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Brian Walsby's Top 5 Favorite Punk Drummers

7 December 2021

Playing Favorites is a new interview series. Musicians, filmmakers, comedians or other creative types pick a topic and tell us their Top 5 favorite things about it.

Brian Walsby is an artist, cartoonist and drummer who got his start in the vibrant punk fanzine culture of the ‘80s. Over the decades, he has contributed artwork (and interviews) to many legendary zines including Maximumrocknroll, Flipside, The Hitlist and Razorcake. Starting with Scared Straight, he has played drums with bands like Wwax, Snake Nation and Polvo. Walsby has also published several books of his artwork in the Manchild series. His latest book, Self Empunishment, is a collection of interviews with “self-reliant, self-employed, and otherwise self-motivated musicians, technicians, and artists.”



(Disclosure: Walsby created the cover artwork for my next book, Forbidden Beat: Perspectives on Punk Drumming.)


PLAYING FAVORITES: BRIAN WALSBY’S TOP 5 PUNK DRUMMERS

5. Robo
The Colombian-born Robo had his own style which consisted of three hi hat hits in tandem with every crack of his snare drum. This was the Black Flag sound. It’s a shuffle that he alone created, and it was super influential. It wasn’t punk or even hardcore, it was just Robo. The Robo style is harder than one might think when they first hear it. You try it!

4. Bill Stevenson
His performance on Milo Goes To College, the first Descendents album alone was a fully formed and precise drumming style, and at a really young age. I think he was nineteen when they did that. I loved his style when he was in Black Flag as well. Like Robo, he has always been a huge influence on punk drummers. Bill is maybe my biggest influence as a drummer.

3. Spit Stix
A brilliant drummer. He plays weird stuff and is pretty fearless. If there was ever an album that could use re-mixing, it’s the first Fear album, but Stix and his drumming genius shines through. He could really play, and snuck in these little things that made you go “what was that?”

2. Reed Mullin
The late Corrosion Of Conformity co-founder and his Clive Burr-influenced drumming made him the next guy after Stevenson as far as amazing drummers. He also had a huge red Tama kit in those early days and he played every bit of it. Everyone from Dave Grohl to Dale Crover certainly noticed how good he was too. RIP.

1. George Hurley
The tight almost jazzy approach of George was a HUGE influence on me. Sort of like Bill Stevenson, George played drums like they were parts of the song, an equal contribution. That was a big deal to me. Everything he played on as a member of the Minutemen, up until and including Double Nickels On The Dime is all incredible. A great, great drummer.

Previously on Playing Favorites:
Jim Ruland’s Top 5 Favorite Punk Books
Frank Turner’s Top 5 Favorite Venues
Jenn Alva’s Top 5 Favorite Punk Singers