“I was ten years old when I first started playing drums,” remarks Kimberley’s legendary percussion wizard Colin Righton on his first musical steps. “I was in Grade Four, and was part of the Marysville Elementary School Band that was overseen by our wonderful mentor Clarence Uhll. Some of us who went through that program went on to do really great things, and continue with music.”
Colin Righton being one of them. Most of the upscale, popular bands to have emerged from our neck of the woods have had him bashing away the excitable beat, and the fond recollections of many youthful gatherings owe a dance-floor (and mosh-pit) debt to Righton’s octopus-tornado attack on the skins. And so the Bavarian City of the Rockies honors its Prodigal Son with Shedfest, a headbanging party to end all headbanging parties, to be held at the Kimberley Elks Lodge on Saturday September 21st. Shedfest features no less than FIVE killer bands – Elk Hunt, Phaeton, Crooked Line, Zero People, and False Flag. Rarely does this sort of mini-festival appear in the East Kootenay, and the night will prove to be a memorable – and cacophonous – one.
“I’d go visit my Uncle Dennis, who was a professional drummer in Calgary, and he had a drum kit set up in his home, so when we’d visit I’d practice and play. That’s when I honed my ability to play ‘Wipeout’ (laughs). I was just bursting with music back then. I was also playing cello, and I began taking Royal Conservatory piano lessons. But drums was what I gravitated to the most. I have a working knack to fiddle around on most instruments I get my hands on, it seems, but drumming is my passion, and that’s what I’ve stuck with it for all these years.”
His passion, and how; while playing in the Toronto music scene, Righton acquired the nickname “Little Gene” in high respect for his prowess, which is akin to that of famed metal drummer Gene Hoglan (of Strapping Young Lad and Testament fame).
“When I began listening seriously to heavy metal, that’s when things really took off,” explains Righton. “When I was 14 years old, back in my Junior High School days, I became friends with n’er-do-wells like Paul Chlopan and Eric Hellmen and it was all downhill from there! It was all THEIR fault…I can accredit them to ruining my life (laughs). Before I was bitten by the Metal Bug, I was listening to whatever was on the radio or on MuchMusic at the time. I had friends who were into bands like Nirvana and AC/DC and such, but it was Paul who introduced me to what I call the Holy Trinity – Overkill, Testament, and Exodus. The real game-changer – and I know the specific moment – the first time I ever heard that blasting drum break that Dave Lombardo plays in Slayer’s “War Ensemble” – that was just WOW. “
Wow indeed. Although Righton describes himself primarily as a Metal drummer, he is by no means a one-dimensional musician. The list of notable bands he has played with since the 1990s – sometimes three bands at the same time – is a wide-ranging, ultra-respectable Curriculum-Vitae that any professional drummer worth their sticks would love to boast – Xanimus (thrash metal), Chaos Machine (death metal), Payne Bluff (HORDE-style hippie jam-band), Chaos Logic (technical death metal), Elk Hunt (punk-ska-metal-bagpipe whatsit), Datura (technical death metal again), Azension (ambient prog-rock), the Bison Brothers (bluesy roots-rock), Phaeton (instrumental progressive metal), and most lately False Flag…back full circle to his thrash metal origins. Never a dull moment.
Who knows what the future holds for Righton? What is known is that he instantly becomes a crucial member of any band he joins, and is a talent (and a personality) which is far from easily replaced. Why he’s never made the cover of Modern Drummer magazine is a cruel injustice that is yet to be explained. But all good things come to those who wait, and even though Righton spends most of his current time as a Calgary resident, pursuing a rising career in Information Technology in that city’s bustling cyber-industries, he still plays double-time during his off-time.
And everyone in every town needs a good drummer. Kimberley has Colin Righton. Long May He Run.