Deli Magazine

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On The Beat with Blaire Geenens
Clairaudients has become one of Kansas City’s most popular rock bands within the past year. The heavy-hitting group is partially propelled by the giant rhythmic presence of Blaire Geenens. We get to hear a little more about how he started drumming and what he’s up to these days.

The Deli
: How did the drums find you?
Blaire GeenensI got started 15 or 16 years ago when my best buddy growing up picked up a guitar. The initial idea for the project was me on guitar and him on drums. Although I can't remember the reason for trading instruments, 2 weeks later we were both involved in private lessons. I was always attracted to the drums, and their primal nature. My dad is a music enthusiast and I remember seeing my uncle's band play when I was very young. My eyes were always glued to the drummer. Mix that experience with growing up watching my videotape copy of "That Thing You Do" on a regular basis, and I suppose you will land on my start-up. I grew as a percussionist through a series of private lessons, jazz band, drum line, and a long road of trial-and-error punk, pop, and rock bands. Credit to my dad for getting me my first kit, a wine red Ludwig Accent series with a Camber cymbal starter kit.
The Deli: Have you played any other instruments?
BG: I don't like to talk about it, but I was a viola student before anything. Viola as well as the Blue Valley School District regulation recorder lessons in elementary school if that counts. I'll hesitantly claim a vague understanding of guitar and piano due to prolonged exposure. My bandmates will surely make fun of me for saying this.
The DeliWhat type of kit(s) do you use?
BG: My baby right now is a Pearl Masters series. It is an all maple kit sized at 24x20, 13x8, and 16x18. I've had it for 6 or 7 years, and it has always treated me well. The snare is a 13x7, 13-ply maple Tama SLP edition. I've owned this drum for about a year and am very satisfied with it. Although I really enjoy my Pearl, I have my eye fixed on C&C. I am a huge fan of their work.
The Deli: Biggest influences?
BGI'll go ahead and get it on the table that my initial influence as a drummer was Travis Barker. Lately If I have drummer's block (if that is not a term, it should be) I find myself watching YouTube videos of people like Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta), Matt Frazier (Local Natives), or Jojo Mayer (Nerve). I like to just cruise through videos and wait till I see something that I can't follow with my eyes or ears, run it through my head for a minute, and try to pull it off. If I'm searching for influence for something groovy, or less attention grabbing I'll play along to records like Gorilla Manor by Local Natives or whatever the only Young The Giant record is.
The Deli: Have you played with any other groups?
BG: I've been involved with several other projects in the last decade that I don't mind mentioning. The following is a list of all of the projects I've been involved with starting from my high school band: The Gaggles, April Eyes, Felicity Project, Katacina, and Organized Crimes. I love my roots.
The Deli: You hit those skins hard, and you're damn good at it! What is your approach to drumming?
BG: I've been a heavy hitter since day one, but in the last couple of years have been working to find some finesse without losing velocity. I'd say the best way to describe my approach to drumming is finding a healthy balance between two key elements to my playing. The first element being fine-tuned technique. Thorough knowledge of the tiny details in the hands and muscles is the foundation that allows me to put on a good show and play the songs correctly, while still pulling good tones from my kit. The second half of my approach may seem too simple but I've got to have fun with it. I like to try to create a very emotionally charged experience for myself. This is not difficult with Clairaudients, as I don't think anyone would say we are afraid to feel.
The Deli: Okay, let’s say you get to pick a group of KC/Lawrence drummers to make a drum circle with. Who would they be?
BG: I'm going to answer this like you've asked me to assemble a drum ensemble with my favorite KC area drummers. That sounds like a fun thing to do. There is entirely too much talent in town for me to list my favorites and their strong points in my eye. But to name a few, I'd definitely include Sam Sartorius, Josh Enyart, Allan Latini, Kevin Medina, and of course Michelle Bacon. ;)
The Deli: Why, thank you! So, Clairaudients is really starting to take off, and definitely one of my favorite new KC bands. What does 2013 look like for you guys?
BG: We are starting the year by recording our first record I'm a Loudmouth, You're a Puppet. We are all very eager to get this circulated and begin the next chapter of the band. We will be attending and performing at SXSW. This will be our second trip down to the festival and we are doing everything we can to top last year’s awesome experience. Starting by booking some shows to and from Austin. Anything beyond that is not yet on my planning radar so I suppose everyone will have to stay tuned.
You’ll get a chance to see Blaire slamming the skins if you’re in Austin next Friday, March 15; Clairaudients will be playing the 2013 MidCoast Takeover showcase at SXSW at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas. They’ll be on the acoustic stage at 7:15 pm and the main stage at 9:45 pm. The group will also be playing an acoustic set at the final MidCoast Takeover fundraiser this Friday, March 8 at Uptown Arts Bar at 10:00 pm. Facebook event page here.
--Michelle Bacon 
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She has recently discovered a love affair of jello with fruit in it; summer is going to be grand.
Blaire Geenens

 Photo by Todd Zimmer