Mark Gajadhar is a jackhammer speed surgeon of a drummer and a Seattle musical treasure. He pounds with velocity, power, endurance, and accuracy. A wizened punk engine shattering out supreme, inimitable patterns from his sticks. If he were to throw an ax, it would hit the bull's-eye. Gajadhar made his mark drumming with post-hardcore legends the Blood Brothers, and more recently with Past Lives. He's also the mastermind behind the alpha-bounce hiphop of Champagne Champagne. This past August, Gajadhar played drums with L.A.-based rapper Hyro Da Hero. The unreleased Hyro project involves members of Mars Volta, Idiot Pilot, and Blood Brothers, and was produced by Ross Robinson (Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot). Gajadhar spoke and broke it down. He also told a story about a girl who showed up at a Blood Brothers show in Germany with a bass, got onstage, and tried to play with the band.
Wait, so a girl in Germany actually got onstage at a Blood Brothers show and tried to plug in and play?
Something like that. We were on tour in Munich, with Liars, I believe. We pull up to the venue and we're loading in, and we see this girl sitting out front, holding a bass, no case. She was just sitting there holding her bass, ready to play.
Ready to rock.
We couldn't tell what she was doing, but she was ready to rock. She approached us and said, "Hey, I brought my bass to play with you guys tonight." She was pretty dead set on it. We continued loading, and she was kind of harassing us. She told Jordan [Blilie] that he looked like a little hamburger.
She was German?
She was fully German. Speaking in broken English. Very dry, with no sarcasm. We couldn't tell if she was serious about wanting to jam. But she did have her bass, ready to go. We thanked her for offering, but told her we already had a bass player. And that we like to keep it in the band.
How old was she?
I'd say between 21 and 27? Old enough to know better than to grab a bass and try to jam with an out-of-town band.
This is beautiful. Was she telling y'all she knew how to play the songs?
I don't think it was ever explained if she knew the songs or not. She just wanted to jam. And she was persistent.
How did the show unfold?
We started playing, and I could see her in the crowd with her bass, inching closer, eyeing the bass side of the stage. She stood out—the one person standing there with a bass. Then she made a move, got onstage, and lunged at Morgan [Henderson]'s setup. I think for a second she was actually plugged in and playing.
What did y'all do?
We stopped playing midsong and told her, all together, "This is inappropriate. We are going to finish our set, without you onstage with your bass." Cody [Votolato] and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. I'm pretty sure Morgan was fairly upset with the whole scenario, because it's kind of geared toward him, since he's the bass player. Any time a situation like that happened, Jordan would make it hilarious for all of us. You could see that other people there were like, "What is this girl doing?"
How often do you play shows where people ask if they can play your instrument?
It does happen. But usually I can defuse the situation. With this girl, we just didn't know how far she was going to take it.
She had an actual bass out, strapped around her neck, going for it. I guess it's not illegal to bring an instrument to a show. You can wear a purse, why can't people wear a bass?
I'm going to bring my guitar to the Les Savy Fav show and hop onstage and try to play.
You're playing drums in a new thing. A Los Angeles based rapper?
Ross Robinson, who recorded the Blood Brothers album Burn, Piano Island, Burn, and the first Korn record, and the first Limp Bizkit record, and all the Slipnot stuff—he contacted Cody and I after he had been contacted by Chino from the Deftones about this guy named Hyro Da Hero. Chino wanted Hyro to do a record with Ross. And Ross would only do it if he could pick the band. So he got me, Cody, Paul Hinojos from Mars Volta/At the Drive-In, and Daniel Anderson from Idiot Pilot. We wrote and recorded about six songs down in L.A., Hyro rapped over them, and I thought that was kind of going to be it. But Hyro really liked us as a unit and wanted to keep it together for a touring circuit of festivals and shows in Europe, Japan, and Australia. It's the first time I've ever played on something that wasn't necessarily mine, but it's going to be fun touring with those guys. It's a solid bunch of guys.
What does it sound like?
Rock and punk with rapping. It's hard not to compare it to a version of Rage Against the Machine. I guess that's the easy comparison. I told him Champagne Champagne is my thing, and that if it gets to the point where he's headlining, maybe Champagne could open for him. So if it works out for him, it could work out for Champagne. We're doing a Canadian run in February, and Europe in mid-March for six weeks or so. Hyro is super-motivated.
See video of a homeless guitar guy jamming with Hyro Da Hero and band as they rehearse: