A Splendid Talk with... Dru Jacey | First Contact

Live at Silence, Guelph, ON - 01/26/2019 - Photo: Scope Overseer Photogenics

Artist: Dru Jacey

Location: Newmarket, ON, Canada

Peanut Gallery: Sound

Splendid Affiliates: The Sentinel's Marvellous Kaleidoscope


We have come to know each other extremely well, bonding over the past few months together! Can you summarize a tale of how we first got connected?

A tale… a tale… Well, I reached out to you last year looking for some air time on your radio show, The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope (SMK), and I ended up getting a co-host position! Not a bad deal, I’d say! Hahah It’s been great getting to know you since then. You’re very passionate about the show and about music, so, it’s been a pleasure helping you out!

How have you liked being a co-host on The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope at CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph? In my opinion, the SMK is much more interesting now with respect to the talk segments!

It’s been terrible… a real bummer! A burden, I say! Ha… no… that’s not true at all! I’ve really enjoyed myself this far; always having Mondays to look forward to, learning about new / old bands and artists… building more confidence with my voice and speaking out about things I deem important. I can be rather bashful when it comes to speaking my mind, singing songs I’ve poured my heart into… so, the program has helped me quite a bit in a few ways.

CFRU is a fantastic community of people and listeners far and wide… I can’t imagine having turned down the opportunity to work with and amongst such awesome, accepting and forward thinking people! Just had to plug that ;)

What can you tell us about your musical journey throughout your life? In particular, what has drawn you to progressive music in general? You like prog, don’t you? You would not have joined me on a proggy radio show if you did not like it, I’m guessing… Music? Never heard of it. Nah… twice now, I’ve jested! Look at me go… Hmm... Musical journey… it’s been quite the journey, that’s for sure! My earliest memory of music was… living with my parents in Stayner… my younger brother, I don’t think, was even born yet; my parents put me in the back seat to go for a drive; clear as day, I can see / hear Sheryl Crow’s “A change would do you good” coming on the radio… and I started singing along with the chorus (as well as a 3 year old could…). My parents both looked back at me from between the front seats and laughed. Second, I can remember living on my grandparents’ old farm in Pottageville after my parents split up… I was about 4… I stayed on the farm with my dad for a couple of years, not that I disliked my mom, I just didn’t see my dad much because he had flown out to Germany for work twice in the 4 years I had been born… a kid wants his daddy, you know? I ended up moving back with my mom later on… because a kid will also miss their mommy… as most kids are wont to do… BUT, I can vividly remember being in the basement of that farm house, playing, and my dad was cooking dinner upstairs or something… he’s a huge The Smiths fan, so he had a record on… I can still hear / picture...

“...I am the son… and the heir...of a shyness that is criminally vulgar… I am son and heir… of nothing in particular…”

...through the floorboards… “How soon is now?” is still one of my favourite songs.

Growing up with my grandparents for a bit also had influence on my musical tastes. They always had Foxy 88.5 “The Jewel” playing in the kitchen… either that or CBC radio… so… I have grown to absolutely ADORE oldies like Glenn Miller’s orchestra, The Rat Pack… Billie Holiday… Edith Piaf … that crew… also… classical… I love classical music. Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky… these genres and artists / composers all have a huge place in my heart / mind. I’m very fond of them. Moving back in with my mom and stepfather also had a big influence on my musical tastes… Jazz… world music… namely Indian / Turkish music… I looove it all. My mom always had some very snazzy, eclectic music being played while working from home, cooking, cleaning.. Etc… To answer the last part of your question, re: me liking Progressive music and how I got into it… My step dad always had some cool stuff playing… like… Rush, he was / is a huge Rush fan… I HATED them when I first heard them… something about long, nauseating car rides and Geddy’s shrill vocal style… I always got car sick… but… my step dad has a pretty good taste in music. Just to clarify, also- I’m a fan of Rush… haha… I’d say around the age of 12, my friend and classmate Keegan showed me Tool. Now, THAT was a game changer… Keegan and I had to do a school project on an artist / band… review a song, do a write up, whatever… Although I slacked big time, and made Keegan do the brunt of the project himself (Sorry, Keegan), I will never forget hearing “Schism” for the first time… I actually believe it was material off of the Aenima album that he showed me first… anyway… even though Maynard James Keenan laughs when his fans geek out and think he’s some musical prophet, Tool was exactly that for me. For years to come, Tool was on heavy repeat.

How did you come attracted to the dulcet tones of the bass guitar? Who has influenced your bass techniques and musical styles? You have a great combination of effect pedals that work well in your live performance.

Live at Silence, Guelph, ON - 01/26/2019 - Photo: Scope Overseer Photogenics

My love for the low end frequency generating apparatus called the bass was definitely a slow evolution. This is kind of scary to think, but… I was listening to Slipknot, Korn, Limpbizket, this old band called Project Wyze (where the hell are those dudes now? Hello, 2001! ), when I was about seven or eight years old!!! Oh, the internet and friends’ cool older brothers with their collection of CD’s labelled “Explicit Content” … what an exciting thing, to sneak those home and listen to them on low volume… Anyway… I was just about that age, eight... My older sister’s boyfriend at the time showed me how to play the bass line from Rage Against The Machine’s “Know your enemy” on guitar because I pestered him so much. Again, some choice music for a young kid, eh? I then bugged my dad to buy me an acoustic guitar for Christmas one year; I barely put it down. Man, it was such a hunk of second hand crap… but, it was my second hand hunk of crap! I was still so excited that my dad got it for me. It had two stickers on the face of the body… a “K” and a “D” … rainbow coloured letters…. Random… but it meant something to someone at some point… After mashing that thing for a while, I asked my mom and stepdad to buy me an electric guitar… they did the wise thing and bought me a starter kit from Radio Shack or something… you never know what kids will pick up and put down two seconds later.... So, I played the crap out of that thing for quite a few years…

But… shortly after getting that electric was when I first put my hands on a bass guitar. It was grade 5 music class at Regency Acres Public School in Aurora… Mr. Moore was my music teacher… A great teacher… thick, black eyebrows and contrasting, wild and snow white hair. Very eccentric, encouraging dude… After playing guitar for a little while, I tended to gravitate towards the bass lines of songs… so, I tried out the black Ibanez SG sitting in the corner. It was massive in my hands. I gave trumpet to my friend, enough of this, I thought; I want to try THIS BEAST. Sitting there with the class, everyone had “Hot Cross Buns” or something elementary on their music stands… Mr. Moore raised his baton, motioned for everyone to start… I just sat there and felt this thing in my hands. The class stops. He corrects a few people, then looks to me and says “Ok, so.. You start on ‘E’... just play an open E. I remember thinking… “open….. E? Open? E? uh…” and he comes over, plucks the fattest string on the bass and says “This is open E...Ok, class! Again” and walks back to his stand. I still didn’t get it… I promptly changed back to trumpet a couple of classes later.

It wasn’t until I got to grade 9 that my friend Shane wanted to start a ska band. He was a wicked guitar player, even from a young age… shredding some really advanced stuff… I said I knew how to play guitar and he said he wanted to play guitar, and that we needed a bass player. He asked if I knew how to play bass. I bluffed and said “Yeah, man!”. I knew bass lines, so I could play bass, for sure!....right? Ha… so, here we are, talking on our allotted time on MSN after dinner before our parents kicked us off for the night, and he jokingly says “Learn some of this stuff! “ What did he link me? Fucking PRIMUS. This guy thought he was SO funny. He sent me a link to “Lacquer Head” … not Les Claypool’s most imaginative, complex bass line- but… WOW. I remember getting goosebumps and almost crying because of how NEW and exciting and masterful this playing was… WHAT IS THIS GUY DOING TO HIS BASS?! Like… I’d been listening to Flea from RHCP and Fieldy from Korn and Justin Chancellor from Tool...but…. Les Claypool…. His playing and works changed. My. Life. As I’m sure he’s done for MANY other bassists. That guy is not from this planet. That’s not true, he’s from California… I freaked and geeked and watched that video over and over and over and over again, telling Shane that there was NO fucking way I could do that (especially after that short but speedy slap solo in the song), but I was SURE AS HELL going to save my money from working in a dish pit at an Italian restaurant, and buy my first bass! I was going to become a bass player. I knew it right then and there, in the office of my parents’ house. I knew I had to go all out and figure out how to whomp a bass as good, if not BETTER than Les Claypool- my new found hero.

So… Shane sent me a bunch of other links to Primus songs… “Tommy The Cat”… “Jerry Was A Racecar Driver”… “John The Fisherman”… to name a few… I was instantly hooked. Hopelessly addicted. I got the paycheque that allowed me to go to the hock shop down the street from my high school on Young Street, and there it was. A kind of Fender jazz bass rip-off by Typhoon. It was black with a crazy, marbled red and black pickguard. It came with a little 10w practice amp. $150.00. I bought it on the spot. I didn’t even play it in the store for more than a minute. I could afford it, so, it was mine!! I brought it home and, like our great Canadian patriot hero, Bryan Adams*** wrote: “...played it ‘til my fingers bled…” I did just that. Played it until my cuticles ripped and bled all over the strings… until I couldn’t bare the sting of playing any longer. Trying that signature claypool flamenco style rake-strum technique… and the slaps and pops… God... I wore holes in my fingers immediately… trying such advanced stuff right out of the gate… I did get quite mad a number of times…. Throwing tantrums and whipping my baby across the room if I couldn’t get a technique or part of a song… I ended up trying to play with a pick, too… I remember the first song I learned FULLY on bass was Megadeth’s “Take No Prisoners”. But… I kept up with the fingerstyle… it was much more of a pleasing kinetic experience. My next couple paycheques went RIGHT to buying strings, picks, a strap… I took a trip to HMV in the mall and bought EVERY Primus CD they had on the shelf… just about 60 dollars worth… I forget which ones I got first… but, as I was being cashed out, I placed an order for the rest of their discography. The cashier was pretty amused. I ended up spending just over $100 on Primus CD’s, I believe. But.. I was the happiest kid. The rest is history, or something like that. ***Denotes me being facetious. Technique influences are Les Claypool, of course… Victor Wooten… Stanley Clarke… Stu Hamm… even guitar players such as Kaki King, she’s amazing… more recently, the last 8 years or so, I’ve been REALLY into Animals As Leaders, a three piece jazzy-djent band fronted by a brilliant man named Tosin Abasi. He does things to an 8 string guitar that makes guitar players AND bass players look bad. He has really done both instruments justice with his writing and playing style. I have more influences, but… these are the more significant ones.

Pedals, actually, are rather new to me! I always just liked playing straight up bass. I bugged my dad to buy me a Boss compression sustainer when I was a teenager… just because I knew that’s how Claypool got his really clean, burpy tone… that, and using a lot of neck pickup. Over the last couple of years, because I’ve decided to go solo and see what I can do by myself, I ended up acquiring (at different times) a pitch shifter / octave pedal, digital delay, a cathedral stereo reverb, a tiny looper pedal (I’m looking into getting a bigger looping rig) and most recently, a cool little bit-crusher pedal for some crunchy, 8-bit sounds from time to time. It’s a bit of a novelty pedal, that- but it seems to work really well for a few things! There’s a big ass answer for you… ha… I present, my novella! And, hey, thanks for that compliment! Glad you dig what all of this nonsense creates in a live setting! It’s ever-changing and ephemeral… never thought I’d be going solo, let alone using a pedal set-up!

You are the operations coordinator of a Guelph venue called Silence. Could you tell us about what Silence is and what you do as its operations coordinator? Correct! Silence is a not-for-profit arts organization here in Guelph. One of a kind.

We curate visual art monthly through a curation committee, as well as host live sound events regularly. The sound events, like the visual art, range from experimental noise and spoken word to folk music! Jazz to metal… and everything in between! I love this space so much. The people who worked here before me, and the people who work here now, have done so much for me. Without Silence, I don’t think I would have gone through so much growth in the past couple of years. I am eternally grateful for this space, and the minds and hands that helped dream and build it.