Brooklyn – The lights dimmed and guitars died as Chaz Rain held two lollipop mallets an inch above the long row of wooden bars. Then with a delicate storm, he launched into percussive introspection, raising a soundscape of small hills and gentle plains. But just 30 seconds into his six minute soliloquy, he threw the mallets into the crowd and stormed off the stage.
Undeterred, Terminal Idiocy resumed its jam to rapturous applause and synchronized head nodding.
“Every time I play it, a little piece of me dies inside,” Rain said backstage, drinking heavily from a bottle. “Fucking xylophone. It’s emasculating.”
Terminal Idiocy began as the power metal trio Dirt Nap, unleashing a string of aggressive but commercially unsuccessful albums in the late 90’s. Then in 2006, lead singer Logan Prescott had an epiphany while attending a sold-out stadium Dave Matthews Band show. “We needed to suck more,” Prescott said.
At the same time, the indie rock wave was rising, with bands like Arcade Fire introducing alternative instruments like the harp, mandolin, and glockenspiel to the quivering masses. Terminal Idiocy would combine the exotic sounds of the avant-garde with the endless circle jerk and soloing of jam bands.
The result was an overnight smash success, with T.I.’s “Mountain of Gold” peaking at number 3 on the Alternative Billboard Top 100, and shows selling out across the globe. Seven years later, Chaz Rain barely plays the drums anymore, instead taking turns at the triangle, wind chimes, and dinner bell.
“All my life, I just wanted to beat the skins,” he said, rising warily for the encore. “Ringo, Bonham, Moon, Peart. They’d never stand for this.”