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Ahead of new EP, Courtesy Tier’s drummer discusses influential trios

Courtesy Tier

They’ve lived all over the world — specifically, Israel, West Africa, New Jersey and Florida — so it makes sense for the members of the New York-based band Courtesy Tier to also have musical influences that are all over the proverbial map.

Among them are well-known trios that in one way or another inspired singer-guitarist Omer Leibovitz, drummer Layton Weedeman and bassist Alex Picca. And according to Weedeman, some of the work by those three-member acts directly influenced the songs on Little Rock, the new Courtesy Tier EP, due Nov. 6. (The band will celebrate the EP’s release with a Nov. 3 show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn, N.Y.)

 Band of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix backed by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles)
Layton Weedeman: “I have always been a fan of Jimi Hendrix, even before I started playing the drums. I remember as a kid, some friends of mine turned me on to ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and ‘Hey Joe,’ and I was blown away by what I heard. … It wasn’t until I was a little older that I got turned onto Band of Gypsys, [Hendrix’s 1970 live album with Cox and Miles]. At this point, I had already been playing drums for about five years and was familiar with blues rhythms, rock styles, funk and R&B, but had never heard such an incredible culmination of all of these styles before: It was the heaviest music I had heard outside of heavy metal.

“Years later, when I met Omer [in 2001] and formed Courtesy Tier, we always went back to the Band of Gypsys record as a source for inspiration and as a reference to ‘good rock’ music. … ‘Childish Blues’ is almost a direct result of the Band of Gypsys influence.”

• The Police (Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland)
My first drum teacher was a Stewart Copeland fan. … [Copeland’s] drumming style became a point of study for me in the early days of playing, and it served as an introduction to punk and reggae music. I loved how hard Copeland hit the drums and how precise his playing was, not to mention how he arranged his parts. How he keeps a steady rim-click pattern on the drums and only hits the snare twice on ‘Walking on the Moon’ freaked me out the first time I heard it. This same type of approach inspired my part on ‘Green.’ ”

• Nirvana (Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl)
Weedeman: “One trio that was a big influence on me that I discovered on my own was Nirvana. … [I remembering watching] a live taping of Nirvana’s ‘Drain You’ on MTV, and that was when I realized I wanted to be a drummer. Immediately after watching, I went upstairs to my bedroom and started piecing together a make-shift drum set composed of empty shoe boxes as tom-toms, wooden dowels from my mother’s sewing kit for drumsticks, and the copper base stand of a globe that I unscrewed and used as a crash cymbal. I was 13 years old, and up until this point, I had only listened to music as a fan.

“The heavy drumming and cymbal smashing on ‘Little Rock’ is a reminder of those early grunge and alternative rock records I used to listen to as a kid that sparked my interest in being a musician.”

— As told to Chris M. Junior

Courtesy Tier, from left to right: Omer Leibovitz, Layton Weedeman and Alex Picca.

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