"Quantum" Live at San Francisco's Hotel Utah
"Caught a great gig by E. Doctor Smith (aka today's birthday boy Eric Smith) at Hotel Utah in SF last night. The master of the Zendrum performed music from his new CD Quantum, along with guitarist Jack Wright and bassist Tom Shiben. Excellent stuff crisscrossing prog, avant, funk and fusion territory. Learn more here: http://edoctorsmith.com/ (and happy birthday dude!)" -Anil Prasad, Innerviews.
Doc is featured in the November 2013 Issue of digitalDrummer!
"Not only is he a great drummer, but E. Doctor Smith is also a bit of an inventor. However, when he saw the Zendrum, he gave up on his own invention and showed his genius on the new instrument." -Allan Leibowitz, Editor digitalDrummer.
"My electronic musical journey began back in the ‘80s when I started programming sequencers, computers, and drum machines with my friend Stephen Bray, who was writing songs and working with Madonna in New York, then in LA. I also experimented with a Dynacord Rhythm Stick they had lying around. I was a big fan of Bill Bruford’s drumming and the Simmons electronic drums that he used in his groups Earthworks and King Crimson. I was really excited to get my hands on a basic 5-piece Simmons SDS9 kit, then to add 6 more pads, a Roland PM-16 interface, a Yamaha TX-7, and an Alesis HR16. I used that kit on and off until 1995, when I made my first Drummstick.
Some musical friends, who had once opened for Bela Fleck & the Flecktones and knew about my e-drumming, asked me if I’d ever thought about creating a “drumitar” like Futureman had done with his Synthaxe. While mulling the idea over, I remembered having seen singer Bobby McFerrin tapping on his torso during a duet with Wayne Shorter, which had conjured up images of how Alphonso Johnson and Tony Levin approached the Chapman Stick. That was the inspiration for the design of the Drummstick, a 2” x 6’ piece of oak with 16 triggers that would be played vertically. I went to Radio Shack and a to music store to buy parts, and a few weeks later, the Drummstick was born. Since then, I have played the Dummstick and toured with a number of bands and recorded several albums on the Edgetone Records label in the SF Bay Area where I live. I’ve been honored to have had some great jams with some amazing folks—Bon Lozago, Howard Levy, and Bill Kirchen, to name just a few!
I first saw a Zendrum at a NAMM show back in the ‘90s and thought it was great, but I still preferred the ergonomics of the Drummstick. One day, a friend surprised me with a maple ZX he’d just bought, and happily let me program it and try it out. The first thing I did was to flip it up vertically, so I could play it the way I play the Drummstick. Although the straps weren't in the right places, it worked well enough. After 20 minutes or so, I'd programmed the ZX to a playable level. It was so incredibly responsive. I immediately loved it.
In 2007, I finally made the switch. The Zendrum Corporation’s David Haney built a beautiful, black “Jimi Hendrix ZX” for me, which was modeled after Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster. After I replaced the strap locks, so that I could play it vertically, it worked like a charm. When Haney and John Emrich announced the new Zendrum, “EXP”, in late spring, I took a look at it, saw that it had been redesigned to allow greater left hand trigger access and to be worn vertically, and I knew I had to have one. I bought the first ever production model, and it’s been a dream come true.
Live, I’m a hybrid of new school meets old school, so I use a MacBook Pro with BFD2 and GarageBand for my basic kits, along with an Alesis DMPro. I also use iDrum to trigger my pre-recorded samples. My rigs vary depending on the size of the venue, and my sound is fed into either a Fast Track Ultra 8R, a Tascam US-1800, or PreSonus USB/MIDI interface. I use either an Alesis iMultiMix 9R or a Mackie mixer and a pair of Mackie SRM450s. For recording, I mostly use GarageBand, Logic, and ProTools. I also enjoy using Darin Kadrioski’s Zendrum editor app, ZenEdit.
My Zendrum technique is based on my nearly 20 years of playing the Drummstick. My left hand carries a lot of the snare, open hi-hat, crashes, and sample triggering. With my right hand, I do my signature finger rolls, as well as carry the basic kick, ride, closed hi-hat, snare, and toms, split between multiple fingers. I was really happy when I discovered that I could put the EXP on over my right shoulder, ala Hendrix. This gave me more range with my left hand, allowing me to use the EXP’s additional triggers more comfortably. So far, I haven’t used any pedals, but you never know.
I am a perfectionist when it comes to the audio quality of my drum sound. E-drums allow me to control reverb, EQ, and volume, no matter the venue—indoor, outdoor, wherever. This is something you don’t get with acoustics, especially when it comes to percussion, because not all sound engineers are created equal. I also enjoy the ability to pack up in 15 minutes and being able to fly with a Zendrum, a USB interface, and a laptop anywhere in the world!" -Doc
Drummstick x 3
Dynacord Rhythm Stick
Fast Track Ultra USB MIDI Interface
Tascam US-1800 USB MiDI Interface
PreSonus Audio Box USB MiDI Interface
Alesis DMPro, D4 and Trigger I/O
MacBook Pro with BFD2, GarageBand, iDrum
10 piece Simmons SDS9 kit
6 piece Ddrum D2 kit with Hart Dynamics mesh heads
Mackie CR1604, 2 x Mackie SRM450
Doc featured in the San Francisco Chronicle's "Esentials"
"While steeped in jazz, San Francisco seven-string bass master Edo Castro is a versatile player whose lyrical lines have graced a vast array of settings. He joins forces with electronic percussion explorer E. Doctor Smith and special guests for an evening of ambient soundscapes inspired by Brian Eno (shaped partly by Eno's generative software). Smith recorded with Eno in the early 1980s, one of many illustrious artists he's collaborated with, including Madonna, Warren Zevon, Mickey Hart and Jimmy Cliff..."
Nice to come across this little piece by Andrew Gilbert in the SF Chronicle's "Essentials" section promoting my recent Royce Gallery show with Edo Castro... Edo played beautifully as he so often does... Here we come up with an improvisational segue into "Blue Moon", a song from my old Feat of Clay days that found its way onto our live CD on Edgetone.
"The 3-minute interview with E. Doctor Smith" by Kate Williamson in the SF Examiner
SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco musician and a director of biodiesel nonprofit Green Depot, Smith is the inventor of the Drummstick, his not-for-sale signature percussion device. This year, he released Drummstick 2 on Edgetone Records, and played on a second newly released album called “Robert Anbian and UFQ: the Unidentified Flying Quartet.” Meanwhile, Green Depot is trying to bring a biodiesel station to the Bayview.
What is a Drummstick?
The Drummstick is an instrument I invented in 1995. It’s a two-by-six piece of wood that has 16 triggers on it. It works just like an electronic drum kit, like the things Mickey Hart drums on, except instead of using drumsticks, I use my fingers.
Why did you invent it?
I had a friend who was with a folk duo … They had opened for Béla Fleck and the Flecktones once. The Flecktones liked them, and they couldn’t believe that Future Man [the Flecktones’ percussionist] did all these things from a drum guitar with triggers all over it. They said, “Have you ever thought about making a drum guitar?” I tried to think about what it would be like. It took on a life of its own.
How did you get involved with biodiesel?
My wife went to an Earth Day sort of thing in Potrero. We had thought about buying a Prius … but I hated the rear window and I hated that I was still buying gas. We started doing some research [on biodiesel] and we found out about it, and we started looking for them, (diesel vehicles), and we found out they were really hard to find. But we found one in Oakland, (a VW Beetle)… and we got it. For the last couple years, I’ve been running biodiesel and driving it. It’s been wonderful.
More press on E. Doctor Smith
"From the banjo-meets-Bruford tribal groove of "Futureboy" to the atmospheric sonic landscapes of "Girl of a Thousand Days," E. Doctor Smith treads a musical road less traveled. His intrepid ensemble's acid jazz explorations wander into every world musical nook and cranny, making this collection a trip well worth taking." - Stephen Bray, Producer-Madonna
"While acid jazz is normally more mood than passion, the taste of bop and afro-funk that is offered whets the ear for more more more.” - Mike Wood, Music Emmissions
"Particularly noteworthy was a "drum" solo by the Doctor that received extended applause... Smith's solo showed the versatility and range of his percussion instrument - a large block of wood wired to several key pads that allow him to reproduce almost any percussion sound. His performance of bell and cymbal sounds filled the room with a resounding sound reminiscent of a handbell choir." - Jerry Harris, Writer -Lexington Gazette
" Man...It's digital and it's organic...It flows from you man..." - "Diamond" Dave Whitaker, KPOO FM-Diamond Dave Show
" Marvelous creation, wonderful instrument." - Helen Light, WXPN FM-Light Lunch
"Pay close attention when you see this thing, it's really something special." - Cyndy Drue, WMMR FM-Morning Rock
"This, theoretically, could sound like crap. In actuality it's really pretty cool, plus he's good at it.... The rim shots and bass drum sounds great." - Andre Calihanna, Writer-MAPPS Magazine
"E. Doctor Smith and his MIDI-fied instrument... Howard Levy, Sandip Burman, Paul Bollenback, John Wubbenhorst... There's going to be some serious playing..." - Eric Brace, Writer-Washington Post