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Todd Sucherman – Last Flight Home


Todd Sucherman is in that elite class of drumming royalty. Routinely ranked in the top five on almost every drummers poll, often taking ownership of the top spot, Sucherman is the drummer’s drummer. He’s versatile, disciplined, and professional -- traits that have landed him gigs with some of the most respected artists in the industry. His main gig as the drummer for classic rock band Styx has him on the road consistently playing more than 100 dates a year. Having seen Todd play dozens (and dozens) of times and witnessed his precise yet animalistic drum attack, I was anxious to hear what he might do with his own solo record. I knew the sonic possibilities were endless, but what I heard when I started spinning Last Flight Home was something I never expected. 

The most important thing to know here is that Todd performs the vocals on the record. I say that this is important to know because the vocals are the central focus here. The drums on these songs aren’t flashy and loud, and these songs are not the rock songs you might expect. The songs are more of the Adult Contemporary flavor, and the drums are played to compliment those flavors – a kind of table salt, if you will. Having recently done a progressive fusion record with bass virtuoso Antoine Fafard, his drumming was like a circus act. Every complex and acrobatic trick in the book was concentrated into that project. It was a drum clinic put to song, and it was incredible. This is not that, but it is beautiful and elegant in a whole different way.



I think the best introduction to this record comes by way of the song “It’s Perfection.” This is a song that highlights Sucherman’s earthy and organic voice, and shows his patience and love for “the song.” It’s obvious that this song is about melody and instrumental patience and precision. The voice is what drives this song, and the instrumentation makes the song rise and fall appropriately. In many ways, this type of temperance and patience is more difficult to pull off than the most complex jazz or prog stuff. So much of this record sits comfortably in this snug musical pocket. The steady style and mood that runs through this music is consistent and warm. The most raucous song on the record is called “The Damage” and it still doesn’t step outside of the white picket fence that Sucherman has erected here. “Kindling” is probably as gentle as it gets, and it sits comfortably on the wraparound porch of its historical colonial home. “Kindling” takes me back to Peter Gabriel’s So album. Sucherman takes that stark white canvas and gently paints his simple and natural tone in specific, calculated places. It’s the negative space and the notes that aren’t played that make it all work, and this is musical composition in its barest form. Something else to note inside these songs is the beauty of the bass lines and the piano and string parts. They are all subtly unobtrusive, yet eloquent and vitally important to the sound of this record. The album hints at a few influences while it keeps its front yard finely manicured. We get a Beatlesque psychedelia with “Sacred Book Of Favorite Days,” and a Pink Floyd-ish atmosphere with “Ad Lib Everything,” and even a more modern Radiohead-like slant with “She’s Red Velvet,” but none of these songs ever stray from the path that’s carved for them.

I was honestly thrown back and slightly disappointed when I first heard these songs. My headspace wasn’t right. I took these songs as a challenge. I listened to it again, and still couldn’t find the right space. It wasn’t until about the fifth time through that I started to find that comfortable space. That house with the big wraparound porch and the finely manicured yard was suddenly in focus. And, what I’ve come to find since is that I can’t get back to that house without these songs. There’s only one set of songs that live in that beautiful home, and they go by the name of Last Flight Home. I would challenge you to visit that house. It may not be easy to find, but when you get there you’ll feel its warm and welcoming embrace.


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BONUS INTERVIEW


Todd Sucherman is often heralded as one of the best drummers in the world. Taking the top spot numerous times in Modern Drummer magazine's Reader's Poll, he is a champion among those "in the know."

In this interview, Todd takes time to talk about his very first solo release, Last Flight Home. He discusses the details of the record and the parts of his career leading up to it. Listen to Todd tell the story of his most challenging session, and here the latest news on the forthcoming Styx album! 

Click the play button below to listen!!!


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