Something Else! sneak peek: Aaron Comess, “Past, Present and Future” (2011)

If “Past, Present and Future” from drummer/composer Aaron Comess, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated, 10-million album-selling Spin Doctors, sounds like two people talking at once, that’s kind of the point. “I try to make music that speaks like a song, even without words,” Comess has said, “where the melody plays like a voice, but with plenty of room for improvisation.”

So, yeah, there is a complicated, concurrent brilliance to this, the third track on the forthcoming album Beautiful Mistake. It’s as if Comess and guitarist Teddy Kumpel (Rickie Lee Jones, Marshall Crenshaw, Chris Barron) are at work on a pair of very heart-felt songs at the same time. Comess is charging ahead, hitting multiple rhythms, encircling and then darting away. The impishly creative Kumpel, meanwhile, is lost in a space-age blues, then in a soaring prog-rock excursion, then in a sawing, almost angry psychedelia.

Holding it all together is bassist Richard Hammond, whose bouncing, insistent bottom-end is perhaps the only thing framing this engagingly dramatic, wildly entertaining excursion. Kumpel eventually settles into a series of knifing guitar licks, as Comess leans into his kit. “Past, Present and Future” then, quite literally, comes crashing down in a heap of feedback, cymbal bashing and shuddering reverb. It’s one of the loudest, best things on a very interesting record.

Recorded at Comess’ own His House Studio in New York City’s East Village, “Past, Present and Future” is part of a 14-song set of original instrumental sides set to be issued on June 14. Comess will also tour with the Spin Doctors this summer as the band celebrates the 20th anniversary of its smash hit Pocket Full of Kryptonite.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at