A Conversation with Thomas Pridgen

by Andrew Kalu
Contributing Writer

Photo by Flickr user mrdoubtfire used under a Creative Commons license

Thomas Pridgen is the former drummer for The Mars Volta and currently plays in the up-and-coming band The Memorials. I got in touch with Thomas to ask a few questions about his career and his music.

Andrew Kalu: At what age did you start playing drums?

Thomas Pridgen: 3 years old […] I was a young tot.

AK: Do you play any other instruments, or have you in the past?

TP: Not really, I played the harmonica when I was real little.

What kind of groups/drummers did you listen to growing up?

I listened to gospel/r&b drummers mostly growing up. But I’m still growing so that’s a wierd question.

Did you have any mentors growing up, or are you self-taught?

I had drum teachers, but I definitely didn’t wait for them to be around to practice. So I’m sorta self taught.

Do you remember your first gig?

First gig, not really. I played at church when I was 5 so maybe thats a gig to certain people, but I used to play in clubs when I was 8-9.

There have been rumors about you quitting the Mars Volta. True or False?

It’s true…

Why did you quit?

I’m kinda bored with talking about TMV and why it all happened. But just know I loved playing in the band and I loved everyone in the band…but I didn’t love the way business was being handled. They wanted a Ferrari with BMW price tag.

Tell me about The Memorials.

The Memorials started in December 2009. I called people up to form the band: homies from school, my home girl from home. Just connecting the dots. We got a studio to let us party and record the whole record, it took like 6 days. The 7th day we just did some covers for the online homies. Viv [Viveca Hawkins] wrote all the lyrics and did her vocals while writing, it took about a month. After mixing the whole record and mastering, we played our first show May 7th. And now we’re getting set to put it out in the fall when kids are around at school.

At this point of your career do you have a dream gig?

I think being myself is a dream gig….I don’t do too many things that go against my beliefs. I’m happy I get to wail on the drums and I get paid for it

If you could give any advice to drummers wanting to play for a living what would it be?

Set goals, meet ’em, and never  think about accomplishing your dream. Don’t quit.