Rock ‘n’ Roll Drummer

Anissa Clarke

On Thursday night, when most 18-year-old girls would be doing homework or preparing for midterms, I’m downstairs in my 7×7 foot drum room where my band practice takes place. My band’s most popular song, “Keep Me Satisfied” is a song we’ve played numerous times and we still can’t get enough of it.

My band’s name, Tessatura, comes from my sister’s name, Tessa. She sings and plays the bass. Tessa is our “leader” and keeps the rest of us in check. In the dictionary, “Tessatura” means “a range of a melody and a musical composition,” but the Italian definition is “stubborn and thick-headed” – yeah, that’s more like us.

We’ve been a band for four years and have played just about anywhere they’d let us. From gay clubs to biker rallies, rehab centers, train stations and hookah bars to the more well-known places such as B.B. Kings’, the Whiskey a Go-Go and the Roxy. If you love music and performing as much as we do, all of those places hold the same value: an empty space where we can jam and let our “noise” be heard.

Tessa, Mike and I are three people with very individual tastes in music, so it would be hard to place us under one genre, but our style is a fusion of classic rock with a little bit of blues – the good stuff. We don’t really classify ourselves – we’re just making rock n’ roll.

Mike Huezo, a 19-year-old ex-go-cart racer with a love for “hard-core” fills the guitarist role in our band. Tessa and I had to fire the previous guitarist for “falling in love” with Tessa, or, as she and I would both agree, it was more of the lines of “stalking.” After removing him from the line-up, we went down to Burbank High School and asked the music teacher for the best guitarist he had. It turned out to be Mike. That was two years ago, and since then we’ve been a tight trio with no “falling in love” or “stalking” involved.

Back to that Thursday night rehearsal, after Tessa, Mike and I finished playing “Keep Me Satisfied,” we almost instantly heard a knock at door. Our guest, Brandon Hensley, a Glendale Community College El Vaquero staff writer, had arrived for an interview. Hensley, wearing a sky-blue colored sweater with slightly faded jeans and denim blue sneakers, was there to write a story about the band and the show we had scheduled at The Terrace the following Thursday. His blue eyes gazed around my two-story town home then finally locked on my drum room, aka “The Box”.

I came out of my “Box,” which my dad constructed so that I can practice without too much volume, and then we all sat around the dining room table and the interview began. Before long the four of us were laughing, making Brandon feel like another member of Tessatura.

We were having so much fun that the time flew past. Two hours later Hensley was still interviewing us, and I started to worry about the Mass Communications mid-term I had the next day. But I couldn’t stop him now-he was just getting to ask personal questions, the details that give his story gusto. Then another hour passed, and the fact started to sink in that it was approaching ten o’ clock and I still hadn’t studied for the mid-term. With that in mind, I sped up the interview and in a half-hour I was able to get Brandon out the door.

Another week passed, and it was the day of the show. The band seemed to be on edge; some of it was nerves – it’s been a year since we’ve hit the stage – and of it some of excitement. Hours before the show we squashed in some practice, packed up our gear and were on our way to Pasadena to rock The Terrace.

We got there an hour before we had to go on. Outside the club we talked with some friends and family and soon enough we heard the band before us play their last song – it was show time.

On stage I felt heat of the blue and red lights, and small drops of sweat ran down my face like rain drops on a car window. It was time to shine and to back up my band, all the hard hours of practice and preparation would soon determine how this show would go.

I looked into the crowd and couldn’t see much – mostly indistinguishable figures – but I heard the voices of my closest friends and that put a fire in my belly like nothing else. I felt a rush in my veins and hit those drums as hard as I could; so hard I broke my brand new pair of sticks on the second song.

I inhaled the music and let that make my heart beat. My body was strong yet my drums started give out on me, my bass petal came off and my cymbal fell over, though I kept going and didn’t think about what may happen next. Before I knew it, the music stopped, the crowd was cheering, and I dropped my sticks. The show was over.

After Tessa, Mike and I packed up our instruments, said our hellos, good-byes and were paid our $35, I spoke with Brandon for one last time. I told him – and was later quoted in his article – how everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But I didn’t care much; I had a blast playing up on my little platform placed on the stage and was pleased that the audience did too. Brandon then asked how my mid-term went. Oh yeah, that. I’d find out the next day.

All too early the next morning, I dragged myself to class. I had waited for the test results long enough; it was time to see the damage. And damage it was, 74 percent – ouch, as an honor student, that low score made my stomach sink. But then I remembered jamming with my band and being interviewed by Brandon, the rush I felt the day before swept over me again. I tossed my test into the trash – any sacrifice for the love of rock n’ roll.