Our good friends Kristina and Tom from Mike Mangione and The Union had the chance to sit down and interview Josh Collazo, the drummer from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We’re thrilled that they sat down and did this for us.
Kristina and Tom: How old were you when you first started learning music? What was your first instrument?
Josh: My family is very musical so it has always been a part of my life. When I was 10 years old, my mom and I were at a family friend’s house and I found my stepdad’s old Rogers drum kit in their attic. I guess it was on permanent loan to them but I begged to bring it home. I set it up entirely wrong and began trying to play. When my stepdad got home from work, he showed me a few things and told me to practice for a month. If I did so, he would sign me up for drum lessons. I was totally obsessed (and still am) and haven’t been away from a kit for more than a few days since.
There are two types of influences: those who we’d like to sound like but don’t, and those who we do sound like. Who are some of your biggest musical influences and why? Who do you want to sound like? Who do you actually sound like?
My biggest drumming influences would probably be Ringo, Bonham, Alan White, Dave Grohl (esp. when I first started), Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Art Blakey, Art Taylor, and Roy Haynes. I think all these guys have their own distinct sound in addition to changing the way drummers of their time play the kit. I hope that a little bit of flavor from each comes through in my playing be it playing jazz, rock, etc… I’m not sure who I sound like honestly. I don’t think about that. When it gets down to playing, I try to clear my mind and do my own thing.
If you were unable to do music, what would you do?
This question is impossible for me because I will always play no matter what, even if it’s in my head. Job wise…maybe get back into the screen-printing industry. Who knows.
Who is the best drummer (I know it is a difficult question, but you must pick only one!)?
Changes daily but for the sake of style, stamina, chops, ability to be a chameleon – I’d say buddy rich (today)
What other bands/artists do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of mid 1940s to 1960s jazz. Not a lot of current music for me unfortunately. There is ton of great music out there today but for some reason I find it hard to identify with a lot of it. I appreciate from a far. I do love what mgmt is doing. Rocco Deluca is the shit!
My wife wakes up every morning to the tune of “Man on Fire.” I, however, must set an annoying alarm lest I continue to remain in a dream-like state. Are you a song-alarm person, or an annoying-alarm person? If you wake up to music, what gets you up?
I usually don’t set an alarm when I’m home since my son is up at 7:45 like clockwork. On the road, our tour manager just reaches in my bunk and shakes my leg. Otherwise, I need an annoying alarm noise because because I sleep like the dead.
Different cities create distinctive sonic cultures (or, at times, lack thereof). Further, some cities with scenes begin to be associated with certain genres (i.e. Seattle and Grunge). Moreover, some cities have too much going on musically and otherwise to allow for single-genre fame (e.g. Chicago and New York). How does LA fit into these categories? Is there a scene? Perhaps it has multiple scenes?
LA has so many music scenes. You have the Sunset Strip rock scene, Silverlake/Echo Park scene, downtown LA scene, traditional jazz scene, modern jazz scene, the musicians institute scene (haha), the singer/songwriter endless showcase scene, it goes on and on. It’s great though!!
How has LA shaped you musically?
Well I grew up here so it’s tough to say but I think musically I’ve grown to be very flexible with sounds and styles so that I can sit in with different cats.
You came up in the big band/jazz world. Has this helped or hindered you in your current position with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (hereafter: ESMZ)?
It has always helped in my opinion.
You have a pretty extensive touring schedule with ESMZ and yet still find time to play jazz and swing gigs. Do you tour with any other groups or is this something you do mainly when you’re home?
I do a bit of touring with other jazz bands but the last few years it has been pretty tough because something is always coming up. That’s why when it’s “true” time off from ESMZ touring, I try and do as much jazz and swing as possible.
You have played with groups in a variety of genres – from jazz to blues, punk, electro-rock, and folk-psychedelia. If you were somehow forced to remain in only one genre, which would you pick?
Ofttimes bands are lumped into a certain genre/category by fans and critics. How is ESMZ categorized and do you agree with this designation?
I think the biggest categorization we get is a hippy folk band. This is fine. It’s true to an extent but if you really listen to the albums and even more so live – you will find that our sound is much more expansive than that. No clipped wings with this band.
Tina and I had the great privilege to meet your wife and son when we saw you play in Milwaukee over the summer. How often do they get to join you on tour?
If we are out for a considerable time, they usually come out for 2 weeks and then hang at home for 2 weeks. Makes the touring so much easier especially now that we have a son.
When not touring, what do you like to do (hobbies, rituals, etc.)?
Music is pretty consuming for me. Other than that, I’m definitely a homebody and would rather hang at home with the fam. My buddy Adam and I are pretty damn good at Mario Kart. I do love drawing, snowboarding, and obviously long walks on the beach;)
What are some items you cannot tour without?
Hmm…lately it has been a small midi keyboard so that I can work on charts when I get back to the bus or hotel. Other than the standard cell phone, clothes, and toiletries – I’m pretty chill and don’t need much.
What are your favorite cities to play in and why? Any favorite venues?
New York is my favorite city to play for sure. Favorite venue was probably the circus tent we used for the Edward Sharpe Big Top a few weeks back.
How has your life changed since playing with ESMZ – in the time between your first few shows, to now travelling the world and playing bigger venues?
My life has definitely changed in a way that I could afford to buy our first house this year. I’m also afforded the chance to play music with my friends year round and focus wholly on something that I really love.
Big thanks to Kristina Priceman and Tom Mangione for all their help with this!