Whether playing in front of twenty thousand screaming fans on the Family Values Tour, or a hundred people who have come out to a club in Chicago on a Wednesday night for some post-bop jazz, Steve Gillis brings an undeniable intensity to the stage. The drummer was asked to join hard rockers Filter after frontman Richard Patrick saw him play behind a 10-piece acid jazz band, and the immediate result was the Chicago-based band’s sophomore effort, Title of Record. The album proceeded to go platinum on the strength of Gillis’ grooves and the radio success of the bone-crushing Welcome to the Fold and top ten hit Take a Picture.
After an extensive world tour that brought his live drumming to four continents over two years, Filter returned to the studio to create The Amalgamut, where they continued to bridge the electronic and the organic elements of modern rock. Steve Gillis is the lynchpin of those efforts, as he slides between programmed tracks and thick distorted guitars without missing a beat, creating drum parts that defy today’s heavy rock stereotypes. According to Patrick, “Steve Gillis is not in the band just because he’s a great drummer, Steve Gillis is in the band because he’s an original drummer.” Those qualities have already garnered praise from both his peers and the press, who have quickly recognized that Gillis is not your ordinary rock drummer by any stretch of the imagination.
The depth and style-hopping of his playing isn’t surprising once you consider Steve’s history. Born and raised just north of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois, most of Gillis’ drumming career has been spent in the Windy City. It’s been said that you can’t come through Chicago without playing the blues, and after two years at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and a European tour with Virgin recording artist Inner City, Steve did just that, with notable artists such as Sugar Blue and Dion Payton. From there, he branched out into everything from jazz to funk to rock to electronica and beyond, often working as many as 300 nights in a year with artists such as Henry Johnson, Ken Chaney, MVP, Sumo, Bomb Pop and Eternalux. Elements of any one of these genres find their way into the others, whether it’s industrial rock intensity in a jazz context, or gospel-influenced fills in a rock tune. Steve has also found his way onto television, with appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Last Call with Carson Daly, MTV’s The Rock Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman in the United States, as well as Top Of The Pops in the United Kingdom.
Even now, Gillis can be found playing in clubs all over Chicago with various artists including his jazz group The Long Count Quartet and Nicholas Barron (see above blog). He is equally focused on recording and producing bands and solo artists in his own studio Transient Sound (see above blog).
Steve Gillis Selected Discography:
* Filter, Title of Record (Reprise Records)
* Filter, The Amalgamut (Reprise Records)
* Various Artists, Family Values Tour 1999 (Flawless/Geffen)
* Baldwin Brothers, Cooking with Lasers (TVT Records)
* Le Concorde, Universe and Villa (March Records)
* Tom Gulliogne, Greens and Blues (Naim)
* MVP, Frequency Gel (Hyperactive)
* Swimmer, Welcome to my Whirld (Elbo Records)
* Eternalux, Eternalux (Independent Release)
* Social Act, Spiritual Journeys (Why-Me/Social Rec.)
* Sumo, Sumo (Elbo Records)