Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Anna Keck, Mandarins snare

The DCI.org interview: Anna Keck, Mandarins snare

by Drum Corps International

Name, age, and hometown: My name is Anna Victoria Keck, and I'm 20 years old. I'm originally from Sacramento, Calif., but I now live in Berkeley, Calif. What corps are you in and what is your role this summer? The Sacramento Mandarins, snare extraordinaire.

Anna Keck
Full drum corps/marching music background: After joining the C.K. McClatchy High School marching band my freshman year of high school, I started learning how to play snare. I began marching snare the second semester of my freshman year. My rookie year of drum corps was the summer of 2003 in the Sacramento Mandarins snare line, and this will be the third year I march snare with them. How did you decide to be a member of your corps? Some members of the Mandarins drum line came to my high school (as my high school drum instructor also instructs at Mandarins) and they told me to come check it out. I went to a rehearsal and haven't turned back since. Honestly, I didn't even know what DCI was when I joined Mandarins. The first drum corps show I ever saw was AT the first drum corps competition I was in. Short story time! I came back from my rookie year tour in '03 and had to immediately move to Berkeley for school. I was at the Cal Band's version of band camp five days after being at DCI finals, and all the Cal percussionists said to me, "You marched drum corps?" When I said yes, they wanted to play all these sprees and snare breaks from past years. But I didn't know any of them, because I had only recently even gotten into drum corps. When I told them this, they just stared at me. I was the only person in the Cal percussion snare line that marched drum corps, yet I didn't know any drum corps stuff! Oh well. Cal band, great! What first attracted you to the drum corps activity? Being part of a higher level of percussive performance. After I went to my first Mandarins practice, I went back to my high school line and tried to tell them about it. All I could say was that our version of "clean" was nothing compared to what it was like at Mandarins, even when the line wasn't playing extremely well. There's nothing like the feeling of knowing that you are taking your passion to a higher level. What advice would you give to young people who want to march? Do it. Start saving your money and do it! Make sure you realize the kind of commitment you will be making, and be sure you are prepared to follow through with it. Also be ready to come back from tour wanting to do the activity until you age out, even if you planned to just do it this one summer. Mostly, do it now. I know too many people who wish they had done it sooner. What's worse are the good friends of mine who kept telling themselves that they would at least just march their ageout year. Then their ageout year comes, and low and behold, there are complications and they can't march. Do you have any favorite road anecdotes? Ohh dear -- there was the time at the first overnight camp my rookie year that my best friend (you know who you are, and you are SO lucky I'm not naming you!) slipped and fell while walking from the lockers to the showers. She kind of did a slip-and-slide entrance to the showers. I should have been a good friend and ran to her rescue -- but I just laughed. Or the time when the battery was in a sectional on tour, standing at attention while one of our instructors was talking. He was backing up as he was talking and didn't realize the met box was right behind him. (You know what's gonna happen next). He totally trips over it, screams, almost falls, and the met starts going off at 172 with a triplet check. This was a great test of our ability to focus, needless to say. Then there's always Eriko, a snare player from Japan who marched with us last year. One of her favorite phrases to say to some of us snares was: "As you know, I am better than you." She was so awesome! We loved her, and we all miss her. The last good book I read: I read about three books a week (mostly for school), but some of my favorite books are "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger, "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy (this one is probably my favorite right now), "The Celestine Prophesy" by James Redfield, and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig. There's so much good literature in the world though, I could go on for ages. The only good thing about aging out will be having more time to read all these books. The last great film I saw: I haven't actually seen any REALLY great films lately. But my favorites are "Amelie," "Donnie Darko," "Batman" the movie (with Adam West), and the movie "Sally," which Danny and I made my senior year of high school for our economics class. Where I go to school and what I'm studying: I attend UC Berkeley and am majoring in sociology as well as gender and women's studies. Jobs I have/have had: I've worked in libraries, coffee shops, gelato shops, tutored kids, and done a lot of volunteer work in between. I am currently unemployed and lovin' it! Three albums I'd want on a deserted island: "HELP!" (by the Beatles), "It's Hard to Find a Friend" (by Pedro the Lion), and "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (by Neutral Milk Hotel). (OK, I thought it was funny ...) Those are good albums, but seriously, I would need a good selection. Thinking about this question will prompt me to make some mixes specifically for those lame days when I'm stranded on a deserted island. I mean, you never know. More than likely though, is that I would just sing songs that I make up. Love songs to coconuts -- it's the next big thing. My favorite TV show: Um, I actually don't own a TV. Back in the day, though, I would have to say that "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "Out of This World" were up there on my list. Favorite performers: My roommate, Gen. She makes up some darn good jingles and dances to accompany them! And my mother. Her songs that she sang into a silver spoon to wake me up as a child were priceless. I'm not too sure, though, about her dance routines and costumes (oh the costumes!) that she did after she watched the music awards when I was in high school. She tried to mimic (and obviously mock) the top artist's performances for me. I never saw the actual performances since I didn't watch the music awards, but let's just say I did see some other renditions of those dances. How do you "blow off steam?": I generally don't have "steam" to "blow off", but if I'm stressed, I work out, do yoga, go running, drum, give massages, and laugh. What has been your formative drum corps moment? Before each show, the Mandarins percussion section has its own rituals and traditions that we all do together (I'm sure you have yours as well). The snare line also has its own swanky tradition that we do, and it just made me feel so close to the guys I was marching with. When we did that all before my first show, it was so special and so real. Then standing waiting to march out to the field, my caption head at the time went down the line of the battery and gave high fives to us all. When he got to me, he went to give me a high five, but smiled and gave me a kiss on the cheek instead and told me to have a great show. The feeling of being part of a huge family was completely overwhelming. Then to go on and perform my first drum corps show -- that night was definitely indescribable. Best drum corps show ever: This is just an unfair question. What are you most looking forward to about the summer? Performing our first competition of the season on my 20th birthday! Actually that is just a cool side note. Another cool side note will be all the ultra fun snare circles this summer! Mostly though, I'm looking forward to playing the best show of my life each time I step on a field with my brothers and sisters all out there working with me. Best thing about being in a drum corps: Right before a show when I walk to my opening spot, I get those familiar butterflies in my stomach. The adrenaline comes rushing up from my toes and pours out through a smile that slowly creeps over my face as I prepare to perform the best show of my life. I put the smile in my back pocket and look up. It's show day, baby. Game on. Worst thing about being in a drum corps: As a female snare drummer, it's the tan lines I acquire by the end of tour. Having the image of a drum harness AND bikini tops AND various tank tops styles all tanned onto my torso is just hot. Wait no. Lame. Ultra lame. During tour, the best part of the day is: Stretching. Stretching is so blissful. That and hearing the snare line play clean beats. Showering is also up there on my list, specifically making up song and dance routines in the shower, about showering. "Don't forget your loofa, or your shampoo. Bring along your towel, and your kangaroo! Shower shower..." This was part of an actual song my pit buddy, Sally, and I made up while showering in '03. It later became our rookie night routine. And my first hit single. Well, it should have been. During tour, the worst part of the day is: NOT hearing the snare line play clean beats. I also hate when I wake up, thinking it's in the middle of the night, and am awake for a few minutes or so since it's really hard for me to fall asleep. Just as I'm about to drift off to sleep, the lights go on! ARG! I could have had those three extra minutes of sleep! I also hate the block after lunch. Not because I'd rather be sleeping, but because of how everyone drags their feet. We all KNOW that we start getting tired in this block, and we all KNOW that this block will be tough. So step it up! Don't force our instructors to cut and say, "This sounds like the block after lunch." Make them think their watches are wrong. Make them think we're in uniform and performing in the lot. Keep that lot-mindset with you at all times. ESPECIALLY the block after lunch. Favorite drum corps personality and why: Again with the unfair questions! I'll go with Eriko, the girl I mentioned above who is from Japan and was in our snare line last year. Having another girl in the battery for once, AND having her be so awesome, was just incredible. She was able to accomplish any task you set before her, including making it to her spot in ridiculous drill that tall members with longer legs couldn't even make. But seriously, every one involved with drum corps is awesome, including the ones off the field that support us. Thank you parents and volunteers! What I want to be when I "grow up": "A patient better driver, keep in contact with old friends, fond but not in love, nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate, nothing so childish, at a better pace, slower and more calculated, concerned (but powerless), an empowered and informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism), calm, fitter, happier and more productive." (Radiohead) Or rather, not a typical grown up (no offense, typical grown ups). Active. The cool aunt. A traveler. More like my mother, and more like my father. Exactly what I know I will be: Myself, happily. Describe what you think a typical DCI show will look in 2015. I guess I'm supposed to say something about futuristic, robotic, ultra light equipment, and drum harnesses that have built in shiatsu massagers on the shoulder pads (mmm) and of course, zero gravity fields. Mostly I think they'll be about the same. Maybe faster tempos and crazier drill. A cooler question, no offense to the person who wrote this question, might have been what a typical DCI show would have looked like in the middle ages. Horses, swords, lances, catapults -- how cool would that be? If you see a show next season with a "Sword in the Stone" theme or something of the like, you all know where they got the idea. Feel free to add anything else you'd like. If you actually read through this whole long interview of mine, you are awesome. Also, if you ever want to say what's up, you can e-mail me at annak@berkeley.edu, or IM me on aim at TodayIEscaped, though I'm not online much. Also, thank you SO much, to my parents Deana and David Keck. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today (in all aspects of life) if you guys weren't there to support me in everything I tried to do. And for always being so kind hearted and letting 20 plus out of town Mandarins members stay at your house on the weekends, every weekend, when we all drive to Sacramento for practice. And for always getting up early to make them all breakfast, even though you know you don't have to. And for getting Brian's car out of the mud in our backyard while we were at rehearsal. And especially for being the best parents anyone could ever ask for. I love you!

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