Haley Allen started playing drums at age nine. As alumnus of the Hollywood School of Rock, she says Kevin Fig (drummer for Extreme and Perry Farrell) showed her the ropes. Allen, now 22, says she favors the John Bonham approach.
The Carlsbad resident has performed at venues such as the House of Blues and L.A.’s Viper Room. Current local bands include Sister Venus and Deverb, and she’s performed with the Good Bites band from L.A. and the Chris Leyva Band. Her goal? To earn a living playing music.
“My favorite thing to do in my spare time is to head down to the Kraken on Sunday nights in Cardiff and sit in with the Blues Brokers. They’re a band of seasoned older local musicians who play the style of music that’s in my blood. I love playing with them.”
Haley Allen performs at the Alley in Carlsbad on Thursday, April 21.
Five drummers that rule the world?
1) Steve Jordan
2) J.J. Johnson
3) Chris Layton
4) Steve Gorman
5) Taylor Hawkins
No women on your list?
“Cindy Blackman is a close tie with Taylor Hawkins. If I had a list of ten favorite drummers, she would be the only girl on the list.”
No Neil Peart?
“I respect what he’s done and how talented he is. But I would say that our styles are very different. He plays with ten cymbals, while I get by just fine with two.”
I saw a Cream video in which Ginger Baker is hitting every single one of his (many) drums.
“He’s an incredible drummer. We have different styles, but we both share a passion for blues rock.”
Did you notice more female drummers after Meg White made it big in the White Stripes?
“No, I haven’t, and that puzzles me. I’d expect there would be more of us by now.”
Are you generally the only woman in an all-guy band?
Musicianship or image?
“I lean more toward musicianship, but this is the entertainment business, so I consider it a package deal.”
“A package deal”?
“Image is important in this industry. You need to have chops, but you also have to look good doing it.”
Historically, many female rockers have taken that notion to an extreme.
“To each her own. But you won’t see me playing in five-inch heels and a miniskirt.”
It would be difficult to dress like that and play drums...
“I have to admit, I have played in a short skirt before, and it was quite challenging.”
The best compliment you’ve received after a gig?
“I was given a 100-dollar tip one night by a couple who told me that I had a bright future and to keep playing. The following week I got a 2-dollar tip at the same club, so everything was back to normal.”
Martini or a tall malt liquor?
“I don’t drink alcohol. That’s definitely something that people are surprised to find out about me.”
You’ve mentioned John Bonham. Any other mentors?
“A lot of drummers have inspired me, but [local drummer] Brian ‘Nucci’ Cantrell is my drum teacher and main mentor.”
In the final analysis, how has being a woman affected your music career?
“It probably has helped me get my foot in a few doors, but at the end of the day, if I wasn’t a solid drummer, they wouldn’t keep me around.” ■