Doug Klein – An Xperience Interview

Written by on January 10, 2024

Doug Klein – An Xperience Interview, by OP Callaghan.

I feel like I’ve been seeing Doug Klein forever.

As a 17 year old touring Plattsburgh state, I met up with a girl from my hometown, who offered to take me “downtown” for some beers.  I was straightedge, but gladly went along to see the sights.  One of those sights happened to be a band called “Scratch Your Head and Wonder”.  I was into heavier music, but these guys caught my attention with their abilities to keep a groove without falling apart.  Just a few years later after I graduated from Plattsburgh, I saw Doug again with Slipknot at Aiko’s in Saratoga.  I caught a few of his performances with Strange Arrangement, and most recently with Neon Avenue.  Doug’s distinctive “open hand” playing certainly sets him apart from the herd, and his technical abilities further elevate him as a player.  He’s talented, inspiring, and a pretty nice guy, so please welcome Doug Klein!

RRX:  How did you get your start playing drums

DK: I like to blame my late brother Greg for getting me hooked on drums. When I was in 3rd grade I followed Greg into the marching band rehearsal room at school and that was that. (I still own that Ludwig marching snare). When I was in 6th grade, Greg would invite his 9th grade friends over to jam with me in our basement. He thought I was good enough to hang. They would smuggle in some beers in guitar cases, past my parents, and we would proceed to play, over and over again, some really tortured versions of “Apostrophe” by FrankZappa, “Freeway Jam”, by Jeff Beck, and if someone was brave enough, they would attempt to scream some “randomly pitched mouth noises” which were supposed to be the lyrics to “25 or 6 to 4” byChicago.

RRX:  Hah!  That’s a supportive family!  Tell me about your first kit?

DK: I still own my first kit. In 5th grade My parents bought me a used 4 piece set of maple Gretsch from Manny’s in NYC. I guess I hold onto things. I still use them now and then for certain shows. I refinished them myself during quarantine as they were showing the scars of so many gigs over so many years.

RRX:  That’s so cool!  You have an interesting set up now. Tell me how that evolved.

DK: My set up may look a bit strange. I play “open handed”, meaning though I am right handed in regular human life, I ride with my left hand, like Billy Cobham, Simon Phillips, AJ Hall, to name a few. My primary ride cymbal is over my hi-hat on the left, and I sometimes have one in the “correct” spot on the right as well. This year I finally purchased my very first new kit ever, a Tama Starclassic Performer with 2 rack toms, 2 floor toms, I keep one of the floor toms under the

hi-hat, and I have way too many cymbals.

RRX:  Did you take lessons? Who were some of your earliest influences? Who influences you now?

DK: If by early influences you mean raw listening exposure, then TonyWilliams, Lenny White, Billy Cobham, Ginger Baker, Jim Gordon butMostly, it would have to be the drummers who played with Frank Zappa. One of my first concert experiences was in 7th grade, attending a few shows from which the “Zappa, Live in New York” album was recorded. Soooo, watching Terry Bozzio, in nothing but a Speedo,playing “The Black Page” live when you are only in 7th grade can set the wiring of a young drummers brain in some interesting ways.These days, I’m really drawn to the playing of drummers like Adam Deitch, Nate Smith, and an open handed player, AJ Hall, to name a few, all so different but all deep pocket groove masters! That’s the style I enjoy trying to play in the most. I spent 20ish years on and

off playing legit reggae with a friend from Jamaica where my understanding of patience and space within the groove were reinforced. With all that said, I mostly perform the music of the Grateful Dead these days, so I try to channel a bit of the duo of Hart and Kreutzmann in those performances mixed with my attempts at a funky,bouncy, pocket feel. I took lessons in highschool from an older schoolmate, Dave Clive but I wasn’t a very good student. I haven’t had any formal lessons since. I’m mostly self taught and my technique is nothing to brag about so I will NEVER be burdened with the pressures of being the best drummer in the room, Lol! The feedback I get from the incredibly supportive regional community of inspired fellow drummer friends and folks in the musical community is all I need!

RRX:  Tell me about some of your projects over the years.

DK: My first paying gig ever was in 7th grade. A jazz bar near my house gave us a few bucks to play there. I know it looked and sounded like a bunch of toddlers mutilating jazz standards like Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock, and All Blues by Miles Davis. I think the owners got a few laughs out of it. Out of high school I played a few “fusion” gigs on Long Island in clubs like US Blues, and My Fathers Place, in Roslyn. The comedian Bill Maher opened for us at one of them. Nobody liked him. Later in college at Plattsburgh State I started my long career in a style of music that we now refer to as “Jam Band”. My now lifelong friends and I started a band called, Scratch Your Head And Wonder, SYHAW. We played almost monthly at PB Finnan’s, which was the music venue above a bar called The Monopole in Plattsburgh, NY. The venue went on to become a very popular room for live music and still is. After college I toured Long Island for 2 years with a blues band called Steppin’ Out, which was quite lucrative. Next was an early Dead tribute band called Slipknot out of the Albany area. (Not the Metal Band). There were only a few Dead tributes in the Northeast in the mid to late 80’s and we were one of them and were quite successful (with a lowercase “s” ). During this time I was fortunate to play on percussion, a full set with Steve Kimmock and the band ZERO, on two separate occasions, once at Bogies in Albany, (Video on my YouTube @dougklein574) and once in Schenectady.  I also had the opportunity to perform a set with Jorma Kaukonen with the guys in Slipknot at the legendary Aiko’s in Saratoga Springs, just around the time that Phish played there, thanks to club manager and long time friend Larry St.Pierre. Next I had quite a bit of radio play with an original project called Strange Arrangement. We Opened up for The Band twice and shared dressing rooms with Levon, Garth, Rick, and the rest. That band went on to play Woodstock 94, on a separate stage site created by and for Todd Rundgren known at the Todd Pod. Then there’s a legit reggae band I was with on and off for 20ish years, “Robanic” with my dear friend and band leader Aston “Robot” Ellis. I also did many gigs and recordings with Rick Rourke, Matt Smith, and The Stomplistics.  I know I’m forgetting a lot.

RRX:  Do you have a favorite performance, live or recorded? Where can we hear it?

DK: My current project, one that has really challenged me and brings me great pride with a huge dose of fun, is a Grateful Dead tribute known as Neon Avenue. We started with this name and lineup by doing live streams during quarantine and have been growing quite a loyal fan base (friend base) ever since. We don’t play frequently, by design and desire, and in that short time, have been invited in the past 2 years to perform at such festivals as “Wild In The Trees, ’22” Lake George, “Rock The Dock ’23” Lake George, “Rye Bread Music and Arts Fest ’23” , Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, and we headlined at “Rockin’ on the River

’23” in Troy, NY. You can check out our multi-tracked audio, multi-camera videos at YouTube@NeonAvenue

RRX:  Tell me a favorite (or least favorite) gig story.

DK: Ugh, I forgot all my hardware for a gig at the infamous Rhinecliff Hotel, and all my cousins finally came to see me play, only to find me sitting on a lawn chair with just a bass drum and snare.

RRX:  Oh man, that’s awful.  Do you write music? Do you play any other instruments?

DK: I do compose digitally on a music workstation. None of these compositions have been performed with living breathing musicians yet. Some are on my personal channel, YouTube@dougklein574 and some are on my Soundcloud with other music from my past.

RRX:  Where can we see you play?

DK: Neon Avenue plays a few times a year at Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs, The Hollow, in Albany, Unihog in Hoosick Falls, You can follow Neon Avenue on Facebook and YouTube I also play every Monday year round for a few tunes at Family Tree at Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs with a bunch of the best players and singers in the region. It’s a free concert every Monday, 7 to 9There are also some great things happening at 518 Craft and Twisted Fiddler in Troy that I attend on occasion that you don’t want to miss. There is also a blues jam every Thursday at Lawrence Street Tavern in Glens Falls that is quite fun.

RRX:  What do you do when you’re not drumming?

DK: I spend time with my wonderful family. I also see a ton of local and regional acts and artists. I support them and the venues by paying a cover, buying their shirt or CD, and by buying food and beverages. I recently shut the doors of Doug Klein Pottery where I made stuff to sell, (Doug Klein Pottery on Facebook) and taught classes for the past 22 years. I am in the process of turning that space into a personal music space for rehearsal and recording.

RRX:  Wow!  Good for you!   Any advice for the young drummer?

DK: I don’t give advice unless asked but… Play a smaller instrument!  And be a kind and generous person, It’s a lot about relationships, and Have fun!

RRX:  Any New Year’s Resolutions?

DK: No. 😉 and Thank you for this opportunity to share my story.

RRX: Thank you, Doug!


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