Local drummer Ricardo Lagomasino joins DC rockers Deleted Scenes
The first thing that greets visitors to Ricardo Lagomasino’s website at the moment is a video of the Philly-based drummer unleashing a blistering solo against the endless, empty expanse of Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. The five-minute clip begins with howling wind before Lagomasino’s percussive explosions begin, and the whole experience conveys something of a post-apocalyptic, last-drum-solo-on-Earth vibe.
“I had wanted to visit the Salt Flats for a long time and to hear what drums sounded like in a vast, totally flat space,” Lagomasino says. “There was nothing for the sound to bounce off of, so it sounded pure. It sounded like what a drum would sound like not being in any space at all. It was crazy. I’ve never heard my kit sound like that before. It was a windy day, but I think the interaction between the drums and the wind actually works really well. It’s one of my favorite parts about it.”
The backdrop may be more picturesque than most of the settings in which Lagomasino finds himself playing, but the idea of taking his drums into unusual contexts is nothing new. At home in Philly, he’s best known these days as the drummer for the intense, ferocious prog-jazz-punk power trio Many Arms, but recently he joined the eccentric D.C. indie rock band Deleted Scenes, which will end the east coast leg of its latest tour on Friday, May 23rd at Boot & Saddle.
There was almost no Deleted Scenes for Lagomasino to be part of. As frontman Dan Scheuerman has detailed in interviews, the band had reached a low point just as Park the Van Records came calling. After seven years and two records the band was tired of touring and barely on speaking terms, with things coming to a head at a band meeting over breakfast at Denny’s. They regrouped minus a drummer and decided to record their third CD, Lithium Burn, with Brian McTear and Jonathan Low in Philly using a session player. They approached both Eric Slick of Dr. Dog and Chris Powell of Man Man and Icy Demons, neither of whom could make the sessions – but both of whom recommended Lagomasino.
“I felt really welcomed,” says Lagomasino of joining the band. “They had a lot of songs written already, so I stepped into almost a complete picture. But they wanted me to start fresh and come in with new ideas, so all of the drum parts on the record are my creations. As far as the climate of the band, everything seemed to click. I felt like the missing piece.”
A native of Wanamassa, New Jersey, near Asbury Park, Lagomasino started playing drums in the 5th grade and went on to study jazz at the New School in NYC, Rutgers, and Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. He was mentored by jazz notables including Joe Chambers, Ralph Peterson and Billy Hart, though he rarely flexes his straightahead jazz muscles these days. He joined an Oberlin-to-Philly exodus after graduating in 2006 that included Capillary Action founder Jonathan Pfeffer, with whom he was playing at the time.
Lagomasino quickly established himself on the local experimental music scene, playing with saxophonist David Fishkin, a fellow Oberlin alum, and forming Many Arms with guitarist Nick Millevoi and bassist Johnny DeBlase, while also co-founding the progressive indie-pop band The Sea Around Us. Many Arms (after a few name changes) became a prime focus; recently they’ve concentrated on collaborating with other musicians, releasing Suspended Definition with saxophonist Colin Fisher on John Zorn’s Tzadik label last month, and planning a release with Japanese no-input mixing board artist Toshimaru Nakamura for later this year.
As opposed to the complex, hyperspastic freak-outs of Many Arms, Lagomasino’s playing in Deleted Scenes is sparse and coloristic, adding to the skewed melancholy that characterizes Lithium Burn. But that change of scenery is what appealed to the drummer. “It provides balance in my professional career,” he says. “It was something that I hadn’t really done at the level that they’re doing it, so once I had the opportunity it was definitely something I wanted to pursue. I really like playing with this band and I really like playing with Many Arms, but doing just one or the other might seem a little bit off kilter. This keeps all my creative outlets in check.”