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How Saving The Bees Helped Inform Lisa Schonberg’s Secret Drum Band

Secret Drum Band

Photo by Marcus Fischer.

Percussionist Lisa Schonberg is passionate about two things: music and environmentalism. The Staten Island native started playing drums as a child, and eventually moved to the West Coast in 2000 to study ants and conservation biology. She earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In 2006, Schonberg founded the Secret Drum Band, a percussion quintet that specializes in noise rock.

Having spent time fighting for the local bee population to be placed on the endangered species list, the musician used that experience as creative fuel for the band’s debut album, Dynamics. The record is avant-garde in a sense, yet the beauty of it comes down to Schonberg, who’s able to transform vast arrangements into something immersive and palatable.

Dynamics plays out like an extended chase scene, with rumbling tom drums and crackling snares. As Schonberg points out, Dynamics also takes inspiration from Mt. Hood and the Mojave Desert, two places that inform the band’s sense of grandeur. We spoke with Schonberg to discuss the history of Secret Drum Band, the intersection of conservation and music, and the joys of orchestrating a five-person drum ensemble.

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