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The Suburbanite
  • Rowdy, noisy antics are rocker Andy Powder’s forte

  • Andy Powder talks about his life and music

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    I’ll not forget my first exposure to Andy Powder & the Drips a few First Fridays ago at Buzzbin.
     
    Loud. Wild. Crazy.
     
    Powder, looking sharp in skintight red pants and sports jacket, howled and growled psychobilly-style into the microphone, unleashed flights of freewheeling guitar psychedelia a la Hendrix. Seemingly possessed by the demon urge of rock ’n’ roll, he tossed himself to the floor where he rolled around and — at set’s end — crawled headfirst into the drum kit, knocking things over.
     
    It was unquestionably a performance. 
     
    My funniest memory of the show is seeing an older woman, who looked like she’d wandered into Buzzbin by accident, seated in front of the band, scowling, her fingers jammed into her ears, but not leaving.
     
    Based in Kent, Powder and his bassist Taylor Harrington and drummer Kyle Clemenz will be back for more First Friday rock ’n’ roll chaos tonight. They will take the Buzzbin stage at 8:30 p.m.
     
    Powder, 26, talked about his life and music in a recent interview. 
     
    “I started playing guitar when I was 9 years old,” he said. “I had this schizophrenic neighbor who taught me scales. He was super into music theory. I was borrowing this Fender but I didn’t have an amp or anything. I just played. I never took any normal lessons.” 
     
    Later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Kent State University, learning classical guitar in the process.
     
    As for his feedback-laden guitar attack, Powder said, “I love that squealing thing. I just love Jimi Hendrix, and I like a lot of free-jazz stuff like John Coltrane. I’m into Dali and surrealism, too.”
     
    With a previous band called Tape Toons, Powder spent three days in Chicago in the summer of 2011 recording with producer Steve Albini, whose credits include Nirvana, the Pixies and the Stooges. “We would record live and quick,” he said. “It cost three grand, which included getting it mastered. You spend the night there.”
     
    Formed about four months ago, Andy and the Drips have 14 original songs, 10 of which the guys recently recorded for a future album. To these ears, the band is reminiscent of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Cramps and the White Stripes.
     
    “I write the music and the riffs, and I bring bring it to the other guys and they pretty much react to it,” said Powder, whose real last name is Bittaker. “Kyle’s been playing drums since he was 10 years old. He’s going to recording school. Taylor’s been playing bass since he was 10, and he has a sculpture degree.”
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    A highlight of the band’s shows is an inspired, galloping cover of Bob Dylan’s “Outlaw Blues.” They also play Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” “We’ll cover any style of song,” he said. “Just gotta make sure our style comes through it.”
     
    Powder’s cleancut, boy-next-door appearance and his unhinged music don’t seem to match. “I might look cleancut, but I was in jail last week,” he said. “Nothing real bad, just public intoxication. I think jail was good for me.”