It’s safe to say that drumming runs in Adam Deitch’s blood.
“My great uncle was a drummer, and he taught my father to play drums,” says the Lettuce drummer. “My dad has played since he was a kid and went to Berklee. My mom is also a drummer. It’s the family business basically.”
Lettuce returns to Indianapolis for a show at the Vogue on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Beforehand, we chatted with drummer Adam Deitch about jazz, the Fugees, and much more.
NUVO: What styles of drumming did your family members specialize in playing?
ADAM DEITCH: My great uncle was a big band drummer. He played with a professional big band in the 1940s and 1950s. My dad started out as a big band jazz drummer, and then he got really into funk, jazz fusion, and that kind of stuff. My mother is into funk, soul, R&B, and some jazz.
NUVO: What style did you start out playing?
DEITCH: I started playing along with Earth, Wind & Fire records. That was really what I was into. Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and that kind of stuff.
NUVO: When did you start trying your hand at jazz?
DEITCH: Jazz was a very important part of the household. We listened to it all the time. I’m still learning how to play jazz now, I guess. I’ve really concentrated on funk my entire life, but jazz has always been right there and is always an inspiration.
NUVO: You have your own Adam Deitch Quartet. When was that something you first started doing?
DEITCH: I met this organist named Will Blades, who is phenomenal. He lives in San Francisco. Whenever Lettuce would do a show out there, we would do an after show with just me, him, and whoever was around. And then, the Lettuce horn section (Benny Bloom and Ryan Zoidis) wanted to be a part of it. So that’s how that got birthed.
NUVO: You’ve been playing with the guys in Lettuce for so long. I’d imagine it almost feels like second nature now.
DEITCH: Yeah. It’s to the point where there’s a lot of psychic stuff going on. It’s to the point where I set up a miniature drum set in the back of the bus, and we jam before shows and write music after shows. We’re very much into hanging out and making music together, and that makes it a lot more fun. I’ve been in other bands where it’s not like that, and this is how it’s supposed to be. We are completely in the zone and love playing with each other.
NUVO: You all have had your hands in other projects as well. I would imagine that has helped to keep things refreshing with Lettuce?
DEITCH: We all had done other stuff in our lives before we committed to Lettuce as a full-time job. That helped inspire us and brought new influences into the music. We never feel stagnant. We’ve had so many experiences playing with other people that we want to be here and we want to be playing with each other.
NUVO: Some of your work outside of Lettuce is particularly interesting to me. You played drums with the Fugees for a short time. How did that opportunity come about?
DEITCH; Jesus Coomes, the bass player in Lettuce, was doing a recording session with Wyclef Jean and DJ Quik, and he invited me to the session. He said, “Hey. I’m in New York working with DJ Quik and Wyclef. They want to have a drummer come in the studio today, and I recommended you." I was like, “Wow, that’s really nice of you. That’s super cool.”
I go in, and it’s my boy Jesus and two hip-hop legends. We ended up really getting along. I grew up with a lot of East Haitian friends in New York, so we connected on that level and talked about traditional Haitian music. He was shocked that I knew all that. Next thing you know, I’m playing with him and his cousin Jerry Wonda. And then, he said, “We’re doing a Fugees reunion.” I actually couldn’t even do the Fugees reunion because I think I had a Justin Timberlake session or something like that at the time. But I rehearsed with the Fugees, and I did like one gig with them. And then, I think I gave it to my friend Joe Tomino, who’s a great drummer.
NUVO: I know Lettuce has made friends with some Indianapolis musicians over the years. What do you look forward to when visiting Naptown?
DEITCH: Ever since I met Sleepy Floyd, Nick Gerlach, and the rest of that crew, I’ve always looked forward to being there. Those guys hold down the jazz-funk meets hip-hop aesthetic. We’re like a fraternity. [laughs] In every city, there are people that really represent that scene and want to bring those genres together. It’s always great to be there. I’ll probably bring the guys to the Mousetrap after, and we’ll hang out, sit in, and jam.