Featured Artist

Cosmic Rock

Tuesday night our Featured Artist is the incredible musician, powerhouse drummer Ty Dennis. Ty is a kind, down to earth and passionate musician with mighty drum skills known worldwide. Many know Ty from his playing with the Doors reunion called The Doors 21C with Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger, along with singer Ian Astbury. Ty Dennis also has played with Robbie Krieger’s solo band and other groups. We had a chance to talk with him all about his background, influences, some memories of the Doors tours and his thoughts on many subjects. Check out this great conversation with a world class drummer, the man Ty Dennis.

1.Hey Ty, how’re you today bro? Good talking with you today.   Hey there Gideon. Thanks for your patience on this. Along with working like crazy and traveling I just got married end of July so needless to say I’ve been going at an insane pace lately.


2.Of course and no worries. Congrats on the big news, that’s awesome brother. Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up, are you from LA?  I am from SoCA, yes. Actually, grew up in Orange County which is about an hour south of Hollywood and the valley in LA, so I am one of the few actually LA natives out here.  Almost all my friends are transplants here.


3.How did you get started in music? Well my Dad is a drummer as well, so I grew up surrounded by drums and drummers. There was constantly great music being played in my household growing up. I was very lucky to be exposed to the records my Dad had from before I could walk. My earliest musical memories are hearing songs like Black Cow on Steely Dan’s Aja and that 1st James Taylor record with such great songs and musicians. So, I gravitated to music and the drums from the environment at home.


4.What were some of your favorite records that inspired you to play?  The 1st Herbie Hancock Headhunters record with Chameleon on it. Herbie has always been an idol for me. I played along with that at a very young age. Still love those songs and Harvey Mason’s drumming. I also was and still am heavily influenced by any records with Steve Gadd on drums including Aja and the Chick Corea records he played on. Genius drummer and musician.  Jeff Porcaro and all the things he played on especially with Toto has always been an inspiration for me and I would play drums along with those records for hours and hours trying to emulate his beautiful feel and sound on the drums. I also have to mention Stewart Copeland and the Police records particularly Ghost In The Machine and Syncronicity. I don’t think there’s ever been better pop music than The Police.


5.Amazing yeah for sure. Any classic concert that really inspired you back in the day? A couple concerts stick in my mind from my junior high days. There was this outside concert venue in Orange County, CA called Irvine Meadows that has since closed...i saw Rush on their Roll The Bones tour there and In that same couple years I saw Toto. Seeing big concerts like that planted the inspiration in me, and I knew I wanted to be on a stage doing that in my future.


6.I saw you play with the Doors of the 21st Century line up with Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and singer Ian Astbury. That was amazing man. How did you meet up with the other guys and join the band?  Well I was fortunate to land the job drumming with Robby’s band in 2001. That led to subbing for Stewart Copeland initially who was then playing with Robby and Ray and Ian in The Doors 21C. I got to know Ray and when a drummer change happened, I was in the right place at the right time and landed that gig.


7.Fantastic yeah. What was it like for you to play those classic songs? Did you feel inspired and free with your playing or did you stay close to the Densmore influence for the delivery? Good question.  Well, I did stay close to the original drum parts because they're very composed, well thought parts that are signature to those tunes. Great parts. That being said I was hired because of what I brought with my personality and my approach. I think you could say I brought more of a big, modern sound to the tunes which I know Ray liked a lot.

8.Right on. Tell us about your journey with the band over the years. Any favorite stories about Ray and the guys? I still remember the 1st day I ever played with Ray at a rehearsal at SIR studios in Hollywood. It was not lost on me the 1st time we played Riders On The Storm and there comes the keyboard solo....I gotta say Ray was just a unique, one of a kind figure. I had a lot of good conversations and cool times with Ray, and he was always the coolest with my family. Always appreciated that. Here's a couple shows that stick in mind both from South America:  In Ecuador too many people wanted to get in to the show. It was sold out, and they used tear gas outside the front to "calm people down"...well we're playing the 1st part of the gig and our eyes start burning and its getting hard to breath. We have to stop and let the air clear. Tear gas worked its way up to the stage. But in true rock n roll fashion we started again. up where we left off. I'll also never forget our show in Argentina at a giant stadium. Crowd is insane, fires starting in the crowd, pieces of chairs being torn out and thrown on stage flying over Robby's head. There were police with German shepherds and fireman shooting their hoses onto the crowd. Was nuts!


9.Very sad to hear Ray passed away so unexpectedly. I’m a huge Doors fan and so glad I got to see the line up with you and those guys. In what ways did Ray inspire or influence you musically? Playing with Ray and Robby who I still play with was and is an honor and a musical adventure for sure. Particularly playing with Ray was always a thrill ride because from 1 night to the next parts of songs could completely change or improv into some never played before direction. That has been a huge lesson in freedom on stage and the artistic approach of just going where the performance that night takes you whether it be great or even not so great. That’s part of the trip.


10.You play now with Robbie Krieger’s solo group is that right? What have you guys been up to in the RKB? Robby still plays shows here and there. Mostly just US concerts, but we did play in Mexico recently, too. I always dig playing in Latin America. Greatest fans. Also, just played a PBS TV thing called Front and Center that I think you can find online. Robby recorded a cool, reggae version of that classic, older tune Sleepwalk. I played on that, and we did a video for it that you can find online as well.


11.Excellent. Are you still playing any music with Ian Astbury? Unfortunately, i haven’t had an opportunity to make more music with Ian again. For sure I would love to if ever the stars align again.


10.Yeah I hope so man. How do you feel about the social media era and what advice would you give new artists starting out? I'm pretty into Facebook as far as connecting with friends and music contacts. I for sure have gotten work I would never have if it weren't for Facebook and people reaching out to me that way. I record drum tracks for people all over the world, and Facebook particularly has been a great tool connecting with clients. I would say an artist has too have a social media presence and stay active in making new contacts. It's a necessary pain in the ass. My advice to any musician/artist/band is to always try to find passion in whatever you're doing. Don't let it get stale. Find inspiration and when you hit a wall figure out how to make changes to keep creative and keep progressing.


11.What is one life skill you think everyone should have? Having a clear value of what you bring to a relationship and what you need to receive in return. This can be personal relationships or business. Know your worth because as we all know there are always people who will take advantage or not know your worth. 


(Photo by J.Jarrett)

12.Great answer man. What are some of your recent projects? Playing a lot of shows around  L.A this year. I'm liking playing different music every week. Keeps it interesting. Been recording more this year as well for different artists and that's fun because its always something new. I'm enjoying playing in an instrumental rock/jazz trio playing a bunch of odd time and fun covers. That band is called Four track Minds. Also, I've been teaching some drum lessons on Skype which is a good way to share drumming with someone who isn't local.


13.Do you have other creative activities besides music? Painting, writing etc.  Between being married, having 2 kids, working, and traveling my free time is booked. When I'm not working I'm spending time with family, trying to go the the gym when I can, and watching movies!


14.What are some of your favorite films? Boogie Knights, Aliens, Predator, Spinal Tap.

15.Favorite books? I really enjoyed the book 'In the Heart of the Sea' true story of the whale ship Essex. Fascinating story of survival and overcoming impossible odds.

16.Any news or words for your fans today? I've always appreciated the kind words of friends that like music and drums and maybe like what I do. I keep my Facebook page updated facebook.com/tydennisdrums and I have a website where I have lots of content and I can be contacted there about recording drum tracks, live shows, and lessons here in LA or via Skype.  www.tydennisdrums.com

Ty Thanks for making time for the interview today, great to catch up with you and keep us updated on your news, rock on G