June 4th, 2010
By now, you’re probably one of the millions around the globe who’ve watched the above video, featuring one of the more entertaining drummers we’ve ever seen (if not, drop everything and watch it now!). The band tackling ZZ Top’s “Sharp-Dressed Man” is the perennially touring covers act Rick K. and the Allnighters (”America’s Most Exciting Show Band”), and the drummer — who’s become an Internet sensation this week thanks to the power of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter — is Steve Moore. Since the video (which was shot nearly two years ago at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, PA — about two hours NW of Philly) went viral last weekend, Moore’s been getting thousands of e-mails and Facebook friend requests a day. But this morning — on virtually no sleep — he got on the phone with us from the Menominee Casino in Wisconsin, where the Allnighters played last night, for his first official interview since becoming an online phenom:
How does it feel to be known as “the viral drummer”?
[laughs] Well, I’ll be honest with ya — I got up this morning and I rolled out of bed and the first thing that went through my mind, I thought, “Oh man, what if this thing goes to the moon? I really gotta grab that name!” So www.viraldrummer.com is already mine. It’s set up to do the forwarding to my site, www.themaddrummer.com. I thought, “It’s 10-15 bucks, why not?”
So I started seeing links to the video pop up on Facebook last weekend — is that when this all started?
Yeah, roughly about five, six days ago, something like that. All these people kept e-mailing me these different links to the video. To be honest with you, I’m just not one to search like that. I go on YouTube once in a while to watch old Buddy Rich videos and drum stuff and things like that. But all these people were sending me these links, and each one of them had hundreds of thousands of views. I guess every couple months or so I’d jump on YouTube and there’s our “Sharp-Dressed Man” and it’d have maybe 5,000 hits and I dunno, about eight comments. So people started sending me the links and I was like “Well, big deal, the damn thing’s been up there a year and a half and I don’t wanna watch it again!” But then people started throwing that term “viral” around — they were like, “Man, you’re gonna go viral!”– and honestly I didn’t know what that term meant. I spend all my time practicing and reading drum books. So I Googled “going viral” and I went, “Oh shit, that’s pretty cool!” So I jumped on and I was like, “Does that really say 100,000 views?!” And then right after that my computer started going ding, ding, ding, ding. One e-mail after another. It’s been crazy.
Is it kind of like winning the lottery?
It really is, and I’ll tell you this — and this isn’t a load of shit to make me sound like a nice guy or anything, this is just honestly the truth: In the past 60 hours or so I’ve literally slept about two hours because, you know, whenever someone sends you a Facebook request, a lot of times they’ll send you a short little message like, “My brother Denny played drums and he died in a car accident last year and I wish he coulda saw ya…” I felt like a putz just going “accept” without writing anything back. And I didn’t just wanna write back “Thanks – Steve,” so…it wouldn’t be long but I at least wanted the person to know that I read the damn thing and it wasn’t a cut-and-paste response. I just wrote, like, “Dear Jim, tell your son I said hey.” So it’s been pretty intense, and they’re just coming in too fast now. Part of me hates that because…it sounds silly, but the reason you are where you’re at is because of people, and I’d rather basically not sleep for two weeks and get everything out of it that I can and thank every person and make them feel good, and then sleep two weeks from now versus “Yeah, I’ll get to that…” It’s really important to me.
You might be the most famous drummer in the world at the moment.
I dunno about that! I will tell you the absolute highlight for me: Mike Portnoy, the drummer from Dream Theater — I’ve looked up to Portnoy, I have everything he’s ever recorded. He’s like my Neil Peart, my Tommy Lee. Those guys are great, too, but Portnoy…man. Anyway, someone dropped me a quick e-mail a couple days ago when this first started and said “Dude, I don’t know if you know this but Mike Portnoy just Twittered about you.” So he sent me the link and the only thing it said was, like, “You’re insane, I have a new hero.” And then I thought, well, I’ll go to Portnoy’s Facebook and drop him a note real quickly and I figured he’d never even get the thing. Basically just said, “My name is Steve Moore, you said some really nice things about me on your Twitter page and you had the opportunity in your position to rip me to shreds but yet you showed mercy and I wanted to thank you for that.” That was it. And literally 10 minutes later he e-mailed me back. I don’t care about money and all that, but to get that sort of respect, you know what I mean, on that level? That guy doesn’t look at me and go, “Oh, that guy’s a joke.” That’s huge to me, man!
How do you feel when you see the video characterized as “drummer goes to the wrong gig”? It seems like a swipe at Rick K. and the Allnighters, you know?
I have mixed feelings about it because part of me…everybody in the Rick K. organization, they’re great people. You can love the band and think they’re great, or you can hate the band. You know what I mean? Everybody’s different. It’s like spinach — not everybody likes it. I get that. But at the same time it’s really hard, to a degree, when you see everyone else in the band get ripped to shreds, because they’re nice guys. However, removing that element from it, I can clearly see why people think that. If you just jump on the website and you read “drummer goes to wrong gig” and then about a minute into it you’re like, “Good Lord!” — I can clearly see where it would look like Tommy Lee or Keith Moon playing for Wayne Newton. I get it. And I gotta be honest with you, man — a lot of the comments on YouTube, man, they’re funnier than hell! I mean, I can laugh at ‘em, it doesn’t offend me because they’re funny, man. Some people really come up with some good stuff.
Are your bandmates taking it well?
They seem to be. They’re only human. I’ll put it this way — if they’re upset, they’re certainly not saying anything to me about it. But even though they may not say it, I feel like, “I know this is hurting you, man…,” and I hate that.
How long have you been in the band?
I’ve been with Rick for about 10 years now.
Obviously they have to know that something like this, you don’t really have any control over it.
Yeah, and that is the point. It’s not like I sought this out, I just started getting e-mails from people. I haven’t posted a thing or done anything, it’s just a phenomenon.
But you’ve definitely become the focal point of the band now.
Well, the thing is, I do that same sort of thing most of the show. Not all of the show — I try to have some taste, if that’s possible [laughs]. But still, a lot of people aren’t catching the fact that Rick K., he’s not even in the video. That’s the guitar player singing. So it’s really not a good representation of the entire show. It’s just one song. Rick announces it, and a lot of people say, “What’s up with the announcer guy?” Well, that’s the singer! But unless you watch two or three videos, you don’t put that together. Most people will watch “Sharp-Dressed Man,” and then they’ll see we do “Wipeout,” and maybe they’ll watch that. And that’s usually where their attention drops off and they run along to the pissing cat or whatever else it is. By then you’re competing with the farting dog or something. So unfortunately, Rick gets the bad end of the stick because people never realize that it’s his organization and he’s the singer and all of that.
What do you think of your performance when you watch the video?
Oh, I rip myself to shreds [laughs]. If you’re a really good figure skater and you watch a tape, you probably go, “Oh, I dipped my ankle right there” even if nobody else notices. It’s hard for me not to analyze it. It’s very difficult for me to just watch it and giggle and get a kick out of it. I’m like, “Man, I swung too big and it shoulda been tighter and I raised my arm too high….” That kinda thing.
How long have you played drums, and how did you hone your style?
I started when I was about six years old and pretty much what happened, I was always into guys like Keith Moon and Gene Krupa and that sort of player, the visual kind of players. But it didn’t do me any good — even though I could play drums I was totally unable to access any of that. Until I first saw Tommy Lee with Mötley Crüe — he’s a great drummer, don’t get me wrong, but he did spins and twirls that I could do. I couldn’t do them as good as Tommy Lee and I still can’t, but as far as making an attempt at it, it was like, I could do that! So I watched a lot of Tommy Lee and then went out on a gig one day and when I finally worked it up I twirled my drumstick and a bunch of people in the audience pointed at me. So at the age of 12 or 13, whatever it was, I literally just went, “Ah ok, I get it!” And I started doing silly things, things that weren’t necessarily difficult — like if you lift your foot in the air or make a funny face, that’s not technically challenging but it would make people point. So a quote I’ve used for the last 20 or 30 years, “People hear with their eyes.” They really do.
Is your performance pretty much routine, or is some of it spontaneous?
A lot of it’s routine. It really is. A lot of drummers, especially young drummers, are really blown away by it and I always have to take a few minutes and explain to them that what I’m doing really isn’t that hard. It really, really isn’t. if you’re playing drums and you take your left arm and raise it above your head, well, anybody can do that. And if you take your right hand and throw it across your face, well, anyone can do that. It’s just a series of going A, B, C. A, B, C. It’s just a matter of having a lot of moves and being able to put them together in a formula that works smoothly. But each move on its own is really simplistic. I don’t think it’s possible to achieve perfection, but the thing I’ve always tried to do is, I never want people to hear me twirl a drumstick. You know what I mean? It’s not hard twirling sticks, anyone can do that, but to not let the beat go to hell, that’s what’s so hard. And especially the hi-hat — it’s just such a sensitive instrument and I do a lot of back-sticking, and to make those sound the same when it’s two different parts of the stick, that’s what’s difficult, trying to make it sound halfway decent. Anybody can go apeshit, but making it sound decent at the same time is hard! And that’s something I constantly work at.
What’s the band’s repertoire like these days?
That’s 100% Rick. He plays whatever he wants to play because it’s his band, so we never know. Most of the stuff is ’50s, ’60s, ’70s…he’s working up some ’80s stuff for next season. But it’s pretty much the standards. We have about 75 songs or so we can draw from.
How do you think all of this attention from the video will impact future gigs? Do you think it will bring out more people? And as a band do you plan to stick to what you’ve been doing?
I think Rick will probably keep things the way it’s been. As far as how it will affect things, I honestly don’t know. I mean, I would love to think it’s gonna affect things in a good way, and I know it will for me personally as far as endorsements and things like that. That’s already started — I’ve already gotten calls from two or three different companies as far as that kind of thing. But as far as “butts in seats,” I honestly don’t know. I’m hoping it has a positive impact but so many people watch it and they go, “Well that’s funny as hell! He looks like Chris Farley! Next….” You hope they remember your name, but whether they will or not, I honestly don’t know. Time will tell.
Rick K. and the Allnighters will return to Knoebels Amusement Park for a four-day engagement July 6th through July 9th, three shows a day (1:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.). More information right here.