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Caroline-up© Interview with Ralph Nader
By Caroline Simpson Timmerberg
Don’t be thrown off by the name, because this is a completely different kind of Ralph Nader! This is a young, gifted, dedicated, disciplined and explosive performer, who’s just starting to make his way in the music biz, thanks to the Drum Line Corp called, “Cold Steel”, and thanks to one of Germany’s premiere musical artists, Peter Fox of ‘Seeed’. Ralph Nader will be generously enhancing Seeed’s summer festival tour, not only with quaking and mammoth drum beats, but also with his dazzling stage presence and neon accessories that are way schway! Plus, he’s just an incredibly nice and lovely young man. Read on... Caroline-up: Hi Ralph! Let’s start with a little history of your own musical background. Ralph Nader: To be brief, I started drumming in an after school marching band (Jackie Robinson Steppers) in Brooklyn, NY that ranged from ages 7 -18 at the age of 7. Within that program, I was in two movies, ("Our Song" and Disney's "Enchanted") and was also a part of two NBA drum lines, (NY Sticks and NJ Nets Drum Line). I received a $10,000 a year music scholarship from Hampton University and toured/competed around the U.S. with a drum and bugle corps (The Concord Blue Devils) during my college years. After college I was a high school drum line instructor and soon was offered a position at Disneyland to drum and perform for guests.
C: Give me a little background about Cold Steel and how you became a part of its line-up. RN: Cold Steel is actually a drum line organization from a university that Harvey Thompson teaches at North Carolina A&T. I always wanted to be a part of Cold Steel, but didn't get accepted to the school due to the limit of accepting out-of-state applicants. Cold Steel travels and performs all over the East Coast of the States. Since I grew up watching Cold Steel, I had picked up on their music and choreography. I've been best friends with Harvey since I was 10 and with Harvey holding the Director's position of Cold Steel, he was able to give me the opportunity to ﬁnally perform with the group. It was a true blessing! C: You and some of the other Cold Steel members Keon Galloway and Justin Campbell - live in different places in the US - how do you get together to work on new beats and material? RN: With us living in different locations we're able to use Skype to visually see each other and show ideas, music and choreography. We're all able to pick up on music and dances fast so we can makeup routines right on the spot.
“It seems like it's frowned upon to live a happy life nowadays, so I'm big on sharing happiness!”
C: So, how did you ﬁrst get interested in drums, and do you play any other instruments? RN: I was always interested in music from a young age. My father was a DJ and I always watched over his shoulder and helped him pick songs to mix. But, I grew up in a bad neighborhood and my mother didn't want me to be around the negative inﬂuences so she threw me in the after-school marching band and that started my drumming career. I did take a few piano and guitar classes, but at that age I was more intrigued by the drums. I do wish I would've stuck to the other instruments though, haha! C: How did you get involved with (German Dancehall/ Reggae Band) Seeed’s 2012 - 2013 Tour and is this the ﬁrst tour of such magnitude for you? RN: I thank Harvey for granting me the amazing opportunity to perform with him and Seeed. It was my ﬁrst time performing with that type of magnitude. It was the best experience of my life! C: Was this your ﬁrst time in Europe or Germany, and what did that feel like for you? Also what is it like working with Peter Fox, Frank Dellé and Demba Nabé?
“Sometimes we have to take a step away from something to understand and see things clearly.”
RN: In June of 2012, Harvey and I ran a rhythmic and choreography clinic for a diverse a cappella group (One World Project) for one week in Munich, Germany. That was my ﬁrst time in Europe and I was fascinated by the culture. Also in September, Harvey included me with Cold Steel to perform with them at the Ghent Festival in Belgium. He recorded their practice session in N. Carolina and sent it to me. I learned a 20-minute show from watching the video. It was so much fun working with Peter Fox, Frank Dellé and Demba Nabé! I loved the chemistry they had and their approach to get work done. They all gel well together and add their own style to the overall product. C: You were back home in California from March until early May; in fact, you should be landing in Germany right about the time I ﬁnish typing this sentence! You’re then scheduled to spend a few months touring Germany. How are you prepping for the next big leg of the Seeed tour and what are your personal methods to stay grounded despite the extreme pace and pressure of Seeed's gigantic shows? RN: We're already in Germany and have had plenty of rehearsals, so we're not stressed about anything. We're just thinking of visual effects we can add to the show, but we're more excited than anything else! We arranged everything in the States so that it'll be smooth sailing when we're gone. We admire Seeed's ability to be extremely humbled and down to earth (cool) so we mirror their attitudes. C: How would you, yourself, describe Seeed’s very giant, very unique sound? RN: Seeed's sound is absolutely original. Each song grabs your attention and you have to move some part of your body to it. Their music keeps me in good vibes. I'm able to be a performer, as well as a fan of them.
C: Did being so far away from the USA open your mind to any new thought or musical processes? RN: I love to learn about people, cultures, foods, areas and history. Having the opportunity to travel outside the United States has deﬁnitely broadened my knowledge on all those factors and also developed me as an individual. Sometimes we have to take a step away from something to understand and see things clearly. C: How do you come up with new drum lines and riffs? Do you have to go after the ideas or do they come after you? RN: My drum riffs are all inﬂuenced by mood. I listen to all kinds of music of different feels and tempos and arrange my drumming around it. At ﬁrst I'll play around with some ideas, build from that, write them out, then record them. C: What do you think might be different with this next leg of the Seeed tour - the festival tour - compared to the one you all just ﬁnished in March? RN: There will be more artists and bands around that'll also impact the crowd sizes. I look forward to this upcoming tour because it'll allow me to sit with other artists on a mutual level and learn from them. C: Ralph, you radiate such happiness and positivity and - especially on Facebook - you are constantly encouraging and inspiring others. How do you envision the future in this weird and wild world? RN: There's a lot going on in the world today. So much, that people tend to forget the little things that makes them happy. From experience, the world can stress you to death and make you feel hopeless and worthless. I'm just trying to give that sense of hope and supply simple guidelines to follow that'll make living a little more enjoyable. It seems like it's frowned upon to live a happy life nowadays, so I'm big on sharing happiness!
Links: https://www.youtube.com/user/RNader12 http://www.seeed.de www.caroline-up.com http://www.carlitopix.com
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