Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Tyler Moellmann, Wills Weller & Cameron Lockwood

Locals, we meet again. I’ve decided to solely call people out this week, but don’t worry, not in a bad way. I want to give some people that are occasionally in the background a little more recognition. So, in this issue, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite fascinations: drumming. Although I don’t play, and I couldn’t hit a note with a bat, there is something about the sound of a drum that keeps me focused. Maybe it was my banging on pots and pans as a kid or my constant pen tapping that drove my family insane; who knows. At the end of the day, my dream of being a full-time air drummer has gone to crap. Plus, the frontman always gets the love, and in the words of Travis Barker, “Give the drummer some!” Sometimes at shows, I find myself lost in the band and the set, because I was focusing on the beat the whole time. Drumming is the backbone of the band, the anchor if you will. These guys provide the basis for the other musicians to follow. I’m mesmerized by drummers who don’t hide behind their huge drum kit; ones who are continuously thinking about being flashy and reckless. Great drummers are hard to come by, though I’ve had the privilege of working with a few. They listen to the sound of the band, and hold it together for the other guys. Although I may have touched on some of these guys’ bands before, it’s time to focus on them solely.

First and foremost, I’m going to focus on a guy named Tyler Moellmann, the drummer for a local band called Breathing Blue. Now, I’ve ranted and raved about this band in a prior issue, for there are not enough good things to say about this group. However, I really want to focus on Tyler for a moment. Let us first touch on his stage presence. His emotions are poured out on that kit, and he is one of the most animated performers I have seen in a long time. His amount of energy while he’s playing is one of his best traits. I mean, let’s be honest; you could have the finest drummer in the world with marvelous technical skills, groove, and origination, but if he’s tedious to watch, no one is going to care, or even notice, at that. He’s an incredible talent, and we cannot forget that he also does backup vocals while playing. It seems to me that Tyler aspires not to just do what is anticipated, but to speak with his bandmates. You can literally feel his flow. He is commanding, glaring, massive, inappropriate, inventive, and all around awesome! He has mastered all of these categories, and owns the traits. I love hearing Tyler go nuts on tracks like “Inner Animal” and “Creatures.” Their songs range from slow to catchy to straight up rock ‘n’ roll, and he brings it 100 percent on each style. It’s apparent that he isn’t afraid to let folks know what he and the band are about, where he came from, and what drives him: the music. I see this band going places—a lot of places. Be sure to check Tyler out at the next show.

Next, please allow me to introduce you to Wills Weller. At the young age of 22, he has the sound and experience of a veteran rock star. His drumming, in my humble opinion, is pure genius. Some of you local music buffs may already know him, for he was won several Asbury Park Music Awards, and is the drummer for an insane metal band called Toothgrinder. Some metal drum sounds have become more and more processed over recent years. Sometimes artists use drum samples on their recordings that aren’t realistic, such as artists like Linkin Park and Killswitch Engage, but hey, don’t necessarily knock it; it may work in their formulas. Wills, on the other hand, will bring real, raw talent to the table. He’s the kind of drummer that makes you stop and really listen because what he’s doing makes you think. It’s crazy because as I touched on this band a few months back, some of their songs are more than 20 minutes long, and he stays consistent throughout the whole set. Sponsored by SJC, his drum kit is just as impressive as his skills, and my mouth basically watered the first time I saw him play on it in their practice room. Wills not only will attack you with force on his blast beats, but he also has mastered grooves and going slow as well. Basically, what I mean by this is, in my opinion, an important factor in quality metal is not the speed, but the consistency of the notes. It’s very important—and rare—to be able to fast blast beat at the same volume you play something slow and driving, and Wills masters it. He paces himself properly, and also has insane foot technique. Although this may sound weird to you—and no, I do not have a foot fetish by any means—you can really appreciate his skill if you watch it on video or in person. Overall, he is an insane, high-powered musician who brings the ultimate pain to the drums.

Last but not least, please let us focus on the backbone of Brick’s Empire Escorts, Cameron Lockwood. Having played drums since age 11, he has pretty much mastered the art. Cameron has the look and appeal of a rock star, compiled with wild dreadlocks and tattoos, and he is just that. Knowing Cameron on a personal basis and having talked to him about his musical influences, he incorporates his likings into his style. His sound is very powerful and incredibly clear. It’s very important to develop that “feel” of the music, and his emotions and energy are laid flat out on the stage, each and every time. It almost seems somewhat therapeutic for him. He hits every peg in the musical plinko including dynamics, speed, endurance, variety, musicality, control, and timing. He also has solo moments where he does not just provide the beat, but has full control of the flow and style being played. Cameron plays with a passion that can be circulated to anyone who is around. He is one with the drums and the rhythm. He loves his job, and shows it.

These are just three of the many talented drummers that exist in our scene. Although they may be set up in the back, they are as of right now, on this day, in this radar, being brought to the direct front! But always remember there is no “I” in team, so check out their bands as a whole. After all, there is no reason why a drummer cannot be every bit equal as any other musician in adding an intricate and distinctive voice to the music. Until next week, my friends, keep going out and discovering new talent, for it’s not going to discover itself!