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April 17, 2014

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Uberschall set for a bangin’ performance with ex-Missing Persons, Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio

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Todd Waetzig

Uberschall will take the stage at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz on Jan. 20.

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Elvis Lederer, of Uberschall, performs at the Double Down Saloon, October 25, 2009.

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Uberschall performs at the Double Down Saloon, Oct. 25, 2009.

Elvis has entered the building.

He’s Elvis Lederer, actually. The building is Double Down Saloon, where Lederer is due to perform a show that is to start at midnight but looks like it’s straying to 12:30 a.m. He sits at a table just off the Double Down stage, where the mechanical horse once sat, and is joined by Jeff Tortora, percussionist in the backing band for Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo.

Lederer, too, is a musician. Guitarist. He also was a member of the BMG band and still subs for that act on occasion, but his full-time gig is performing in Criss Angel’s Luxor show, “Believe.”

The two are rockers, without question, wearing their hair long and donning leather jackets and taking up tables in one of the city’s down-and-dirty nightspots. They perform regularly on the Strip, but on this late-night chat, they are interested in pushing Überschall, speaking of the many-drummed entity as if it is a person.

“With Uberschall, and writing, there is no such thing. As a musician, you just try to tell a good story,” Lederer says. “Uberschall is like having a conversation without talking.”

A very loud conversation, fittingly for this venue as, for more than a decade, Uberschall has been performing thunderous midnight gigs on the final Sunday of each month at Double Down. They have drawn a solid following; Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie, and (more recently) performers in Cirque’s “Zarkana” at Aria have turned up to watch the act. Uberschall was founded by Lederer when he was full time in BMG, and its ranks comprise current and former members of the BMG band.

Uberschall is German for “supersonic,” and the band’s soundscape is by large measure a fusion of hard rock and electronic music. There is no set musical path charted, as segments stray seamlessly but without any pattern and often last 15 minutes.

The act has found a groove at Double Down, which is at once great and potentially restricting. Always seeking a means of keeping fresh and artistically stimulated, Uberschall has enlisted former Missing Persons and onetime Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck drummer Terry Bozzio to perform two shows Sunday at a music haunt entirely unlike Double Down: Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center for Performing Arts.

The performances are set for 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 and $31; hit the Smith Center website for information.

Bozzio is a hero among drummers, especially the members of Uberschall. This is no ordinary band. In its regular lineup — or “stage plot,” if you will — Uberschall powers through with three drummers, a pair of guitarists and a bass player. In seeking a possible star guest performer, Tortora had met Bozzio eight years ago at a BMG show. But it wasn’t until Bozzio invited members of Uberschall to his headquarters in Oxnard, Calif., to play on a webcast on Bozzio’s website, DrumChannel.com, in September that this weekend’s shows became a possibility.

Bozzio was the fourth drummer in the band for that performance, which seriously blew Bozzio’s mind.

“He said, ‘Guys, this is amazing,’ ” Tortora says. “We did one segment of 28 minutes, straight. We had to do it again.”

Lederer booked Cabaret Jazz on a one-day rent agreement with Smith Center officials and is just hoping for the best. There is no formal set list for this show, but it won’t last any longer than 90 minutes. Bozzio is to play with a set of drums reminding of the old cartoon kit played by that soaring percussionist Bamm-Bamm Rubble.

“It’s going to be ridiculous,” Lederer says. “There will be five bass drums, 40 drums total, 60 cymbals. But if you look at it this way, a piano has 88 keys, so ... for what we’re doing, it’s great.”

Maybe this show will lead to regular appearances at Cabaret Jazz, which is an uncommon venue for a rock band that defies categorization.

“If we make money, we will try it again,” Lederer says. “Terry and I were emailing, and he’s been thinking about this idea for a long time, to create this organization called LAIM — the Loose Association of Improvisational Musicians.”

Or, maybe the show will be no more than a means to keep the guys in Uberschall energized.

“It’s like being in a relationship,” Lederer says. “At first you are excited, and you are having exciting, great sex,” he says. “Then, over time, you settle into a routine, and you need to come up with ways so you can make it exciting again. You need to make something new out of it again, so we are doing this for the excitement.”

Lederer’s dedication cannot be questioned. In the 13 years of Uberschall’s run at Double Down, he has never missed a show. This is true even in the days after his son was born in February 2010.

“We had the baby on Feb. 20, two days after we had a show,” Lederer says, his face blooming into a smile. “I said, ‘You guys will be sleeping; lemme get a set in.’ I was gone for about an hour, and then I went back home.”

What has been true of performers over the history of entertainment is true, too, of Uberschall. The show, she must go on.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

CORRECTION: Updated to correct spelling of Jeff Tortora. | (August 1, 2013)

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