This is the Interview of
Brant Ralph Perry that was in Issue 2 of Big Time Music Trade
Magazine. Published in July of 1997.
Brant Ralph Perry
Original Drummer for the Zen Band
BIG TIME : Hi, we're live on tape with Brant. You're on.
: Thank you. In the latter part part of '67, the beginning
if '68, I formed the Zen Band. I formed the band with lead
guitarists Norman Wrightout, and several musicians form the Whitefield/
Wiscassett area. We used to play at Fendies lunch, in North
Whitefield, but we never got paid for the gigs. In 1969, I made
the decision to do original material and not copy other musicians tunes.
In 1974, we got together for another version of the Zen band.
First, Drew Scannon from Saco, played with us for a while.
Replacing Drew on bass was Frank Lola. Frank was a Viet Nam vet
with a lot of electrical experience. He had 15-15" Bass speakers,
due to the combination of lots of amplification with a small P.A.
system. I was also the member of the band who got the gigs, which
was basically renting out halls. We would charge $3.00 - $4.00 at
the gate and turn that money over to get gigs elsewhere. We used
to play 12 hours at a time. Every year we played the Whitefield
Harvest Party. The lead guitarist at the time was Rip Wilson, who
was an extraordinary musician, as well as a Viet nam vet, and an
experienced U.M.A. music student. Rip was very dependable and a
hard working lead player. Our rhythm guitar player was Byron
Norton. Byron was an incredible song writer, and he was one of my
best friends. When we played places, between 400 - 600 people
showed up. We had parties and back then you would seldom see any
type of trouble. There was a lot of hard drugs and drinking, and
to this day, I believe that was the main downfall of us not being a
thorough success. From 1974 - 1977 was when we were into hard
drugs and alcohol.
Wrightout believed in, "psyche out power." We used to psyche out
the audience, but still keep it together. It was a lot of wild
rhythms, more of an almost white soul type of Rock and Roll. If
we did cover tunes, we did them our way; not the way the recording
artist did, and people loved the energy. When I came off stage,
all of my clothing would be soaked and drenched with sweat. This
was after a gig that was only 4 hours. One time we had a $3.00 a
head gig, at a small building where 600-800 people showed up.
People kept rotating through the doors all night long. This is
when I had trouble with drugs and I couldn't play in the band.
Rick, our lead guitarist at the time, asked me if I would like to go to
the gig that night. When I showed up, the drummer had a
appendicitis attack, and I got called up to play the drums that
night. I was on anti-depressants, and by the 3rd song in, there
were no anti-depressants in my body, and my stage name was Doctor
Breeze. I was kicking butt on the drums, the band was jiving, and
the place was hopping, with people screaming down front. We
literally took the floor out of the hall where we were playing
in. People were jumping up and down so hard that the floor was
wrecked. That was the Goodwill Hall in Chelsea Maine, that's
still there today. After the gig, we went back to where we stored
our gear in South Jefferson, and the guy who had discharged me, walked
up to me and said: "Your the best drummer! No doubt about
it." He really meant it, and we had a lot of good times. We
worked hard and really pleased our audiences. The bottom line is
we were out to have fun and make fun for other people. We were
noted for having energy and having a dramatic way of turning on our
audience. I think that's the key that the few bands have the
opportunity to ever have done.
BIG TIME : Is your drumming technical or more artistic?
: Artistic, soul powered, and spiritual. I feel that true
music is very spiritual experience. It's not a theory like a lot
of people try to teach. I met guitarists who know every note on
the guitar, but they don't have the psyche out power. They play
every note on the guitar, sing in key, they play O.K.; but can't
project their spirit and people can feel that. It's so sterile,
It's bland. A good example of spirit is James Brown, that's why
they call him the godfather of soul. He gets into the that psych
out ability, taps into the audience, and the audience gets that two way
street going. I met guys who could only play four chords on the
guitar, but they could make the audience frantic with excitement.
I know artists all through Maine, who are very talented but never had a
lot of schooling. I know a piano player from North Whitefield,
her name is Bonnie Hensbee. She's very talented on her
instrument. I know several women singers in Maine with beautiful
voices. I think that the younger people today are starting to
realize that they are talented people, and can play as good. It's
just that sometimes money, luck, and the circumstances that the younger
people are feeling the same thing I felt growing up as a young man in
Maine. They're learning what it took me 15 - 20 years to find
out; that there's many things that play into the parable of the whole
situation to make a great band. It's not necessarily all raw
Music is probably one of the greatest tools that the Earth has.
It's a way of life, and at 44 years old, after being clean for several
years, I believe drugs are not the way to go. The thing they had
back in the '60's about the message of love was right, but drugs was
wrong. The whole perception is to stay together, to love one
another and to keep Rock and Roll alive.
BIG TIME : What's stopping you from getting into a band now?
: I find that today, the people I come across are professional or
not. Right now I have a studio at home and I am starting to do
some recording. I am a song writer, as well as a drummer, and I
can usually get a tune out on any instrument. I need to work with
myself and keep doing the best I can. I can't pin-point why I'm
not. If I do form a Rock and roll band, I need dependable
people. It's like one of the things we learned while growing up,
is about band practice. Musicians would say: "Well. I can't
come because I have to put a motor in my '57 Chevy." Or, "My wife
doesn't want me to come." You know the Rolling Stones were
together for 25 years, and the manager held that band together for 19
of those years. People are human, people make mistakes. I
find that right now, if I was going to put together a very professional
band, it wouldn't be to play in bar rooms, it would be to record like
in the 60's. Most of the bands that recorded in the '60's weren't
a gigging out, traveling band; they were a recording band. The
recording studio is really the way to go in Maine, because the club
scene in Maine has died down. You don't have the really big clubs
like Rachel's, and the Big Bounty in Bangor, anymore. I feel that
if you want to promote music a good place is the grammar schools, where
the kids need a chance. I think we need more people like Ester
Hallowell. She was a devoted music teacher in Maine, who is still
living as an elderly lady. If I had a Rock band that played out
live, one of the things I would do is introduce 5 or 6 fathers or
mothers and tel their names to tell the audience They lst a certain son
or daughter to "Moshing." Mosh dancing is when they jump off
stage and sometimes the people in the audience move back as the person
dives off stage and gets a concussion, or dies. In the "Mosh
Pit," people dance while hitting each other with fists or kicking
each other. We would say the name and age of the person that
died. We need to set an example. I found that young people
will listen if you will come down to their level; not try to put
yourself above them.