Yardbirds’ Drummer Has Not Changed His Approach To Music
In the early to late 1960s one could hear his drumming on radio waves across the world.
Co-founder Jim McCarty provided the backbeat for Yardbirds songs like “Heart Full Of Soul,” “For Your Love,” “Shapes of Things,” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
McCarty explained how those songs have kept their longevity for more than five decades. “Some music still sounds fresh after many years and other music doesn’t for some reason. I think The Yardbirds music still sounds fresh. I’m also going by what fans and music critics tell me. I’d like to agree with that assessment. I know we worked hard back in the day to create the music we created. It was a very exciting time for me. I still think the band’s music holds up well today.”
He reformed the band in 2003, and continues to make music with members, guitarist Godfrey Townshend, bassist Kenny Aaronson, singer-harpist-percussionist Myke Savonne, and lead singer-guitarist John Idan. McCarty’s songwriting approach has not really changed. “I usually go into a mode where I get my brain warmed up, as I like to call it. I have lots of ideas about music going on in my head all the time. I go into kind of a lock-down mode where I start to write about the ideas in my head. I get inspiration from all sorts of places, especially when I’m out and about in the world and also anytime I’m in nature somewhere. I love the outdoors. I find chords in music that are interesting and I just write and build on top of that. My lyrics come from what I’d call deeper thoughts inside myself.”
McCarty is a fan of different genres of music, but doesn’t draw on any specific genre for inspiration. “I have very eclectic taste. I listen to classical, blues, and jazz a lot. I really just listen to music for the love of it, and not really for any inspiration. But I do listen to lots of music for pleasure,” McCarty noted.
Since his beginnings in the early 60s, McCarty has seen a lot of changes in the industry where instead of using tape and real instruments to record, a songwriter can press a button and have a computer virtually record and play any instrument. Being a true musician, McCarty has not changed his style of drumming.
“I don’t think technology has had much effect on drumming. You can do looping and samples with drums which can be interesting. But whether it’s better or worse, I can’t really say. I still drum the way I started out back in the 60s. I don’t use drum machines or anything like that. I don’t particularly like that sort of thing. I prefer to make music the old-fashioned way,” he said.
He said touring with a well-known band has its moments, but the rewarding part is playing in front of people who appreciate the music. ” It’s hard work but it’s enjoyable. I definitely still love doing what I do. We love to play in front of energetic crowds that appreciate our music, the drummer said.
And even though the original members, guitarist Chris Dreja, guitarist Jimmy Page, guitarist Eric Clapton, and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith are no longer in the band, McCarty tries to keep in touch with them when he can. “Yes, I keep in touch with rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and with Jimmy Page. Jimmy wrote the foreward to my autobiography, ‘Nobody Told Me,’ which came out last year. I haven’t spoken to Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton in quite a while,” McCarty added.
The Yardbirds will make a tour stop Saturday in Warren, Pa., at Struthers Library Theatre, 302 W. Third Ave. Showtime is 8 p.m. For tickets, contact 814-723-7231 or visit strutherslibrarytheatre.org.