Pantera/Queensryche influenced original band in the 90s.
Cain’s Alibi – 90s/00s metal cover/original band featuring Swedish shredder Krister Pihl. Krister left to peruse other avenues, and being the incredible guitarist he was/is, we had to have incredible to replace him. Enter Roger Moore (phenomenal shredder, but just a fantastic all around guitarist) of the legendary band Gemini. Roger and I developed a close friendship, which led us to form Mojo Jynx, a blues cover/original band. In a five year span that band helped me find a groove that I never had before, which spilled over into every band I played with including another legendary cover/original band called Touched (an absolute staple in the 80s cover scene). The bass player from Cain’s Alibi, Chris More(POWER)house, left the band to join Touched, and later was instrumental in getting me an audition with the group. I wanted to be in Touched for many years, so I was excited when they asked me to join. Low and behold one of my absolute favorite guitarists (that I’d never met) was actually in the band. Todd Duane (Salmonsen) who was the guitarist in my favorite local metal band The Regime wrote the Dead Serious EP with them, and I was and am a fan of his ever since. From being in Touched, I met Mark Warpoel (legendary guitarist, and former member of Warp Drive, Moxxy Rocks, and Blackfoot), who decided to do a handful of reunion shows featuring the music of the aforementioned bands he’d led, and been a part of. He called, I answered, and the shows rocked.Fast forward ten years, and I’m auditioning yet again for a bona fide rockstar band called Hericane Alice, a late 80s band that saw some success with their debut album Tear The House Down, and their MTV video for “Wild Young, and Crazy”. Even though the singer, Bruce Naumann, is the only original member, he’s been backed by absolute pros Johnny “Super J” Keyte on bass, and Johnny Holiday on guitar for more than 10 years. It was an honor recording the new Hericane Alice EP, sharing the stage with those guys, playing shows with bands such as Dokken, Ratt, Firehouse, Brett Michaels, Warrant, Jack Russell’s Great White…the list goes on.
Currently, I’m playing for a house band called TC Hit Squad at Route 47 Bar and Grill for an open mic night with the uber-talented guitarists Jeff Rutland and Tyler “Taz” Azure, the aforementioned Johnny Keyte on bass, and the one and only Kris Vox of Rare Hair, and Hairball. I’m also in a new group called The HYPE! We pay tribute to Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue.
MND: What are some of favorite venues around town (past or present)? What makes them so special?
Jerry: Some of my favorite local venues are First Ave/7th Street entry, of course. Bunkers is a great place to go see some the best this state has to offer in live music. Lee’s Liquor Lounge was a good place to see different genres of music. The Myth is a great place for concerts. Bogart’s, Serum’s, and Route 47 are all fun clubs. But one from the past that a lot of musicians wish hadn’t closed down was The Mirage. That place was like our own LA rock club.
MND: Are you a teacher? How do people contact you for lessons?
Jerry: I used to give drum lessons but haven’t for a number of years. I am open to the idea.
MND: How would you describe your style?
Jerry: Over the years I’ve tried to let my style develop naturally, but I’m not sure what you’d call it, ha-ha. I’ve been compared to Eric Singer (Badlands, Kiss) and John Bonham, which means a lot to me. I guess I would say I play for the song, with a mixture of finesse and power. I would say I dig a lot of footwork; from straight double bass to intricate drum patterns.
MND: What are you currently using for gear? What’s your go-to setup?
Jerry: I have a few different kits that I use for different occasions.
The open jam kit is half of my Pearl Export Joey Jordeson series. It’s a lower tier, light-weight kit with boatloads of attack. I have a Tama Rockstar kit that I use for 80s cover bands because of the 16″ and 18″ floor toms. They’re like cannons. I have two Pearl Vision Series kits. One is a double-bass kit with 24″ kicks (b), 12″ and 13″ rack toms, 16″ and 18″ floor toms. BOOM!
And a quadruple-bass kit with three rack toms (10″ (c) 12″ (d), 14″ (e)), and two floor toms (16″ (f) and 18″ (g)).
I use a 6.5″ x 12″ (a) Black Panther snare drum. It’s got snap. Hardware is usually PDP, Pearl, or Gibraltar. I use Iron Cobra pedals on the double-bass kits, and a Pearl Eliminator double pedal when I scale down.
MND: Who are some other drummers inside and outside of our scene that you feel people should know about?
Jerry: Some other drummers in the local scene that I like include Steve Soderstrom -Them Pesky Kids, Billy Thayer (Knightcrawler and just a local legend drummer), Frank Majsterski (Straight Talk, local legend), Billy Thommes (Johnny Lang, Hairball, local legend), John Gensmer (Epicurean, Wicked Garden), Eric Winter (Gemini), Eric Althos (Skitzophonic), and Mark Puder (Junk FM, Hericane Alice). There are too many more to mention.
MND: Where can our readers see you perform locally?
Jerry: If readers go to thehypeonline.com and go like our Facebook page, they can see where I’ll be playing with The Hype!
They can like the Route 47 Bar and Grill Facebook page to see when the TC Hit Squad open jam is happening. And I’m also part of another house band called Tough Customers that does an open jam at Serums in Anoka.
Thanks for having me on here, it was fun. I hope everyone out there is doing well and staying healthy!