Drummer’s vocal chops are featured on the project
Styx drummer Todd Sucherman has set the release of his debut solo album, Last Flight Home, for Saturday, May 2nd, his 51st birthday via Aqua Pulse Records. Each of the project’s ten compositions features Sucherman’s vocals and deep pocket drumming. Pre-orders for CDs, high-resolution audio WAV downloads, and limited edition signed and numbered 180-gram vinyl LPs are available now on his official website.
Mike Mettler, resident Styxologist, was tapped to share some incite into the making of the project.
Recording sessions for Last Flight Home, which was co-produced by Sucherman and J.K. Harrison, mainly took place between July 2019 and January 2020 at various locales in California and Texas, with Sucherman handling all lead vocal and principal drumming duties in addition to co-writing nine of the album’s ten songs. Over the course of its very concise and well-sequenced 42 minutes, Last Flight Home soars mightily, from the universal longing of the title track to the grandiose, twisted orchestral circus vibe of “Ad Lib Everything” (buttressed by a majestic string section) to the heartfelt surrender of “It’s Perfection” (featuring angelic background vocals from Sucherman’s esteemed better half, Taylor Mills) to the edgier, self-inflicted carnage of “The Damage.”
Last Flight Home is further proof that Sucherman’s inherent musical chops and respect for the pocket run deep and true, a fitting testament for a man who’s made a career out of serving the needs of the song at hand above all else. As further evidence, Sucherman cites a few key drummers he admires as being highly influential for how he approached his playing on this album — namely, the likes of Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention), and Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel).
“This was literally something I always dreamed of doing, but didn’t know that I could do,” Sucherman shares of the project.
Listeners expecting a Methods & Mechanics-flavored drum clinic will be in for a bit of a surprise when they cue up Last Flight Home — albeit in a good way.
“Fans of complicated, fast, and tricky drumming are probably going to be disappointed,” Sucherman allows, “but I hope that fans of music will enjoy this record. I know that Styx music affords a lot of room for a lot of playing, but I always try to play musically anyway. Having the singer’s perspective this time was interesting, because there were a couple of drum moments I had planned that I thought would be cool from a drummer’s perspective. But when I went to play them, they were wrecking the song. I wound up editing my parts so the song could breathe and live better, rather than using it as a platform to show how clever I am.”
From Sucherman’s vantage point, the true stars of Last Flight Home are indeed the songs themselves, not the musicians who played them. “I’ve always loved singers, lyrics, and melodies,” he observes. “That’s more important than any drum histrionics to me. What’s drum stuff anyway if it’s not paired with music and works in a musical context where you’re choosing the right things to play on a song? For me, melody is the most powerful song element there is.”
Another thing Sucherman learned during the Home sessions was how he wanted to bond with his listeners as a lead singer. He also cites British rockers as his influence for the project.
“I have to be totally honest — British rock has always been what I’ve gravitated toward,” he reveals, “whether it’s been The Who, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, XTC, The Blue Nile, or Aqualung. The reason a lot of British music is anthemic or epic is because those artists had to create their own sunshine, so to speak. Great music can come out of circumstances like those, and that hits me emotionally on the deepest level. My favorite records, like The Beatles’ Revolver, are ones that have hills and valleys, and act like a book or a story that pulls it all together.”