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Mike Myers' Page of Useless ZIT Trivia
Waaaaaay back in the early 1970s, a bunch of nutty drummers at Texas Tech University decided to form a special drummer's mock fraternity, and they called it Zeta Iota Tau (ZIT).
Those were ancient times compared to now. Back then, there was no such a thing as a drumline. ZIT was The Drum Section. A drumline were the guys standing outside the percussion office waiting to audition.
It was a time when kevlar was a newfangled invention of the distant future. For years, ZIT used clear, black dot Remo Ambassador or Emperor mylar drum heads on their massive 15 inch metal shell Ludwig marching snare drums. These men thought highly enough of their snares not to crank them so tight that they sounded like a glass counter top, such as now is the custom. Back then there was no such thing as a drum harness. All marching drums were carried with a strap. The snare strap went over the right shoulder and caused the drum to rest on the left leg. Traditional grip was a necessity. Straps had to be machine-washed clean on game days or these men faced the consequence of being "sorry."
Tenor drums were a single, double-headed drum that was carried vertically, sort of like a baby bass drum and was played with wooden bass drum mallets.
Bass drums were 14 X 26 and tuned very low. The two bass drummers stood back to back in the center of the field and played unison quarter notes (as loudly as possible) to keep the entire band in tempo.
Pit? We don't need no stinking pit! These were times before marching bands started carting out every piece of percussion equipment left behind in the bandhall. The "front ensemble" of times gone by was a set of bells, called a bell lyre. The bell lyre was carried vertically and supported with one hand which only left the other hand to do the actual playing. Bell players marched a regular position in the drill alongside the rest of the drummers. Needless to say, 16th note runs at quarter equals 160 were out of the question.
ZIT Performs at Texas Tech Bandcamp 1973
This is one of the earliest known recordings of ZIT in action. ZIT performed at Texas Tech Bandcamp in 1973 for the daily camp assembly for over 1,000 campers in the University Center Ballroom. I was in that audience, a 16 year old high school drummer who thought that these were the coolest, hippest guys who had ever walked the planet. This recording starts with some ZIT humor of those times, led by ZIT section leader, Mike Woods. Then, they play though the original, classic drum cadences that ZIT is still known for. ZIT received a massive standing ovation that day and it was one of the highlights of Bandcamp that year.
Courtesy of former ZIT member, Rick Knowles, here is that classic Bandcamp 1973 recording...
ZIT Performs at Texas Tech Bandcamp 1973
In 1975 I entered Texas Tech as a freshman music ed major and was lucky enough to play snare in ZIT from 1975-79. (I was an alternate that first year).
Like all types of music that is played over and over for years, the cadences we played morphed over a period of time, depending on the personalities of the players who came and went from the section. By the time I was a senior, lots of things had been added and subtracted from the way we originally played those cadences. For this recording, we wanted to go back to the "biblical version" of the cadences and play them as they were originally presented to ZIT.
As a person who has had a life long fascination with recording, I felt that it was important to document the many drum cadences that we played in ZIT when I was nearing graduation. So, on January 20, 1979, I invited a small group of the best players from ZIT at that time (along with some random graduate student by the name of Alan Shinn) to record a tape of the cadences along with a bit of the comedy we did in my era of ZIT. We did this in my 29th street rent house in a spare bedroom with egg cartons on the wall that I used as a home studio. I recorded the session on a four track Teac A-3340 analog reel to reel on quarter inch tape.
I put snares on track one, tenors on track two, bass drum on track three and cymbals on track four. I made a cassette dub for myself and for some of the guys who recorded that day. After that, the reel to reel tape sat in a filing cabinet for over 20 years when former ZIT member, current audio engineer extraordinaire, Collyer Spreen approached me about taking that tape and applying some digital magic to it and bringing it back to life. In order to do this, Collyer had to find a working Teac 3340 deck and transfer the tape to hard drive, clean up hiss and noise, and then mix it to two tracks. Collyer searched far and wide and located a Teac deck out of state and made the transfer.
The 1979 ZIT Sessions
For away games, ZIT proudly rode Bus Ate (the bus immediately behind bus 7). We had our own personnel driver, Billy Jack Toland. And to while away the long hours spent leaving West Texas to bring cheer to places all over the southwest, ZIT published its very own newsletter, The Drum Clique, Band III Weakly Planet, which was available to each Bus Ate rider. The Drum Clique, written entirely by ZIT members, was some of the best comedy of its time, often lampooning very deserving subjects such as: ourselves, twirlers, tuba players, band directors, percussion professors, Tech, Lubbock, etc. etc. The earliest issues were copied on a mimeograph machine, which was the precursor to the modern day copy machine and they were of poor quality. These surviving Drum Cliques actually stand the test of time pretty well and are still quite amusing in many places. For maximum enjoyment, we suggest you get in a very cramped space with your Van's Catering Boxed Food Poison as we step back into time with The Drum Clique...