Most sixteen-year-olds are worried about a couple of things-passing a driving test, getting through an algebra exam, maybe even a first (or second or third) crush. But when drummer Longineu Parsons III was sixteen, he was worried about 25,000 different things.
"I was in South America with my father's band, Tribal Disorder," Parsons recalls. "There were ten people in the band, and I was the first to walk out on stage. I looked out and all I could see was a sea of people. There were 25,000 people out there. It was the biggest crowd I'd ever played for. I was out of my mind."
Longineu carried that performance with aplomb, just like the hundreds of others he had played in the previous three years across the globe with his father, noted jazz trumpeter Longineu Parsons II. "Working with my dad broke me into the music world pretty well," he reports with a laugh. No kidding.
Given that exposure (and let's face it - pressure), twenty four year-old Longineu Parsons III has been well-schooled in the music world. A couple of years after the "sea of people" show, Parsons and four of his friends formed Yellowcard, an emo-punk rock band that has recently scored a platinum disc with their major-label debut, "Ocean Avenue", behind such hits as "Only One", "Way Away", and the album's title track.
Parsons brings an eclectic drumming and music history into Yellowcard, including jazz and fusion dates with his father's numerous outfits, funk-flavored session dates, and a sheer love for hardcore metal. He sat behind a drumkit for the first time at the age of two, during another of his father's tours. "I was on tour with my dad," he recalls, "and Max Roach was the drummer. So I was walking around the stage one day after they had finished and I just hopped behind Max's kit. My feet didn't reach the pedals, but I started tapping on the drums, trying to figure out what sound each made, instead of just beating on them wildly. But that's what got me started on drums, watching Max Roach and his famous twenty-minute hi-hat solos."
In addition to the global tours, the Parsons family gigged across the country at a variety of small jazz clubs and in a number of studio situations. "We always traveled a lot," Parsons recalls. "We'd go from our home in Florida to Georgia to play with different studio musicians. I was playing professionally when I was thirteen. And it was my father who always told me to head out there, play gigs, and get my feet wet. I think he wanted me to be the musician he thought I could be."
"I did every little gig I could," Parsons continues. "I played little places that sometimes had as few as five people, sometimes less. But I would play for the experience and to get the chance to work with different musicians. Over time I learned how to improv over songs. I built a lot of confidence that way. I'd just show up to a gig without even knowing the musicians, and play all night."
Besides a lot of gigging experience and the opportunity to see Max Roach play, the youngster listened to what the elder statesman of the drums had to say. In fact, Parsons' quick-paced playing in Yellowcard was influenced by the legendary drummer. "Max had a theory that a drummer should never have more gear than he actually plays, but at the same time a drummer should never play more than he needs," Parsons recalls. "If you go way back in time, like back to the beginning with Buddy Rich, he would use a couple of toms, snare drum, and that little cymbal that came up from the big extended bass drum, and he would rock that kit as if he had twenty pieces in front of him. Max would solo on just a hi-hat and make it sound as if he was playing a solo on an entire kit.
"Nowadays you've got these rock drummers who have all these drums," Parsons says, "but they don't know how to play them or don't use every piece. If I go to one of these shows and see a drummer with a lot of drums, I want to see those played."
Currently, LP will be playing drums for season 8 American Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert.