How Banyan just sort of happened

April 08, 1999|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

The way Stephen Perkins describes it, Banyan sprang from a very simple concept. There were guys the former Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros drummer wanted to play with, so he invited them over to jam.

It hardly mattered whether they were rockers, like Flea and John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or jazzmen, like bassist Rob Wasserman. Perkins just wanted to play, so he invited people over, and eventually they cut an album.

"We did it in the backyard of my house," he says of "Anytime at All," Banyan's debut album. "It was like, 'Come back over to the house, and let's just try some stuff.'

"It was quite cool, like we were spontaneously combusting together, meeting and exploding. We only had one-day sessions. It was really quite different than what I used to do with Jane's and Porno, where we would sketch a song in a garage for, like, two months."

Part of the reason Perkins and his Banyanites were able to get so much done so fast was that they would start by simply recording some jam sessions. "We would just go off for a while, then listen back to what we did, and maybe grab an idea or two [from that] and stitch 'em together," he says, describing how a typical session came together. "We'd have lunch, and then go for it again.

"It was cool, just to see how everybody came together."

Indeed, "Anytime at All" is a fascinating sonic stew, drawing upon everything from hip-hop to klezmer music without ever settling on a single, specific style.

"I guess in a sense it's a jazz record, because we all got a chance to solo and say something, and it's not really centered around vocals," he says. But he's less interested in labels than in looking at how getting different combinations of players together affects his playing -- and theirs.

"When I play with Flea, my bass drum is quite simple, because he plays a lot of notes," Perkins says. "But when I'm playing with someone like [Mike] Watt, who phrases things differently every time you play it, it gives me a lot of room to play around with the bass drum. Everyone's got their own style.

"That was important to me when making the record," he adds. "As a drummer, I want everybody's personality to come up. . . . I just wanted them to be themselves, just go for it."

Naturally, the touring version of Banyan is a bit better defined than the album incarnation. In addition to Perkins, the road band includes Wasserman on bass, Ross Rice on keyboards, Clint Wagner on guitar, Willie Waldman on trumpet and Dave Aron on clarinet. But Perkins stresses that he hopes to assemble different lineups for future tours.

"Everyone's got their own little career going," he says. "So if someone's busy, I happen to know a few other [players] that are pretty cool. I'm really open to the idea of having these options."

Banyan

When: Tonight at 9

Where: Recher Theatre,

512 York Road, Towson

Tickets: $14

Call: 410-481-6500 for tickets,

410-337-7210 for information

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