secret drum band:: press kit
full bio + album announcement
Secret Drum Band’s Debut album, Dynamics (XRAY Records, August 2017), sees composers Lisa Schonberg, Allan Wilson, and Heather Treadway delving headway into creating living, breathing soundscapes, rich in rhythm and sonic texture. Percussion drives each piece, with guitars, affected vocals, and synthesizers woven into the compositions, often mimicking and responding to sounds found in nature.
“The music is built to represent how sonic components function together both spatially and temporally in specific landscapes. Sound and movement are represented by affected samples and ambient textures, mimicked or abstracted in drum patterns, and represented in tone and mood through instrumentation,” Schonberg explains.
Stylistically Secret Drum Band pull from a unique vantage point, at once percussively No Wave, bombastic, and mesmerizing, drawing allusions from Liquid Liquid, The Creatures, and Crash Worship, and to the composers’ previous groups Explode into Colors and chk chk chk (!!!). Dynamics is a vibrant work of serious intent expertly rendered with a playfully exuberant spark.
Schonberg wrote three of the tracks on Dynamics—Kīpukapuaulu, Polihale/Kīlauea/South Point, and Pepeaio Cabin—in tandem with the work she was doing in Hawaii with the native Hylaeus bees, which she helped get federally listed as endangered species. The remainder of the tracks on the album were written in response to locations in the Mojave Desert and to logging sites in Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon.
A Secret Drum Band performance is transportive, an opportune meditation on the relationships between humans, ecology and music. All pieces are adeptly scored by Schonberg and Wilson, allowing each musician to realize the complex and intricate arrangements in a live setting. Dynamics aptly captures this natural energy, allowing sharp, finely textured details to roar within the thunder of the drums. Subtle percussive tones are meticulously captured, representing a multi-layered ambiance, each call, each noise occupying it’s own niche. "Kīpukapuaulu’s" vibrant polyrhythmic cadences insinuate an endless vortex of bird calls, while the cacophonous tension of "Jazz (Timber Sale)" simultaneously evokes the complexity of the forest flora and the anxiety of approaching logging trucks. “Music is our most publicly effective (and personally healing) vehicle to make statements about environmental issues,” adds Schonberg.
“They’re not simply playing a show, they’re creating an immersive experience that lasts for a moment, then dissolves, creating a hypnotic alternate reality for all who bear witness to it.” —The Oregonian
SDB has performed in various manifestations all over the U.S. West Coast, including Disjecta, The Quiet Music Festival, The Improvisation Summit of Portland, The Henry Gallery, MOCA Tucson, for PMOMA, and at events for Tom Tom Magazine, High Desert Test Sites and ESP TV. Schonberg has played with Tara Jane Oneil, John Niekrasz, Tuneyards, Erase Errata, Mirah, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and commissioned a score for filmmaker Vanessa Renwick. Secret Drum Band will begin touring in summer 2017 in support of Dynamics with drummers Pieter Hilton (Typhoon), Anthony Brisson (Psychomagic), and sound artist Marcus Fischer (12K). Please email email@example.com for booking and press inquiries. Dynamics features performances from Marisa Anderson, Brian Mumford (Dragging an Ox Through Water), Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun), and Jose Medeles (1939 Ensemble).
Secret Drum Band is a percussion and noise ensemble from Portland, OR. Lisa Schonberg started SDB in 2006 in Olympia, WA. Her dreamy yet precise compositions, often based on the soundscapes of specific ecological sites, contrast with the pulsing momentum of pieces co-written with Allan Wilson and Heather Treadway. SDB employs drums, synthesizers, stringed instruments and field recordings to evoke daydreams of bright colors, dynamic movements, and wild places. SDB’s lineup includes Allan Wilson (ex-!!!), Lisa Schonberg (ex-Explode into Colors), Sara Lund (unwound/Nocturnal Habits), Pieter Hilton (Typhoon), Anthony Brisson (Psychomagic), and noise musician Marcus Fischer. DYNAMICS features performances by Heather Treadway (ex-Explode into Colors), Marisa Anderson, Brian Mumford (Dragging an Ox Through Water), Jose Medeles (1939 Ensemble), and Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun/Girls in Trouble). SDB has performed in various manifestations all over the U.S. West Coast, including Disjecta, The Quiet Music Festival, The Improvisation Summit of Portland, The Henry Gallery, MOCA Tucson, for PMOMA, and at events for Tom Tom Magazine, High Desert Test Sites and ESP TV. Schonberg has played with Tara Jane Oneil, John Niekrasz, Tuneyards, Erase Errata, Mirah, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and has commissioned work for filmmaker Vanessa Renwick and a 19-drummer performance in New York City.
past press features
Lisa Schonberg, Ali Clarys, Desert of Hiatus. JANUARY 20, 2016. MAC POGUE. Lisa Schonberg's CV almost reads like a Northwest experimental pop syllabus; her deft rhythms have propelled performances by Tara Jane O'Neil, Explode into Colors, Mirah, the Need, and many others. Blurring the lines between performance artist and performing musician, Schonberg's career carries a consistent through-line of inventive rhythm and collaborative artistry. The Creative Music Guild tapped her to perform as part the Outset Series, a program dedicated to highlighting Portland's improvisational and experimental music scene. Whether or not Schonberg's work will continue in the vein of her Secret Drum Band remains to be seen. Fellow experimental artist Desert of Hiatus will open the night, bringing his longform ambient compositions to the bar/record store Turn! Turn! Turn!
Ground Control: From Mount Hood, Artists' Environmental Impact Statement. JULY 1, 2015.
Psst! Secret Drum Band plans rare live show December 18th at Mississippi Studios. DEC 11, 2014.
Muscle Memory: Drumming & Yoga with Lisa Schonberg. DEC 1, 2014.
WEST HAWAII TODAY
Multimedia Project Puts Focus on Hawaii's Native Bees. JULY 26, 2014.
A bug's life: North Portland musician uses science background to make bee-utiful music. JAN 10, 2014.
SEPT 18, 2014. BY JOSHUA JAMES AMBERSON. Anything Lisa Schonberg touches is gold. More than just a great drummer, she uses drums as compositional tools that have made bands like Explode into Colors and Kickball great. Always in demand, she’s drummed for Mirah, Tune-yards, Tara Jane O’Neil, the Need, and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, just to name a few. But it’s the rare Secret Drum Band performance that brings her into the spotlight. Composing with the space in mind, Schonberg brings together a surprise star-studded cast of five drummers and two noise/tone/sound makers to create an experience unlike any other. Plus: Futuristic costumes by Heather Treadway and live drawing by local artist Leif J. Lee. Tonight’s also the record-release show for local synth-wavers DoublePlusGood’s winning new full-length, a collection of wistfully romantic pop perfectly suited for dancing—either on the dance floor, or alone in front of the mirror.
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
Drummer Destination video. June 5, 2013.
TOM TOM MAGAZINE
Secret Drum Band featured in Issue #9, page 6. 2012.