If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about Joe Barna, it’s that he’s driven. It’s all in the eyes, especially when he’s behind a drum kit backing up his band Sketches of Influence. I’ve described Barna as a combination of Tony Williams and Animal from “The Muppet Show,” mainly because when Barna’s eyes get Animal-big, you know something highly explosive is about to happen.
That said, how does a drummer whose unofficial motto used to be “This kit goes to 11” put together a disc like “Blowin’ it Out” – with no drum solos?
“Confidence and maturity,” he told me as we sat in the café at Borders in Clifton Park. “I don’t need people to stare at me any more. I don’t have to take my anger out on my musicians any more. The drums are there to create texture and feel. They’re not there to be heard unless someone’s playing something. I wrote it all, what more can I do? I’m a composer, not a drummer.”
It’s kind of a shocking statement coming from someone as closely-associated with a single instrument as Barna is. And the seriousness in his statements definitely belies his past image as someone who was as much about clowning on stage as he was about playing the gig.