Tag Archives: Motel Beds

Ohio’s Ian Kaplan is arguably one of the greatest drummers in the nation

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Photo Credit: Brooke Medlin

While the list of drumming styles goes on ad infinitum (Jazz, R&B, Folk/Country, Soul, Blues, et cetera), Motel Beds’ Ian Kaplan is arguably one of the greatest Rock & Roll drummers in the country. Obviously, music is inherently subjective and there is really no standard by which to fully measure this claim. Nonetheless, after repeatedly touring the nation over and witnessing a myriad of drummers, I really do feel it’s a fair assessment to make.

To watch Ian Kaplan play drums is a true joy. The Dayton, Ohio native possesses the perfect combination of playing to the song and laying low, while exploding in the most appropriate and skilled and entertaining ways. In a lot of bands, the limelight is understandably placed on the frontman. Nonetheless, while chords and melody and lyrics are requisite, Kaplan is a testament to the fact that a phenomenal drummer is vital to a phenomenal band. This can be heard when he plays with Motel Beds, Goodbye/Crusher, Lab Partners, or any of the many bands he’s added to over the years. When you match up pure skill, Kaplan is the cream of the crop.

Natural talent is clearly at play, however, Kaplan’s prowess is namely the result of an intense dedication to his craft. To this day, it seems few work harder at honing their skills and continuing to grow as a musician. I had the opportunity to speak with Kaplan before Donewaiting goes print-only this weekend. Thanks for making Dayton and Ohio proud, Ian.

Donewaiting: When did you start playing drums?

Ian Kaplan: I have been playing drums since age 5.

DW: What was the name of your first band?

IK: ”Naked Henry,” in Augsburg, Germany.

DW: What drummers have had the biggest influence on your style?

IK: Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Steve Gadd, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Aynsley Dunbar, Buddy Rich, Tony Williams, Joe Morello, Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr, Levon Helm, Malcolm Catto.

DW: Who is your favorite drummer of all-time?

IK: My favorite? Man, that’s tough. I guess I’d have to say Max Roach. He’s the king. Listen to anything on “Saxophone Colossus” or the “Freedom Now Suite” and try to reconcile what he’s playing against the time signature – then realize he’s playing quarter notes on the hi-hat while he plays these incredibly, beautiful, intricate phrases. If there’s a God and God is a drummer, He lived inside of Max Roach for a time.

DW: Has living in the Midwest and growing up in Dayton impacted your drumming style at all? I remember speaking with you about Brainiac drummer Tyler Trent and his influence on you at an early age. Are there any other regional drummers that influenced your approach to the instrument?

IK: Definitely has. Before I moved here, I hadn’t been involved in any sort of music “scene,” as it were. I was young and, even though, in Germany the drinking-age and, therefore, entry age to shows was low (16), there was little to no opportunity for kids my age, be they Americans or Germans, to really throw shows or have bands. Here, it was a completely different story. Everything I’d read about a city with a  community of like-minded musicians actually happened here and continues to happen. The first time I got to see some of Dayton’s bands, I was completely blown away. Tyler Trent definitely had a huge impact on my playing. I couldn’t believe how controlled and precise he is, but simultaneously seems as if he is having an out-of-body experience when he plays. The power and the visceral emotion he put into every beat really had an effect on me and I think it’s still reflected in my playing today. Over the years I met many other drummers in town, namely Matt Espy, who I briefly took over for in MiNK when he moved to Chicago, Matt Schulz who I replaced in Lab Partners, Jim MacPherson… the list goes on. All have become good friends of mine and I still think they are the greatest drummers in the world, no matter what. Seeing someone play and seeing how they do things vs. just hearing them is a completely different experience. When I heard what Tyler played on Bonsai Superstar, for instance, and then went to see Brainiac and watch Tyler reproduce what he recorded live really was life-changing. Tyler, if you’re reading this, thank you, again and again and again.

DW: What are your plans for the future?

IK: I guess, limiting this answer only to my musical life, I’d like to see Motel Beds blow-up and play festivals and make a go at playing music full-time. I still haven’t given up on that dream. If that doesn’t pan out, I guess balloon in size and become the world’s largest mammal. Or maybe both.

Motel Beds, Connections, Kyle Sowashes caravan to Dayton and Columbus tonight and tomorrow

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Motel Beds, Connections, and The Kyle Sowashes will embark on a caravan to Dayton’s Canal St. Tavern and Columbus’ Café Bourbon St. this weekend. The lineup could very well be one of the best of the year, so do make it out to a show if you’re in the area.

Here is a link to the PopMatters video premiere of Motel Beds’ “Smoke Your Homework” via Dumb Gold (November, 2012). Both Connections and The Kyle Sowashes have recent records on the long-loved Columbus imprint Anyway Records (GBV, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, etc).

While Motel Beds are the only current Dayton natives, all three bands have ties to the Gem City. Kyle Sowash grew up in Englewood and Connections brothers Kevin Elliot (84 Nash) and Adam Elliot (Times New Viking) hail from Troy, Ohio. Here is an interview with Connections guitarist Andy Hampel in this week’s Dayton City Paper

Motel Beds, Connections, The Kyle Sowashes
Friday, February 8 • Canal St. Tavern • Dayton, OH
Saturday, February 9 • Café Bourbon St. • Columbus, OH

Video: Motel Beds – “Dumb Gold” (premiere)

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Dayton, Ohio’s Motel Beds have been in the midst of a creative swell since the late aughts. After six releases in three years, the momentum continues. Following a headlining CMJ set this Friday, Beds will issue Dumb Gold in mid-November. The band’s eighth release is a ten-track collection of angular, idiosyncratic songs, showcasing their remarkable musicianship and appreciation for no-frills rock & roll.

Dumb Gold was engineered by Beds guitarist and sometimes-Guided By Voices engineer Darryl Robbins (see 2012′s Class Clown Spots a UFO). Along with Robbins, the group features a lineup of seasoned Gem City greats – guitarist Tommy Cooper, vocalist P.J. Paslosky, drummer Ian Kaplan, and bassist Tod Weidner. Kelley Deal has also collaborated with Motel Beds in past days.

The band headlines the No More Fake Labels Official CMJ Showcase Friday, October 19 at 11:45 at Lit Lounge. No More Fake Labels will release Dumb Gold on November 13, 2012. Ohio is fortunate to have the Motel Beds.
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Downtown Dayton Revival Fest features Guided By Voices & Motel Beds today, Ohio Players & Good English tomorrow


A reminder that the inaugural Downtown Dayton Revival Fest begins today. Guided By Voices, the legendary North Dayton lo-fi pioneers, hit the stage at 8:15 PM. The “classic-lineup” will perform a set of crowd favorites interspersed with new material. While many attend to hear older hits, I do give GBV great credit for not just phoning in a reproduction of yesteryears. In addition, for what it’s worth, some of the new material has seen great critical acclaim.

The Ohio Players, revered as one of the finest funk groups of all-time, are slated for Sunday at 6:15 PM. Very few original members are living these days, nonetheless, I suppose it’s special to see the TOP name in a festival lineup at all. Truthfully, and not many believe this, but Dayton was once “The Land of Funk.” Yes, the Gem City had a monumental impact on the genre with bands like Zapp & Roger, Heatwave, Slave, Lakeside, and many more influencing artists the world over. I could go on about the effect of the aforementioned and may do so soon, however, for now, I’ll just let Snoop Dogg talk to you about Roger Troutman of Zapp & Roger.

While GBV and TOP are age-old Gem City favorites, the Downtown Revival Fest will feature newer Dayton talent as well. In particular, Motel Beds play at 6 PM today and Good English kicks things off Sunday at 12:15 PM.
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Ohio Players, Guided By Voices & more play Downtown Dayton Revival Fest this Saturday & Sunday

Dayton, Ohio funk legends The Ohio Players will make an extremely rare and special appearance this weekend at the Downtown Dayton Revival Fest. Best known for their hit “Love Rollercoaster” (later sabotaged by the Red Hot Chili Peppers), The Ohio Players have had an immeasurable effect on the funk, soul, rap, and hip-hop communities. Here is a video of them performing on Midnight Special in 1975. Phenomenal.

Downtown Dayton Revival Fest takes place this Saturday & Sunday, September 8 & 9 in the heart of downtown Dayton. Also slated are Guided By Voices – another set of Gem City sons sitting in the annals of music history. GBV will make a progressively infrequent classic-lineup appearance, alongside performances by Heartless Bastards, Motel Beds, Buffalo Killers, The Werks, Rusted Root, Guster, and 2012 headliners Train and John Legend.

2012 is the inaugural year for the Downtown Dayton Revival Fest. DDR has a total of 37 acts performing over a two day span. There will be three stages near historic Memorial Hall in downtown Dayton. Admission is $75 for a two-day pass. You can purchase tickets here and find more information at:

Motel Beds & Oh Condor EP Release @ Dayton’s Southpark Tavern tonight

Motel Beds and Oh Condor release dual EPs tonight (Saturday, Feb. 25) at Southpark Tavern in Dayton. Both EPs arrive on cassette (with digital download) – two in a line of boutique releases coming to you via Gas Daddy Go! Records.

GDG! was founded by former Guided By Voices/Swearing at Motorists drummer Don Thrasher and recently revived with now-bandmate Kyle Melton of Smug Brothers. Stay tuned for a more in-depth piece on Don Thrasher and his involvement with GBV, S@M, GDG! and more – coming very soon. For now:

Motel Beds + Oh Condor – Gas Daddy Go! – Dual EP Release Show
Saturday, February 25 – 8 PM
Dayton, OH – Southpark Tavern
with Pretty & Nice (Hardly Art) + Roley Yuma