Lee Viathan: Fittingly, this guy’s a leviathan among local drummers

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Local drummer Lee Viathan.

NEC LOGO GSMLee Viathan from Manchester loves music.  Plays it, lives it, embodies it.  

One night or three in a row, Viathan, 36, can be seen either popping a brain vessel watching an Extreme Wresting match in Rhode Island or brushing his drums through a set of country/folk tunes at some club in southern New Hampshire.

Viathan will admit that music shapes his days, creates an identity and drama in his life while forging friendships and tearing down social walls within this majestic space known as music.  

Why don’t we let Lee tell you all about it.    

Q:  I see your work playlists on Facebook that you post, and the range of music is wild.  You are all over the place.  Can you go from a thrash metal song to folk on a dime?  Explain how music dictates your dispositions.

For the most part as it comes to what I’m going go listen to, my disposition more often than not dictates the music.   It starts really from the moment I wake up.  Is the sun shinning? Is it raining?  Warm? Cold?  And it grows from there …  And as you say, it can change on a dime depending on how my mood morphs through the day.  

On the other side of it though is that the music itself can also change my disposition. But you hit a certain song on the album that just grabs at the pleasure-center of your brain and turns it right around.  Regardless of the style, if I’m creating music with other people, I’m automatically in a good mood.

Q.  Are you on a quest to be heard through music?  Or is it something else that keeps you so embedded in the New England music scene?

I don’t know if its a quest to be heard.  I mean, I want people to hear what I’m doing in music.  I assume in some ways I’ve already been heard.  But I’d be doing this whether there was an audience … I love playing music, but even more than that I just love music.  I’ve been a fan before I even started realizing I could also play it.  

I have a lot of regional pride for New England, and especially New Hampshire music scene.  The NH scene is really on a resurgence, though being in such proximity to Boston, it is often overlooked.  But it’s this “little engine that could,” and it keeps being the birthplace to a lot of great bands.  The scene here hasn’t been this healthy in 20 years. I guess I’m so embedded in it because I want to see it succeed for everyone.  I try to get out to at least one show a week.  Often times it’s up to three a week.  

Q.  How does professional wrestling play into your love of music?  Is there a connection between these passions?

These two passions of mine have more in common than people might imagine.  Aside from music, pro wrestling is another art form (and yes I consider it an art) that has been with me as long as I can remember.  Music and wrestling are great escapes.  Both thrive on the emotion of the performer and spectator alike.  There’s an element of drama, majesty, and bombast to both!  It can make you want to holler for joy, or yell in intense anger.  And with wrestling, music is its tag team partner.  They work so well together. 

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Minimalism to the max.

Q.  You play drums in Miketon and the Night Blinders these days.  How does this band differ from the others you’ve been in?  And what’s your defining role in the band?

I would describe it more like “playing percussion” with the Nightblinders.  Playing drums sort of implies I use a full kit.  Which in this band, I don’t do, because it wouldn’t fit the aesthetic of the band.  I use a minimal approach.  I have a single snare drum, with a cymbal mounted on it.  I use a suitcase as a bass drum and I have a tambourine strapped to my foot. I primarily use brushes, no need for sticks.  That’s probably the biggest difference between this band and anything I do with other folks.  Its just so minimal.  

I’ve played in so many types of bands over the years … I rarely say no to any type of music. I want to try it all!  It’s like vocabulary.  The more you have, the better you sound.  I can pull from any source at any time and inject it into whatever I’m doing, which allows me to stand out among the pack.  

Q. What’s the current state of the live music scene throughout New Hampshire?

The NH scene has never been stronger.  There is so much diversity within our borders its almost overwhelming.  It’s really done a much better job over the last 10 years of fostering a more supportive environment for the musicians.  As I mentioned before, there is a lot less of that “pay to play” garbage that many promoters used to essentially exploit talent for a buck.  Plus there has been a big increase in the number of venues that will open their doors to original music.  Going back 10-15 years ago, in this state, unless you primarily played covers, it was a lot harder to book gigs. NH has really broken out of the cultural stalemate that it found itself in.  

Q.  What’s a better listening experience: In your car cruising around? In a bar?  Or in a hot shower with a cold beer?

Listening to music in any setting is spectacular, regardless of the setting.  But the absolute best is in a live setting, hands down.  Being in a room with other people appreciating the craft and having that transfer of energy between performer and spectator is unmatched.  In that way, you get on the same level with everyone in the room.  It tears down the walls between people that normally separate folks, based on our political, cultural and social boundaries.  

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Rob Azevedo from Manchester is the host of Granite State of Mind on 95.3 FM WMNH Fridays at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. on WKXL 103.9 FM.  He also hosts a monthly series at New England College in Concord which features live performances by artists from around New Hampshire.  cleardotHe can be reached at onemanmanch@gmail.com

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!