The Bad Plus: The Difference Between Jazz & Rock Bands

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Wednesday May 01, 2013

From SF Weekly

The Bad Plus’ Dave King on How Touring in a Jazz Band Is Different From Touring in a Rock Band
By: Casey Burchby

The Bad Plus visits the Bay Area on a regular basis, and we are grateful for this. As drummer Dave King told us in a recent conversation, that feeling is mutual. “San Francisco is one of the cities we’ve felt huge support from over the years,” he says.

As one third of the Bad Plus, King anchors many of this hard-driving experimental jazz trio’s tunes with a ferocity and physicality that’s heard plainly on the group’s recordings, but is even more evident live. It is largely because of King’s contribution that the Bad Plus is often characterized as a jazz trio with a rock edge; the group also boasts the lyrical, harmonically complex piano work of Ethan Iverson and graceful, inspired bass of Reid Anderson. The trio operates in a truly co-equal fashion, with each member sharing in composition duties. Live, the communication of the unit is palpable as it establishes three things in parallel: restless innovation, musical sophistication, and an enormous sense of fun. King recently spoke with us by phone prior to the Bad Plus’ performances at Yoshi’s Oakland, today (Tuesday, April 30) through Thursday, May 2.

When did you start playing music? And did you start on the drums, or on something else?
I started playing piano when I was five. I got pretty heavily into piano until I was 10. I still play piano, and I studied it for much longer than that. I started playing the drums in a school band in fifth grade. I have several brothers, and we all started out on an instrument, but I was really bitten by it early. I continue to use piano as a compositional tool, of course — I think it’s a wise thing to do if you’re going to play any instrument. I think you’re overtly more musical when you really get your piano chops together, no matter what you end up playing.

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