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Born to drum

Three minutes of percussion glory

Daniel “Mucho” Velasco: keeping the drum solo alive.
Daniel “Mucho” Velasco: keeping the drum solo alive.

This is the 50th anniversary of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by San Diego’s Iron Butterfly. The 17-minute rock opus was known for taking up one entire album side. Its mid-song drum solo helped grease the wheels for the omnipresent drum solos that seemed mandatory at hard rock shows throughout the 70s by ELP, Rush, Santana, the Who, and Led Zeppelin.

But tastes changed. Solo drummer showcases are rare now. But at one recent live metal night at Oceanside’s Pour House, both live bands featured drum solos. Cage, now in its 23rd year of local headbanging, featured a long solo set by veteran drummer Sean Elge. Great Electric Quest, which tours internationally, gave Daniel “Mucho” Velasco his three minutes of percussion glory.

“I could easily play for 20 minutes, but when they only give you 30 or 40 minutes for the whole band set you have to cut it back,” says Velasco.

Velasco, who grew up playing drums in church, never had formal training. “I first saw [Zeppelin’s] John Bonham on DVD when I was 17. I was never the same after that. I thank the universe that I can hear the sound in my head and my arms and legs know what to do. I really think I was born to do this.”

Velasco knows it’s not a particularly fertile time for drum solos. Or musicianship, for that matter. “Rock has had a rough patch lately. Nowadays people want electronic music. They want to dance and get laid. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of appreciation of true musicianship. It’s very sad.... [But] the bands I play in have taken back the idea of a drum solo. I think it’s a crucial part of a rock show.”

Velasco’s thankful that he hooked up with Oceanside-based Great Electric Quest two years ago. The four-piece, metal-committed band booked its own short tour of Canada in April followed by a seven week tour of Europe starting in May. “I work at a print company. If I get a job I tell them if something like a tour comes up, I’m going to leave. I know what the consequences are, that [playing rock] is an uphill battle.

Past Event

The Great Electric Quest and the Bassics

  • Sunday, December 30, 2018, 7 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / Free

The Great Electric Quest appears at the Casbah Sunday, December 30 with the Bassics, the Petty Saints, and the Oxen. It's a free show.

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Daniel “Mucho” Velasco: keeping the drum solo alive.
Daniel “Mucho” Velasco: keeping the drum solo alive.

This is the 50th anniversary of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by San Diego’s Iron Butterfly. The 17-minute rock opus was known for taking up one entire album side. Its mid-song drum solo helped grease the wheels for the omnipresent drum solos that seemed mandatory at hard rock shows throughout the 70s by ELP, Rush, Santana, the Who, and Led Zeppelin.

But tastes changed. Solo drummer showcases are rare now. But at one recent live metal night at Oceanside’s Pour House, both live bands featured drum solos. Cage, now in its 23rd year of local headbanging, featured a long solo set by veteran drummer Sean Elge. Great Electric Quest, which tours internationally, gave Daniel “Mucho” Velasco his three minutes of percussion glory.

“I could easily play for 20 minutes, but when they only give you 30 or 40 minutes for the whole band set you have to cut it back,” says Velasco.

Velasco, who grew up playing drums in church, never had formal training. “I first saw [Zeppelin’s] John Bonham on DVD when I was 17. I was never the same after that. I thank the universe that I can hear the sound in my head and my arms and legs know what to do. I really think I was born to do this.”

Velasco knows it’s not a particularly fertile time for drum solos. Or musicianship, for that matter. “Rock has had a rough patch lately. Nowadays people want electronic music. They want to dance and get laid. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of appreciation of true musicianship. It’s very sad.... [But] the bands I play in have taken back the idea of a drum solo. I think it’s a crucial part of a rock show.”

Velasco’s thankful that he hooked up with Oceanside-based Great Electric Quest two years ago. The four-piece, metal-committed band booked its own short tour of Canada in April followed by a seven week tour of Europe starting in May. “I work at a print company. If I get a job I tell them if something like a tour comes up, I’m going to leave. I know what the consequences are, that [playing rock] is an uphill battle.

Past Event

The Great Electric Quest and the Bassics

  • Sunday, December 30, 2018, 7 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / Free

The Great Electric Quest appears at the Casbah Sunday, December 30 with the Bassics, the Petty Saints, and the Oxen. It's a free show.

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