By George V. Nostrand
Local musicians series
Spotlight on the drummer
It was a brisk but sunny Saturday morning when drummer Brit Davis rolled her hatchback down into the loading dock area off Wales Street.
The night before, she had hosted a house concert in her basement (which also doubles as her apartment). This morning, she had the run of the Paramount Theatre for an onstage photo shoot and interview with The Rutland Reader. Davis was unfrazzled by the change of environment. And while previously overshadowed by a certain gregarious guitar player in earlier interviews, The Reader found that, catching her on her own, she had a lot to say.
Davis is the talented drummer for the local punk band, Get A Grip. Get A Grip put on and play in regular house shows as part of the local Rutland underground music scene. The band had a splash at national fame recently when they were chosen to play at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. That said, Davis likes being where she is, in Rutland, Vermont.
“I have mad pride in Vermont and our music scene here,” she said. “In other places it can get really competitive. Here we support each other. Sometimes bands come to play in Rutland from New York and other places and are amazed.”
Davis also feels she has benefited personally from the nature of the scene. “I’m super lucky to have grown up in Vermont. I’m competitive by nature, but the music scene has taught me the importance of supporting each other as a community — doing the right thing and not expecting anything in return.”
Growing up in Rutland, Davis was more into heavy metal music than punk. But she had no qualms and nothing but good things to say about her band and the music scene. The words passion and respect come up often when Davis talks of other bands and the fans.
“We do a lot of mixed shows,” she explained. “You can have punk and metal and even stuff that has no category. As long as people respect each other and each other’s taste — it’s not one band or genre against another.”
And as for the guys in her band, Get A Grip?
“I looked up to those guys, so it was really cool when they asked me to play with them,” she said.
Davis said making the transition from heavy metal to punk wasn’t easy. “When it comes to playing punk, I had to learn a whole different style of music that I wasn’t use to playing. It’s really fast.”
While Davis has explored side projects and seen the challenges of keeping a band together, she sees no reason to think beyond her current band.
“We’re all four different people with different outlooks and lives,” she explained. “It’s easy to butt heads or stray away at times. But I definitely want to stay with this band.”
Playing with Get A Grip has given her direct exposure to the scene as an insider.
“All the musicians that made me fall in love with this type of music — now I’m hanging out with them and playing shows with them. It’s so cool to have that opportunity.”
Davis started playing drums at around age 10 and never took lessons.
“Drumming comes naturally to me,” she said. “My brain works that way.”
Davis claims not to be a follower of any one drummer or band.
“I take inspiration from little things that I hear — so it’s never one person. I get something from every genre of music, even if things are simple … I take in a little bit of everything I hear.”
Her philosophy is to keep an open mind.
“I learned early on that you can’t put rules on whatever art you do,” Davis said. “It doesn’t work like that. Normally I follow the rules, but you need the freedom of expression.”
For Davis, this translates across the board, whether it’s playing live or in the studio.
“I love the challenge of both,” she said. “There’s a different kind of adrenaline. One is very concrete and the other more abstract. Playing live, you’re more free to do whatever, because you’re connecting with everyone around you. Everyone’s contributing together to make something. It may be the same song but can be unique from last time you played it.”
The studio has its own set of challenges.
“When you’re recording, everyone’s watching you and there’s a lot of pressure to play perfectly, note-for-note. That can be good, because it makes me more aware of what I’m playing.”
Get A Grip has released several albums. The newest album, “Endless,” is out in almost every format available (including vinyl and cassette). Find more information on Facebook and Bandcamp.
On Dec. 3, Get A Grip will be on the bill for the last show for a venue that was instrumental to its development — 242 Main in Burlington.
See the Rutland Reader Facebook page to watch Brit Davis’ live drumming video.
The Rutland Reader would like to thank the Paramount Theatre for the opportunity to shoot in the theater and onstage, Jared Johnson of Magnum PA for providing lighting and Michael O’Brien for the photography.