April , 2001
By Stephen Raphael

Scott Amendola has never been satisfied to just be an amazing drummer. The thirty-one-year-old innovator has spent his career pushing music in new directions, never more so than with the eponymously named band he leads.

Since moving to San Francisco in 1992, Amendola has been nominated for a Grammy with the band T.J. Kirk, toured the world and played on national television with the Charlie Hunter Quarter, and recorded or performed with dozens of musicians, such as Bill Frisell, Pat Martino, Phil Lesh, and Primus.

But the effort that's the closest to Amendola's heart is his namesake band. His first effort as a bandleader, Amendola composes and arranges all the music to fit his sax/violin/guitar/bass/drums unit to a tee. "I just try to write what I hear. Hopefully it will sound like me," he says.

One thing for certain, the music doesn't sound quite like anything else, though Amendola cites everything from eccentric jazz to mainstream rock to African music influences.

But what allows a sense of continuity across songs is the phenomenal interaction of five distinct musical voices. He has complete mastery of every piece of his drumset and the ability to create a plethora of sounds using sticks, brushes, mallets, and even his hands. "For me it's all about improvisation and opening up the music so that anything can happen," says the husky-voiced drummer.

Rather than simply echoing one another, each musician challenges and complements his cohorts. At any time, a member of the band might change key, rhythm, or even tempo if it suits their fancy. Sometimes, a musician drops out midtune, leaving the other four a new scenario.

And even during the awkward moments, Amendola cherishes the right of every musician to fully express him or herself. For Amendola, music is something sacred that demands complete honesty and individuality. "Everybody gets to be themselves in the music," he says. "That's the only thing I know how to do anymore."



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