The world is upside down. Everything is wrong, twisted, and horrible. A weary populace attunes its ears to the ether, searching for sounds that not only match, but could possibly make sense of an ever-present feeling of uncertainty and doom. Somewhere, in the distance, a broken drum loop calls out. Somewhere, in the distance, buried beneath that broken drum loop, Moe Howard of the Three Stooges asks, “What’s this?”
What’s this, indeed. It’s Rum Revere, the wonderfully warped pandemic-era solo project of longtime Milwaukee drummer and musician Brock Gourlie. [Editor’s note: Gourlie is also a longtime friend.] With little more than various samplers and some time off of work, Gourlie has released not one, not two, but four collections of Rum Revere music since May 2020. Tracks range from the lo-tech industrial poundings of “Acting Class” and “A Duck” (both recorded with a Koala phone app) to the relatively dense soundscapes of “Wokin'” and “Much Love.”
“I’m a drummer, so I tend to start by either recording a snippet of myself playing something or by sampling an existing beat,” Gourlie says. “Then I’ll either loop the beat or perform with it to get a drum track down. Then I just pick and choose samples until things fall into place. The other way is to pick a bunch of random samples very quickly and try to figure out a way to make it work.”
And yes, there are plenty of left-field samples scattered throughout. The jittery “Blech” takes its title from a Terry Jones interjection in a Monty Python sketch. “Donny’s Soup Mix” jumbles percolating beats with snippets of the current President of the United States blathering on about soup. And the incredible “Amen With Del” takes cuts of John Candy’s “You wanna hurt me?” speech in Planes, Trains And Automobiles and pairs them with Enya’s iconic “Orinoco Flow.”
“The Enya/John Candy thing kinda came about because I’ve always loved that scene, and it seemed like kind of a self-help diatribe that he goes on,” Gourlie says. “So I thought that the Enya sample, which is inspirational-sounding, fit very well.”
Not that Rum Revere is an entirely “solo” solo project. Two of Gourlie’s Scrimshaw co-conspirators, Robert Thomas and Anton Sieger, chipped in samples on weirdo-funk jams “Scrimboogie,” “All Cheesecake,” and “Gus Pt. 12.” It was Thomas, in fact, who inspired Gourlie to begin his Rum Revere project in the first place.
“Robert actually got me into doing this,” Gourlie says. “He bought a Roland SP-404SX sampling machine a little over a year and a half ago and has made a bunch of material under the name Bobby Tylenol. I highly, highly, highly recommend checking out his Bandcamp page. Nine releases since last year!”
As for Rum Revere’s four releases this year—Errhead, One Rum, Aye Aye, and What’s This?—you can check them out on Bandcamp as well. Need some visuals to go along with the those beats and Monty Python noises? Make sure your refrigerator isn’t running and watch a video for “Blech”—created by Cris Siqueira—below.