In Pound For The Sound, Phoenix New Times gets technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature style.
MRCH drummer Jesse Pangburn brings more than a beat. Besides having an impeccable meter and the chops to make it flashy right when a song needs it, he's also big on DIY. Pangburn did a lot of tracking on the band's new release, Reactions — minus some vocals done at 513 Recording and mastering.
Pangburn was born in Englewood, Colorado, and his family moved to Phoenix when he was 3. At age 8, he started playing drums, taking lessons through a random friend of his dad's for the duration of his youth. He later moved to Prescott, and was playing in a heavy metal band before meeting his wife, Mickey. The couple moved back to metro Phoenix, where he attended Mesa Community College's Jazz Program and studied under Dom Moio for a two-year stint.
After that, Jesse and Mickey formed the now-defunct The Prowling Kind, which was part of the Phoenix scene for several years. However, in 2015 they decided to move forward as a duo and formed MRCH. The drummer expanded his arsenal and got into things like Abelton, programming, sequencing, layering, and performing live with drum triggers on his acoustic drums. It really was an evolution in his playing, and the duo's songwriting.
MRCH will celebrate the release of their debut full-length LP, Reactions, on Saturday, October 14, at Valley Bar. The party will feature support from Hex Marrow, DJ Mitch Freedom, and A Claire Slattery. New Times was able to squeeze some words in about how Jesse makes his drum sounds, recording drums, and the band's upcoming show.
New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Jesse Pangburn: As far as a secret weapon, I think it’d have to be my Roland RT-30 triggers. They’re what allow me to play an acoustic kit live, but have all my crazy samples. I think they helped me find my sound out of necessity. With MRCH, the drums had to sound different than anything I’d played before. With all the electronic elements becoming part of the band's sound, I wanted the drums to reflect that.
What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
My favorite piece of gear beside my actual drum kit, which for all the drummers out there is a Sonor Silver Sparkle Bop kit, would have to be Ableton Live. I know many people look down on bands for incorporating computers into their setups, but for MRCH, it has given us a whole different voice to write with.
Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
I have a hand-hammered Wuhan 20-inch ride that was one of those things where I bought it online not knowing what to expect. But it arrived and quickly turned out to be my favorite cymbal.
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Just listened to your new single “My Mistake” off of your upcoming LP, Reactions. Awesome track, love the vibe. You had said you programmed all the drums for this track, and moved away from purely acoustic drums. How did you go about sequencing the song?
As we started writing "My Mistake," Mickey first dropped in a small drum loop to write over. I took the idea of the drum loop and translated into how I’d play it live. Then I picked all new samples, both acoustic and electronic, mixing them till we got a sound we liked.
You also said that you record acoustic drums and manipulate them in MRCH songs. Can you please elaborate on your process?
We did this a lot with our last EP. I tracked all of the drums live, simultaneously with triggered sounds. In some cases we subbed the purely electronic sounds in for the acoustic.
MRCH is releasing Reactions this Saturday, October 14 at Valley Bar. Any words you wish to share with fans about your upcoming performance?
It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be loud. It’s our first time headlining, so if you haven’t made it to a MRCH show, or if it’s been a while, you should come out!
MRCH is performing at Valley Bar on Saturday, October 14, at Valley Bar. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Showtime is 8.