Joe Rickard

Joe RickardIf you had to apply a descriptor to Joe Rickard’s drumming, it might be this: He’s not quick, he’s sudden.

Voted one of the Up & Coming Drummers and one of the Rizing Stars of the past few years, live, the timekeeper for veteran aggro-rock band RED looks to be a dervish, all limbs and hair and tats providing yet another visual element to the group’s innovative sonics. But when you look and listen closer, you find the precision and passion of a man dedicated to his instrument and the pursuit of its sometimes elusive excellence.

Encounter Joe Rickard off the stage, and you’re probably going to run into someone who’s either just come from practicing or studying or writing, or is on his way there now. He’s that into it.  “I love watching really good drummers and trying to figure out what they do,” Joe continues. “I also spend a lot of time recording, writing and working on parts. Being consistent every show is what I strive for.”  So the studied suddenness that shows up at every RED show isn’t new; it’s the hallmark of the young musician’s career, one that started from his earliest days behind the kit.

“I asked for a drum kit for Christmas when I was 13, and a month later, I was playing in church,” Joe remembers. “I was absolutely hooked; obsessed, even.”  That kind of quick decisiveness carried over into Joe’s first ongoing professional gig, at the age of 17. “I heard about a band out in Phoenix called Sky Harbor, and saw on their website their drummer had left and they were taking audition tapes,” Rickard says. “I went down to my church, made an audition video, mailed it off, and they called as soon as they watched it.”

“I drove 19 hours from Houston to Phoenix, tried out, they offered me the gig, and I was on the road with them for a year.”

Thus was Rickard’s professional cycle for the latter part of his teens: find out about an opening, throw the drums and clothes in a car, travel from Houston to an audition (once in Tulsa, Okla. w/ Mourning September, and another time in Fayetteville, Ark. with The Wedding), wow the band, get the gig and be out on the road for a year or so before the opportunity dissolved.

It was on one of those tours criss-crossing the country that Rickard met Hayden Lamb, the then-drummer for RED and someone in whom Rickard found a kindred spirit. When Joe found himself sans gig, Hayden called up with an offer to hit the road as RED’s drum tech, and after teching for a short period of time, a late 2007 van accident forced Lamb to leave the band, and Joe stepped into the slot with Hayden’s blessing.

Performing and recording with the now-four piece Grammy Nominated RED (with vocalist Michael Barnes, guitarist Anthony Armstrong and bassist Randy Armstrong), Joe has had the opportunity to play some of his dream shows like The Conan OʼBrien Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and very importantly has found a creative freedom that goes far beyond being “just the drummer.” Heʼs digging deeper and deeper into song writing as a whole. “It makes me push myself to make something creative. Our song process is very beat driven, it usually starts with me tracking a song idea by myself thatʼs only drums, then [Anthony] writes to what I send him.”

“It’s so weird, though, because you can’t be too crazy, because you can’t write the next step to something too crazy,” he continues. “Which makes it more difficult to be creative as a drummer. I try to come up with stuff that’s pretty simple, so we can write over it. Iʼm all about whatʼs best for the song. A drummers job is simple, keep time, anything else should only help the song.”

So while the suddenness of Joe Rickard’s musical life plays out on a daily basis, he’s adamant he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’d do the same thing all over again,” he says. “I love drums, itʼs what I enjoy the most. Didn’t finish high school, stopped when I was a junior just to go on tour. It was a hard decision at the time, but I am so thankful to be doing what I love to do and working with amazing people. God has been so good to me.”

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