Anyone who follows Medeski Martin & Wood knows that besides being one of the world's most ambitious and unique drummers, Billy Martin has a long standing interest in the visual arts. Check out MMW's iconic logo, Shack-man's cover art or the gallery on for evidence. He has also recently begun experimenting with film and has created a number of music videos and short films.
Now comes his first feature length film, Billy Martin's Life on Drums. Much more than an instructional drumming video, the 153-minute Life on Drums is an experimental film bursting with inspired music and creative film techniques (full disclosure: my pal Matt McClain is the film's Director of Photography -- see his work here).
Luckily the film is also grounded with narrative. Between Billy's lessons, compositions and inspired solos are intimate conversations between Billy and his first drum teacher, the charming Allen Herman. Allen is from the old-school and has truly lived his life behind the kit. He shares, and undoubtedly influenced, Billy's open-minded attitude towards music. Allen and Billy have clear chemistry and as a result their conversations are genuinely interesting whether discussing specific drumming techniques or their broader attitudes towards the creative process.
This film is first and foremost for aspiring drummers who admire Billy Martin. However thanks to some interesting film techniques and good conversation, I believe it may hold a good amount of appeal for other musicians and fans of experimental and creative music. At the very least it is required viewing for MMW fans. Pick it up here...