The Mad Drummer is coming from the Republic of South Africa, making it the first artist on our Progstravaganza compilation series coming from this country. It is an one-man project by Mandisi Nkomo, fusing different genres. Following his appearance on Progstravaganza XV: Ascension, Mandisi answered the Progstravaganza Questionnaire.
How did you come to do what you do?
I took up drums and guitar when I was in school and played on and off. I got more serious about drums in university, and started playing in a bunch of bands. After deciding I wanted to be able to write my own music, and not just rhythmically interpret other people’s pieces, I ended up doing some arranging and music theory courses through Berklee Online, and caught the writing bug.
At the time I was in 3 bands, and didn’t really have the time (or will) to start another band from scratch, so I started experimenting with other means of getting the music out, and stumbled onto all the insane software available. Sort of just ran with it after that. And I like writing (as in fiction), so I decided to make up ‘The Mad Drummer’ character too, for absolutely no good reason.
What is your first musical memory?
Getting stuck after school at one of my sister’s piano lessons.
What does progress in music represent to you?
Getting better on your instrument/s of choice. Getting a better understanding of the instruments around you. Writing epic 20 minute songs. If you’re talking about the actual progress of music, as its own entity, then I have no idea. Probably more drum solos…
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere – literally everywhere.
What message does the song on our latest Progstravaganza compilation carry?
Well the actual music of the song means whatever you want it to mean. That’s the great thing about no lyrics. Semi-empty canvas, paint your image in the framework.
Regarding the song title, there’s an indie rap duo called Atmosphere from Minnesota in the US. They’re one of my favourite artists.
Anyway, the lyricist, Slug, had an ongoing character in their earlier albums called Lucy. However, she wasn’t really a character per se more a personification of personal vices and generally depressing stuff about the world. So the title ‘Please Don’t Haunt Me Lucy’ is basically a plead not to be haunted or stalked such things.
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
Not exactly. Just notate the little pieces that come to me, and shove the pieces together at some point. I tend to think in rhythm though, and figure out harmony afterwards. So a lot of the time I build a piece from some rhythm I notated as drums, and a harmonic drone with one note (usually middle C haha) then work from there.
What is your method of songwriting?
I think I basically answered that above with the rhythm thing. That’s the most consistent. Other than that, there really isn’t one. Just guitar and keyboard fiddling, or mucking about with notes and chords in a notation program. Notation software is a godsend!
How do you see your music evolving?
In terms of composition, I’m still having fun experimenting with what I can make up on my own. Evolution will probably come when I go through the long and arduous task of putting a band together for shows. That may affect the writing process, but more importantly it opens up whole crazy doors for solos and improvisation on stage.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
None really. I don’t think there’s really any one way to do it, so I think instinct and context are what you should pay attention to. Just do what makes sense to you, given your situation. Unless it’s been verified that you have no sense, in which case, do what other people tell you to do.
What are you looking forward to?
Getting on stage at some point, definitely.
The Mad Drummer on the web: