When I walked into Ken’s apartment on Friday afternoon he was in the middle of cooking himself lunch and the smell of sizzling olive oil and fresh pesto filled the room. I took a seat on the couch and when he was finished cooking he sat on the floor cross-legged, a bowl of salad in one hand and eggs in the other. He looked up at me nervously as we began talking.
Ken started playing drums when he was in sixth grade and picked up the guitar a couple years later. He currently plays guitar for the all junior band Touch It, although drums are his favorite to play.
“Ever since I was a kid I would take out metal bowls from the kitchen and use chopsticks to play with them. I decided to have a jam one day with two of my good friends and after that I figured this is what I want to do.”
When Ken came to CC he jammed casually with friends in the Mathias basement, and eventually the people who showed up to jam became consistent and Touch It gradually formed. Ken has played in a band before, specifically a death metal band called The Trees, but this is his first time playing guitar for a band full time.
“I used to only play drums, so this is a whole new thing. You’re much closer to the crowd. It makes you a lot more nervous. If I look up at the people and not at my fingers it’s like ‘ahhh’ I’m going to look over there and adjust some stuff.”
Ken’s mom has largely influenced the way he plays music. He says she has always been encouraging and open to new styles, even going as far as to listen to his death metal. She also is largely responsible for Ken’s interest in guitar; she gave him her old acoustic and introduced him to an 80’s power funk band called The Extremes that has heavily guided his style.
“I like finding repetitive patterns and milking it. I’m kind of a cheap bastard like that. To me, repeating a groove over and over again really gets you moving. It starts getting catchy and you start thinking, where can I go with this specific melody and harmony and what not, and what can I put on top of it?”
Ken plans to continue playing with Touch It but would like to start something new, too. Mainly because he wants to play drums more.
“I play guitar like a play drums, I don’t play drums like I play guitar.”
Ken is an incredibly talented musician who continues to impress his audience. Those close to him know how hard he practices and how this practice has paid off.
“Surprising yourself is worth it for me. Like whoa did I just do that? And then you try it again and you mess it up and you do that over and over again until you can add it to your dictionary. If I was jamming with someone I know that they’d throw stuff at me during the jam that I wouldn’t know how to respond to, but I want to know how to respond because then you can communicate. Learn music for the sake of sharing it with other people.”