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On the Beat

On The Beat with John Bersuch

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

John Bersuch plays drums, raps, records music, paints, creates. The drummer of Thee Water MoccaSins tells us about his true musical passions, his creative outlets, and his love of whiskey. Bersuch will be playing on New Year's Eve with TWM at recordBar for a special celebration. Find out more about him; catch the beat right here!

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat is an exclusive feature from The Deli Magazine-Kansas City that showcases many of the talented drummers in the Kansas City area. 

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On The Beat with John Bersuch


John Bersuch is undoubtedly one of the most eclectically creative individuals in Kansas City. He’s a musician, an artist, a sculptor, a sound engineer, an architect of haunted houses. He was one of the men behind Bacon Shoe, the experimental hip-hop “nerdcore” trio that crossed boundaries and conventional schools of thought. He’s also a drummer who has performed in a variety of local bands. Since he and his band Thee Water MoccaSins will be performing a special New Year’s Eve show, we catch up with him and his busy life.

The Deli: How did the drums find you?
John Bersuch: My dad brought home a makeshift drum kit for me when I was about 12. I never took drum lessons as a kid, but eventually I went from being completely horrible to kind of all right. I would jam out with friends regularly, and one of my adult neighbors had a blues rock band that I would sit in with when their drummer couldn't make it.
The Deli: What other instruments did you dabble in?
JB: I took piano lessons and guitar lessons. I also recorded weird rap songs and skits on a little 4-track as well.
The Deli: What type of kit(s) do you use?
JB: Well I'm currently buying a C&C kit from Jake Cardwell piece by piece. I also have a small Gretsch Jazz kit, a 5-piece Pearl Export kit, a Sonor kit and a toy drumset that I enjoy using for certain songs/projects. 
The Deli: Biggest influences?
JB: My earliest influences were The Dead Milkmen, N.W.A., Metallica, Molly McGuire, Ween, Craw, Beck, and too many more.
The Deli: Who are your favorite KC/Lawrence drummers?
JB: Well, Jason Gerken is on the top of my list for sure. Others include Brian Steever, Mike Myers, Chris Metcalf, Arnold Young, Kent Burnham, Ian Ballard, Chris Fuggitt, Kriss Ward, Jake Cardwell, and Ryan Shank. I know I'm leaving out a few important ones, but I can't name all of them I suppose. 
The Deli: What bands have you performed in as a drummer?
JB: Minds Under Cover, Trench, Big Jeter, Trouble Junction, Forrest Whitlow, Olympic Size, Import/Export, (of) tree, Thee Water Moccasins.
The Deli: You create so many different moods with the sounds you create. What is your true musical passion?
JB: My main passion is recording songs. Starting with drums, keys, bass, or just a little duckbill tapping on a wind chime, and then building on it until the song is complete. I enjoy hearing a song back and know I played all the parts and did the vocals. That is part of the reason it's hard for me to leave the studio. It's a never-ending addiction. My newest solo album is very, very close to being finished.
The Deli: Playing music is not the only thing you do. You turn your home into a haunted house each year. You have a recording studio. You probably do a bunch of other stuff I have no idea about. So what keeps you busy when you're not playing?
JB: When I'm not playing, I like to create in other ways. It really doesn't matter what I'm making. Whatever inspires me at the moment. I enjoy oil painting, circuit bending, large wooden sculptures, etc., etc. I'm totally into hanging stuff from the ceiling now. There is gonna be a lot more of that coming up in the near future. I also take photos and make music videos. Sometimes I like to drink some whiskey. :) 
The Deli: I know you’ve collaborated with a ton of local musicians, but are there any in particular you really enjoy working with?
JB: A few of my more recent favorite people to collaborate with include: Andrew Ashby, John Ferguson, Jeremy Cerda, Kian Byrne, Sterling Holman, Chris Fuggitt, Ian Ballard, and Jeffy Williams. I'd like to do more collaborating with Mac Lethal. He freestyled on a beat I made awhile ago and it'd be fun to do some more of that. Also, I'd like to work with Brandon Draper from Organic Proof. I'd like to hear what kind of drumming he'd pull out with some of my crazy looping. I run all of my instruments into a Kaoss pad and then into a Line 6 delay pedal. It allows me to create really fast loops with the bass guitar that would be otherwise physically impossible to play.
The Deli: What are you looking forward to most about the NYE show?
JB: I'm looking forward to seeing Billy Smith again. Each time is a treat. Also, I'm going to do hundreds of jello shots (not really). This show is going to be a blast!! Playing with Thee Water MoccaSins is always fun. Those guys are pros and I'm lucky to be a part of it.
Bersuch will be playing with Thee Water MoccaSins on New Year’s Eve—Monday, December 31—at recordBar. They’ll be joined by The Golden Republic and a very special guest. Champagne toast and party favors will be included. Tickets are $12 and available at this link. Bersuch will also be doing another show with Bacon Shoe in mid-January. Stay tuned for details.

--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's got blisters on her fingers.

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John Bersuch

Photo by Todd Zimmer

Thee Water MoccaSins
 Photo by Todd Zimmer
Bacon Shoe
Photo by Todd Zimmer
Thee Water MoccaSins - From The Rivers of Missouri and The Banks of Fear 


On The Beat with Ryan Shank

(Photo by Michael Byars)

Ryan Shank has been a member of three important and stylistically diverse KC bands: The Golden Republic, Roman Numerals, and Be/Non. We get a chance to talk with him before he reunites with The Golden Republic for a special New Year's Eve show. Catch the beat right here!

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat is an exclusive feature from The Deli Magazine-Kansas City that showcases many of the talented drummers in the Kansas City area.

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On The Beat with Adam Phillips

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

Nobody in Kansas City—and I mean nobody—hits harder and more precisely than Adam Phillips of The Architects. In anticipation of their upcoming show at Apocalypse Meow next Saturday, we sit down with the drummer and find out more about his technique, his favorite drummers in town, and why Van Halen is better than Van Hagar. Catch the beat right here!

--Michelle Bacon

On The Beat is a weekly Q&A with some of the best drummers in Kansas City. If you'd like to be considered for this interview, please send us an email at kceditor@thedelimagazine.com.

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On The Beat with Adam Phillips


If you haven't seen Adam Phillips in action, you're missing one of the hardest hitting drummers in Kansas City and beyond. His band The Architects has been a Kansas City institution for almost 10 years, with him and his brothers Brandon and Zach, and Keenan Nichols. Adam's balls-to-the-wall drumming style has lended to the band's success, which includes being a part of the 2010 Warped Tour and opening up for My Chemical Romance. Adam talks to us today about his long history as a drummer and his hard-hitting techniques. 

The Deli: How did the drums find you?

Adam PhillipsI started playing the drums when I was 9. My grandparents had given me a little kids drum set years earlier but that doesn't really count. When I was 9, my parents bought me a snare drum for Christmas and my neighbor gave me the rest of his old drum set. It was a cool old Ludwig 4-piece and I wish I still had it. The drums came with the requirement that I start taking lessons and even though I was the worst student EVER, my teacher taught me what I needed to get going. As for the "why" I started playing, I don't really remember. I suppose I was always a music lover. Tapping along with the songs on the oldies station in the car.

The DeliWhat type of kit do you use?

Adam: I play a big bad C&C custom-made kit, and although I want more and more drums, I would never ever ever ever part with mine. She's a beast, and I love her.

The DeliYou've been in bands with your brothers for a number of years. How's that dynamic different than being in a band with people you aren't so closely related to?

AdamYeah yeah, I play in a band with my brothers and I always have ever since I picked up a pair of drumsticks. I don't know any other way. It makes it hard sometimes to play with non-brothers when I do a studio session with another band or fill in for someone else on a gig. Brandon, Zach, and I can write and arrange music only using bizarre music reference language that most people wouldn't get right away. Example: "All right. 4 bars of the Nine Inch Nails thing and then drop the Blondie beat before the Helmet part” (but none of it sounds remotely like NiN or Blondie or whatever). Keenan Nichols caught on fast though, and he fucking rules to play with.

The DeliYou're one of the heaviest hitting drummers in KC. What's your approach to playing the drums?

Adam I play with the butt-end of my drum sticks and I play extra long heavy sticks because Rock and Roll drums just sound better loud. And I play better when I play with every ounce of energy I can muster. 

I learned at a young age that when I play more reserved and try to express a lot of subtle stuff, I end up just playing like most everyone else and anyone listening can tell. But when I really give it hell and play with everything I have, there's a kind of special energy to it and when I just let go, sometimes something clicks and a little bit of unrehearsed magic happens. Also should be noted that sometimes I fall flat on my face. But the risk is worth the reward. 

In a world where every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they should play live music, it becomes painfully clear that if you want to give people a reason to keep paying the ticket price at the door, you need to give them what they paid for and try to put on a real show.

The DeliYou also play in the SKA/reggae-style band Sex Police and have done several other small projects. Has that caused you to take a different approach to your playing?

Adam: I've had the pleasure of playing a lot of different types of music through the years with The Gadjits, Sex Police, and bunch of other small projects. They all make a mark on my playing.  You can never stop learning new licks ad new styles if you really love playing. I'm not reinventing the wheel by a long shot, but it keeps me busy trying to learn the best ways to play what I hear in my head.

The DeliGot a favorite ass-kicking drum fill that comes to mind?

AdamThe first big tom and double kick fill in “Hot For Teacher”! Van Halen, not Van Hagar!

The DeliWho are your biggest influences?

AdamKeith Moon, Max Roach, Lloyd Knibb, Charlie Watts.

The Deli: You've been in the KC music scene for a long time. Are there any other drummers around here that you think have that same bombastic, machine-like energy as you?

AdamI love this question! In no particular order: Duck McLane (Blue Riddim), Go-Go Ray, Mike Dillon, Chris Metcalf (The Life and Times), Brett Southard (Cherokee Rock Rifle), Marshall Kilpatric (The Esoteric), Lance Bennett (The Leo Project), Mike MiniBarf Myers (Olivetti Letter, In The Pines), Rob Veitch (The Hearers), Jason Gerken (Shiner), and Alex Organ (Sirhan Sirhan, Overstep). There are a ton of great drummers in this town, but right now these are the ones that come to mind. They all have very different styles, but I love them all.

The Deli: You guys have done huge tours around the country. I imagine playing hard every night takes a toll on your body. Any advice for drummers who are beginning to tour?

Adam: Don't be a dumbass. Tour is hard work. It's not a vacation from your home life. If you treat it like it is, that's all it will be. Take care of yourself. Drink water. Get some sleep. Also, watch the drummers of the other bands, but try not to learn anything from the shitty ones.

The Deli: So, what's next for The Architects? What do you think the future holds for you guys?

Adam: A lot. We have been writing and recording and working our fingers to the bone to make something extra special, but its not done yet so I can't really talk about it. I hope to make a big announcement or two soon! Stay tuned!

Adam will be filling up the sound of The Beaumont Club with his merciless pounding of the drums next Saturday at Apocalypse Meow. The Architects will be headlining the event.

--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. In 5th grade, she dressed up as a computer programmer when everyone had to dress up for their dream job. She is not a computer programmer and never would be.

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Adam Phillips

Photo by Todd Zimmer

The Architects



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