Dream Trippers is a new original band based in West Virginia. The band is made up of Brian Cottrill on guitar, sitar, bass, and vocals and Bob Workman on drums and percussion. Their debut self-titled CD will drop on February 10 everywhere. The first single, The Original Atom, is now available on all major streaming platforms. The following is an interview about the project with drummer Bob Workman.
When and why did you start playing?
For the same reason as everyone else, to get chicks! Well, actually, I started playing drums when I was 9 so chicks were not a thing for me at that point. Between my two older sisters wanting a drummer in the family and seeing Nigel Olsson with Elton John on TV I was sold on the idea.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
I could go on all day on this topic but in the interest of brevity I’ll go with my main musical heroes, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. As a kid growing up listening to the radio in the 70s with all the many diverse styles of music that entailed I was always drawn to the jazzier, funkier side of rock and roll and Steely Dan hit that sweet spot for me. And, as one who loved to read album credits and learn all the names of the great session players, anytime a Dan album came out it was like reading a who’s who of the LA session scene. As I got older and more educated musically the depth of their songwriting and arranging had an even greater impact on me.
Who are your favorite drummers?
I’ll start with the obvious. If you were a drummer growing up in the 70s and try to say that Neil Peart wasn’t your drumming idol, well, you’re just lying…ha. But also Bill Bruford, Phil Collins, Ringo, Bernard Purdie, Jeff Porcaro, Rick Marotta, Vinnie and, most importantly in terms of the type of drummer that I wanted to become, Steve Gadd. To name one off the beaten track, a major influence on my playing was John Siomos who was Peter Frampton’s drummer on Frampton Comes Alive. That record came out in 1976 when I was 14 and just getting my feet wet as a drummer. I spent that glorious Bicentennial summer glued to the drum throne with headphones on just playing along to all four sides of that record over and over.
Who are your favorite musicians/groups?
In addition to the aforementioned Steely Dan I also grew up a fan of British prog rock so Yes, King Crimson, and 70s-era Genesis are still among my favorites. Going back to the funkier side of rock I have always been a huge Little Feat fan. And even though I know it’s supposed to be uncool to admit it I still love jazz fusion so Return to Forever, Weather Report, Yellowjackets and all the bands in that vein are on my list. I’m also a sucker for the great singer-songwriters, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Rickie Lee Jones, etc., and a more current one, Jason Isbell. I’m also a huge fan of Sting, Gino Vannelli, The Band, David Sanborn, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Rush…I could go on all day.
Do you perform in public?
Over the past 40 years I have played in a variety of bands, a horn band that covered lots of Steely Dan and Chicago, a soul/R&B cover band, a jam band, and, currently, have a contemporary jazz band that backs up a variety of soloists (usually sax players) when they come thru our area. Brian and I also had an original band called The Grey Agents that played live shows to support our CDs.
Will Dream Trippers be playing any live shows?
We are in the process of putting together a band to play the Dreamtrippers songs live. Our first show will be a CD release party on March 4 at Music on Main in Bridgeport, WV. As much as I enjoy recording there is nothing like the adrenaline that comes from playing a live gig.
Tell us about The Original Atom.
The Original Atom is probably the most thought-provoking lyric Brian has ever written. It’s basically the story of a man trying to reconcile his belief in science and reason with his belief in God. Is it Atom or Adam or both? Musically, Atom sets the stage for what you’ll hear on most of the rest of the album. One of our musician friends made the comment that, to him, it sounds like “Lou Reed & Leonard Cohen both got all the members of The Cars and The Byrds pregnant…” So, we’ve got spoken-word vocals in the verses, lots of 12-string guitar, electric sitar, and everything we do ends up with a touch of power-pop in it anyway. And the lyric is reminiscent of something Mr Cohen might have written. And the way it goes off the rails at the end? Some may see it as The Big Bang thus an argument for Intelligent Design while others might see it as a concession that maybe there is no God and we’re all just little balls of chaos. You’ll have to listen and decide for yourselves. Either way it’s one of my favorite parts of the whole record.
Let’s Talk about the CD.
Brian and I have been working together steadily on different projects over the last 12 years or so. We’ve covered a lot of bases over that time frame, straight-up pop, classic rock, Americana, and power pop to name a few. He’s a great songwriter/producer and has had a huge impact on my playing in terms of creativity and orchestrating original drum parts. For this project he brought in an electric sitar and starting writing songs based around those sounds which naturally led to a bit of psychedelia. And both of us being huge Beatles fans I think the inclination was already in place to approach it from that perspective. I know I listened to Ringo’s drumming on Tomorrow Never Knows incessantly at the beginning of this project for inspiration. That also led to my delving into the Roland Octapad heavily for different sounds, tablas, timpani, marimba, etc to complement the sitar sounds. I think for both of us this project took us outside our comfort zones and forced us to think differently. It’s certainly the least amount of 2 and 4 backbeat I’ve ever played on a record! And, in the end, we had a blast and made some really cool music. I hope listeners feel the same when they hear it.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
For this album we really tried to think differently. Of course, starting out with songs that were written with an electric sitar kind of made that a no-brainer. Generally, Brian makes fairly polished guitar/vocal demos playing to an EZ Drummer track. We then talk about arranging ideas and Brian will note anything specific that he wants me to play before I go in and make a first pass at a drum track playing along to the demo. Most times we’ll leave it at that and sleep on it. Maybe once on this record with the track Open Your Mind the basic drum track never changed after that first pass but usually we come back in and rearrange things. He may suggest that I leave a beat before playing a fill during a bridge transition or I may want to add a 2/4 or 3 bar to a transition. Also at that point, unless he has already come up with a specific bass line, we will also discuss that and how it relates to the drum part. Then I’ll go in and work the drum track until we get one we can live with. Then he takes what is already a good-sounding drum track and makes it sound huge. Everything else gets recorded over that and we usually add percussion towards the end to sweeten things up.
What are the plans for the future?
Brian and I are already listening to new material he has written for the next project. I think we’ll probably always have something original in the offing. Musically, Brian is a workaholic with a side of restlessness so there will always be new music to arrange and record. With the nature of things these days in the music business it may not be full EPs or CDs any longer but we’ll adapt and move on.
“The Original Atom” single is available in all major streaming platforms.
Following the single, the band will release their debut, self-titled, album on February 10, 2023.