Audeze talks to drummer Tom Rainey

October 28, 2021

Audeze talks to drummer Tom Rainey

For nearly a half century Tom Rainey has been pursuing the creative use of drums through improvisation and interpreting composition. He's a go-to drummer for scads of jazz and experimental artists, including Kris Davis, Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Ingrid Laubrock, Tony Malaby, Ben Monder and many more.
Tom Rainey with his LCD-1 headphones
"These Audeze headphones provide the clarity, detail and comfort I’ve been seeking in a headphone... Couldn’t be happier with my choice!"  - Tom Rainey
Here's our chat with Tom:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

The most recent recordings from either of my bands: Tom Rainey Trio, “Combobulated” (with Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Laubrock) and Tom Rainey - Obbligato, “Untucked in Hannover” (with Drew Gress, Ralph Alessi, Jacob Sacks and Ingrid Laubrock).

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My role is always in flux. I alternate between leading groups, collaborating in collective ensembles as well acting as a sideman in several other bands.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

My interest in music and drumming has been a constant part of my entire life. I grew up listening to the popular music of my time - the sixties and seventies. As a teenager I became more and more drawn to jazz and jazz rock. Since then I’m mostly drawn to music that surprises and mystifies me.

Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Getting to see and hear Duke Ellington live as a 13 year old was profound and solidified my interest in pursuing music.

And in my late teens going to the Village Vanguard and sitting just feet away from Elvin Jones as he played was another memorable occasion. After his set he rose up from the drums and as if on a string, I did the same. He must have noticed my awe and came over and shook my hand. I sat back down and looked over at a picture of John Coltrane on the wall of the club and had what could only be called an out of body experience.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

My frustrations past and present always come from my expecting music to provide more than the pleasure of making music. I’ve been fortunate enough to survive as a creative musician for several decades but sometimes the ego doesn’t accept that as enough.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I’ve played the same drums since 1975. Beyond that ..... well there is no beyond that.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

You can’t fail at music as long as music is it’s own reward.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve had headphones since my teen years. For pleasure I mostly use headphones to not disturb my wife. For work I use them in the studio for monitoring and at home for checking details of recordings to be mixed.

These Audeze headphones provide the clarity, detail and comfort I’ve been seeking in a headphone.  Listening to recordings I’m familiar with and comparing the Audeze to my other headphones confirmed that the LCD-1 will be my go-to phones.  Couldn’t be happier with my choice!