When legendary drummer Terry Bozzio brings his “An Evening With Terry Bozzio” tour to New York next month, he’ll be performing compositions from his recently released album, Terry Bozzio Composer Series. The 4-CD set contains 59 songs, many written as far back as 1972 when he was in college.
“I did it for myself,” Bozzio told AXS.com during a telephone interview last week. “I had this body of work and they [Ward Records in Japan] gave me an advance and a good percentage. And that book [60-page hardcover art book included with the CD and multimedia set] is just gorgeous. The DVDs, the solo drum music. The artwork is on a Blu-Ray DVD. It just couldn’t have been better. I’m very proud of that and pleased that we did it.”
Although Bozzio is best known for his longtime career in rock music – most notably with Frank Zappa (1975-1979) and 1980s new wave band Missing Persons – his more recent compositions span a range of genres. “My music has classical influences, because there are themes, structure, and there’s composition,” he explained. “But it’s also improvisation, coming from jazz, a la Miles Davis and Weather Report in the '70s. Then you have ethnic percussion styles from around the world, so it’s sort of a world music experience as well.”
The set list for this tour, which started last weekend in Phoenix, draws on both his extensive catalog over the decades as well as some of his more recent works. He is “mainly playing music on the drums, along to the CD,” he said.
Bozzio has never been a fan of the drum clinics that many of his fellow rock star drummers conduct. He sees them as “less a performance than a seminar… like a drummer practicing to headphones, you know, in his garage,” he said.
“I never really liked that, so I’ve created some ambient pieces that I’ve played along with over the years,” he said, as he described his midi setup and elaborate drum kit, including tuned tom-toms. “But they’re free-floating, so you can play anytime, any tempo, any feel you want to them and make it work.”
Over the years, Bozzio has been honored by peers, media, and fans. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1997, among many other honors awarded to him by the magazine. Fans voted him 13th on online crowdsourced ranking site Ranker.com’s “The Best Drummers of All Time” list. Three years ago, Esquire magazine listed Bozzio as one of “The 10 Craziest Drummers Ever,” along with Keith Moon (The Who), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), and Ginger Baker (Cream).
Over the years, Bozzio has enjoyed performing in New York – as well as the energy in the city. He noted, however, that “the last couple of times I’ve been there, it seems more like Disneyland.” The iconic drummer has played at storied New York City venues such as the Palladium (with Zappa) and the Beacon Theater, and enjoys when fellow musicians come to his performances. “It’s always nice to see other guys with big names and feel they respect what I do. But all my heroes are dead, so I don’t get nervous thinking ‘Wow, they might be in the audience,’” he said, laughing.
Tickets for “An Evening With Terry Bozzio” on September 25, at the City Winery (155 Varick Street) are available here in the price range of $22-$28.