An Exit Interview with Chad Erlemeier

Paul Whyte

While there are many who make up this area’s music community, it’s not uncommon for musicians to play in several projects. This becomes even more frequent for drummers and bass players. Since many guitar players can also adequately play bass, the demand for good drummers and percussionists is unquestionable. Versatile drummers are actually quite scarce. Just because someone can beat the drums to death in a rock project doesn’t always mean that they can ideally transition well to other styles of music.
One of the more versatile drummers in the Twin Ports has left to Chicago after playing for a wide variety of local bands for over a decade. Chad Erlemeier played his last show in this area (at least for anytime soon) on Saturday for a Jimi Hendrix tribute night at the Rex. We had the chance to talk to him for a few minutes before he played about some of what he has done in the past and what is coming up in the future.

Reader: How long have you lived in the area?

CE: 20 Years. Since I was about five or six.

Reader: When did you start getting into drumming and percussion?

CE: I started playing drums in elementary school when I was ten.

Reader: How did that work out?

CE: I took drum lessons from the music teacher.

Reader: I’ve noticed that you are rather versatile. I’ve noticed that you play the usual kit, but have also played hand drums and even marching band types of drumming.

CE: All that. I’m a classically trained percussionist. You know, snare drum, mallet instruments, timpani, triangle and all that good stuff through elementary school, high school marching band and college. Anywhere from jazz band, wind ensemble, orchestra, bag-pipe band to hand percussion with a jazz duo and drum set.

Reader: You mentioned college. You took percussion while you were there?

CE: I took percussion for all four years. I only majored for two of those years but was still involved in the music department.

Reader: This is going to be a hard one. In the last five years, besides the couple of times we did gigs with Andy Lipke, just name off the top of your head as many bands as you can that you’ve played with.

CE: As many bands as I can? *laughs* That is a tough one. Let’s work backwards. Tonight I’ve playing with the Frances Luke Williams band, it’s everyone’s middle name, my middle name is William. I’m also playing with Paper Parlor, I’m playing with them for this Jimi Hendrix show. I’ve sat in with Scottish bagpipes and drums. I’ve played with Rachael Kilgour. Then Lake Monster I was a part of. Hanna Cesario, I used to play with her a lot. Ari Norrgard, I was in multiple projects with her. Loup Garou and Beach Fight was kind of the sibling of that band. Jack Campbell, I played with him for a bit. The Meldramatics! That was one of my first ones. What else?

Reader: That’s alright. If you come with any more, let me know. I don’t want anyone to get bummed out.

CE: I’ve got like 20 of them. *laughs*

Reader: Here’s a funny question. What the hell are all these bands going to do now that you’re leaving?

CE: Oh, there’s one that I didn’t mention. Jim Hall. Jim has been calling me up and asking, “hey, do you know of any drummers?” I’ve been running into my drummer friends and say, “I’m leaving town. Can I call you with contacts of people who need drummers?” Drummers are in high demand in Duluth.

Reader: They really are.

CE: It’s kind of ridiculous. Every drummer I know is in three or four groups.

Reader: Yeah, that seems to be a thing. So, you’re going down to Chicago. What are you going to do down there?

CE: I’m working with a marketing project for a solar energy company. We’re incubating it in Chicago. It’s a test ground in Chicago and if it works, we’re going nationwide with it. That’s part of the company I’ve been working with up here for the last few months.

Reader: When that’s going I’m sure you’ll be back up here every once and awhile.

CE: The cool thing with what I doing now with the solar energy is I’m working specifically out of Home Depot right now and so any town that has a Home Depot I can open an office and work out of Home Depot. So maybe in a few years I’ll be back and running the territory up here.

Reader: Obviously, you’ve been living up here for 20 years. This might be an area that you’d come back to?

CE: Duluth’s a good place raise a family, but it’s not a good place to get out there and make some money. I’ve been in the music scene for over a decade and I thought I’d be a rock star and traveling the world.

Reader: In way you are.

CE: Yeah, a local rock star.

Reader: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

CE: I’m going to miss the shit out of Duluth.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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