Take a good look at percussionist Cochrane McMillan when he plays – it’s something that bears attention. All focused intensity, he moves with streamlined power, clearly on the trail of something, hunting down the right rhythms in pieces with a tenacity and controlled strength that pulls one in. As compelling as each element of Tea Leaf Green can be, McMillan sometimes, sans solos and showiness, snatches one’s focus in a way that’s hard to shake once it takes hold – the notion of a whisper being louder than a scream filled out by his skillful limbs.
The most recent addition to TLG, McMillan has become a wonderful foil for longtime drummer Scott Rager, whose swing and enveloping motion have long fueled these SF-based modern rockers. While two stickmen going at it simultaneously can frequently be a muddle, this pairing intertwines in a way that only thickens and elevates Tea Leaf’s low end, which is completed by bass beast Reed Mathis (check out Reed’s Hey Shredder entry here). To hear McMillan with Tea Leaf is to hear an already eloquent rock combo speak with a cool new accent. His sharp ears and tasteful playing pick up on hitherto unheard spaces in their catalogue, and TLG has produced their best work since his arrival, a presence felt in the muscular of their most recent studio album, Radio Tragedy! Bopping between his kit, a tambourine and myriad other percussion tools, McMillan is nuance personified, the raised eyebrow and the smile hiding in the corner of the mouth inside this music, expression given form through his empathetic playing.
Here’s what Cochrane had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.
- Favorite part of a standard trap drum kit – bass drum, floor tom, snare drum, tom-toms or cymbals?
- Hmmm, this is kinda a tough question. I feel like being asked which child I love the most. Okay, I’ll go with the bass drum, only because four on the floor always dances.
- Tastiest drummer ever? Tastiest drummer today?
- Ever: Hal Blaine. Today: Andrew Barr /dd>
- A drum solo I never get tired of listening to is…
- Most Elvin Jones (famously of the classic 60s John Coltrane Quartet) solos
- Preferred brand of drums? Why?
- For me, DW. There are many a great vintage and current drums that I love, but the DW drums are versatile as shit.
- John Bonham, Art Blakey or Charlie Watts – which one gives you the biggest drum boner? What makes them SO sweet?
- Bonham is a drum boner, as you say. Bonham made thick rock grooves that were hammers that swung like giant swings – just as much juice as could be compounded into rock drumming, swagger and power.
- One lesser known drummer folks should check out is…
- Ezra Lipp (Huckle, Sean Hayes
- What aspect of being a drummer always makes you happy?
- The really basic aspect of hitting things in rhythm or not. I love that it’s so primal, while being emotionally complex. Kinda of a marriage of man and women really, complicated yet simple.