Dave Kerman

Destined to become one of the strongest rock drummers of the '80s and '90s and the new millennium, Dave Kerman started playing with the drum sticks when he was six years old. Although he failed a percussion audition for the school band when he was nine, Keith Godchaux, a family friend and keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, saw Kerman's potential and encouraged his parents to buy him a set of drums. When he was ten, he joined with Chuck Turner (future 5uu's member) for his first public performance: an unexpected, improvised, and bizarre drum solo in Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." His lack of conformity had sprouted and became a strong influence in his musical training. During marching practice of the school band, he managed to bribe others into doing the opposite of the drum major's commands, and the percussion section would end up together in the local donut shop. During high school, Kerman formed a garage band with Turner and Greg Conway (also a future 5uu's), playing hard rock with a mixture of Deep Purple, King Crimson, and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Kerman's delight in the unconventional took root, and he surrounded his drum set with items such as a telescoping metal tubing that changed pitch, much like a trombone would; he created it from old-style fire extinguishers. Another creation bashed a bucket of marbles into a cinder block when he hit the bass drum pedal; and he strung a bass drum shell with 30 heavy-gauge strings, producing an un-tuned zither affect. In 1976, the group played the Greenpeace Festival in San Diego, where it was not a smash, but the band became influenced by the German band Faust and the English Henry Cow. For several years, Kerman investigated the compositional and musical theory concepts of progressive rock, wanting to explore how far and which way it could go, always being open to the more radical influences. By 1980, Kerman and friends had formed 5uu's, with the moniker coming from an L.A. street gang's graffiti; which provided free publicity. Under the wing of Curt Wilson, a local pop singer, the group began a two-year recording process in 1984, with Kerman being the main foundation and energy for the project. Their first record was Bel Marduk & Tiamat, tagged "a wonder" for a first album. A contact with Chris Cutler of Recommended Records led to a recorded track, "Compromisation," in the label's magazine that promoted the work of the Rock in Opposition bands. The California Outside Music Association, consisting of local musicians promoting the more radical sounds which were developing, arranged for 5uu's first concert at the Branch Office Bar (1986) in Torance, CA, and the band's first radio broadcast on KXLU. 5uu's, under Kerman's wing and determination, continued to play strong and radically for over two decades. The lineup of the band changed somewhat over the years, but always consisted of reputable avant-rock players. Starting with rock & roll and fusion that melted into a form of guerilla-rock, Kerman pushed his musical talents to new limits and moved on into the outer fringes of progressive rock. His talents expanded from drums into guitar, keyboards, songwriting, composing, arranging, and producing. In 1988, Kerman joined with James Grigsby, the brains behind Motor Totemist Guild, to form U:Totem. Sanjay Kumar (from 5uu's), Emily Hay (from Motor Totemist Guild; vocals and flute), and Eric Johnson (bassoon; who had played with both groups), joined them, and the group performed both in America and abroad, doing many festivals. Cuneiform Records released two albums for the group: U:Totem in 1992, and Strange Attractors in 1995. Although the group never officially disbanded, the members moved on, in 1994, into new horizons, but remained friends. In 1994, Roger Trigaux, guitarist and composer for Present, asked Kerman to replace Daniel Denis, who was leaving. Delighted to be working with the Belgium musicians who had played with UZ, Kremer accepted. Beginning in 1994, Present, with Roger Trigaux, Reginald Trigaux (Roger's son), Guy Segers, and others, toured Europe and America, and also played a French festival with Gong, in addition to recording three studio albums and one live one. With a rock-oriented, dark feel, the group continued on into the 2000s. Magically enough, Kremer also managed to work for ten years with Thinking Plague, a band out of Denver that produced a sound different from any other progressive band in the Midwest, resembling more of the European stock. While each member was also actively engaged in his own group, Thinking Plague managed to tour America, play a festival in Philadelphia and in France, several concerts in Italy, and record one album. Where Kerman developed and learned the most musically was with Blast, an avant-garde band from Holland. The group aimed at intriguing compositional skills mixed with high energy. It demanded new technical and conceptual viewpoints that forced him to expand musically. During 1996, when Kremer was with the group, it toured both the U.S. and Europe, played a Victoriaville Festival, plus recorded one album. On Crisis in Clay, recorded with 5uu's and released in 1997 to rave reviews, Kerman produced many complex, crazy drum patterns. Three years later, Cuneiform released Regarding Purgatories. Although released with 5uu's, Kerman wrote all the music, and with overdubbing, performed the drums, keyboards, guitars, vocals, and noise effects. In 2002, Cuneiform released Abandonship, on which Kerman once again used overdubbing to play all the parts, except for Deborah Perry on the vocals. Kerman rightfully gained an excellent international reputation as a composer and drummer, and remains in the forefront of contemporary Rock in Opposition-inspired progressive rock. ~ Eleanor Ditzel

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