What is the sound an ironing board makes when played like a drum?
The answer is not some cryptic riddle, but SLAMM!, a drum spectacle compared to everything from Stomp! to Blue Man Group. SLAMM! will perform at Elon University’s McCrary Theatre 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16.
Bandleader and rock drumming icon Carmine Appice doesn’t want the audience to make too many comparisons to other groups, though.
“Our show differs every night,” Appice said. “It’s more like a rock band.”
Like a rock band, Appice’s group is not simply there to entertain, but to engage the audience in music.
“Audience response is important,” he said, “If the audience is really with you, it’ll all be great.”
So what is SLAMM! if not like any other touring percussion group? Press for SLAMM!’s prior performances compare it to Stomp! on steroids, a phrase Appice even used to describe his show. Members of SLAMM! use everyday objects, including oil cans, Dixie cups and, yes, ironing boards to make music. But Appice still admits that it’s a shaky comparison: unlike Stomp, the theatrical aspect is left behind and the performers improvise. There are set songs, but solos and other parts are left up to the artists to interpret.
Appice said SLAMM! is different than a traditional rock band.
“This is more original. We do more crazy stuff in here that you wouldn’t do in a regular band,” he said. “It’s a full show with comedy, even a little drama.”
SLAMM! just may be indescribable until heard first-hand.
SLAMM! consists of five drummers, including Appice, and a guitar player. It seems strange at first that rhythm can make up an entire song with guitar as a background, but Appice’s group is a testament otherwise.
“We use the drums to give it the bottom and the top and the rhythm and the melody,” Appice said. “Melodic rhythms that are memorable. It creates a whole song that has a whole mood to it.”
What may be most memorable about the songs to some students is that they will not just hear them, but perform in them as well. The Fire of the Carolinas drumline will join SLAMM! onstage for a song in which they drum alongside the group.
Director of Bands Tony Sawyer will write a cadence for the drumline to perform, with improvisational parts added in. Appice said he intends to do a call-and-response with the drumline, involving vocal scat and improv from his end.
“I am very excited about having SLAMM! perform at Elon,” Sawyer said. “As a percussionist I have heard Appice’s playing for most of my life. It will be nice to get a chance to meet him in person.”
The drumline will not meet Appice until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, only hours before the performance. They will rehearse and practice for only a short time before having to take the stage.
Drumline captain Alex Kunkel said they haven’t quite nailed down all of the details of their performance, but the drumline is prepared to improvise. She said that they’re also looking forward to being in the spotlight.
“It’s fun to play with percussion groups,” Kunkel said, “It’s a high energy group.”
She also said that since the drumline is usually a facet in the marching band, it will be nice to be featured as an individual unit.
“We don’t do a lot of things alone,” she said,.”But most people love drums and drumming.”
SLAMM! is free to Elon faculty, staff and students with Elon ID.