DRUMMER BEEF’S BLOCK ROCKIN’ BEATS
IF a band are only as good as their drummer, then The Darts (US) are probably the greatest rock, punk-and-roll garage band out there right now.
She’s spent over a decade honing her craft, driven the all-female Arizona outfit to another level, and yet it was only a chance encounter that saw MARY ROSE, aka ‘BEEF,’ pick up the sticks.
(Photo (c) Amber, with Knecht Creative, at KEXP)
“I got into playing music in high school and originally began playing bass,” she said.
“Then, in my early twenties, I responded to some Craigslist add specifically looking for a female bassist and ended up playing with this band for a couple years until I was kicked out for lack of commitment.
“Flash forward to 2013, I’m walking to a convenience store, and bumped into this girl Shauna who I barely knew but now is my best friend. She mentioned she was learning to play bass and wanted to start a band, she had a vocalist and guitarist but was missing a drummer. I flat-out told her I wasn’t fit to be one but was willing to try.
“The next day I met up with the other girls and remember feeling super anxious because I had no idea what the fuck I was doing behind a drumkit. The first song we played together was ‘Be My Baby,’ from Ronnie Spector, and I must say we were all pretty impressed we nailed it after the first try.
“From there we practiced our ass off with other covers and decided to write originals. The band continued even after Shauna moved to another state, we’ve played with various bass players throughout the years.
“But around 2019 I started to get recognition for my drumming. I was in two bands at the time and that was when I auditioned to be in my current project, Bev Rage & the Drinks. Then, in 2022 Nicole [Nicole Lauren, founder/singer The Darts (US)] reached out via Instagram and asked if I wanted to record on their next record, ‘Snake Oil.’
“Great drummers are hard to find, there aren’t many out there, and you’re only as good as your drummer,” said Nicole.
“When you play with a solid – not just creative or flashy – drummer, it frees you up to take some rhythmic risks of your own. As a singer I can play with the lines and make the words land in slightly different places each night, it’s a lot of fun for me.
“I know that whatever happens to the rest of the band, Beef will be back there in her own ‘metronome-meets-slamfest’ world, and the crowd will be grooving to it.”
(Photo (c) Nicolas Paul)
“Drumming is definitely not easy, it’s very physical, and I’ve dedicated 10 years of my life to perfect it,” adds Beef.
“A drummer is responsible for holding the entire group together and if you fuck up, it’s the most noticeable. I’ve seen so many bands that would have a mediocre drummer one show, and then the next they have a different person that changes the whole dynamic and take it to another level.
“We have a pretty important role because we are the heartbeat of the band. If you don’t have us, then you’re pretty content playing acoustic sets.”
The Darts (US) went through a well-documented search for a permanent drummer before handing the responsibility to Beef, leading to a visible sense of stability and cohesion within the group.
“Even though I’m considered a session player, I feel pretty settled and comfortable with The Darts,” she added.
“We’ve recorded two albums and I’ve spent a whole lot of time with them, and this year has been quite a whirlwind. I’ve been to eight countries since April before this part of The Darts (US) European tour, and in-between I went on a North American tour with Bev Rage & the Drinks.”
The current ‘Snake Oil’ tour – approaching 200 shows – has rolled along in front of packed venues throughout Europe for well over a year, ending in Paris on Sunday, September 24th, with another one scheduled for 2024 in support of a new album.
“I must say I’ve definitely played more sold out and higher attendance shows in Europe. I feel like they’re more open to going to shows to see a band they’ve never heard of. Fans are also very loyal and hella supportive too. I will speak for some musicians out there when I say Europe treats bands with greater respect.
“The ‘Munster Raving Loony Party’ in Tarragona Spain is still my favorite show. The festival was by the beach, the crowd was insane, loads of fun, everyone was having the greatest time and Nicole crowd surfed for the first time there.
“I like fancy big venues because I get stoked about being on a riser and you can fit more people in a bigger space. Also, the plus side is the sound in the room, I like it loud! Then the reason I love playing smaller venues is how intimate it is. Being able to see the crowd and seeing them have a great time is what drives me to hit harder and put on an epic show. Believe it or not though, I can get shy at times. When I look up and lock eyes with someone, it usually throws me off a bit!
“But I do love a good ol’ punk, divey, venue bar. They’re more intimate and people let loose. Everyone is crammed, sweaty and they don’t hold back with dancing and starting a pit.”
But despite their high-profile and ever-growing popularity, sadly, there still remain obstacles to overcome, as Beef explained, “As you know, I was in an all-women punk band prior to The Darts (US) and when I learned to play the drums in 2013, boy, it was rough. It was years of being told, “you play pretty well for a girl,” or “I didn’t expect your band to sound good since you are all women.”
“But I do feel like in the past couple of years there has been a shift of acceptance for female musicians. Don’t get me wrong, the music industry is still a man’s world. The sexist comments still roll in and its always funny when security stop you assuming you’re not in the band. Sad enough we still have to constantly prove ourselves, but acceptance is better nowadays.”
And with such a long Darts (US) tour underway, the recent Bev Rage & the Drinks dates, and next year’s plans, life on the road is not for the faint-hearted.
“It takes a special type of person to be a touring musician. It’s very physically and mentally draining. You basically sit in a van all day, then suddenly you’re exerting all this energy on stage followed by socializing with loads of people.
“Let’s not forget about loading heavy ass gear back in the van late in the night, completely exhausted. Doing this one day after another with little to no privacy starts to get to you after the third week.
“I’m telling you, once you’re in, you’re in. When your brain and body adjust to it, you don’t think, you just do – and when I’m home I definitely get post tour depression.
“But this is seriously the beginning of my professional career and I’m hoping one day drumming will be the only full-time job that I can focus on.”
But, drummers? Are they really that important…?
Here’s Dave Grohl: “I love being a drummer. Everyone thinks you’re dumb. What they don’t realise is that if it weren’t for you, their band would suck.”
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(Main photo (c) Greg Gutbezahl)