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Updated on March 27, 2011

Up & Coming Jazz Blues Drummer Talks Music!

Up & Coming Jazz Blues MARK CHRISTOPHER BAND Drummer Talks Music! Steven Patrick Roybal Drummer for Mark Christopher Band What made you get into music seriously?

"Well, in elementary school I was offered to learn to play the clarinet, so I became part of that group. I won my first music scholarship when I was 10 years old with Capitol Records. I still played clarinet all through school, but I also started playing the drums when I turned 12. At that time it was the Beatles and the whole rock thing came to town, not many spots in rock for clarinet players. At that time I loved the music of Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, they turned drums into a solo instrument, and it was exiciting when I saw the drummers taking on solos. It was exciting to me to see, feel and experience that."

Steve Roybal has been inlfuenced by classical music, but why? "I was a clarinet player player and that's what we played. I playing in the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. Because of my exposure to that, it supplied me with a foundation in music. I'm a musician, I just don't bang on the drums, I read music, that 's where my classical music training comes in handy. I can relate to other musicians because of my classical music background," says the experienced and seasoned musician.

"Being a musician, not just a drummer, I have an understanding of music, to be part of something like a 100 peice orchastra, it's very gratifiying to be part of something I love and am passionate about," he says honestly and with energy. But most classically trained musicians can be compared with learning to speak and write Latin. which is the root of all a languages. As a metaphor for classical music being the "Latin language" of music; it's the universal language, you can go anywhere in the world and it is the same, except maybe the Orient or Arabic, but as Steven Roybal stated, "it is very basic. I can go anywhere in the World and fit right in became I read music and I have a great foundation." Keep in mind that with music even in the Orient and Arabian countries it's whole and beautiful and understandable.

What drew you to music?

"I was involved in sports when I was a kid but I wanted to express myself better so I thought music would be the thing, and I was always the quiet one in any group or social situation, so I let my music do my speaking. I learned classical music and played the clarinet in that large musical setting which allowed me to have a greater understanding of how music works. There is nothing as gratifying than doing my music in front of people. First of all, I am an entertaining musician and secondly, it is my job to entertain on stage," he says.

Steve further observes, "When you work with the big music acts and play venues at places like, The Music Center, The Greek Theater, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and The Hollywood Bowl, but doing it when I was ten years old, I became totally immersed and involved in it. I knew what I wanted to do at a very young age. Nothing moves me like music, music makes us cry and laugh, But the weird thing is that my parents never played music. My dad had an extensive record album collection, so in a way my parents influenced me by making the music available to me in the albums. I was into the music scene before the Beatles hit America. I was into R&B, like James Brown, all the Latin and jazz music going around during that era."

What was or is your favorite instrument, even if you can't play it, and why, and how could it be used with Mark Christopher Band?

"My favorite instrument is the human voice, Because that was probably the very first forms of music, even before the drums!"

As for Mark Christopher Band where Steve RoyBal plays drums/percussions: We are an instrumental band. There is plenty of room for the right vocalist, and I can sing backgrounds. Even though I cannot sing great, the voice is my favoritie if I had my choice of what I'd like to have.

Are you happy with the name Marck Christopher Band & Why? Did you have other names in mind for band?

The experienced drummer says that the name is a means of identifying. "I'm happy with Mark Christopher Band. We are a good band. We had to decide on a name, that's the leader's name," he admits. There's definitely no ego there, and that's a plus for Mark Christopher Band because this drummer is splitting his time and has to be focused on many projects. This writer feels Steve Roybal drummer extraordinary, has a good grip on his sticks for sure!

Any other bands you have been in?

"I've been doing this all my life almost, so I lost track. Here's a few big names: The Midnighters, The Coasters, The Drifters (drummer), The Intruders (oldie but goody band), Junior Walker and The All Stars, Ike Cole (brother of Nat King Cole) Natalie Cole's uncle, I played with Ike Cole when he had a little Jazz trio in 1972. It was my first experience being in a working Jazz band and at that time I was starting to be the drummer for a lot of 'well knowns'.

Cannibal and the Headhunters. Land of 1,000 Dances. I was with them for 2 years or so, then I moved on. Once I got a great deal working for "Don Sugarcane Harris", electric blues, Don and Dewey 'That's Why I'm Living Up To You'. He and his brother wrote that. Surgercane toured with Zappa. Papa John Creach. Freddie Fender. Kid Frost, and the Latin Alliance. I was the drummer for all those bands at one time or another."

"Oh, and a really popular band called WAR where I was their drummer/percussionist in 1994 when they toured and headlined, but there was a lot of other bands I was in as well. I remember playing drums for a band called Redbone.and even REDBONE came out with 'Come On And Get Your Love.'

I was also with 'The Friends Of Distinction that was discovered by Jim Brown the football player, and I got to work with the them. and as well as the legendary Blues player Lil Milton, who wrote "The Blues Is Alright!' he wrote that. That's when I got to see Europe because I went on tour with him to Europe and Switzerland, then landed in Vegas. We had gigs all up and down The Mississippi River and the Chitland Circuit too. Also I went on tour to Canada and Japan with a band called Hiroko (before the big earthuake) She can be compared to the Japanese version of Madonna," rattles off Roybal!

How did you up with Mark Christopher Band, and how long have you been in?

"I met Mark Christopher Band when I was playing drums for Redbone. And Mark Christopher Band were big fans of our group, so they started inviting me to parties and jam sessions and that is how we all became buddies," he said easily.

Right Steve is doing music projects as a drummer with other working bands doing some recording. And how does Scott work with so many bands? In his explanation: "Two are strictly recording contracts, and the other two are Mark Christopher and I gig with another live band!" So how does he balance it all? The drummer said that, "so far it has not been a problem, it's been good."

As far as support, where does he get it? Well, mostly from my family, the whole family, even my kids are a big support to me. My children are entertainers as well. My oldest boy is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He contributed to the whole Hip hop movement thing. The rapping, the dancing, the songs, the whole thing. He's in the Smithsonian Institute as well for the same reason: For his contribution to Urban Culture. His name is Zulu Gremlin, Google it."

What is your favorite aspect of a gig?

The drummer took no hesitation in saying, "When that curtain opens, and when you know you are and can do a great performance and people appreciate you! But the money is fine too, that's my favorite aspect of it too."

Is the drug for you, the music, the band group thing, or the final frontier of the record deal, or even the money end? What is it for you?

Originally it was the music, but ya' gotta' pay the bills you know. So the money figures in. Things are not the same in the old days when the club owners would actually pay for the band for the entertainment, but now everything is showcasing, and we have to put out money. You don't know how hard this is for me, I've been a professional musician for most of my life and I always got paid very well in the past, And now the way the music industry has changed, it's hard to make a living as a professional musician because they want you to work for free! No pay. I don't think it's the bands job to bring the crowd in. I'm a musician, not a promoter.

I remember how it used to be you would go to the music club and have a good time and hear some good bands. So now that most bands on the norm play for free, it is ruining it for the rest of the groups like me out there, because those mediocre bands are willing to work for free, the club owners are wiling to pay them nothing. And that means we don't usually get paid either. In other words, it's set a low ceiling on the issue of making money in the clubs playing in a working band. It's simple, if the club owners have 5 free bands, that fills up two nights of free music, and more revenue for the club, so the only way Mark Christopher Band seems to sometimes have to play is to basically play for free. "That's why it is so hard for drummers like Scott. As he puts it, "It's like taking a couple of steps backwards for me because I've already paid my dues."

What do you family think of your music career choice and do they figure in to it?

He got thoughtful for a moment then answered, "They've been behind me since the very beginning . Before my kids were even of school age, I took them all on tour with me. My kids learned geography from reading road maps, (laughs)! They know the name of every capital in the USA because I was there doing gigs and on the road with them. We traveled by bus, car, airplane, train, you name it, all modes!"

IN CLOSING the Drummer Knows the Future and IS READY TO ACCEPT IT!

Steven Roybal, drummer/Percussionist is an an enertainer and a first rate musician. "But I see myself as an educator down the road," he says of his future. "I can see myself one day being a music teacher," the expert drummer confided. "Or maybe start a retirement home for musicians and artists. I can see myself getting involved in something like that," says the able musician. "That's the future I see for myself," but for now he forges ahead and plays the music circuit, still loving what he does. The future looks bright. So check out Mark Christopher Band, and keep your eyes peeled on Steve Roybel the drummer, he's bound to be standing at the pinnacle of his career in the blink of an eye. Check out your local listings on the Internet, just Google MARK CHRISTOPHER BAND or Steve Roybal and see.


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