Brian Doherty (drummer)

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Brian Doherty
Born Brooklyn, New York City, United States
Origin Randolph, New Jersey
Genres Various: alternative rock, indie rock, jazz, new wave, singer-songwriter
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, record producer, educator
Instruments Drum kit
Years active 1981–present
Labels Various
Associated acts They Might Be Giants, XTC, Freedy Johnston, Ben Folds, The Silos, William Hooker, Guy Davis
Website Official website
Notable instruments

Brian Doherty is an American drummer, singer-songwriter, composer, music producer, and educator based in New York City. After starting his career as a member of the rock bands The Silos and They Might Be Giants,[1] he has also worked with artists such as XTC, Freedy Johnston, and Ben Folds and contributed to movie soundtracks. As of 2014 he has released three albums of royalty-free drum tracks for songwriters, and in 2012 released his debut solo project, Treat + Release.

Early life, education

Born in Brooklyn,[2] Doherty began playing drums at the age of seven.[3] Growing up in Randolph, New Jersey, early on he listened avidly to rock bands such as The Outlaws, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Led Zeppelin.[3] Doherty went on to play drums in his high school marching band, percussion ensemble, and a number of garage rock bands.[3]

He attended the Manhattan School of Music for both his undergraduate and graduate degree,[3] studying under musicians such as Paul Price and Fred Hinger.[2] He graduated with a Master of Music degree.[3]

Music career

Early years

After graduating college Doherty began touring with Jonathan Butler and jazz artists like Noel Pointer and Lonnie Liston Smith.[3] He was also a member of Second Nature and the Bob Baldwin/Al Orlo Project featuring James Robinson.[4] Around this time, Doherty also joined the faculty at NYC’s Drummers Collective, where he remained for the next thirteen years.[2]

The Silos

In 1990 Doherty became a member of New York rock band The Silos by RCA Records. Doherty contributed to their 1990 self-titled studio album The Silos which led to the band's network TV debut appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. It peaked at #141 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[5]

Salas-Humara quit the band following the release of The Silos.[6] Subsequent Silos albums Doherty contributed to include Hasta La Victoria (1992), Susan Across The Ocean (1994), and Long Green Boat in 1997.[4]

While still periodically recording and touring with the band, Doherty also worked as a session drummer for artists such as singer-songwriters Freedy Johnston and Ben Folds.[2] He appeared on Johnston's break-out album Can You Fly in 1992,[4] and the album received highly favorable praise, earning 4.5/5 from Allmusic.[7]

They Might Be Giants

In the early 1990s, Brian was recruited by They Might Be Giants. He was their second live drummer following Jonathan Feinberg, and their first studio drummer.[8] For three years Doherty and TMBG recorded several albums, co-wrote songs, and toured internationally.[2] His first release with the band was for their 1993 EP Why Does the Sun Shine?. In August 1994, he contributed to their Back to Skull EP, shortly followed by their full album John Henry .[9]

John Henry was their first album to utilize a full band arrangement, rather than synthesized and programmed backing tracks. The album's name, a reference to the man versus machine fable of John Henry, is an allusion to the band's fundamental switch to more conventional instrumentation, especially the newly established use of a human drummer instead of a drum machine.[10] John Henry is TMBG's longest record and was the band's highest-charting adult album, having peaked at #61 on the Billboard 200, until 2011's Join Us, which peaked at #32.[9]

Later he played on their 1996 album Factory Showroom, and their 1998 album Severe Tire Damage.[11]

Session musician

After leaving They Might Be Giants, Doherty went on to work with groups and artists such as M2M, Frank Black of The Pixies, Twyla Tharp, XTC,[3] Freedy Johnston, Twyla Tharp, Christy Thompson,[12] Madder Rose, Simone Hardy, Chip Taylor, Mono Puff, John Platania, Sol Seppy, Guy Davis, Gary Lucas, Haruko Nara, Jon Langford of The Mekons,[2] and John Linnell.[8] Doherty has also produced a number of recordings including Ms. Lum’s Airport Love Song, described by Billboard as "exquisitely wrought."[2]

In 1995 he contributed to A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC by Thirsty Ear Records. In 1999 he contributed additional drums to the album State Songs by former bandmate John Linnell. The album spent four weeks on the CMJ 200 chart, peaking at #18.[13]

In 2000 Doherty went back to graduate school at the City College of New York.[2] After earning a Master's degree in Elementary Education,[3] he became a classroom teacher as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program,[2] teaching music in the South Bronx.[3]

In addition to being a full-time music teacher, Doherty has been able to maintain a stake in the music business. In 2000 he drummed on albums for artists and labels including Chip Taylor, Bloodshot Records, John Platania, Jon Langford, Guy Davis , and P.J. Pacifico. In 2006 he drummed on The Bells of 1 2 by Sol Seppy. He has also remained active as a drummer playing private events and Broadway shows.[2] He’s worked on the Broadway productions of RENT, Hairspray, and Little Shop of Horrors.[2] He also drummed in the debut of the Broadway show The Times They Are A-Changin' in October 2006 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York City.[3] In 2009 he provided drums for the Guy Davis album Sweetheart Like You.

Keep it Simple series

In December 2010, Doherty released Keep It Simple, Volume 1, a CD of royalty-free drum-track recordings. Volume 2 was released in early 2011, with each of the fourteen tracks around three minutes and "performed by Doherty in a single take," without any editing or digital enhancement.[12] Volume 3 was released on October 15, 2012.[14]

According to Doherty, the tracks are largely intended to provide an organic drum line for producers and songwriters.[12] He has stated that "most loops [on the market] are only short segments and are sometimes too...complex to be truly helpful. I wanted to create a collection of drum tracks similar to what you might expect from drummers like Mick Fleetwood or Jeff Porcaro, while remaining faithful to my style and musical instincts."[12]

Treat + Release (2012)

In 2012 Doherty teamed up with two other long-term session musicians, guitarist Todd Novak and bassist John Yates, to form the rock 'n roll solo project Treat + Release, with Doherty handling drums and vocals.[15]

Later that year Doherty released the pop and rock studio album Treat + Release, his first solo release. The nine-track album was recorded on 2" tape,[15] and beyond Novak and Yates has supporting musicians such as singer-songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Mike Viola, Robert Curiano of Mink DeVille, and bassist Tony Maimone.[2]

In October 2012 he was the feature of a short film titled "Who The F** is Brian Doherty," which looked at his career in the music industry and future plans.[14]


Solo albums

List of studio albums by Brian Doherty
Year Album title Release details
2012 Treat + Release
(by Treat + Release)
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Brian Doherty
  • Format: CD, digital
Keep it Simple drum track series[12]
  • 2010: Keep it Simple Volume 1
  • 2011: Keep it Simple Volume 2
  • 2012: Keep it Simple Volume 3


With The Silos

  • 1990: The Silos
  • 1993: Hasta La Victoria!
  • 1994: Susan Across the Ocean
  • 1997: Long Green Boat

With They Might Be Giants

Production/performance credits

Incomplete production and performance credits by Brian Doherty
Yr Release title Primary artist(s) Notes, role
1981 Just Another Asshole#5 Just Another Asshole Primary artist/performer on "[Untitled Track]"
1988 Verse-ability Helen Hooke Drums
1992 Can You Fly Freedy Johnston Drums
1993 06:21:03:11 Up Evil Front 242 Composer
1993 Bring It Down Madder Rose Drums
1993 Unlucky Freedy Johnston Drums
1993 "Airport Love Song" Ms. Lum Percussion, producer, vocals
1994 Carmen Sandiego: Out of This World Flight Records Drums, glockenspiel
1994 Insurgent Country, Vol. 1: For a Life of Sin Bloodshot Records Drums, background vocals
1995 A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC Thirsty Ear Records Drums
1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie:
Original Soundtrack Album
Atlantic Records Drums
1996 Ride Orleans Drums
1997 Galway to Graceland Kevin L. Evans Bass, acoustic guitar, vocals, primary artist
1997 Miracle School George Usher Drums
1998 James Brown Super Bad @ 65 Frank Black, etc. Drums
1999 Old Friends John McDermott Research
1999 State Songs John Linnell Drums
2000 All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors Straight Blue Line Drums
2000 The London Sessions Bootleg Chip Taylor Drums
2001 All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors Vocals, production, composer
2001 The Very Thing You Treasure Spike Priggen Drums, tambourine
2001 Jagged Junction Jett Brando Drums, piano
2002 Making Singles, Drinking Doubles Bloodshot Records Drums
2002 My Favorite Things Haruko Nara Drums
2002 Lucky Dog John Platania Drums
2004 All the Fame of Lofty Deeds Jon Langford Drums
2005 Stars After Stars After Stars Spike Priggen Drums
2005 Stand-ins for deciBels: A Tribute to the dB's Paisley Pop Records Drums
2006 There's No Sound In Flutes! Spike Priggen Drums
2006 The Bells of 1 2 Sol Seppy Drums
2007 Blues, Waltzes and Badland Borders John Platania Drums
2007 Bock & Blu Christmas Bock & Blu Drums
2009 Sweetheart Like You Guy Davis Drums
2010 "American Princess " Kristy Kay Drums
2010 Christy Thompson EP Christy Thompson Drums
2011 "I Fear" Gang Green Production
2011 Outlet P.J. Pacifico Drums

See also

Further reading


  1. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography: They Might Be Giants". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 "About". Brian Doherty (Facebook). Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Veteran Rock Drummer, Brian Doherty, Finds Unlikely Home on Broadway in New Bob Dylan/Twyla Tharp Show". ereleases. Oct 23, 2006. Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Doherty, Brian. "Discography". Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Billboard, Allmusic
  6. "Lifer Bands: Staying A Fan Through Thick And Thin : The Record". NPR. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2014-06-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Bio: Brian Doherty". This Might Be a Wiki. Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 TMBG chart history. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  10. information on John Henry at the Wayback Machine (archived June 6, 1997). Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  11. Allmusic review
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Weiss, David (January 11, 2011). "NYC Drummer Brian Doherty Releases Volume 2 of "Keep It Simple" Royalty-Free Drum Tracks". SonicScoop. Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. CMJ Network, Inc. (22 November 1999). CMJ New Music Report. CMJ Network, Inc. p. 13. ISSN 0890-0795. Retrieved 14 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Brian Doherty Drums up a Documentary". Westchester Happening Magazine. 2012. Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Doherty, Brian (2012). "Treat + Release: Album Notes". CDBaby. Retrieved 2014-03-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links