Singing sinks and chiming crickets; Wilco drummer brings freshness to Baylor Percussion Symposium

Glenn Kotche
Glenn Kotche
Glenn Kotche

By Allie Matherne

Though some people may dance in their kitchens, most don’t think of faucets as instruments – unless you are Glenn Kotche.

Kotche, drummer of rock band Wilco, will take the Waco stage at the Baylor Percussion Symposium tonight. He will join Baylor assistant professor of percussion Todd Meehan and partner Doug Perkins, along with the Baylor Percussion Group at the Waco Hippodrome for a series of percussion performances.

“We’re not talking about going to the orchestra where you have to sit still for two hours,” Meehan said. “It’s as close to a rock show that we, in the classical music world, get.”

The Wilco song “Jesus, etc.” touts “you can combine anything you want.” Kotche seems to see things along that same vein – especially when it comes to music. Some of the pieces in tonight’s show will incorporate tracks Kotche recorded while on tour with Wilco, Meehan said.

On his days off, Kotche recorded auxiliary sounds in Berlin, Tokyo and Dresden on a portable recorder, and then integrated them into his percussion pieces. Kotche plays cricket chirps at the beginning of his piece “Monkey Caller,” and they sound so close to real crickets that Meehan said even he was duped.

“For me, composing is about being honest with myself,” Kotche wrote on his website. “I have a degree in classical percussion but I’m not a trained composer, so I bring a different approach and perspective.”

In the past, Kotche wrote many pieces for the percussion group “So Percussion,” which Perkins and Meehan founded during their time at Yale.

Some of these songs will be featured in tonight’s show.

“He’s been intentional about staying involved in the classical music world,” Meehan said.

Kotche studied percussion in college and now brings his knowledge of classical music paired with creativity to the rock world, Meehan said. Kotche has been drumming with Wilco for 14 years, and combines his love for rock music with his insatiable search for innovation in music.

About two years ago, Kotche starred in a Delta Faucet commercial in which the percussionist used touch-sensitive sink facuets, pots, colanders and a toothbrush to recreate a song by 1960s Motown group The Four Tops.

“Glenn is charming. He drips with sincerity, honesty and curiosity — the result is really engaging,” Perkins said.